The Patriots defeated the Chiefs in Sunday's AFC Championship game, and they did so in part because of their success with the run game.
Matthew Coller of SKOR North pointed out that New England ran the ball 48 times and passed 46 times, controlling the time of possession with 43:59 compared to Kansas City's 20:53. He said that the Patriots "checked off" the things that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer would like to see in Minnesota's offense. Coller quoted Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who said the following after having the "interim" portion of his title lifted:
"I think what Coach [Zimmer] talked about was balance, and that's going to be what we want to do moving forward," Stefanski said. "We just don't want to be predictable. I can't tell you that we're always going to run it or we're always going to pass it. We're going to try to be balanced and not be predictable."
Coller said the Patriots take a specific approach to being unpredictable and opined that "we are very likely to see the Vikings lean more toward New England's model" as opposed to the NFC-champ Rams, who almost exclusively use three wide receivers, one tight end and one running back. Coller wrote:
[Patriots Offensive Coordinator] Josh McDaniels used 10 different skill-position players for at least 15 plays in Sunday's victory over Kansas City. The team's three running backs split the workload almost evenly with Sony Michel taking 34 snaps, James White playing 33 and Rex Burkhead receiving 30 plays.
Turns out that there was a player in the backfield that saw even more action than Michel, White and Burkhead: fullback James Develin.
Coller noted that Develin's 398 offensive plays in 2018 were second among fullbacks behind San Francisco's Kyle Juszczyk (662).
According toSharpFootballStats, the Pats used 21 personnel (two running backs, one tight end) on 21 percent of plays, the second highest in the NFL behind only the 49ers.
Coller explained that Vikings fullback C.J. Ham played 140 snaps, which ranked ninth in offensive plays among players in his position group, and said he expects to see more of Ham in 2019.
The last time [Vikings Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor Gary] Kubiak was in charge of an offense, in 2016, the Denver Broncos had the third most used fullback on rushing plays in Andy Janovich. In 2014, when Kubiak was OC of the Ravens, they used Juszczyk in 454 snaps, the third most total by any fullback that year. In 2012, Kubiak's Houston Texans had the second-most-used fullback in James Casey.
Long before Goff, Kapp became 1st Cal QB to start a Super Bowl
The teams for Super Bowl LIII were decided over the weekend, and third-year quarterback Jared Goff will face five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.
Goff will be the fifth Cal quarterback to start a Super Bowl, which is the most of any college, and second to do so with the Rams, according to Gary Peterson of the Mercury News.
The first Golden Bear passer to start in the big dance was none other than Vikings Legend Joe Kapp. Peterson wrote:
Papa Bear started Super Bowl IV for the Minnesota Vikings. Lightly regarded by NFL scouts, Kapp took the road less traveled, logging eight seasons in the Canadian Football League. With the trade of Fran Tarkenton to the New York Giants after the 1966 season, the Vikes were in the market for a starting quarterback. They took a flier on Kapp.
He and the Vikings burst into full flower in 1969. The defense was known as the Purple People Eaters. The offense was prolific. Kapp was more inspiration than production. His forte was throwing an interesting array of passes — chest passes, jump passes, end-over-end, whatever it took — and locating pig piles to leap upon. The Vikings went 12-2, leading the NFL in most points scored and least points allowed. They won their first two playoff games by a combined score of 50-27.
They met the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. The game marked the end of the American Football League. It would merge with the NFL the following season. Both teams bore the mantle of their respective leagues.
Kapp and the Vikings were unfortunately defeated in the organization's first of four Super Bowl appearances.
The next Cal alum to play QB in a Super Bowl was Craig Morton (Cowboys) in Super Bowl V. Vince Ferragamo (Rams) played QB in Super Bowl XIV, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay to a win in Super Bowl XLV.
Former Vikings DB hired by Gators
Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen announced Monday that former Vikings defensive back Torrian Gray will be joining the Gators as the team's cornerbacks coach.
Kareem Copeland of the Washington Post wrote that Gray will be leaving his current position as the Redskins defensive backs coach to return to the college ranks. Gray, who played 25 games for the Vikings from 1997-98, coached 10 seasons at Virginia Tech and spent the 2016 season with the Gators before joining Washington for 2017-18.
"Obviously, Torrian brings a high level of familiarity with our program and the Southeastern Conference," Mullen said in a statement. "His track record of preparing players for the NFL and his success coaching at that level speaks for itself."