Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Super Bowl Preview: Broncos vs. Seahawks

First of all, I picked the Seahawks in the preseason to win the Super Bowl so I'm not backing off that now. Of course I was way off with my preseason pick in the AFC. The Steelers were a decent team but never became a championship threat this year. The Broncos on the other hand have been steady all year. What a game this could turn out to be! We have a team known for outstanding defense and we have the most prolific offense in the history of the game. I'm may pee on myself I'm so excited for this game. Too much information. Awkward . ....Anyhoo,  I've got some thoughts on the game, the teams, and the players. Let's begin:

1. Richard Sherman is ubiquitous these days and that is both a good and bad thing for him and his team. If he plays well against Manning and the Seahawks go on to win, he will be well on his way to legendary defensive player status that can self perpetuate beyond the days when you are actually earning that status. Having legendary status is hard to shed. You really have to screw up and and become so terrible that it's impossible to not notice. And let me be clear, I don't think his skills will be diminishing anytime soon. He's achieved defensive superstardom that is incredibly hard to accomplish. That side of the ball just doesn't create as many stars as the other side does (mainly because defensive players don't produce as easily quantifiable and intuitive statistics--- and because quite frankly most of us don't really understand defense). He tends to play well with a chip on his shoulder and with the current backlash against him he will no doubt use that as fuel. Thus, the team also benefits from all things Richard Sherman right now. On the other hand, I've seen almost no coverage in the past couple of days of the actual game the Seahawks played get to the Super Bowl. The national discussion right now includes relatively little attention given to the rest of their defense (let alone the offense, good or bad) and you can't tell me that all the Seahawk players and coaches are pleased with the way Sherman made it all about him in the aftermath of the victory. To wake up the the day after the conference championship and see all the Seahawk coverage was about one man had to rub some of those guys wrong. For Sherman himself, his antics have led to a twisted look at the best corner in the game. He gets called a thug and classless. Being classy on and off the field to many Americans is about respecting (in your words and actions) both the people that deserve that respect and sometimes people that probably don't deserve it. I agree with Sherman that the term "thug" is in many ways racist in the way it is used and with whom it is used. You don't see a cocky, angry, and mouthy white guy get called a thug generally, ...just the angry egotistical black guys get that label... from mostly white folks by the way. But if Sherman thinks it's all about race he's dead wrong. Racist white people will always hate someone like him, but it's the colorblind people, of which there are a lot in all races, that he's also lost the respect of. Sherman is in fact an intelligent guy (on the field with his play and in many areas off the field) and he is most likely a complex and interesting personality. But here's where he's dumb. He doesn't understand that by creating an over the top trashing talking caricature of himself (a rather uninteresting one that's all mouth and no class) nobody gets to see the intelligent and "real" Richard Sherman. He's painting himself as the victim in that regard. But that's on him, not us. Richard, you are the best cornerback in the league. We see it. You don't need to tell us. We'll tell you. Believe us, it will come. We drooled over Darelle Revis and the compliments flowed towards him without hardly a peep out of his mouth. But it doesn't need to be silence either. It's the tone, it's what you say and when you say it. Control your anger and your ego. Add some class to the way you present yourself. It won't take away from your game as you claim it will. You won't lose your edge. That you somehow need to act like an ass to play better is the stupidest argument I've ever heard. 

 I want to like this guy. I wish he would let me. 

2.  Last night I took a detailed look at every playoff game Manning has played in his playoff career. He's won not quite 50% of his post-season games. It's a mixed bag for sure. He's had horrible one and done exit games (8 in fact). He's had team success while personally struggling (as he did in games leading up to the 2007 Super Bowl). He's had great games personally where bad defenses have doomed his team's chances. This year he's played very well and the defense has been up to snuff so far. I'm skeptical of those two things aligning again in the Super Bowl ......but I sure hope they do. I'm picking the Seahawks to win but a Bronco victory would be be pleasant surprise. Manning is the reverse Richard Sherman. He's hard not to like. I'll be rooting for him once again. 

3. I think Bobby Wagner may have a huge game. He's a smart and athletic linebacker for Seattle and those type of guys can give Manning trouble. Seattle has the ability to put pressure on the QB because they can leave their corners isolated without as much linebacker and safety help. When Manning struggles it's because he's pressured and his receivers are getting beat up and jammed. Seattle can do both of those things and do them well. 

4.  One note on the vanquished Patriot squad. They're good but something's missing. New England has been arrogant and spoiled for awhile now. Brady has been so good for so long that they have been seduced by regular season success. They play in a cake division year in and year out and their early SuperBowl wins with mediocre receivers have blinded them to the importance of great players catching Brady's passes and running behind him. They did get Randy Moss for a short time and look what they did with that! Brady had a couple of the best offensive years he's ever had. It took a miracle NY David Tyree helmet catch to beat them in the Super Bowl against the Giants. That New England team is still probably one of the best teams ever in NFL history. And they lost. ....And having given that compliment I'm going to excuse myself to purge my dinner right now (Patriot hate is hard to shake). I know the Pats have an all-world tight end. Gronkowski is awesome when he's running down the field. But he's one guy and as we see if one guy goes down you need awesome guy # 2 to step up. That would be crickets you're hearing right now because no one is there for the Pats. Outside guys with skills are something Brady has rarely had in his career and it's almost criminal to waste his talent the way Belichick has. Most of the receivers and running backs for the past decade in New England are utterly forgettable. I'm not complaining (Patriot hate reiterated), just noting the obvious.

5. Back to the folks that made it to the big game. I see a Seahawk victory with Russell Wilson playing very well. I have a feeling he'll be making headlines. He's been average for a month or more now but we've seen the talent and the skills. When he goes into his Fran Tarkenton mode it's mesmerizing to watch. It's like he has eyes in the back of his head.  Lynch is great too but I really think there will be a couple of plays in the passing game from Wilson that will seal things.

----Super Bowls used to be boring. Blowouts. Then we went on a run of great games. Let's hope we continue the trend. I'm like an ADHD middle school girl on the night before a shopping spree at the mall. I can't wait for this game.