NinetyNine Yards were lucky enough to join in the virtual media press conferences in the build up to the Super Bowl. We spoke with both head coaches, Tom Brady, Vita Vea and Tyreek Hill, amongst others. There was a plethora of information to take out of an evening with NFL stars but here are some of the best bits.
Bucs revelling in home comforts
Bruce Arians was full of praise for Mike Edwards after he stepped up in the championship game. Edwards had another three tackles and will be relied upon again today. Arians was also happy that the team was able to use their own facilities to prepare for the Super Bowl. Of course they are the first team to play the big game in their own stadium. While the Chiefs have also used their facilities, the Bucs obviously won’t have to travel on gameday. Andy Reid said that his team were treating it as a standard away game.
Arians gave us a glimpse into his game plan for Sunday night. The veteran wants to avoid rushing five or more, as it prevents his defence from double teaming some of the Chiefs big threats like Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. Tom Brady had a similar view, saying there was “no margin for error” when playing against the Chiefs.
The benefit of familiarity
It’s clear that the trenches will have a huge impact on the Super Bowl. Linemen Donavon Smith said that the offensive line has developed a good rhythm, key to keeping Brady upright. Smith and Ali Marpet were both drafted in the second round of the 2015 by Tampa. They’ve started on the same side of the line for the line for the last three years. Marpet said that their long-term partnership means that they can play fast and confident. He added they’ve been through a lot together – how sweet it would be if they rounded it off with matching Super Bowl rings.
Marpet credited Brady with improving the Bucs communication and getting everyone on the same page. Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, Vita Vea acknowledged that they are also facing a superstar QB in Patrick Mahomes. Both teams are very strong on offence on 3rd and long. Vea detailed how demoralising conversions in such a scenario is for a defence. William Gholston had glowing praise for the “phenomenal” defensive coaches, saying that he had never experienced a team like it before. The pandemic has created a season like no other. But Gholston was grateful for the lack of distractions and the home cooking he has got as a result this season.
Devin White the “madman”
The reigning champions had interesting titbits of their own. Coach Andy Reid said that the Chiefs would have a different schedule. However the itinerary on gameday would be the same. Reid said that he values the input of DC Steve Spagnuolo, who he thinks will get another shot as a Head Coach at some point.
Superstar Tight End Travis Kelce heaped praise on Devin White. Kelce admires his ability to get into passing windows, calling him a “madman”. Kelce was also supportive of retaining OTAs and training camp as he relies on reps to remain locked in every day. Much has been made of who the Bucs will double team – Kelce or Tyreek Hill. Hill himself is unsure how Tampa will line up. Hill, who credits Mahomes with the change in culture in KC, doesn’t have any personal goals for the game, he just wants to win, on their business trip to Florida.
Anthony Sherman believes in the Chiefs linemen as they reshuffle with Eric Fischer’s injury. Everyone on the line has significant experience this season, if not in the position they will play tomorrow. Whether it impacts the Chiefs’ deadly timing-based offence, Sherman said “the timing will be the timing”, as the team will just have to deal with what they are given.
Sherman doesn’t view himself as a Fullback, a dying breed in the NFL. He just wants to fill as many roles as possible for the team.
“Whoever comes to my side, I’ll be ready for them”
The Chiefs defence have a job on their hands to keep the Bucs’ potent offence quiet. Chris Jones was in awe of Tom Brady’s shoulders, calling them “ridiculous” and a big part of his pocket presence. Meanwhile Charvarius Ward was looking forward to the chess match against Tom Brady. Despite Brady’s intelligence and experience, Ward said that the secondary will still be playing fast – “whoever comes to my side, I’ll be ready”.
It’s time for the talking to stop and focus to turn to the field. While interesting, everything that has been said this week is window dressing for the main event. It’s set up to be a classic between the GOAT and the young (albeit very proven) young pretender.