The Super Bowl is two weeks away, which gives both the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams plenty of time to prepare for the biggest game of the year. However, to paraphrase Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, with a great amount of time comes a great amount of responsibility. What does this mean, you ask? Coaches need to find a way to use the time as efficiently as possible to not be counterproductive in their preparation.
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spoke about this during a conference call on Tuesday, explaining the difficulties behind getting a team ready for a game like the Super Bowl. “I think one of the challenges of this preparation is to be well-prepared but not overdo it,” said McDaniels — he himself on his way to his ninth Super Bowl since joining the Patriots’ staff as a personnel assistant in 2001.
“There’s really only one other situation that you can compare this week to and that’s even a stretch to say that, and that’s the first game of the year where you have so much time to prepare for the opponent because you’re not really sure what they’re going to do,” McDaniels continued. “This one, same thing: you’ve got a lot of time to prepare for them but you’ve got to be careful because you start getting into over-coaching and too much information and you overload the players.”
The Patriots, of course, haven proven themselves to be masters when it comes to finding the right balance between getting in the right shape for the game ahead and keeping it basic by focusing on fundamentals. It is what allowed them to go to four of the last five Super Bowls. And as McDaniels pointed out, doing this is paramount heading onto the NFL’s biggest stage despite seemingly plenty of time available.
“Now we’re not playing fast and aggressive, we’re thinking and trying to do too many things that are out of character or not in our nature,” the 42-year old said when talking about the issues too much new information might cause on the field. “I think you want to try to strike the right balance with [the players] like you do every week. You just have more time so you’ve just got to distribute it properly.”
“Make sure you don’t overdo too many things in one area so that they know what to do and can go out and do it properly, the way that you’d like them to. That’s really the goal,” McDaniels continued before pointing out that one thing certainly helps in this regard: experience. New England does not only have an experienced coaching staff familiar with reaching the Super Bowl, but also plenty of players that have been to the big game before.
“Obviously, Tom [Brady] has experience in this situation,” said McDaniels about the Patriots’ quarterback who like his coordinator and position coach will appear in his ninth title game next week. “We have a lot of players that have experience in this situation as well, so that doesn’t really much matter this week. What matters is how well we prepare this week for this opponent who’s the best team we’ve played all year — what we’re able to do [...] out there on the field in terms of performance.”
Knowing how to manage information will certainly play an important role in the process leading up to the game, and to making sure this performance is what it is supposed to be in order to win. The Patriots and their staff have shown the ability to do just that time and again in the past. The bigger question might therefore be how the Rams and their comparatively green coaches and players tackle this under-the-radar problem over the next 11 days.