Well, another season of football is over and this is the final Starting 11 column we’ll have for any football games that happened in 2017 and 2018.
So here goes with a Super Bowl Starting 11.
1. Doug Pederson delivered a coaching clinic.
I absolutely loved the aggressive fourth down decisions of the Eagles all season long, but going for it late in the first half — and calling such a beautiful throw back pass to Nick Foles, which was eerily similar to the way Oklahoma-Georgia’s first half ended, for a touchdown — and then going for it again on fourth down with 5:39 left and your team trailing 33-32 was outstanding.
This was a coaching clinic for how you beat a dynastic champion. You don’t wait for them to die, you kill them. I’ve been using this analogy for a couple of years now, but I think it applies well here once more.
You know how in a 1980’s horror film you think you killed Freddie or Jason or Michael Myers before you actually kill them?
The evil villain disappears for a moment and the people trying to kill the horror film lead all allow themselves to think, “Wait, did we kill him? Maybe we’re all safe.”
But then he shows up and tries to kill them again because he’s really not dead?
That’s how Tom Brady and the Patriots are — you have to kill them once and for all, stand over them and empty every bullet you have into the body while you can. That’s what Pederson did, he tried to kill the Patriots instead of trying to survive against them.
You’re not going to win a war of survival against the Patriots, you have to kill them.
I want you to think about this for a minute too — from 2005 to 2008 Doug Pederson was the high school football coach at Cavalry Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana. He went 33-7 there before joining the Eagles under Andy Reid, his former head coach in the NFL, as a quality control assistant.
While he was coaching high school football in Louisiana Pederson didn’t even win a state title and he’d never won a playoff game as a head coach prior to this season.
Now he’s won the Super Bowl and beaten the greatest coach and greatest quarterback in NFL history to do so.
It’s an absolutely remarkable story.
If you want to do something — DO IT.
Don’t wait for someone to give you an opportunity, grab it with your own bare hands. Don’t be a mosquito dick, be a helicopter dick.
2. Nick Foles isn’t Trent Dilfer, he won this game for the Eagles.
If I were the Browns, Broncos, Cardinals, Jaguars, Bills or Jets, I’d give up a second round pick for Nick Foles.
Combining the performance Foles posted in 2013, when he threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions with Chip Kelly and the Eagles, with the NFC title game and Super Bowl performances, Foles looks much more like Kurt Warner than he does Trent Dilfer.
Just as Warner was an undiscovered diamond in the rough until he found the perfect offensive system to fit his gunslinging talents — remember, Warner was the back up to Trent Green when Green went down for the season and went on to lead the Rams to a Super Bowl — Foles came in for Carson Wentz and won the Super Bowl too.
Plus, Foles is only 29 years old.
Given the number of years that a quarterback can last in the NFL under the current rules, Foles has at least six or seven years of good football left in him.
So if you were, for instance, the Browns, would you rather have an unproven rookie quarterback with your number one pick or would you rather have Foles, acquired for a second round pick the year after he won a Super Bowl, running the run-pass option look with Saquon Barkley, the player you took with your top pick?
I’d rather have Foles and Barkley.
3. Yes, he lost, but Tom Brady was superb in defeat.
Brady finished 28 of 48 for 505 yards passing.
He was scintillating even in defeat and I don’t think his legacy changes very much with this loss. There wasn’t much more he could have done to win this game.
Yes, he missed a few throws early, but his offense never punted and he only turned the ball over once, on a great play from the Eagles Brandon Graham.
I don’t think this was the last we’ve seen of Brady in the Super Bowl, but we’ll have to wait until the next couple of years to know for sure.
4. The Philadelphia Eagles had been the redheaded NFL step child of the the state of Pennsylvania, the east coast, and the NFC East.
Think about it, the Steelers, just across the state from the Eagles, have won six Super Bowl titles and the rest of the east coast football teams, from Washington D.C. to Baltimore to New York to Boston have, among them, three, two, five, and five Super Bowl titles.
So the rest of the east coast and the city of Pittsburgh have combined for 21 Super Bowl titles to your none.
As if that weren’t enough, the NFC East’s Cowboys have five titles, the Giants have four, and the Redskins have three to your none.
So this was sweet redemption for Eagles fans.
Even if they did nearly tear down the city in celebration, this was a victory a long time coming.
And here’s the canopy outside the Ritz collapsing.
The Ritz canopy has collapsed pic.twitter.com/9LBolLtIPY
— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) February 5, 2018
5. An interlude for me to ponder this important question: how has Marcus Mariota not been running the Doug Pederson designed offense his entire NFL career?
