Super Bowl LI ended up being one for the ages, as it was the first time we saw overtime in the big game, and the Patriots mounted the largest comeback in the 51-year history of the championship contest. New England captured its fifth championship since 2001, cementing the team’s legacy as one of the best dynasties in league history. And, even though the Falcons experienced major heartbreak, they should be power players in the NFC for the next few years.
Be it from the outcome of the game, the construction of both teams’ rosters and how they got to the big dance, there are many takeaways for the other 30 teams to note. As the Bengals attempt to quickly recover from a 6-9-1 season, what should they be emulating from Atlanta and New England to get back to their playoff ways?
We discussed the idea of how the Bengals could become more like the two best teams of 2016 on this week’s Orange and Black Insider. After all, the NFL can be a copycat kind of league, can’t it?
In terms of in-game play-calling, OBI co-host Scott Schultze jumped on the “criticizing Kyle Shanahan” bandwagon, given Atlanta’s collapse. Play-calling and scheme predictability have long been issues with Cincinnati’s coaches, particularly in some of the biggest games the team has played under Marvin Lewis. It’s something the Bengals will just need to be better at, especially as they add more offensive personnel this offseason.
Connor Howe spoke of halftime adjustments, and while he doesn’t necessarily believe in such a thing, like Lewis recently stated, he did applaud the Patriots’ ability to make the critical plays down the stretch. I disagreed with Howe on this front, given New England’s comeback from a 28-3 second half deficit. Whether it was schematic changes in the locker room, or simply having the coaches grab the team by the haunches to get them to play better, New England worked its magic once again.
On a macro level, Atlanta got to where they are, in part, to their activity in free agency. They signed 11 outside free agents and made another massive trade to bring big changes to their roster. Names like Taylor Gabriel, Alex Mack, Tom Compton, Courtney Upshaw and Sean Witherspoon were all impact players the Falcons signed away from other teams.
Cincinnati usually doesn’t foray into outside free agency all that much, but they will likely need to in 2017 to get back to the postseason. We’re not talking about 12 moves per se, but sticking with the status quo from the past handful of seasons won’t cut it. We’ll see if the figureheads stand by their offseason proclamation of the team being “vastly different” in 2017, or if it is once again mere words.
What do you think the Bengals should take away from the successful seasons from the Falcons and Patriots?
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