Championship weekend is over and although the deposed have been vanquished to the land of nothingness, the victors are fresh in our minds — alive in our collective cognition. And the inevitable happens without hesitation or reservation for what was; the narrative immediately focuses on what will be: Who will win Super Bowl 48?
There can be no analyses of New York’s Super Bowl that can be offered 13 days from go-time that is accurate, yet my guttural, genuine sensibilities and impressions of what may transpire is not very flattering to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
I reject myself for this opinion (and do it in front of king and country) but can’t deny what I feel: the Broncos are going to be exposed as the finesse team that they are.
Seattle should own the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Although the Broncos have a top-10 rush defense, I don’t think they’ve seen anything like the fire and brimstone that the Seahawks are going to rain down on them. Seattle is a north-south, hit-you-between-the-teeth, triple-dog-dare-you-to-stop-them running team. They don’t mince their passions or parse their intentions. They pound away on a front seven until the defense hoists the colors of capitulation.
Ask the San Francisco 49ers if they succumbed? They’ll say no, but the film may betray their certitude. Marshawn Lynch and Seattle’s offensive line took this game over in the second half. Lynch carried the ball 22 times for 109 yards and a TD but the progression of his runs are revealing:
1, 0, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2 (stonewall) – 7, 3, 1, 6 (cracking) – 11, 5, 40TD, 4, -1, 5, 6 (breach) – 1, 2, 3 (49’ers stacking the box).
The 49ers have one of the best front sevens I’ve ever seen: Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis. These men built a barrier in the Year of Our Lord, 2013, that seemed impenetrable by human hands, especially knowing their disdain for putting an eighth defender in the box. The 49ers play with seven in the box during run-down situations and dare you to beat them, no matter the personnel you run onto the field.
And even they, the 49ers, eventually cracked and crumbled. The 49ers showed their humanity… What might the Denver Broncos do under this withering assault?
Wes Welker gave a speech to his teammates last Saturday night that focused on the Broncos becoming more physical the rest of the way if they wanted to be Super Bowl champions. This is straight up sapience by Welker. Even a wide receiver knows what’s in store for his team and is trying to prepare them for the coming storm.
Denver needs to run the ball well if they wish to hold the Lombardi Trophy in their hands. Seattle’s back-end may be the only secondary in the league that can hold their own against Manning and his gaggle of receivers. Factor in the Seahawks’ pass-rush and a premium is clearly placed on keeping Manning is a three-dimensional offense, where offenses run it, throw it and use play-action.
Thus, the Broncos need to gird up their loins and run it effectively against Seattle. This is much easier said than done. Because of the coverage they play, the ‘Hawks love to commit an eighth-man to the box, which helps them stuff the run. Denver primarily uses a zone-blocking scheme to get their dirty work done. Traditionally, this has been a finesse style of running the ball because unless you’re running the inside-zone it attacks a defense laterally, not perpendicularly. Seattle has defenders in the box that can move and get off zone schemes. If they struggle, they struggle against power schemes that attack them between the tackles. This is not a Denver hallmark.
This kind of bloviating makes me roll on the ground and gouge my eyes out because it betrays the athletic process and defies what I know: anything can happen in a one-game scenario. To pontificate and prognosticate about a Super Bowl when there are so many variables that impact the souls of the players lining up is a non-sequitur. With all due respect to Sun Tzu, Super Bowls exists in the realm of the Ch’i, and the Cheng, where the extraordinary becomes the ordinary, and what transpires is oftentimes unpredictable.
Upon further consideration… Disregard the above.