Julio Jones, Dwight Freeney top-graded players in first half of Super Bowl LI
Senior Analyst Sam Monson provides his biggest takeaways from the first half of Super Bowl LI, as well as the top-graded players for each team through two quarters.
Patriots using multiple DBs to track Julio Jones
There were a number of ways the Patriots could have deployed their defensive backs against Falcons WR Julio Jones. They have used CB Malcolm Butler to track receivers in the past, but typically only smaller, shiftier receivers like Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. They tend to keep Butler away from bigger-bodied receivers, but so far, all of New England’s top three corners have spent some time across from Jones. Logan Ryan looks to be getting the majority of the work, with safety help.
Atlanta’s defense utilizing many twists and stunts up front
The Falcons are running a lot of stunts and twists up front in an attempt to try and gain an advantage over that Patriots’ offensive line that has been so strong over the season. They may not have a clear advantage by just trusting their pass-rushers to win one-on-one, but rushing in combination like that may help free up somebody.
How Blount’s fumble could change Patriots’ rushing tactic
The fumble from Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount could be key to this game, and not because of the points that Atlanta scored on the turnover. Bill Belichick hates fumbles, and often will bench a player (or limit his playing time in a game) because of them. The Patriots seemed to have decided this was a Blount kind of game, but James White and Dion Lewis were the backs on the next drive, potentially fundamentally altering how New England will play this game on offense. Blount has had carries since, but hasn’t been the every-down back. With the Patriots trying to claw back a double-digit deficit, though, that may have changed anyway.
Falcons need to clean up penalties
Atlanta’s defense has held up extremely well against the Patriots, but penalties are handing extra opportunities to a team that typically doesn’t need to be given them. Brady’s pick-six buys them more breathing room, but the Falcons need to get that straightened out in the second half, because the Patriots are a team still capable of coming back from this big a deficit.