Happy Super Bowl Sunday, friends. I was going to kick it old-school, and do a Digesting the Seahawks article, but others have pretty much covered that ground by now.
Instead, I’m going to just get a little scattershot with it, and fire off some quick Super Bowl thoughts.
Follow me across the jump, and we’ll get it going.
1. Russell Wilson is overrated. Well, that gets things off to a controversial start, huh? Wilson is a good young player, but the idea that he’s in the top echelon of QBs is nonsense. He has a distinct weakness in his game, which is that he lacks the ability to play from the pocket on a consistent basis.
As you watch Seattle’s offense, it’s striking how infrequently Wilson hits the top of his drop and throws on time. What usually happens is that he takes pressure after holding the ball too long, then he retreats backwards, or escapes to the side, and then makes a throw on the run.
It’s really not all that different than what we used to see from Tim Tebow, except that Wilson is a far more accurate thrower. Many, many pass plays become broken plays. The only ones that seem to stick to plan are play action calls, with a bootleg element.
Now, there is a lot of good to Wilson. He’s extremely dangerous running with the ball, and his touch on the deep ball is tremendous. He seems like a good kid, and a good leader.
I just know that if a team employs a disciplined pass rush, and doesn’t give Wilson easy escape lanes, they can give him trouble by making him throw from the pocket. I guarantee you this isn’t lost on the Broncos.
2. For once, I favor playing some zone today. The Broncos are best in man coverage, but today, in order to best deal with Wilson, I think some zone is in order. When you play zone, defenders are watching the QB run, can react to it, and minimize the damage from it. Also, Wilson isn’t really a window thrower. He’s more of a guy who has touch than a guy who can power the ball into tight windows.
Also, I don’t get the sense from watching video of the Seahawks that Wilson does much in the way of pre-snap diagnosis or audibling. It looks to me like he just kind of gets the call from the sideline, goes to the line of scrimmage, says hut, and sees what he can see.
I am not saying let’s play Tampa 2 for 65 snaps today. Mixing in some zone stuff is good for it, though.
3. The Broncos need to run the ball today. Against the Seahawks’ base defense, the place to go is the edges, to both sides. Their opponents averaged almost six yards per carry to the outside this year.
Against nickel, which we’re likely to see a lot of, the place to go is the middle against light boxes. If the Seahawks want to try to play the run on the way to the QB, the Broncos can gash them up the middle. When they’re two dimensional, they’re unstoppable.
4. I don’t love the WR screen game today for the Broncos, but I do like the fake WR screen game. The Seahawks are very aggressive in jumping those screens, and the Broncos have taken advantage of over-aggression outside all year.
5. The Broncos need to be content with taking completions, and patiently stringing them together. The way to beat Seattle is to be patient, and take what’s there. I’m completely confident that Peyton Manning can diagnose the defense pre-snap, know where he’s going with the ball, and put it where it needs to be on a consistent basis.
Remember how the Jaguars game played out? Jacksonville, who is coached by Seattle’s most recent past defensive coordinator, played Cover 2 all day, and held the Broncos’ scoring way down by making them burn a lot of clock to move the ball. At the end of the day, Manning played it right, and the Broncos won easily. Gus Bradley and the Jags didn’t get embarrassed as the biggest underdogs in NFL history, but they never had a chance to win that game.
6. You know how the last few years, teams have gotten hot in the playoffs, and sort of defied the statistical models on the way to winning the Super Bowl? I have this feeling that that’s what is happening with the Broncos defense.
They’ve really played well against two excellent offenses in the postseason, even as the Broncos offense has kicked a lot of field goals. It just seems really similar to how Baltimore and the Giants have turned it on when it counts in recent years.
I don’t think Seattle’s the team to outperform San Diego or New England offensively, despite some asinine words being spilled this week, suggesting that they’ll win the game for the Seahawks. Expect the Broncos to hold up well against Seattle today, particularly in the running game.
That Hawk Blogger dude said that San Diego and New England were pretending to be “running teams” (whatever that means), but if you watched those games, the Denver defense just simply manned up, and won the line of scrimmage.
I’m saying they’ll do the same today against a below-average Seattle offensive line. A deeper prediction is that they’ll use more of a 3-4 alignment against base offensive looks. Alex Gibbs knows extremely well that odd fronts give the zone running scheme trouble, and the Broncos have showed it a lot this season against similar blocking schemes, likely based heavily upon that internal wealth of knowledge.
7. Retired for John Elway. TYJE
8. A reminder – don’t be surprised when the Broncos don’t get physically punked today. They’ll match the physicality of the Seahawks, and I expect that they’ll win on both lines of scrimmage. This is absolutely not a soft team, despite how well they execute in the offensive passing game. One thing doesn't necessarily follow the other.
9. Don’t believe the hype about the Seattle secondary. If the Broncos can pass protect, they’ll complete a lot of passes. The biggest reason the Seahawks have been so good against the pass is their pass rush. Between the tempo of the game limiting defensive substitutions, the play of the five Broncos offensive linemen, the reliability of Knowshon Moreno in protection, and, most especially, the abilities of Manning to protect himself, I don’t expect the pass rush to be a big factor today.
10. The one player that gives me some pause about Seattle is Percy Harvin. I view him as one of the ten most impactful offensive players in the NFL when he’s fully healthy, and being used correctly. He’s at the very top level of non-QBs, because he’s good enough to be one of the best WRs in the NFL, and one of the best RBs.
If he lines up in the slot or the backfield today, the Broncos need to be immediately alert for a run play to Harvin. He’s not the average WR running the football; he has awesome run strength for his size, and in college, he had 1,852 rushing yards and 19 rushing TDs to go with 1,929 receiving yards and 13 receiving TDs.
Harvin was never maximized in Minnesota, and the status of his hip this year prevented Seattle from doing so. I’m not that impressed with Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell, who actually had Harvin in Minnesota in 2009 and 2010, but maybe he’s learned something. Harvin would be unbelievable with a good coordinator like Adam Gase.
Also, if is Harvin back to receive kickoffs, Denver's going to need Matt Prater to kick some touchbacks.
11. I’m about tired of all the sniping back and forth between New Yorkers and New Jerseyans about which state should be recognized as the host of the Super Bowl. The answer, obviously, is that both should recognized, because both are hosting the event.
I heard the chairman of the host committee speak on Sirius XM NFL Radio the other day, and he made the only point that matters. This Super Bowl couldn’t be held in that region if it weren’t for both states. New York lacks the football facilities to host a Super Bowl. New Jersey lacks the hospitality facilities to host a Super Bowl. Combined, as a region in total, the two states meet the requirements.
Down with New York dickishness, and down with the New Jersey inferiority complex. Congratulations to both states for bringing off a unique Super Bowl, one that will hopefully be so successful that we may see one in Denver someday.