Can you imagine how well Mariota would fit this offense? Watching this Super Bowl made me hate the Titans offensive coaching staff even more. We’ve got a damn Ferrari in the garage and we’ve been trying to make him drive like he’s a Nissan Sentra.
Mariota was the best play action passer in the NFL this past season. Can you imagine how effective he could be running an effective play action pass look on 25-30 snaps a game like Foles did?
I don’t want Mariota running a ton, but I do want him running this offense.
The fact that he wasn’t already doing it is downright shameful.
6. The NFL has to fix its catch/non-catch mess this offseason.
I don’t believe the Corey Clement touchdown catch was actually a touchdown under NFL rules. (I think he was juggling the ball and when he finally controlled it the second foot hit out of bounds).
But there should be no dispute on the Zach Ertz play, that’s a touchdown, period.
My suspicion is the NFL was terrified of the narrative of the league favoring the Patriots gaining jet fuel with a fourth different touchdown being disallowed by replay after being called a touchdown on the field against New England. (It happened against the Jets, the Bills, and, most notably, the Steelers this year.) So they altered the call to avoid the controversy.
Two feet and possession needs to be the rule and the entire, surviving the ground nonsense — is the ground lava? — needs to be eliminated.
And at an absolute minimum the NFL needs to adjust the catch rule so that a player who catches the ball and then extends the ball to break the plane of the end zone doesn’t need to maintain control all the way to the ground through the catch. The Jesse James play should have been a catch and touchdown and the Zach Ertz play should have been a catch and touchdown too.
Just as any running player may extend the ball over the goal line for a touchdown, the moment a receiver breaks the plane with a caught ball it should be a touchdown as well.
7. This was the night the NFL needed, politics was mercifully nonexistent and the game was fabulous, but ratings were still down and hit a eight year low.
This is alarming because the Super Bowl couldn’t have been a better game.
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) February 5, 2018
UPDATE: the number of total viewers was actually down 7% and hit a total viewer low last seen in 2009.
I don’t buy into the cord cutting argument when it comes to games on national television because I don’t think that many people are watching illegal streams of the Super Bowl when it’s relatively easy to watch and free to do so on regular television.
Seriously, who wants to watch a buffering Super Bowl in non crisp HD when you can have live TV work so well for an event like this?
The NFL has a lot of making up to do with its fanbase. They need to work hard to eliminate all politics from football. (I don’t consider standing for the national anthem to be a political statement. I think it’s a sign of respect that the league believes its fans want to see. Players should either stand or be fined immediately and this sideshow charade needs to end.)
Fans have overwhelmingly let it be known that they don’t want employees in their uniforms at their job interjecting their personal political beliefs on the field of play. It’s interesting, the NBA players and coaches have been incredibly outspoken about their personal politics, but they haven’t done so on the court.
And, you know what, fans seem fine with that.
The NFL has blown this issue so far by just hoping it will go away, but in the offseason I don’t think it’s asking too much for players to refrain from making political statements on the field or court while in uniform at their place of employment.
There are no other employees in America who can do this — not military, police, Fed Ex, UPS, McDonald’s WalMart — none of them.
No traditional employees making a living outside the opinion business have the right to make political statements while at work in their uniforms.
So why should NFL players be able to do it without consequence when it’s unmistakably hurting the NFL’s brand?
8. Justin Timberlake was outstanding at halftime.
Even if JT was dressed in a camo suit with a camo shirt and a picture of an elk on it. Plus, the red bandanna and the Jordans.
No one else in America could pull of this outfit and still have most of the women in America ready to sleep with him.
At the Super Bowl party we went to the only time in the first half all the women all sat down and watched the television was for JT’s performance.
Of course, not everyone agreed with me.
Harv from Pittsburgh was furious that I liked JT’s performance.
BREAKING: Harv from Pittsburgh is done with the show guys. His reasons why are superb. pic.twitter.com/lAA2HPFXQz
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) February 5, 2018
9. The best commercial of the night, in my opinion and according to your votes in my Twitter poll, was Eli and Odell Beckham, Jr. reenacting Dirty Dancing.
Which Super Bowl ad did you like the most?
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) February 5, 2018
When Eli does the on all fours head spin, I lost it. And the linemen as back up dancers?!
This needs to be an actual celebration this year.
10. The second best commercial was Alexa losing her voice.
11. The third best, in my always humble opinion, was the Australia Crocodile Dundee ad.
I would totally watch this real movie too.
Special bonus ad here, the Tide ad deconstruction of all other Super Bowl ads with David Harbour from Stranger Things was also pretty awesome. I think these were the four best overall.
And I don’t want to get too meta here, but how about I start getting paid by these brands to review their Super Bowl commercials?
Regardless, it has been less than 13 hours since the Super Bowl ended and I already miss football.
Come back soon, please.