Bill Belichick’s Shanahan flashbacks; Mohamed Sanu’s arm

As Super Bowl week rolls on,’s reporters get you up to speed with the hottest news and notes about the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots as they get set to do battle in Houston, including:

» Dan Quinn’s dedication to routine.

» Mohamed Sanu‘s hidden talent.

But first, is it 2017 or 2005? …

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HOUSTON — Preparing for the explosive Falcons offense is like taking a trip back in time for Bill Belichick, to a recent past that wasn’t so friendly to the Patriots.

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike, went 5-3 against Belichick as a head coach. Belichick said previously that no NFL coach was better at game-planning and creating problems for defenses, especially with mid-game adjustments. When Belichick looks at this Falcons offense, he sees many similarities in Kyle’s offense to those old Broncos teams.

“The stretch play is a big part of the offense,” Belichick explained. “They do a good job with play-action, which Mike always did. A lot of positive plays, not a lot of penalties, not a lot of turnovers. They always seemed to be in control offensively, don’t lose a lot of yardage. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They make you go out there and stop them. I think I said a lot of the same things about Mike.”

In many ways, the Shanahans are the offensive counterparts to Belichick. They are masters at seeing what a defense does, changing on the fly and adjusting. Falcons center Alex Mack and Shanahan both noted that Belichick has seen it all and will inevitably throw new wrinkles at them. Then again, they both stressed that worrying about their own execution was more important. After all, this is a game where both offenses should have an advantage.

Both defenses have sounded this week like they are underdogs, ready to prove people wrong.

“(Patriots quarterback Tom) Brady is a guy who knows exactly what defense you are in,” Falcons safety Ricardo Allen said Thursday. “You can try to disguise it, you can try to do it all, but he has seen it all. He has seen every defense. What you really have to do is compete with his guys on the outside, compete with his running backs.”

Both defenses also sounded like they just hoped to contain the opposition, because stopping Matt Ryan or Brady is impossible. Cornerback Jalen Collins spoke Thursday about the dangers of overthinking on the field against Brady because the Patriots have so little consistency in game plans week-to-week. Falcons coach Dan Quinn kept it simpler.

“Just got to be physical,” Quinn said. “Go right at them. You can’t try to finesse anything. You have to be physical and go right at them.”

Pairing a great offense with a good enough situational defense has essentially been the Patriots‘ formula for the last decade. Both teams in this Super Bowl fit that profile, and it’s one reason why even Belichick sounds like he’s facing an uphill battle on defense.

“They’ve had so much success with what they’re doing, they’re going to keep doing it but make it hard for the defense to recognize this is the play, and by the time you recognize it, the play is over,” Belichick said. “You know, they’re spotting the ball, and it’s like, ‘Aw, that’s what it was.’ ”

The defense that does a better job recognizing plays before it’s too late on Sunday, especially in the red zone,…