It was refreshing to see high-quality football on Sunday. The Kansas City Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row while Tom Brady did everything he could in the second half to give Green Bay a crack at a victory, but the Packers' offense stalled.
There were two takeaways that stood out from Sunday.
QBs mask OL deficiencies
To be the best, you have to beat the best. While Josh Allen improved this season, highlighted how far away he is from being on Patrick Mahomes’s level. I thought all four quarterbacks did a nice job of avoiding unblocked rushers when necessary to extend plays.
Brady, almost to his fault, gave his wideouts a chance down the field. Mahomes was his usual wizard self while it felt like Rodgers was hit on seemingly every other dropback during the first half. I thought Allen brought a lot of pressure on himself, but that doesn’t change that Allen was under duress for a good portion of the game.
That’s football. You’re going to get pressured. As a quarterback, you have to have a guy who can beat pressure. We’ve seen it all playoffs. You’d have no idea that the Chiefs were starting their fourth-string right guard and tackle and their second-string left guard. Mahomes kept making play after play.
It’s unrealistic to expect your offensive line to give your quarterback a clean pocket 80% of the time. You need a playmaker under center to win in today’s NFL. Before you say 13-3/Super Bowl, I’m talking about the process and not the results. Does San Francisco have a playmaker at QB on the roster?
“You play to win the game”
The Bills went for it on 4th & 1 in the first quarter and gained eight yards. They had two other fourth and short situations where they elected to kick the field goal. Buffalo was going against a cyborg quarterback with arguably the best wide receiver and tight end. Not only did they choose to kick a field goal, but the Bills did so after Kansas City had scored on three straight possessions.
Somehow, the Packers made worse decisions. Kicking a field goal when you’re down eight with three timeouts, the two-minute warning, and Tom Brady on the other sideline is a deathwish. Doing all of that and not giving the MVP a chance to convert a touchdown under ten yards is plain stupid.
Both teams deserved the outcomes of each situation. Kyle Shanahan went for it on fourth down just under 30% of the time this past season, which was the sixth-lowest rate in the NFL. It’s fair to assume backup quarterbacks played a role in Kyle’s decision-making, but he was slightly over 30% in 2019.
To me, this is where Shanahan is still a bit “stuck in his ways” of the old school type of coach that trusts his defense too much instead of valuing offensive possessions. In 2021, this is an area where Shanahan can take a step as a head coach. Evolve.
Trust your skill and play-calling on offense to gain a couple of yards. If anything, your defense should be the reason that you are more aggressive on fourth down as you know they’ll hold the offense to three points if it gets that far.
Take Tampa Bay before the end of the half. Yes, they scored on a flukey play that isn’t sustainable. The Packers were running Cover 1 with six seconds to go in the half. That was a mistake. Tampa Bay going for it on fourth down at midfield was not. So many teams would punt in that situation.
The Chiefs were down 9-0 during the first quarter and fasted a 4th & 1 situation. It wasn’t a surprise that they went for it, but Andy Reid threw the ball and gained nine yards. Going for it is one thing. Calling a play that gets you more than a yard is another. I’d love to see the 49ers become more aggressive all-around on offense next season.