FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Those who watched “Do Your Job, Part II” on Sunday were given a rare glimpse inside the coaching offices at Gillette Stadium. Those who missed it will have a chance to see it again Wednesday (NFL Network, 8 p.m. ET).
One of the things that stood out was how hard the coaches work. The finer details matter.
Along those lines – and with the necessary spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen it but plan to -- here were some of my favorite parts:
1. Belichick recommended extra two-point plays for the Super Bowl … and they needed them all. A neat detail came from coaches interviews as it was revealed that Bill Belichick told the staff to include at least one extra two-point play call for Super Bowl LI. The Patriots usually have two when entering a game. But they went with three, and ultimately needed them all. Running back James White’s game-winning touchdown run in overtime was actually the third two-point play on the play-call sheet. The play would have been for Dion Lewis, but he had injured hamstring. The other two-point plays were a direct snap to White and a quick pass to Danny Amendola. Why Amendola? “He’s the best trash-catch-and-runner we have,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained, noting that Amendola would have to catch the ball with a lot of bodies close to him on the quick pass and “dive through a brick wall if you have to.”
2. How a report from pro scout comes to life on the field. As part of preparations for the Super Bowl, cameras showed director of pro personnel Dave Ziegler giving coaches his scouting report on Falcons personnel. It was noted by Ziegler that Atlanta left tackle Jake Matthews is “light on the edge” and that opponents can have success by powering through his outside shoulder. When thinking about defensive end Chris Long drawing a critical holding penalty on Matthews on the fourth-quarter drive in which the Falcons were pushed out of field-goal range – with Long working his outside shoulder, of course -- it was a nice snapshot of how a scouting report comes to life on the field. Another example came with Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who Ziegler had noted in meetings has “major issues” with speed to power rush moves from the second level. Of course, that’s exactly what he was beaten on when Dont’a Hightower strip-sacked Matt Ryan on a momentum-turning fourth-quarter play in the Super Bowl. Then there are times when scouting reports don’t necessarily come to life, which was shown on "Do Your Job, Part II," with how defenders were overplaying receiver Julio Jones because scouts/coaches noticed Jones hadn’t been going to his left since a Dec. 4 game because of his injured foot. But as an out route showed when Jones caught the ball on the left sideline, he looked just fine.
3. Patricia had referee on mind on that play. In an interview with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, he shared how referee Carl Cheffers and his crew in the Chiefs-Steelers wild-card round playoff game made a call that was on his mind in Super Bowl LI. It was a holding penalty on Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher that nullified what would have been a game-tying two-point conversion with 2:47 left. This was important to Patricia because Cheffers worked Super Bowl LI and had the same line judge, back judge, umpire and field judge with him from the Chiefs-Steelers game. As Patricia explained why he dialed up pressure calls on second and third down on the fourth-quarter drive that pushed the Falcons out of field-goal range (sack by Trey Flowers, Long drawing the holding penalty), he said that penalty in the Chiefs-Steelers game had some influence. It was a good example of the detail coaches delve into on each play – even with officials in mind.
4. O’Shea has been big part of Patriots’ red-zone plans. Wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea has been a valuable member of the offensive coaching staff since 2009, and his contributions shine through in “Do Your Job, Part II.” As McDaniels explained, O’Shea is responsible for the red-zone report each week. In the divisional-round playoff win over Houston, manipulating a matchup with Lewis, the running back, against Texans linebacker Benardrick McKinney in the passing game was spotlighted. This was used as a perfect example of how the Patriots focus on matchups in their weekly game-plans, and how they try to create favorable matchups. Good X’s and O’s stuff.
5. Extra points. There was detail on how the Patriots practiced a flea-flicker in the week leading up to the AFC Championship Game, and when reviewing it on film, seeing that there might be an opportunity for Chris Hogan on the play. The ball didn’t go to Hogan in practice but did in the game for a TD. … Football research director Ernie Adams had been wiped out by a player in practice leading up to Super Bowl LI but came back to practice with a bandage on his head. With a big smile, Belichick noted that nothing was going to keep Adams away on such an important week. … Director of player personnel Nick Caserio’s contributions on game day were highlighted, as he identifies defensive personnel, substitutions and scheme for McDaniels. Caserio and McDaniels clearly have a connection that benefits the Patriots. … McDaniels said the coaching staff wrote the number 47 on the board at halftime to highlight the number of plays the offense had run. It was an example of how they felt they had control of the game, but not the scoreboard. … Belichick on Super Bowl success: “There will be a time to reflect back and count them up. Still chasing it now. 2017. It’s a new season. Still chasing it.”