Did Peyton Manning play a small role in the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII?
It appears so.
Manning has been retired for three years, but Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer used one of the projects Manning is currently involved with to help him prepare his teammates on defense for the Super Bowl.
Hoyer’s hunch proves correct
The 33-year-old Hoyer is in his second stint with the Patriots. He signed with the team as an undrafted rookie in 2009, spending three years as Tom Brady’s backup.
He bounced around a bit, but got a chance to be a starter in 2013-14 with the Cleveland Browns. In Cleveland, Hoyer played under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan — and a young coach named Sean McVay, who was then tight ends coach.
Via Albert Breer of The MMQB, Hoyer (who also played for Shanahan in San Francisco) believed he’d have institutional knowledge of the offense McVay now runs with the Rams because of his time in Shanahan’s system.
So in the days before the Super Bowl he watched Manning’s “Detail” on ESPN+, the episode centered around Rams quarterback Jared Goff, and quickly realized the offense is the same one he worked in.
Hoyer watched film of the Rams, saw an interview in which Goff and McVay discussed McVay being in Goff’s ear right up until the 15-second cutoff during games, and for good measure, he watched the Amazon series “All or Nothing” which focused primarily on the last days of Jeff Fisher’s tenure with the organization but included McVay’s first organized team activities from his first months with the Rams.
The language was the same.
Armed with all of that, Hoyer was able to do a great job impersonating Goff during practice, preparing his teammates for how to play Los Angeles’ young quarterback.
“Having played in that offense, they don’t have an answer for all-out pressure,” Hoyer told Breer. “Their answer is for the quarterback to make a play.”
Hoyer helped Stephon Gilmore’s interception
Devin and Jason McCourty told a story about Hoyer: earlier in the season, Hoyer pointed out that when the defense was playing close to the line of scrimmage, a quarterback would throw deep, looking to take advantage of the secondary being at a disadvantage.
He was right: the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers both saw the same thing and had some success with deep passes against the Patriots. But they adjusted.
So as the clock was ticking in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, with Los Angeles facing second down from the New England 27 and clicking in the passing game, New England cornerback Stephon Gilmore played a little farther back when teammates blitzed. Goff threw off his back foot, and Gilmore was in position for a critical interception.
Hoyer had done such a good job preparing his teammates that when the Patriots were practicing in Atlanta, he felt frustrated.
“They had everything covered,” Hoyer said. “I was like, ‘Either these guys know what all our plays are, or they’re gonna ball out in the game.’ You could see it. They were playing so fast, they were so on top of it. And you get to the game, and they go and have the best defensive performance I’ve ever witnessed.”
Hoyer was the only one of the Patriots’ 46 players in uniform for the Super Bowl that didn’t play a snap, but he made his contribution to their win before kickoff.