Just a few weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put the finishing touches on an incredible team win against the Green Bay Packers at historic Lambeau Field. The energy on the field was palpable, as the team received the George Halas trophy for their highly impressive accomplishment.
Likewise, the Kansas City Chiefs were in firm control of the AFC championship game against the Buffalo Bills. The connection between Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce was as locked in as ever, and the team accepted the Lamar Hunt trophy for winning the conference.
With excitement building to a fever pitch as the NFC champions and AFC champions get set to meet in the Super Bowl…a two week break in the action sets in to let the moment soak in and marinate before the heavyweights clash. Although every NFL team gets a bye week during the regular season and has a stretch where there is two weeks in between games, this pause is much different than some time off in Week 7. Coaches and players who have been through the exciting, hectic, but memorable period have different feelings on how to best utilize the down time.
Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was a part of two successful Super Bowl runs in recent history, as they defeated the New England Patriots twice in their most recent big game appearances. Even though the staff prepared diligently leading up to the game, Gilbride mentioned that time definitely flies even though there is an extra week to get ready.
“Inevitably, it seems like time goes away that second week. You don’t nearly watch the film you thought you were going to. I was always shocked and disappointed,” the coordinator remarked. Via Forbes
Despite the swift pace with which everything happens, many people involved in the Super Bowl think two weeks is the perfect rest bit to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s before the biggest moment of their lives. But throughout NFL history, the final game hasn’t always been played with such a lengthy stoppage. Many times, the Super Bowl was played the week right after the conference championship games, but starting with the 2004 Super Bowl, the NFL decided to make the two week hiatus permanent.
Legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula coached in a total of six Super Bowls, some of which were played the following week after the conference championship, and some which had the now customary lead in period. Shula was a fan of the latter setup.
“This is the Super Bowl,” he emphasized. And a game of that magnitude, you want to have the most time to prepare. And if you have players slightly injured, and they get a chance to recover and get into the game, that’s a big difference. I’ve coached in six of them, done it both ways. And I much prefer two weeks to one week.” Via Newstimes.com
From a player’s point of view, many try to soak in the pageantry of sports’ biggest event, but also try not to get too high or too low to throw off their focus. It can be very easy to get caught up in a media fabricated storyline and not pay attention to the task at hand, so structure and leadership can be two of the most important aspects of the build up.
Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce was fortunate enough to be a part of the victorious group that prevailed in Super Bowl LII, and took away many memorable experiences. He and his teammates were able to lock in on the task at hand, which allowed them to be successful during the game.
“So the biggest thing that teams do wrong is that guys get really fired up and the emotion is so high that you lose track of the basic fundamentals,” Kelce believes. “It’s hard, Super Bowl week, with all the media and there’s one thing after one thing after one thing and really you’ve got to try and block as much of that out as you can.” Via SkySports
Both the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have players who have played in the big game before, and are probably two of the most well equipped teams to handle the break, even in what has been a very unique NFL campaign.