Julio Jones, Dwight Freeney top-graded players in first half of Super Bowl LI

Senior Analyst Sam Monson breaks down the top takeaways in Super Bowl LI through two quarters.

| 4 months ago
Julio Jones

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Vladimir_Poutine

    The pathetic cheatriots going down. So happy to see this overrated team go down. Cheatriots time is over. They will never win a ring again.

    • Mike Jones


      • dlund6cutler


    • dlund6cutler

      Still think think there pathetic