PS Pro – Here We Go! – Super Bowl 54

Posted: February 1, 2020 in All Things Power Spread
These NFL Playoffs have been dominated by two main themes in this changing Football Landscape
  1. Energy Shifts + Momentum Swings
  2. Exploration into PS Pro Schemes
    1. Offensive Variety covering a whole History of Football Strategy
    2. Defensive Response, again with old schemes innovated in new ways
    3. All blending in this Decade of Flexibility

The latter I was expecting. The former caught me off guard.

Energy – Momentum – Culture

Most of my study until about 5 years ago was College Football. The Energy is more consistent at that level. The kids are usually busting their butts as many times there is no “tomorrow” for them.

The NFL is a different beast. The economics, media attention, promise of “another season” right around the bend – all of this seems to contribute to the wild swings of Energy. Especially at Playoff Time.

From the first game through to the last we have seen wild swings.

  • Buffalo – Conservative Letdown in 2nd Half
  • New England – FLAT entire game
  • Philadelphia – Beat up and a Letdown after their QB was injured…again
  • Baltimore – Shocking (to me anyway) over-confidence
  • Seattle & Minnesota – Beat Up and Worn Down Letdowns
  • Tennessee & Houston – Late Letdowns after Dramatic Playoff Runs
  • Kansas City – Flat Starts – especially in their Divisional Playoff Game
  • Green Bay – Complete deflation after an energetic start
Culture

A lot of this comes down to Culture. An attitude that permeates the Whole Team, Organization and Fanbase.

Culture takes Time to build. San Francisco has revived their Culture seemingly overnight. Kansas City has been doing it for a decade now under Andy Reid.

The KC staff has already said that it cannot survive another bad start versus a young, confident and hungry San Fran Team. I’m not so sure that’s true.

The culture at KC is strong and long. In an age where 2 years is a long time, KC’s decade long success under Reid is practically “ancient”!

The “New” Andy Reid

A few years ago, Reid let go of his long time QB Alex Smith and went with the younger Pat Mahomes. Most people viewed this as a HC wisely going with a younger talent over a burnt out vet. It was much more.

Andy Reid is a very smart Offensive Coach, who knows a ton about the game. He’s also proven to be a great Head Coach. Managing people and organizations. His one faux pas was overthinking conservatism.

During his previous decade with the Eagles and first part of his time at KC, Reid would tend to get conservative on the big stage. Try to find the “perfect solution” with his wealth of knowledge. Thus, he has never won that elusive Super Bowl.

Risk-Reward – Only One Way – Go For It!

There is never a “perfect” way. That’s a Mistake Oriented Paradigm. In Sport there is aggression or passivity. Overthinking is passive, because it’s based on the false assumption that there is a Risk-Free Reward. There is not.

You either go for it or you don’t. When Andy went with Mahomes as his QB, he opened up the whole Offense to Power Spread concepts. Pro PS that is now morphing into PS Pro and I think eventually Full PS!

If KC has another slow start, they have the Talent, Schemes and most importantly, the Culture to overcome. But Andy needs to continue the Aggressive Path he’s taken the last couple of years.

Now is not the Time for overthinking. Now is the Time to go for it and let the chips fall where they may! Far easier said, than done. 🙂

Brilliant Schemes – Shanahan vs Reid

Now the fun stuff that is far easier to prognosticate than elusive concepts like Culture, Energy and Momentum.

This is the stuff that can be analyzed on the field of play. First, you need an Observer to see what is actually happening. In the case of the 49ers and Shanahan’s great Offensive Scheme, I’m not sure people are really seeing what’s happening.

Back to the Future with Shanahan – The Modern T

Earlier in the Playoffs I examined briefly the way in which the Saints were using Taysom Hill in a Single Wing style concept harkening back to 100 years prior. Shanahan is only going back 80 yrs, but it’s no less amazing.

Recently I was looking through Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder, Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL by RD Rosen. I was absolutely amazed by the similarities between the Misdirection Offense of Shanahan and that of the one built by the brilliant Clark Shaughnessy with the Bears in the 1940s.

Shaughnessy created the “Man-in-Motion” plus the misdirection play-action fakes that led to more passing and spreading to open up more power. Exactly what as Shanahan did to Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.

The difference is that Shanahan employs a modern blend of West Coast Offense and Power Spread concepts. Shanahan hasn’t come up with a new scheme per say, but his blending of these two ideals into a cohesive whole to completely deceive the Defense is astounding.

Truly the Art of Flexibility added to the PS Original Precepts – Aggressive Variety!

Andy Reid Ushering in the Age of NFL Power Spread

As for Reid, what can I say that we all don’t already know. He has taken a mesh of Pro and Power Spread Offense – started by Jim Harbaugh – and expanded it further every year. His influence has been felt all over the league. Every week it seems another team is copying Andy’s Offense.

The greatest example is his protege Doug Pederson – HC of Philadelphia. He led the Eagles to their first SB win by combining Andy’s schemes with the PS RPO Schemes of the previous Eagles boss, Chip Kelly.

