Saturday, February 8, 2014

Boom. Bang. Pop. Crack.

Insert your favorite comic book onomatopoeia; all of them were in play in Seattle’s defensive backfield.  I knew the pash rush on Peyton Manning would be important, and it was.  The defensive line pressured and hit Manning, forcing him off his spot and threw off the timing of those Denver precision routes.  But the physicality exerted by the Legion of Boom (an appropriate title if there ever was one) was diabolically painful.  The secondary became villainous as hit after hit compiled to permanently etch a grimace on my face.
I commented during the game that Denver hadn't been hit like this all year.  The pop of the pads was obvious all game, what was perhaps less obvious was the way the receivers responded after each hit.  The Denver receivers looked physically shocked, and it became obvious when they began to put balls on the ground on relatively mundane hits/plays.

The comment about previous competition for the Broncos got me to thinking, “why don’t we look at strength of schedule for the Super Bowl, like we look at it for the National Championship in college football?” If Auburn had smoked Florida State this year like Seattle murked Denver, the chants of “S-E-C” would still be echoing.  Every year pundits describe the competition each college team has faced all year; usually, this involves detailed analysis of each team’s respective conference.  The fact that Denver played several below .500 teams and the Seahawks were arguably in the league’s toughest division never came up in the two weeks of pre-Super Bowl coverage. I understand that the tourney format (where teams play the best of their conference) changes the analysis a bit, but in the future I will at least glance at the competition the team has consistently faced in the games leading up to the final game.

It’s appropriate that I haven’t mentioned Russell Wilson’s name until the 4th paragraph. Has there been a QB as talented, efficient, and effective as Wilson who has received less publicity?
In essence, he is what people said that they loved about Tebow, isn’t he? He’s a devoutly religious, humble, talented player who “just wins” (28-9 as a starter) regardless of the personal stats and accolades.  Plus, he can actually play the position of the NFL QB.  It seems like he should be America’s darling. Wonder why isn’t as beloved…What’s more because of the paucity of his contract (he made $681,000 this year) and the CBA (he is unable to augment his current contract through his first three years) the Seahahwks will have enough cap room to re-sign players or go after new ones for next year.  People talk about the Seahawks and duplicating their blueprint; sure, go out and draft your starting QB and the league’s best corner on days two and three of the draft. Good luck with that.

Peyton Manning

So…now what? He’s won 1 of 3 Super Bowls and has a litany of accolades, so where does this place him in the pantheon of All-time great QBs? Surely his place is secure given that he just came off a record-setting  5th MVP season.  But once people get to the all-time best QBs, the splitting of hairs and the picking of nits will lead to the postseason record (most losses ever) and the recent Super Bowl losses.  Manning is one of my favorite QBs ever, but his shortcomings in big games cast a bit of a pall over his otherwise sterling career. It only seems unfair because it is.

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