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  • The fact that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been doing this for 17 seasons will force the Eagles coaching staff to pore over years of game film in preparation for Super Bowl LII. On the other side of it, Nick Foles is making his sixth start under Doug Pederson. Philly has an enormous information gap to close
By Conor Orr
February 01, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — ESPN screened The Two Bills, the documentary about Parcells and Belichick, for a small group of reporters on Wednesday. Beyond the narrative the director created on a history of tension between the two Type A personalities, he—perhaps unintentionally—shined a light on how absolutely evil Bill Belichick’s defenses can be in the postseason right in time for the Super Bowl.

I thought about this during Eagles media availability later in the afternoon when quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo was talking about how someone figures out which of the Patriots’ multiple defenses will be the flavor of the day when there’s only one game left. When a team has so much history and institutional memory to call back on, especially with a history of changing schemes week to week, how far back would a coach potentially go in order to build a complete dossier on an opponent?

“I don’t want them to know how far we’ve gone back,” DeFilippo said. “But we’ve done extensive, extensive film study on what they’ve done.”

Contrast that with the job Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has this weekend. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has been in his current position for just two seasons. He was the playcaller for one year in Kansas City and dramatically shifted his offense after quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a torn ACL in December. While it’s never an easy task to stop any NFL offense, especially one that has been surprisingly effective in the postseason, won’t the Patriots defense have a narrower scope of possibilities to hone in on?

“From the coordinator standpoint I’m always kind of looking at, ‘O.K., what did this guy do against us the last time,” Patricia said. “How much of it is going to be similar. Is it the same team or a different team? You might have different skill position players on the current team than you did the previous time. Some of it might be relevant, some might not be, but you try and do your due diligence on everything.”

So, is the Wentz tape even relevant?

“It is,” Patricia said. “I mean, honestly, I don’t think they missed a beat. There are some parts of it that, maybe, were altered based on the quarterback position and some of the reads they had but what they have offensively is the same.”

Is Patricia just paying the Eagles lip service? We’ll find out in just a few days. In that time, though, it would seem one set of coaches has a wider information gap to close.

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Jon Jones from the road, checking in on Eagles kicker Jake Elliott’s humble roots on the tennis court … We take you back to 2000, Bill Belichick’s only losing season with New England, before the dawn of The Patriot Way … A cool idea from Jacob Feldman, who annotated Tim Layden’s epic Giants-Patriots game story with the author 10 years later.

LATER TODAY: Ice fishing with Peter King … Robert Klemko with the Foles family deep in Texas … The Tom Brady family farm in Minnesota!

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: The Chiefs traded Alex Smith! Peter King recaps … Jonathan Jones on James Harrison’s complicated high school days … Robert Klemko on Doug Pederson’s head coaching start at a high school in Louisiana.


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1. The standout beat crew from the Kansas City Star breaks down the Alex Smith trade.

2. Further Smith analysis from Terez Paylor, the writer who broke the story.

3. A fun infographic from ESPN which basically shows the NFL head coaching circle as a product of Bill Parcells or Bill Belichick.

4. How lopsided is the mental matchup between Belichick and Pederson?

5. Broncos linebacker Von Miller is high on Kirk Cousins. Let the games begin.

6. Rex Burkhead, the mysterious Brady hand gasher, does not want to talk about his role in the world’s lamest controversy.

7. Why do we say hut hut or hike before snapping the ball?

8. A ton of smart observations from the gang at Pro Football Focus ahead of the Super Bowl.

9. The now-obvious availability of Kirk Cousins puts Jets management at a fascinating decision point.

10. Patrick Mahomes: King of Kansas City.


Matt Patricia has gotten most of New England’s facial hair headlines—deservedly so. But, to bring it full circle, tune in to The Two Bills when it hits ESPN for a four-second shot of a young Belichick with a wild, untamed moustache that made him look like a post-Steampunk corrections officer in a new, dystopian world.

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