Sunday 7: Sean McVay’s inexperience already showing, which could be big advantage for Patriots

Ryan Hannable
February 03, 2019 - 7:30 am

1. It’s been well-documented how big of difference there is between Bill Belichick and Sean McVay when it comes to experience in the Super Bowl, and it is already showing before the game has started. On Friday, McVay admitted to NFC pool reporter Chareaen Williams that the Rams have not once used music to simulate crowd noise at any of their practices. There was music Friday, but only for “background noise.” “Typically what we do is we’ll really blare it depending on if we’re at home or away,” he said. “If we’re on the road, it’ll be blaring during offensive periods. If we’re at home, it’ll be during defensive periods. Now, in a static environment, we just kind of had it in the background. Hopefully there will be more Rams fans than Patriots, but you never know.” Well, there are way more Patriots fans in Atlanta than Los Angeles fans, and regardless of who has more fans, it’s just a loud environment, especially early in the game. It is also worth noting in the NFC championship game, it looked like Jared Goff and the offense were unprepared for the crowd noise, and if what McVay said is any indication, it could be an issue again. It looks like the Patriots already have an advantage and the game hasn’t even started.

2. When speaking to a bunch of players this week, it is very clear Josh Gordon is still on their minds, and they view him as still being part of the team. (Side note: his locker room name plate hasn’t been taken down, even after he was suspended.) “Honestly, I wish he was here,” one player said. Gordon would receive a Super Bowl ring if the Patriots do win the game, and that is something at least a few players acknowledged — it would be nice to win for him. "This is a brotherhood that we have here,” rookie cornerback Keion Crossen said. “We always support each other with whatever we're doing. It means a lot as person and as teammate to let him know that we're still thinking about [him] and we still have [him] in our hearts."

3. It seems relatively certain that Sunday will be Rob Gronkowski’s final game, and potentially Devin and Jason McCourty’s as well. There will also likely be another surprise retirement or two in the offseason, as that seems to happen every year. From what we’ve gathered this week, Dont’a Hightower will not be one of them. His mentor, Jerod Mayo, retired at age 29, which Hightower will turn in March, but it doesn’t seem like Hightower will follow suit. Hightower has expressed a desire not to have a super long career like some other linebackers, but just not as short as Mayo’s. While this is pure speculation and is just a thought, perhaps Matthew Slater, who turns 34 next September, could call it a career after Sunday.

4. One thing that has caught our eye over the course of the week is the betting line hasn’t moved from Patriots -2.5 despite the majority of the bets/money going to the Patriots. It’s been difficult to find someone who is picking the Rams, which makes it puzzling as to why the line hasn’t gone up to -3. This would indicate Vegas believes the Rams have more of a chance than the public is giving them credit for, and they don’t mind all the money coming in for the Patriots.

5. It was cool to see all the Patriots players post pictures on social media from Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with family and friends on the field. The day before the game is truly about the team and their families, as it’s been noted many times the sacrifice they make to allow their husbands, dads, etc. to play for the Patriots. There were more than 800 family and friends who joined the team on the field, and this included players not on the 53-man roster. Players on injured reserve were also present, which had to have been a good feeling for them with what they have gone through this year.

6. When it comes to just how impressive the Patriots’ recent run has been, think about this: Belichick’s granddaughter Blakely hasn’t even turned three years old yet, but this will be her third Super Bowl. Blakely was born in October of 2016, so she won’t turn three years old until next fall. “She’s starting off fast,” Belichick said to AFC pool reporter Jenny Vrentras.

7. One of the takeaways from speaking with Patriots director of player of personnel Nick Caserio, who is seldomly made available, this week was how no matter what happens Sunday, the team will quickly turn the page to 2019. The NFL combine begins Feb. 26, so Belichick, Caserio and Co. will quickly need to catch up on the draftees and who they want to take a look at most. Also, they will need to quickly hire replacements for Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea who are off to Miami, although it is likely already known who they will be.

Related: Former Patriots great Ty Law elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame