For the second year in a row, a former Michigan State quarterback and NFL backup played a huge role in his team’s Super Bowl victory.
This week, Albert Breer sat down with Devin and Jason McCourty of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. A main feature of the article is how every member of the Patriots contributed to the championship, especially backup quarterback Brian Hoyer.
Hoyer played for Michigan State from 2005-08, starting the final two seasons under Mark Dantonio and leading the team to back-to-back bowl games. The quarterback signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2009, he went on to play with five other teams before rejoining the Patriots in 2017.
The article was complimentary to Hoyer throughout, with his teammates lauding him multiple times for his ability to act as more than a backup quarterback and how he helped the defense prepare.
Specifically, they credit Hoyer with recognizing an aspect of the Los Angeles Rams offense that directly led to success on one of the most important plays of the Super Bowl. In a very “six-degrees-of-separation” way, Hoyer realized he knew quite a bit about Sean McVay’s offense. In 2013 and 2017, Hoyer played in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. McVay coached tight ends in Shanahan’s offense from 2010-13. Clearly, both men payed close attention to the language used during that time.
Before the Super Bowl, [Hoyer] watched an episode of Peyton Manning’s Detail series on ESPN-Plus on Goff, and it hit him right away—the offense is the same. Looking at the Rams tape confirmed it. Then, he saw an NFL Network interview where Goff and McVay discussed the coach being in the quarterback’s ear up until the 15-second play-clock cutoff, which was something Shanahan did with Hoyer. Then, Hoyer went back to Amazon’s All or Nothing series on the Rams; it was about the 2016 season but had footage of OTAs from McVay’s first spring there. Hoyer recognized the language.
The knowledge of that language allowed Hoyer to play a crucial role in the preparation for the Patriots’ defense. Earlier in the season, the Patriots had practiced showed a blitz-package where all 11 players lined up within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Hoyer told the defense that the Rams only answer to a blitz from this formation was to rely on the quarterback to make a play.
With 4:24 seconds left in the game, the Rams had the ball and trailed 10-3. They were on the move, nearing the red-zone, with the chance to tie the game. That’s when the Patriots called their blitz, bringing every defender within 10 yards of the ball. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was the last line of defense on this play, and fortunately for the Patriots, he remembered Hoyer’s advice. Gilmore’s eyes never left quarterback Jared Goff.
The Rams would never get any closer and the Patriots went on to win 13-3. It was Hoyer’s first Super Bowl championship. While it’s impossible to quantify, it is hard to imagine a player who never saw the field making a bigger impact on the game’s biggest stage.