There were some good comments in the previous post. A couple of the discussions centered about Super Bowls.
One reader brought up the notion that Jim Johnson’s defenses were built more for the regular season than the postseason. I used to have a similar theory. The more I tried to study patterns, though, led me to realize that there really isn’t a pattern.
The Giants won a pair of titles in 5 years. Think how different those title runs were. The 2007 Giants played stifling defense in the playoffs. They allowed 8 TDs in 4 games. They held 3 opponents to less than 275 yards. That defensive line was dominant. It helped that they had a HOF player in Michael Strahan teamed up with a superb edge rusher in Osi Umenyiora and an outstanding interior rusher in Justin Tuck. Teams were also still getting used to having 3 and 4 DEs on the field at once. The Giants had the right scheme and personnel for that postseason.
The 2011 Giants had more luck. They faced mediocre OLs in ATL and GB. They got to the title game and Alex Smith was terrible. He only completed one pass to a WR that day. In the Super Bowl, they once again got the Pats. More luck. That is a team that the Giants matches up with well. It also helped that Rob Gronkowski was playing hurt.
My point isn’t to diminish the Giants title. They won. They get the credit. It helps that they had some luck.
And that’s the ugly secret of winning Super Bowls in the last decade or so…you need some luck. The Bucs only title came when they faced Jon Gruden’s old team. The Bucs defense knew what was coming. Peyton Manning’s only SB title came against…Rex Grossman. We had to face Tom Brady, one of the greatest QBs in the history of football. Kurt Warner went 1-2 in SBs. He lost to Big Ben (2 titles) and Brady (3 titles). That’s some bad luck.
There is no one type of offense or defense you need to win a title. We’ve seen all kinds of players and systems win. The key is to have the right players for your system and to have them be healthy and play well.
Let’s talk about Jim Johnson for a second. He had the brains and experience to win a SB. Steve Spagnuolo learned under him for years and won the title in 2007. JJ’s defenses had more speed than size. The Bucs and Colts won with similar players. Jim loved the zone blitz. Plenty of teams have won using that tactic. There is no one clear deficiency that kept JJ from winning. He simply didn’t have the right combination of players, gameplan and circumstances come together. I’m sure he laid awake at night from time to time thinking about what he could have done differently. The biggest thing we all agree on is benching Blaine Bishop for Michael Lewis in the 2002 NFC-CG. Still, Tampa’s offense scored 20 points and gained 308 yards that day. It isn’t like they ripped us up and down the field. The Bucs defense is what won that game. They had 3 takeaways and scored a TD.
The one point I would make is that it does seem to help quite a bit if you have a veteran DC. The Giants had the youngest DCs among recent SB winners. Again, that should kind of tell you that those title runs of theirs are anomalies rather than something to be studied and copied. Most DCs were older guys like Capers, Kiffin, LeBeau, Crennel/Belichick and Gregggg Williams.
It is interesting to study SB winners and look for patterns, but often you see that there is no rhyme or reason to why a team breaks through and wins the title in a given year, beyond the fact that they got hot in January.
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Another reader and I got into a discussion about Super Bowls and expectations. His point was something to the effect that since the Eagles haven’t won a title since 1960, it makes the fans that much harsher in judging the team. He used the phrase that it was intolerable that the team hadn’t won a title in so long.
Listen, I get the frustration. Not having a SB title is despressing. It haunts us.
But the attitude can’t be “You better win or else!!!”
You must enjoy the pursuit of a Super Bowl to truly enjoy the team winning it.
I am a passive Flyers fan. I love the team, but simply don’t have the time to follow them year round. When the draft is over, I start watching the NHL playoffs. Before then, I’ll try to catch a couple of Flyers games. So when they made their Stanley Cup run a few years ago, it was exciting. I watched the comeback against the Bruins. I watched them get to the Finals. And then I lived and died in all of the Finals games. I hated seeing them lose. Crushing.
Had the Flyers won, it would have been really cool. That was a fun team to follow. They were good and seemed like likable players. I would have soaked up that title for a couple of days, but it really wouldn’t have meant all that much to me since I joined the party in April. True Flyers fans had been with the team since the previous summer. They read articles about training camp. They read about the new guys. They followed the team on a daily basis. Those fans put their heart and soul into the team. A Flyers championship would have been tremendous for those fans.
You all know the saying that life is about the journey, not the destination. The same is true in sports.
Go back to 2004. Winning the SB would have been great, but losing it doesn’t erase all the great memories.
Remember TO catching 3 TDs in the opener vs the Giants? That is also the game where Trot lit up the Punter. And where Jerome McDougle lit up Eli.
Remember the game in Detroit? Mike Bartrum caught a TD pass and then had the crazy celebration where he got down and snapped the ball? Crazy. I think Jason Short blew up a couple of guys on STs that day.
We played the Browns in October in a wild game. Jeff Garcia ran over Brian Dawkins for a TD. Yes, you read that right. I hated that play, but it also gave me tremendous respect for Garcia. He was one tough dude.
There was the game in Dallas where McNabb scrambled for 14 seconds and then hit Freddie for a huge gain. TO caught a fade pass for a TD, one of the few in the Reid era. Lito Sheppard picked off Vinny T. and ran the ball back 101 yards for a TD.
You must enjoy the moments on the way to truly enjoy winning the Super Bowl. You must also let the losses be part of that. Football seasons are a roller coaster of emotions. All that craziness is what makes getting to the top of the mountain so sweet.
One day we’ll get that feeling. Until then…enjoy the ride.