Qadry Ismail Breaks Down Tonight’s Matchup
Former Meyers High School and Syracuse University star Qadry Ismail is the only player from the Wyoming Valley to win a Super Bowl. Ismail played for the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts during his NFL career. He won his ring with the Ravens when they defeated the Giants in Super Bowl 53.
Ismail currently works for WJZ, Channel 13 in Baltimore as a Baltimore Ravens game day analyst for the local CBS affiliate.
For the 11th straight year, Ismail took time to break down the Super Bowl for The Citizens’ Voice.
In a phone interview with staff writer Steve Bennett, Ismail offered his thoughts and opinions on tonight’s game between the Patriots and Rams in Atlanta.
Q: We will get this out of the way early. Is there anything more you can say about Tom Brady and getting here nine times?
A: Every year we have been doing this, I have been going against Tom Brady and company and I put my foot in my mouth when it comes to the Falcons when they had this crazy lead and see Tom make that comeback and me getting angry.
It is remarkable that every single year, they are in the conversation. It’s amazing how uncanny it is the way they build their team. They don’t have mega stars outside of Brady and Gronk on the offensive side. They don’t have big-time players, but have a strong, solid foundation on defense. The beat keeps going. Coaches come and go. The one constant is Bill Belichick and the way he puts together a team. He does it his way. It is a testament to ownership, to Bill and the way they have been able to sustain winning.
Q: Your thoughts on Jared Goff and the job he has done?
A: Coming from a dad who now has a son in college playing quarterback, I recognize the nuances of the position. I have to take my hat off to him. Look at what he went through last year. For Jared to brush that off and come out and play this type of football, it is a tribute to him. This is a quarterback driven league. Look what Pat Mahomes was able to do as a second-year player. Baker Mayfield in Cleveland. These are guys that have really put up big numbers. For Jared, it shows that he is a talented young man who will be a force in this league for years.
Q: What makes Sean McVay as good as he has been since he became the head coach of the Rams?
A: I applaud Belichik and his sustainability. For Sean, it is his ability to figure out what is the best thing to help my team. Part of it is youth. The “It” factor is that he believes in his team and his is not micro-managing. He has Wade Phillips on the other side of the ball. Not only does he have the resume, he is a former head coach. He has the ability to stay in his own lane. Sean inserts his authority at the right time, the right moment. He has the heartbeat of the team. It is really incredible because not many head coaches can do that.
Q: Do you see more organizations going after the young, offensive minded coaches in the future?
A: I think if you look at it, they have done that before. Lets get the new flavor of the month. Lets get a guy who has been there. You may feel confident he will be able to do it again. I think teams now recognize it is not about getting a young minded coach, it is about getting the guy you are comfortable with. Look at Oakland, Gruden is nowhere near young. For the Raiders, it’s about wanting to return to excellence, the vision Al Davis wanted. That is where you see that organization headed now. On the flip side, look at what Cleveland has gone through. They were trying to get a young coach in there, at least a first-time head coach. For whatever reason they thought they had the guy in Hue Jackson. They thought is was Greg Williams. Ultimately they hung their hat on Freddie Kitchens.
Q: With the way Brady has struggled at times with the interior rush, how do you see the Rams trying to use that to their advantage?
A: Well the elephant in the room is stopping Aaron Donald. He will see a ton of double teams, so they go out and get Ndamukong Suh. The one thing you saw with the RAms defense against Drew Brees is that Drew got rid of the ball so quickly. It has to be about that or Tom Brady is going to be in a world or hurt when it comes to pressure up the middle. Drew Brees is not that far away in age from Tom, but he has more mobility. Ultimately this is going to be a test of can the Patriots run the ball. Sony Michel is going to have to be the focal point to take pressure off Brady.
Q: How do you think the Patriots offensive line will handle the Rams defensive front?
A: There is always misdirection, too. They will try and show a blocking scheme that the Rams haven’t seen. Belichick does an amazing job. The Patriots offensive line coach, he is touted as the best offensive line coach in the league. He receives a lot of high praise. Look at the job the line did to get to this game. Tom basically had some clean pockets.
Q: How often do you anticipate the Patriots spreading the Rams out?
A: We will see what predominant defense the Rams will employ. The Patriots will look at it and think what you do, we will do the opposite. When I was with the Ravens they hired Mike Nolan as the receivers coach. In his career he was predominantly on the defensive side of the ball. We are in the receivers room wondering what he is bringing that will help us. What is fascinating is that most guys look at personnel. I look at the different coordinators and get an understanding of who they are. Belichick has done an amazing job, obviously when you get to the Super Bowl nine times. You tip your cap to him, and he has the greatest quarterback I have ever seen. They have seen it all. When I played with Peyton Manning he would be a guy that just wanted a base look offense so he could dissect the defense. He didn’t want a lot of motion. He would just lineup up and adjust off of what the defense was giving him. With the Patriots, if the defense is in nickel they are going to run. If they are going to blitz, they will screen you to death behind the blitz. If the defense tries to take something away, the Patriots will have answer. If the defense is in Cover 3 they are running. The great ones have that capability of checking out and put their teams in position to do it better and defeat the defense as opposed to just running the play that was called. That is what makes Brady dangerous.
Q: Wade Phillips is as solid a defensive guy as there is. What makes him so good, and what does he come up with today?
A: Jared Goff is on the other side and he knows he is a great player. It is how the run game will help out the defense. He has seen an awful lot. The red zone defense has been the really big difference between other defenses I have seen across the league. They do a great job of drawing a line in the sand and saying enough is enough.
Q: How big of a role do you anticipate Todd Gurley playing tonight?
A: Todd Gurley started off crazy hot. Toward the end of the year he cooled down. You notice in the NFC title game, C.J. Anderson was ballin’. Why be dumb and take out when you see Gurley is not quite having his typical mojo. That is smart. That is the type of thing Belichick does. That decision is something that commands respect of the team. It is not the name on the back of the jersey. It is about how effective you are in the game at that moment. It is a luxury to have a hungry, ready to prove himself again Todd Gurley.
Q: A few things the New England defense is going to have to account for today will be?
A: The big plays is the main thing. Brandin Cooks has the ability to stretch the field. That is paramount if he can do that. That is what the Rams like to do. They like to score, and score in bunches. Big play runs, big chunk runs. They can decimate you down the field. That is what they feel is their strength. If the Patriots take that way, I am curious what does it look like as far as the methodicalness, and can you be methodical and not make a mistake.
Q: Who is the one player we should be keeping an eye on that nobody has really been talking about?
A: I’ve got two this year, one for each team. I really believe the Rams would be a fool not to take Gronk away. If you have Julian Edelman taken away, who is next? That has to be Phillip Dorsett. He needs to have a big game. Tom is going to be himself. It is a case where Dorsett is going to have to make a play, or it could be a scenario that the Patriots lost because he didn’t show up. Suh has to take the pressure off Aaron Donald. Donald has to play big, he will. It is the Suh show as far as drawing away double teams and stopping Sony Michel up the middle.
Q: We already know who you don’t want to win, but who wins today and why?
A: I got to have the Rams. Looking at the Philly Special last year was awesome. I loved the high scoring game with over 1,000 yards of offense combined. I can see another game like that. Throw out all the conservative stuff. I say the game starts out slower than expected then the game ramps up. In the end, Donald gets a key sack on Brady, similar to last year. This time, the Rams by 10.
Rams 44, Patriots 34.