Rams discuss the 'tells' they identified to slow down Pats' offense in Super Bowl

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Rams discuss the 'tells' they identified to slow down Pats' offense in Super Bowl

Super Bowl LIII will be remembered for the defensive showdown that unfolded in Atlanta, as the league's two best teams held each other to a combined 16 points.

Sports Illustrated writer Andy Benoit, in discussions with the Los Angeles Rams' players and coaches, learned about the "tells" the team identified to slow down the New England Patriots' offense.

Wade Phillips, the Rams' defensive coordinator, is certainly familiar with what it takes to slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots. 

His defenses confounded the Pats when Phillips was the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.

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On Brady's first pass of the game, the Pats' QB threw an interception into intricate coverage out in the right flat. Rams' cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman discussed what went into forcing the pick on Brady:

"If it was man [coverage], I wouldn’t have been on [tight end] Dwayne Allen [in the slot], when Julian Edelman motioned in [strong safety], John Johnson came down. That’s another tell; if it was man-to-man, J.J. would’ve already been down there on Rob Gronkowski. Brady’s too smart, he knows when it’s man and when it’s zone...he just thought the throw would get there..."

While it's no secret that Tom Brady and the Patriots get a lot of production out of short, efficient routes, Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and his team figured out what was necessary to throw off the Patriots' passing game, and hold the Pats to just three points through the first three quarters of play. The Rams' plan would have likely been more successful if the Patriots' defense didn't also figure out how to hold the Rams' high-flying offense to a matching three points through three quarters as well.

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But with Pats running back Sony Michel racking up 94 yards and one touchdown (the game's only touchdown) on 18 carries, and fellow RB Rex Burkhead recording 43 yards on his seven carries, the team's use of multiple backs indeed helped the team keep open up the passing game.

When Phillips last bested the Patriots, in the 2015 AFC Championship Game in Denver a few years before, the team at that point had virtually no running game to speak of, leaving the team one-dimensional, and in large part why Phillips' Broncos were able to slow down the Patriots' offense in that game.

However, it sounds like the Rams became wise to the Patriots' plans based on their strong run game according to defensive end Michael Brockers:  “'They had a big tell on two-back alignments.' [Brockers] explained that if Develin aligned on the strong side, he would trap-block the nose tackle. If Develin aligned on the weak side, he would wind back across the formation as a lead-blocker."

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While many football fans disliked the defensive slugfest for which the game is remembered, there clearly was quite a bit of scheming and strategy that went on behind the scenes for both teams.

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Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman fined $26K (again) for hit on Rex Burkhead

Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman fined $26K (again) for hit on Rex Burkhead

Nickell Robey-Coleman just got slapped with his second fine in two weeks -- this time for a less high-profile play.

The NFL has fined the Los Angeles Rams cornerback $26,739 for his hit on a defenseless player (New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead) in Super Bowl LIII, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero shared Saturday.

Robey-Coleman was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play, which occurred early in the first quarter when he snuffed out a Patriots screen pass and leveled Burkhead in the backfield for a 4-yard loss.

Robey-Coleman also received a $26,739 fine after the NFC Championship Game for his helmet-to-helmet hit on New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. As we're sure you're aware, officials didn't call a penalty on the play and may or may not have robbed the Saints of a Super Bowl berth.

The veteran cornerback now has lost over $50,000 over the past few weeks -- in addition to missing out on the $100,000-plus Super Bowl bonus he would have received for beating the Patriots.

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Robey-Coleman on Brady comments: 'The reaction is kind of bigger than I thought it would be'

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Robey-Coleman on Brady comments: 'The reaction is kind of bigger than I thought it would be'

ATLANTA -- Nickell Robey-Coleman doesn't regret saying anything he said about Tom Brady. But only because what you thought he said about Brady wasn't actually what he said about Brady. According to him. 

Got it? 


OK, understandable. 

Robey-Coleman tried his best to explain himself during the NFL's annual kickoff to Super Bowl week on Monday at Media Night. 

"No, I don't regret saying what I said," Robey-Coleman said, "because what I said wasn't what I really said through the created story. What I said was just his age. That's it. What I said wasn't nothing about nothing else."


The Rams corner said he felt as though what he told Bleacher Report was misrepresented, though his word choice left little in the way of wiggle room for interpretation. 

"Yes. Yes. Age has definitely taken a toll," Robey-Coleman told writer Tyler Dunne. "For him to still be doing it, that’s a great compliment for him. But I think that he’s definitely not the same quarterback he was. Movement. Speed. Velocity. Arm strength. He still can sling it, but he’s not slinging it as much. Whatever he was doing — because of his age and all that — he’s not doing as much of that anymore. He’s still doing the same things; he’s just not doing as much of it. And sometimes, it’s not the sharpest. But it still gets done."

While Robey-Coleman didn't like how the story represented his comments, he wouldn't say he was misquoted. 

"I'm not going to give you a straight up answer, but either way, the story was created in a way it shouldn't have been created," Robey-Coleman explained. "I'm gonna just say that it wasn't created the way it was supposed to be created."

He added: "The reaction [to the comments] is kind of bigger than what I thought it would be. I'm taking it all in. I'm not being negative about it. Taking it one day at a time. The support from the organization, the support from my teammates, just keeping me comfortable. We all got support for each other . . . It's all good."

Robey-Coleman was reminded several times on Monday that Brady has attacked defensive backs in the past who've had things to say about the Patriots. In 2007, Anthony Smith guaranteed a victory for the Steelers. Things didn't go well for him that week.  


For all Robey-Coleman's insisting that he has no regrets, he clearly tried to heap praise upon Brady as a sort of mea culpa. 

"Great quarterback," Robey-Coleman said quickly when asked about Brady during one media scrum inside State Farm Arena. "He can make all the throws as usual. He puts his teammates in great positions. Just big respect for him and their team, the New England Patriots. 

"Nothing negative to say about Tom. He's the face of the league, almost. To go against a guy like that, it's an honor, but it's also a great challenge as well."

Does Robey-Coleman -- one of the more stingy slot corners in football this season -- expect to see Brady target him in the Super Bowl as punishment for saying what he said? 

"Maybe," he said. "I don't know that part. I don't know that part. I know that he's gonna make his throws that he's going to make. It's not like he's thinking about this the night before the game. He knows where he wants to go. They've been preparing just like we've been preparing. He's not distracted by this. Trust me. It's Tom Brady. He's done this. Many times before. I'm not gonna make a big deal out of it."

Whether or not Brady does is another story.

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