After the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead in their Super Bowl LI 34-28 loss to the New England Patriots, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan received a lot of flack for his play calling in the fourth quarter. Shanahan’s good friend and NFL on CBS analyst Chris Simms joined The Jim Rome Show on Monday and said he didn’t believe Shanahan should be the franchise’s scapegoat.
“I’m amazed, I woke up this morning and I do, I see the blame on Kyle Shanahan, and I go wow, I just don’t get it. It’s not the same game I watched,” Simms said. “If the Atlanta offense took the conservative approach in the second half and lost the game, everybody in the media would be going well why did they take the foot off the gas pedal on offense. They went all conservative, that’s why they lost the game. No, the problem with what Atlanta did and why they lost the game was their defense.”
The former NFL quarterback elaborated on Atlanta’s defensive breakdown. “First of all, they had a 25 point lead. Second of all, they did not play the same defense that they played the first two quarters and a half of the football game, and what gave them the great advantage in the first half is they were playing defensive schemes that they had not played all year. They were doing things that the New England Patriots were not prepared for so they were flustered, because they were not expecting that plan of attack,” Simms said. “Then they got up 28-3 and they went back to the old prevent, hey we’re the Atlanta Falcons and this is the same one or two defenses we’re going to play the whole game. You can’t do that against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
“First of all, Tom’s amazing, the offense is amazing, he has weapons and as you saw, he just slowly picked it a part. And the other thing I will say too, as a defensive coach in Dan Quinn, you got to do something different in the second half anyways. You know, try to create a big play or let New England score quickly at least to get your offense back on the field and change the momentum of the game.”
Simms said the Falcons needed to play to the team’s strength.
“I would have been a lot more at ease in a track race with my offense in the Atlanta Falcons than in this defensive slow death, where not only did it kill his defense and they were on the field for too many plays, but their offense was on the sideline forever and ever too and don’t get in a rhythm,” Simms said. “Atlanta’s been a team all year that’s playing shootouts that’s the way they play and their defense really took them out of that style of play.”
Simms, whose brother Matt is a quarterback on the Falcons’ practice squad, said the mood around the team today had to be like being at a morgue.
“I can’t even imagine what it’s like to blow a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl and lose to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Really, it feels like losing a close family member to death. That’s really what they feel like today. It’s probably the best way I can explain it,” Simms said. “I mean, it’s that kind of somber mood. It’s a horrible feeling to know you put in all that work played so great all year, really put yourself in a position to win the Super Bowl and really just was flawed in the second half. It’s a killer, and they’re not going to get over it any time soon too. Its going to be one of those that’s going to eat at them for the next month or two.”
Having spent time in New England himself as an assistant coach, Simms said a day after winning the Super Bowl, Bill Belichick has already turned the page towards next year and put his greatness into historical context.
“He’s the greatest football coach ever. It’s not even debatable, we know that. Like, I always tell my friends if Bill Belichick was working down on Wall Street, he’d be running Wall Street. He’d be the wolf, he really would. He would be running Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, it doesn’t matter,” Simms said. “Bill is a brilliant man and he’s a curmudgeon and his ability to grind day in and day out is unmatched and that’s what’s made them great, is just Bill’s years and years and days and day and hours and hours of basically outworking, out-detailing the rest of the NFL and it’s led to this, the greatest dynasty we’ve ever seen in professional football. It’s not even a question anymore.
“They’re more along the lines now of the 50’s Yankees, the 60’s Celtics, the Jordan and Phil Jackson run of the 90’s with the Bulls. That’s what they’ve gone on to, they’re the greatest dynasty in football history.”
Simms also added that the New England dynasty isn’t ending any time soon.
“They are the 12th youngest team in football. They were the youngest in the AFC Playoffs,” Simms said. “Brady’s playing better now than he was in 2011 when they lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. I wouldn’t be shocked when it’s all said and done if Brady ends up with six or seven just because I think this team is ultra-talented and really just starting to hit the pinnacle of what it could be.”