Tactics Behind a Super Bowl

From a Coaching Perspective
An illustration of two football helmets and a football.
An illustration of two football helmets and a football.
JiaLi Deck

He’ll fire to the right side, caught by Diggs! He got loose! At the 30! At the 10! TOUCHDOWN! Are you kidding me? It’s a Minneapolis Miracle! Stefon Diggs and the Minnesota Vikings have walked off on the New Orleans Saints!” Paul Allen said in the iconic 2018 Minneapolis Miracle as with the miracle, the Vikings went on to the NFC championship game.

While people remember the great Super Bowl moments, what often goes under the radar is the coaching and tactics behind it. In reality, you see every great play because of a coaching maneuver, hard work and practice for the game.

This year’s playoffs feature many notable coaches such as three-time Super Bowl champion Andy Reid, Dan Cambell, who has brought the Lions to their first playoff win since 1992, or Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who has overcome injuries to many key positions to make the playoffs still and is the favorite for this years coach of the year award.

Amidst these high-profile successes, local football coach Doug Verby discusses the less visible aspects of coaching. He emphasizes the hours of practice and strategizing behind the scenes, highlighting the role of leadership and support from coaches during the intense playoff season.

   “When the bolts start flying, you look to your leaders. So, if your leaders are freaking out, if the coaches are freaking out, they make mistakes, the players make mistakes and it just snowballs,” Verby said.

Verby finds his guidance and his players’ leadership very important to the younger players’ development. He noted in years past; the school team tended to let one bad play lead to several.

  “This year, we’ve gotten much better at bouncing back following a mistake and not letting one play turn into several bad plays in a row,”  Verby said.

The team’s record reflects the progress as they recorded a seven-win season, an improvement of four from last year and the most wins since their 2012-13 team. Their ability to win high-leverage games led them to the district championship for the first time since the 2012-13 team. 

  “Planning and execution are a huge part of football; there are some sports, you can just go out and play, but in all the sports I’ve coached, you want to know what their tendencies are, and you want to attack their weaknesses,” Verby said. 

  Teams often try to run new, never-before-seen plays in the Super Bowl, Verby explained. The team uses these strategies to throw off defenses so they make mistakes.

  “In Super Bowls, everything you see is a little bit different, running a play that they haven’t run the entire season or a coverage scheme on defense, that usually is the best opportunity for your opponent to make a mistake,” Verby said.

For this reason, according to Verby, teams need to go over as much as possible in practice.  He often tries to throw in some new plays in big games. He recognizes that many plays at the moment, such as the QB scramble, are random strokes involving luck; however, you can’t plan an offense out of plays that come out of nowhere.

  Verby praised Cambell, who runs plays involving a lot of risks; however, he has tons of preparation and practice for his game plans. Additionally, he commends Reid for his exceptional team development.

“I think you can’t argue with the preparation of Kansas City. Swagelok Spagnola is an excellent defensive coordinator, Reid is an outstanding game planner and offensive mind, and then when you have a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes, it would be hard to bet against the Chiefs,” Verby said.

Reid has appeared in three of the last five Super Bowls, winning two of them, success that no NFL coach has had in the past few years. A championship earns respect for a coach, no matter what level.

  Nick Ward was recently named the Adkins Missouri High School coach of the year. Ward was the coach behind the District 6 champion for Kearny High School, and now, as a result, he has earned his legacy among the great Missouri coaches. No coach has won more championships than Pete Adkins in Missouri High School history. In honor of his unparalleled achievements, not only is the most prestigious coaching award in Missouri named after him, but he secured the #24 spot in the national MaxPreps’ top 50 high school coaches of all time. 

As a result of his championships, a coach like Reid will always be admired throughout the league and considered a threat to the championship. Verby thinks the Chiefs are the team to beat for this year’s playoffs. As for players, there are always inspiring stories to motivate high schoolers for big games. 

  “Kurt Warner won the Super Bowl as a backup, and nobody expected much. Nick Foles won the Super Bowl, taking over for injured Carson Wentz. Some of the most inspirational stories come from the teams you don’t expect to win,” Verby said. 

Similarly, before the high school season began, the school had recorded just one playoff win since 2014. However, 2023 marked a turning point as the team advanced to the district championship. Verby uses these examples of the role of backup players and the resilience of overlooked teams as pivotal motivations to helping every player stay motivated. Coach Verby consistently provides a uniform game plan to prepare his team for any situation on the field.

“We watch what they do, we look at their tendencies, and usually we make those halftime or mid-game adjustments and attack the things they’re given us,” Verby said. 

In the 2017 Super Bowl, the Falcons led the Patriots 28-3 deep in the third quarter. ESPN analytics had the Patriots’ odds of winning as low as 0.3%. However, while taking advantage of poor performances on offense by the Falcons and an overtime coin toss win, the Patriots adjusted their defense to force a fumble and three punts in the fourth quarter, leading to their 34-28 win. This year, the high school team faced a critical challenge in their district semi-final. Despite their opponent striking first with a touchdown, the team responded with strategic adjustment to punch their ticket to the finals with a 23-22 victory.

  “Only very good teams or very stubborn teams will run the same stuff every week, and if you’ve got a competitive team, you can’t get away with that, so you’ve got to adjust to every single opponent you face,” Verby said.

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Charlie Balestra, Page Editor
Charlie Balestra is a sophomore in his second year on the Globe. He is constantly striving to write stories to the best of his ability. This school year, he is looking forward to publishing more breaking news stories, getting his drivers’ license, and hanging out with his friends more in general. Outside of the Globe, Charlie also participates in hockey and cross country. 
JiaLi Deck, Editor in Chief
JiaLi Deck is a senior. When she first joined the Globe her sophomore year, she couldn't have ever imagined being Editor in Chief; however, as time went on she realized how passionate she is about writing and designing for the Globe. In the past two years, she has gotten to write stories which have made an difference and design pages of a nationally distributed magazine. She is immensely proud to get to lead of such a fantastic publication and she hopes to continue Globe's important mission in her final year on staff. In addition to Globe, JiaLi participates in Speech & Debate and is a 1st company member of the pre-professional dance division at COCA. She is also a commission graphic artist who designs T-Shirts, logos, and other digital projects.
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