When Philadelphia won a Super Bowl with their backup quarterback, they didn’t do it by getting lucky. Typical, conservative head coach dogma would look a little more like this:
We’ve got to shorten the playbook, we’ve got to play to keep the ball and take advantage of our opportunities. We’ve got to give our quarterback easy reads and keep on schedule. By playing total team football, we can win.
The Eagles, instead, dropped 41 points on the Patriots. Not by being a conservative, run-first offense, but by engineering their quarterback to take advantage of the defense and being aggressive. They did it by going for it on fourth-and-goal with 50 seconds left in the second quarter. They did it by going for it on fourth-and-1 … in Eagles territory … and converting on their drive to get a go-ahead touchdown. This was the coaching equivalent of a Dominique Wilkins-Michael Jordan dunk contest, with each trick play raising the bar a little higher than the last one.
I’ve seen several pieces and stories either talk about or bring up in passing Jeff Fisher’s ineffectiveness with Nick Foles. (Or Case Keenum, or Jared Goff, if we want to expand the search area a bit.) And yes, Jeff Fisher’s passing systems were antiquated by the end of his career. It is, in fact, pretty funny that the Rams faltered on his watch for years and suddenly went 11-5 when they brought in an offensive mind who seized the full meaning of his job.
But the important thing that this Super Bowl taught us was about Fisher’s mindset as a head coach, not his offensive schemes. A lot of other head coaches could have matched Xs and Os on Matt Patricia’s defense and found points. Some of them could have even done so with the brusque efficiency that the Eagles did: 6.1 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per pass.
I can’t think of a single other NFL head coach in my lifetime who would push the pedal like Doug Pederson did in the face of apparent disadvantages. I have no idea where his future takes him, if this was a one-time thing or not. But I was appalled, in a good way, to see someone seize the NFL’s biggest stage and out-aggro the best coach in NFL history. Nick Foles is likely better than some backup quarterbacks, but not by enough to make what happened on Sunday out of the line. The Pats finished 31st in defensive DVOA … but the Vikings had one of the best defenses in the NFL, and the Eagles ravaged them as well.
This game should be the beacon for the rest of the NFL to wake up and stop pretending that they have a Patriots problem. I don’t want to hear any excuses about offensive personnel in Cleveland when they can’t score points. I don’t want to hear about how the backup quarterback can’t be trusted. If it’s an old player who can’t make the throws Nick Foles makes anymore, perhaps that’s a sign of an evaluation failure by the front office! Find someone who can run an offense like this, then do it.
Because, in the biggest game of our lifetimes, the Eagles won by throwing the middle finger up at the entire accumulated conservative NFL establishment. Not only did they win with Nick Foles, they created an offense where they could win because of Nick Foles.
And if they can do it, you can too. Let’s put that copycat culture to work on something that might actually make football more exciting.