Despite the worst statistical performance of his Super Bowl career, Tom Brady made one big play when the New England Patriots needed it and was instrumental in helping them win a sixth title.
He wasn’t the only one in the Patriots’ quarterback room who helped New England to victory, though. As Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reveals in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column this week, Brian Hoyer’s football knowledge went a long way in helping the Patriots defense turn in one of the best performances in Super Bowl history.
The New England defense held the high-powered Los Angeles Rams to just three points with some help from Hoyer.
One of the backup quarterback’s most important roles is to run the scout team offense and give the first-team defense a look at the opposing offense. Hoyer’s status as a veteran helps with that, but it was his familiarity with the Rams’ offensive philosophies that made him uniquely suited to help the Patriots prepare.
From Breer’s column:
Hoyer began his career in New England, but he got his first shot as a starter in Cleveland. In 2014, his second year there, he started 11 games for coordinator Kyle Shanahan, then played for Shanahan again in San Francisco in ’17. Rams coach Sean McVay coached tight ends for Mike and Kyle Shanahan in Washington from 2010-13, which led Hoyer to believe he’d have some institutional knowledge of McVay’s offense.
Before the Super Bowl, he watched an episode of Peyton Manning’s Detail series on ESPN-Plus on Goff, and it hit him right away — the offense is the same. Looking at the Rams tape confirmed it. Then, he saw an NFL Network interview where Goff and McVay discussed the coach being in the quarterback’s ear up until the 15-second play-clock cutoff, which was something Shanahan did with Hoyer. Then, Hoyer went back to Amazon’s “All or Nothing” series on the Rams; it was about the 2016 season but had footage of OTAs from McVay’s first spring there. Hoyer recognized the language.
“I guess that’s the risk in putting yourself out there like that,” Hoyer joked over the phone on Sunday.
Breer, with the help of Devin and Jason McCourty, also recounted a story about how Hoyer noticed something in the Patriots’ defense playing close to the line of scrimmage earlier in the season. Hoyer correctly pointed out that if he was the quarterback, he’d just throw the ball deep and try to take advantage of the secondary playing up close to the line. The Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers had some success with that, forcing the Patriots to adjust throughout the season.
And that led to cornerback Stephon Gilmore playing a little farther back on the most important play of the game when the Patriots blitzed Rams quarterback Jared Goff late in the fourth quarter, prompting him to throw off his back foot and leading to a game-saving interception for Gilmore.
Hoyer knew even before that game started that a special performance could be coming for the New England defense.
“They had everything covered. I was like, ‘Either these guys know what all our plays are, or they’re gonna ball out in the game,'” Hoyer told Breer. “You could see it. They were playing so fast, they were so on top of it. And you get to the game, and they go and have the best defensive performance I’ve ever witnessed.”
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images