Building a championship football team starts with getting the right coach and right quarterback.
And if you get a Hall of Fame coach and quarterback, it usually translates into multiple championships – like Paul Brown–Otto Graham, Vince Lombardi–Bart Starr, Chuck Noll–Terry Bradshaw, Bill Walsh–Joe Montana and Bill Belichick–Tom Brady.
If you want to check out the difference the right coach and quarterback can make, just check out the New England Patriots.
They are no longer the best team in the AFC, and certainly not in the NFL. There are three or four NFC teams that are better than the Patriots, including the Philadelphia Eagles, the team that beat them in the Super Bowl.
But they still made it to the Super Bowl last season, because the AFC is in a down cycle and the team that should have beaten them in the AFC title game was overmatched by Belichick and Brady.
The mistakes made by Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone and the ineffective play of Blake Bortles gave the Patriots a ticket to the Super Bowl.
Marrone didn’t appear ready to coach in a big game like this. With 55 seconds left in the first half and two time outs left, Marrone had Bortles take a knee.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who did beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, said he never would have done that.
You don’t beat the Patriots by being cautious.
And then with the Jaguars having three possessions and four first downs with the lead in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars ran Leonard Fournette all times on first down. He was stuffed all four times.
The Jaguars should have known that Belichick is going to take away the thing you do best.
Even announcer Tony Romo said midway through the fourth quarter that the Patriots were playing the Bear defense (to take away the run) and were going to force Bortles to beat them.
Not surprisingly, he couldn’t do it, and the Jaguars punted on all three possessions as Brady stormed back to win.
Bortles also made a major gaffe late in the second period, when he didn’t get a play off in time and the Jaguars’ delay penalty not only rubbed out a third down pass for a first down that could have led to a field goal but it gave the Patriots time to score a touchdown. That was a possible 10-point swing.
Granted, Jaguars fans still blame the refs for calling Myles Jack down, but the bottom line is that the Jaguars made too many mistakes.
Although much of the pregame hype week is about whether Fournette can play and how effective he will be if he does, Fournette is not likely to be a major factor in the game.
Belichick will take the run away, and Bortles will have to beat them. And Bortles still looks like Bortles. He had a 64.4 quarterback rating in his last two preseason games and a 67.2 rating against the New York Giants last week.
He’s too inconsistent, and while he is good enough when backed by a great defense to win 12 games, he couldn’t put up enough points to beat Brady.
The Jaguars still won it with their defense against the Giants, but while the defense will keep it close against the Patriots, the odds are they can’t shut Brady down the entire game. Remember his third-and-18 play last year that sparked their comeback. Not only did Brady made a great play, but the Jaguars were probably in the wrong defense.
And they can’t expect Marrone to outcoach Belichick.
It doesn’t help that the Jaguars run-first philosophy is outdated in an era where all the rules favor the passing game.
The Jaguars probably still have a better team than the Patriots, but it may not matter.
The Patriots will likely again show what an edge it is to have a Hall of Fame coach and quarterback.