Revisiting Summer’s NFL Predictions
Super Re-Match Belies a Thing or Two about Coaching
My 2011 NFL forecast was right about one thing, good coaching determines the Super Bowl. Of course, I said that Pete Carroll and Rex Ryan were my guys, let’s not forget that Coughlin and Belichek have their own say.
I believed in this strike-shortened season that coaching, quarterback play and defense were the ultimate determinates. I was right, although for most of the season we thought defense was out the window. The playoffs reminded us again that defense, red zone efficiency, and special teams are all matters of good coaching.
However, I was wrong to believe that Tarvaris Jackson could change his uniform and delivery anything different. Even with Pete Carroll at the helm of the Seahawks, they were clearly a team one quarterback away from the playoffs. The Jets? Rex’s ability to coach a team and not just a defense is still an open book.
As for the standings, I predicted that the Colts would finish last and the Broncos first. I predicted that the Ravens would finally steal the division from the Steelers. Except for two teams, I had the entire AFC Playoff picture correct.
As for the NFC West taking over as the power division, that is still a work in progress. The West finished 7-9 against the East, and if it were not for the Seahawks blowing a lead at home against Rex Grossman with 3 minutes left in the game, the two divisions would have finished 8-8 against each other. There is reason to believe that the scales will tip next year for a couple of reasons, primarily becasue two dysfunctional teams already have franchise quarterbacks in Dallas and Philly. I think the proof is in the pudding, and until those two cities go through complete re-builds, they are exactly what we see.
Washington stands to improve itself in the draft, and NY is light years beyond the rest of the division. What about the West? St Louis is obviously a team destine to improve along with the Cardinals and Kevin Kolb. SF proved they could battle with the elite in spite of Alex Smith, so here come the Seahawks.
In two seasons Pete Carroll and John Schneider have completely re-built the roster, established a smash-mouth-run-the-ball-down-your-throat offense, and a stop-the-run defense. Moreover, with three pro bowlers in their secondary, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner, it’s not even their fabulous defensive front that’s getting the credit. If you liked watching the 49er’s defense this year, wait until next season with Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant absolutely stuffing the line of scrimmage. Pete Carroll’s rebuilding process is done, except for one.
The talk is that Carroll will find a way to acquire Matt Flynn, who is now ready to step in and lead a team. If he does, the Seahawks instantly contend in the NFC. They already beat the Giants in New York. We know what they can do against the Saints. Harbaugh was lucky to win in both matchups against Carroll, but what if Matt Flynn is not available? Will Tannehill be the answer at 11 in the draft?
Those are questions for next month, when free agency opens and we get ourselves ready for the draft. For now, I say the Patriots win the Super Re-Match. No person in sports is as competitive as Tom Brady, and Belichek won’t lose twice to the same team. I say this one will go to the offense on both sides, so take the over.