You may have heard of this story in the days after the Super Bowl, but if you have not, then I thought this might be of interest to many readers here, given that there is a certain level of obsession with the New England Patriots as it is.
Players on the Philadelphia Eagles—the Super Bowl champions, of course—have said in the wake of the game that the team actually conducted a ‘fake’ walkthrough in the leadup to the game. You know, just in case anybody might be watching. I can’t imagine why this would be relevant specifically based on the fact that their opponents were the Patriots, however. Or perhaps I can.
This information was initially relayed by the team’s long snapper, Rick Lovato, who is actually their second long snapper of the season after their usual starter suffered a season-ending injury. That perhaps provides him with a unique perspective and key degree of separation to produce the openness that spawned the revelation.
During an interview, Lovato said that, for starters, the team specifically did not run certain plays, which includes the ‘Philly Special’, which they did run in the Super Bowl. If you are unfamiliar with the name, it was the pass to quarterback Nick Foles. That play worked out pretty well, and may have worked less well had somebody seen it run in a pre-game walkthrough.
“I believe our whole walk-through was just a complete fake walk-through. We did it at the stadium. There were certain people walking around”, he said. “I believe I overheard someone say a lot of the plays we were running weren’t even in the playbook for the Super Bowl”.
A backup long snapper is likely to know only so much about what plays are in the playbook for any particular game, of course. “We had two weeks to prepare for that game”, he added. “A measly walk-through the day before the game, we weren’t going to show anything to anyone, especially being at the stadium”.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith and safety Malcolm Jenkins both subsequently offered concerns about unwelcome visitors. “I always think someone’s watching”, the former Baltimore Raven said. Jenkins said that he believes “there are still a lot of coaches out there that don’t trust the Patriots”, which could lead them to “do some fake plays in case anybody’s watching”.
Neither more veteran player—one representing the offense and one representing the defense—would necessarily come right out and say that the Eagles ran a literal fake walkthrough in so many words, though Smith did say that some plays may “not have necessarily been in the game plan or in the same order”.
Ordinarily, teams will practice plays from the ‘script’ at the beginning of the game in the order in which they are stacked on the script. A deviation of this is indeed an indication of something outside of the norm. but perhaps facing the Patriots in the Super Bowl is seen as outside of the norm, given their history, both confirmed and alleged.