Harbaugh Brothers Adapt
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but after last Sunday’s exciting NFL conference round, much of the media and post-game coverage was very much targeted towards individual comments of opposing teams and players. Obviously, in the social media day and age everything is multiplied and discussed. Anna Burns Welker, Wes Welker’s wife ranted about Ray Lewis, Shannon Sharpe called out Bill Belichick for declining his post-game interview and Ravens players tweeted about the lack of sportsmanship from the Patriots and their fanbase. As for the Falcons, rumors of Michael Turner’s departure have already surfaced, along with the announcement of Tony Gonzalez’s eventual retirement. These are just a few of the storylines that I bothered to take note of, yet I’m sure there were a lot more.
While I was recapping statistical data from last weekend’s games, I noticed an interesting yet obvious gamenote that to me stood out as a major difference maker in both matchups.
The Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots both went into halftime with the lead against their opponents. Normally, when leading after halftime the Falcons and Patriots walk away with the win. Both teams had very impressive home win streaks when securing a first half lead. Yet in this case, neither the Falcons nor the Patriots scored a single point in the second half of Sunday’s NFL championship round.
Halftime adjustments are one of those things in football where every individual player or coach has a different opinion on what actually takes place. In the last few years I’ve heard ex-coaches talk about how there is less time than you may think. They go on to say that after a halftime mini-interview, getting personnel organized and taking a quick pee-break you pretty much have two minutes for a motivational speech before running back out onto the field for the second half. I, much like many NFL fans, envision something different, something more with a Hollywood twist, where everyone gathers around the chalkboard to problem-solve passing patterns, find weaknesses in gameplans and counter-attack towards what an opponent is doing.
One of the main reasons why I love the NFL is strategy. I’ve always loved strategic games and even to this day I still see the NFL as a game of chess with 250 pound monster men that can run really fast and hit extremely hard. I love timing routes, back-shoulder fades and smart quarterbacks who can not only read the defense but move personnel with a shrug of their shoulder or a pump fake from in the pocket (Just as the odds predicted it: http://bwinbetting.com )
The Harbaugh bloodline pumps intensity long before and after the game begins and ends. Both these two coaches are fiery, disciplined and scream strategy to me. It has to be more than a coincidence that both Harbaugh led teams shut out their opponents in the second half. To me that is the definition of halftime adjustments. Not only did both defenses begin to counteract their opponent, but both the 49ers and Ravens moved the ball more effectively. I would have liked to have said both teams scored more points in the second half, but Michael Crabtree fumbled the ball on the one-yard line slowing an impressive drive along with a David Akers missed field goal.
Both teams’ offenses and defenses made the proper adjustments at halftime that changed each game dramatically. I can honestly say that I believe both Bill Belichick and Mike Smith were out-coached in the second half. Which in turn dramatically changed the outcome of both road teams and which led to their demise.
In less than two weeks both Harbaugh brothers will square off in a very strategic battle in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII. With an extended Super Bowl halftime, I’m curious to see how much each team changes depending on schemes and game planning from the first half. Being brothers, I wonder how much knowledge of each other’s tendencies will lead to an advantage in strategy for game planning a Super Bowl win.