The Final Four
There are a few things these teams have in common. I’ve always said that successful teams must have these four ingredients to be a Super bowl contender.
Lets take a look at some of the common DNA that makes up these teams:
System offenses: The Patriots and the Packers probably have the oldest system of the four-playoff teams. Mature offensive systems make it easier for teams to execute and game plan because they don’t have to worry about tweaking or teaching the offense to a young player. Everything is plug in and play.
(Note: If Kubiak stays put in Baltimore for a few more years they will have a system offense that will just keep getting better and younger players can see the field sooner and thus contribute, especially wide receivers.)
Mobile QBs: Sorry Tom, it’s about the only thing you can’t do but the other three can kill you with their feet. Rodgers is a little gimpy but can still get ten yards if needed. It just takes about three big plays from a speedy QB to run unaccounted for and break the back of a defense. This is where I give the advantage to the Seahawks (if Rodgers can’t run of course). It could be the deciding factor in these playoffs.
Next up/Scouting: The Seahawks finished third in the league with the most players on injured reserved this year with 16. The NY Giants had 22 and the Ravens had 19. The Ravens and Seahawks are two teams that many feel do a great job in teaching, developing and actually playing young players. More importantly they find and invest in players like LT James Hurst who was undrafted but helped dig them out of a hole when Eugene Monroe went down. They also started John Urshel (5th Round) who was more than serviceable. The Ravens 2014 sack count was 19 and the year before it was 48. So needless to say they are headed in the right direction as an offense.
The Seahawks had a similar experience last year along the offensive line where they were scrambling to use undrafted players and bodies off the wire. Having offensive line coaches like Castillo and Cable is a huge plus. However, credit has to go to the scouting staff to for finding serviceable hidden gems that can get you deep into the playoffs.
Chemistry: Us NFL agents get to hear a lot about what goes on in NFL teams training rooms and locker rooms. I can’t emphasize enough how important a team's training staff is. If the players don’t trust them they don’t trust the organization and perhaps the coaches. If the trust is gone the coaches can't get that extra 10% they need out of their players. At least three of these four teams have training staffs that players trust (I cant attest to one team because I, not players, have yet to have enough experience with them).
Sometime early in the season when the Seahawks were struggling, the players called each other out. They actually criticized themselves for getting too soft, doing too much stuff off the field and not working as hard as they did before. It’s important for players to hold each other accountable and it's very hard for the coaches to manufacture it. It has to come from the players. Not all teams have this type of locker room.
The Patriots and Packers also have very special locker rooms. I’m hearing the Colts players all really like each other and the younger players are really setting the bar for a contagious blue-collar work ethic.
There are several other teams that have these components but may lack the QB, the coaches or the playmakers to get them over the hump. Enjoy the games!
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