If Power Spread in the NFL can be pinned to one guy – which it cannot – it would be Andy. He has had unusual foresight and flexibility in a league that hasn’t always exhibited those traits.

Defense!

Both Offenses will be tough to stop Sunday. Maybe more so than people even realize. Everyone knows about Reid’s brilliance, but Shanahan is still somewhat underrated.

What Defense has the best chance to slow these brilliant Offensive Schemes?

Saleh and his Excellent Staff and Talent

The 49ers have top young talent and a Scheme that lets them play fast. The high execution seen on the field is not only a tribute to the players, but to the staff Shanahan and Saleh have put together on Defense.

Here’s the problem. They haven’t seen anything like this KC Offense. Reid has his own version of misdirection play-action and uses more exotic sets than Shanahan. This Offense also has more talent than SanFran. Bad combo for any D.

Mahomes appears fully healthy again and that’s a danger for any defense. Mahomes is a dual-threat QB who also reads defenses very well. The 49ers are fast and aggressive, but could be fooled into oblivion by the schemes of Reid and the legs and arm of Mahomes.

Spagnuolo Aggressive Variety

On the other side, Spagnuolo runs some real tricky coverages that could fool Garrapolo into some mistakes.

Unlike their game versus the Titans, Spagnuolo won’t need to play his big players as much versus the 49ers, who have a smaller Oline and RB than the the Titans. What he will need to do is continue the aggressive variety in blitz pressure as well as coverage mixes.

Even if the KC Defense gives up some big plays – which they will – Spags needs to stay agggressive!

Shanahan’s schemes are too good to be completely stopped. Early on the 49ers may use a lot of play-action pass, coming off their big run game effort vs Green Bay.

If Spags continues to be aggressive, like he did after falling behind the Titans early, then KC can keep the game close for another comeback.

I worry more about Spagnuolo if the Chiefs get a big lead themselves. He tends to get conservative with a big lead. As so many still do in the NFL.

The good news for the Chiefs is that the 49ers scheme isn’t nearly as effective coming from way behind. All the trickery works best when the Opponent is pressed. Still, Spags will want to keep the pressure up all game, regardless of the score.

Prognostication – Chiefs

Well, I started out 0-4 – a first for me – but have won 5 of 6 since for my worst record ever coming into the Super Bowl 5-5. Welcome to the Age of Power Spread!

For sure, that age is here. Even the 2 Teams have the PS Color of Red – for Dynamic Opposition! 🙂

Two Factors to Swing a Close Game to the Chiefs

I’ve said it all playoffs – Reid isn’t just an Offensive Guru. His Special Teams are also special.

Though they have been caught in some SpTeams gaffs during their flat starts, it was their KR Hardman who twice ignited a comeback with a big KO Return.

If this game is close – which is a very good possibility – a big SpTeam play could turn it in the Chiefs favor. A FG, Punt, Block or Big Return. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see their ultra fast and shifty WR Hill be used on a PR late in a close game.

The other factor that benefits the chiefs is Experience. SanFran’s Culture is back and back strong, but the Chiefs have been doing it for a decade. Neither team has been to the Super Bowl recently, but the Chiefs have been knocking on the door for a while now.

Not only is this a benefit in a close game, but it could lead to a blowout if the young 49ers are completely overwhelmed by the moment. It also is helpful if a team falls behind, which the Chiefs have done in both of their playoff games already and could do again.

Pick – Close or Pull Away Late – Go for the Over
Andy Reid look alike lurking around Philadelphia Saturday Night

Philly fans are worried. They’ve seen Reid “blow” the big game time and again. If he or Spagnuolo go conservative suddenly, it will happen again. But from everything I’ve seen the last couple of years, this is a different Andy Reid.

The one thing I worry about is in the Red Zone. Reid can overthink it when the Offense gets close. I would like to see him employ more Tempo No-Huddle when he gets close. Get more Aggressive, not less.

That probably won’t happen, but even if it doesn’t, the Chiefs have a lot in their favor. They may go down early for a 3rd straight game, but everyone will be waiting for a comeback and I think they will deliver.

Not to overlook the 49ers. Overall, they were the best this year. They can hang with the Chiefs. I think Shanahan will surprise with a lot of aggression on Offense. If the Chiefs show any fear or play conservative the 49ers will win.

In the end, there are just too many factors for the Chiefs. They have the culture, experience and special teams to win a close game – from behind or ahead. They have the talent and schemes to win easily if SanFran suffers any kind of Letdown – of which they are due.

Plus, I want Reid to finally get his SB. He represents everything great about this game of Football. The brains, the consistency, the longevity and more than anything else…

the heart.

Go Chiefs! Power Spread!

~PS

Comments
  1. Chris Woods says:

    Nice post. We are in the 2020’s and nothing can be the same. Sure old concepts and schemes will be used as they should be, but in new and different ways. Mix it up and spread it out. Keep them guessing.

  2. David Fattizzo says:

    Excellent content. You can’t find this level of analysis elsewhere. Makes the game more enjoyable if you are watching it as an informed viewer.

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