In The Breakdown series, former college coach Brian Letscher interviews long-time NFL coordinator, Cam Cameron, about the traits and training habits that make today’s NFL players and coaches so spectacular. Today’s subject: the Super Bowl, from Brady and Goff to Bill Belichick and Sean McVay.
Brian Letscher: Here we are: the Super Bowl. There are several matchups that are going to be a lot of fun to watch on Sunday, starting with Goff and Brady. Goff’s going for his first Lombardi trophy and Brady for a record sixth. How are these guys similar?
Cam Cameron: Well, a big factor for both of them – they train with the same people in the off season. That’s Tom House and Adam Dedeaux at 3D QB. They are unbelievable at teaching the biomechanics of and mentality of being a great QB – namely improving accuracy. Brady’s been there with House for most of his career and Dedeaux trained Goff the last two years and, not coincidentally, they are two of the most accurate QB’s in the NFL. These guys have made it a science to study all the different throwing positions there are in the NFL and they rep them over and over and over. For example, after Jared made a great throw moving to his left vs. the Vikings, Dedeaux told me that they must have ripped that exact throw a 1,000 times in the off-season. It looks improvised but it’s not. They study it and rep it – correctly – over and over and over. These two QB’s are 365 days a year and that’s why they’re in the final game of the season. The second big similarity is that they both have great relationships with their OC’s and playcallers. That’s big. They understand each other and communicate really well which makes a big difference.
Brian: Tom Brady is Tom Brady. We know what he can do and will do try and win the game. We know less about Goff. What’s the key for him to give the Rams a chance to win?
Cam: Goff has a lot of check-with-me’s at the line of scrimmage. That means McVay calls a play but then Goff has the option to change it to 1 or 2 other plays at the LOS depending on the look he gets. Jared has done a great job of consistently getting them into the BEST play – not just avoiding a bad play. And that’s key when running the football, which they will need to do to win. Second, the Pats disguise their coverages better than anyone else in the league. Goff needs to be able to diagnose what coverage it is early on and get in rhythm and be decisive. When Goff is decisive he looks a lot like a young Tom Brady.
Brian: Wade Phillips vs. Josh McDaniels? Both experienced Coordinators. How do their schemes collide and who has the advantage?
Cam: Wade generally runs a simple defense. Clearly effective because he’s had a lot of success at places like the Chargers and Broncos and now the Rams. The strength of Wade’s defense is to do two, maybe three things, out of the same exact look and do it very well. Josh McDaniels knows this. The key for New England will be getting the matchups they want with Gronk, Edelman and White. I think Gronk could have a huge day because their safeties don’t match up real well with him.
Brian: And the biggie. The young upstart, Sean McVay, vs. one of the greats, Bill Belichick?
Cam: This is where it gets more complex. Because Belichick, over the course of a season, runs the most complex defense of anyone in the league. And McVay runs a fairly complex offense. The Pats will try to take away Gurley first. Then Woods and Cooks, in that order. They may play a lot of drop 8 and drop 9 – soft zones – as a changeup to get Goff out of rhythm. Penetrate the interior of the pocket and not worry so much about containing Goff because he’s not a major threat outside of the pocket the way Mahomes was. They’re going to make Goff and McVay be patient. Which they’ve done a good job of in the playoffs. But being patient when Tom Brady is on the other side? That’s harder to do. I’ve been there when I was at Baltimore. He puts pressure on you to score because you know there is a good chance when Brady gets the ball back he’s going to put points on the board.
Brian: What makes Belichick so great?
Cam: My dad, Tom Harp, and his dad, Steve Belichick, coached together at the Naval Academy. So I’ve known about Bill for a long time. One, he created a huge advantage for himself by picking New England to be his spot. He knew he’d be able to build the program EXACTLY the way he wanted to build it. A big differentiator is that he demands a lot of his players mentally. His dad wrote the first book on scouting and player evaluation. It started there. He has a system, he has the organizational power, he’s a first-rate evaluator and then he takes the time to teach them and teach them well. That combination – the power of personnel and the ability to evaluate talent for a well-thought out system? Well, he’s shown how powerful and rare that is.
Brian: And Sean McVay?
Cam: I don’t know Sean personally but obviously he’s from a football family. What I see from afar is that he knows what his strengths are and knows where he needs help. Sean was smart enough to bring in Wade Phillips which means he doesn’t have to worry one bit about the defense. And he’s got a great relationship with his GM as well. Put that with his ability to gameplan and attack the weaknesses of the defense – both in scheme and personal – and they’ve had great success. Lastly, he’s getting better at solving game-day problems. He’s going to get some looks on Sunday that he hasn’t seen all year or ever. The question will be can he and his staff solve it during the game.
Brian: What are some X-Factors for this game?
Cam: Might seem obvious but whoever can stop the run game has the best chance to win. Both NE and the Rams are very patient with the run. They’ll run the ball every down if they’re having success and neither QB cares. These aren’t QB’s who are doing stats while they’re playing. Both guys would throw for 0 yards if it meant they’d win the Super Bowl. Another X factor in this, is New England typically pushes every rule to the extreme early in the game in order to find out how the game is going to be officiated. They have an extensive scouting report on the officials. They’ll hold Donald and Suh until they get called on it. And then they’ll adjust. They adjust better than anyone because they have a real plan when it comes to officiating. And we all know, based on the New Orleans game, how important the officiating and knowledge of it can be.