Monday, February 4, 2013

V Thoughts About Super Bowl XLVII

I: The term "elite" is thrown around far too casually but, regardless of how we should properly characterize Joe Flacco's overall body of work and/or current ranking among NFL quarterbacks, it is indisputable that Flacco just authored one of the greatest postseason runs ever by a quarterback: 11 touchdowns and no interceptions while leading the Baltimore Ravens to road victories against teams helmed by the two best quarterbacks of this era (Tom Brady and Peyton Manning) en route to capturing the Super Bowl MVP after dissecting a dominant San Francisco 49ers defense by completing 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Call him Bazooka Joe, because he has a cannon for a right arm, a cannon that blows apart opposing defenses with accurate downfield shots at crucial moments.

II: Boomer Esiason nailed it; Esiason gave his CBS colleague (and former Ray Lewis teammate) Shannon Sharpe credit for directly asking Ray Lewis about Lewis' role in the still-unsolved double murder of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar for which Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice but Esiason bluntly stated what no one on ESPN (and just about every other media outlet) dared to say: Lewis' answers about that crime are completely unsatisfactory and Lewis' legacy is tainted by that crime. Lewis' comments to Sharpe were particularly callous and heartless; Lewis said "God has never made a mistake" and Lewis not only took credit for paying money to the victims' families (which he did not out of the kindness of his heart but to settle civil lawsuits) but he declared that his success on the football field after those murders proves his innocence because he believes that God would never elevate to prominence someone who did wrong. By Lewis' twisted standard, no successful person could ever be convicted of a crime; apparently, Lewis never heard of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and a myriad of other historical figures who attained lasting fame/notoriety while committing horrific crimes. I am not equating Lewis with Hitler and Stalin but the point is that it is presumptuous for anyone--let alone a man like Lewis who has yet to divulge all that he knows about the double murder--to speak for God and/or God's plan. Lewis' abilities/success as a football player do not justify anything that he does off of the football field, though it is obvious that he and many others think otherwise; far too many athletes, members of the media and fans apparently believe that if someone can get 15 tackles in a playoff game then it is OK if that person literally gets away with murder (or, at the very least, is an accessory to murder by keeping silent).

If Lewis truly wants to be a great humanitarian then he must give a complete account of what really happened on the night of the double murder--period, point blank. Nothing else that he says or does will ever outweigh his role as participant and/or accessory in that crime. Lewis can start by explaining what happened to the clothes he was wearing that night, then he can explain how blood from one of the victims (Jacinth Baker) ended up in his limousine and finally he can detail exactly what he did and/or saw during the two killings.

III: Before the Super Bowl, Colin Kaepernick said that there is no reason to be nervous before a game as long as you prepare properly. That sounds good but the reality is that great performers ranging from Johnny Carson to Emmitt Smith have all admitted to being very nervous before appearing on the biggest stage--and Kaepernick himself certainly looked nervous at times during the first half of the Super Bowl. Kaepernick was in a bit of denial prior to the big game but he adjusted well and he almost led his 49ers to the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

IV: Steve Young said that the Super Bowl is often decided in the first half because one team is not quite ready and falls too far behind due to mental errors and mistakes. Even though the 49ers ultimately made the game close, Young's description proved to be accurate (although his prediction about who would win was wrong) and it must be admitted that the game was essentially decided in the first 30 minutes (or, to be precise, the first 31 minutes, as the Jacoby Jones kickoff return on the opening play of the second half effectively put the game out of reach).

V: I don't have access to the "all 22" coaches' film so maybe I am missing something but I just do not understand why the 49ers did not run four plays out of the Pistol formation once they reached Baltimore's five yard line on their last drive of the game; the passes that the 49ers attempted were high risk, low reward and I do not believe that the Ravens could have stopped the run/pass option four straight times with the game on the line: the 49ers could have spread the Ravens out to mitigate the pass rush and then Kaepernick would have been able to either run for the score or else pass to a receiver who was single-covered. Yes, everything seems a lot simpler when viewed from one's living room couch as opposed to when viewed from the sidelines of the biggest game of the year but I think that John Harbaugh outcoached Jim Harbaugh in that crucial sequence of plays.


JLK1 said...

I too noted how Lewis responded to Sharpe's questions, and the way he talked about the legal settlement was bizarre and misleading. He noted the payment, and then characterized it as one of many cash gifts that he has given to needy people. I think the absurdity of that is evident.

As for the game, if you needed a symbol of San Francisco's preparation and mindset entering the game, how about the illegal formation penalty on the first play of the game?

The real dagger was the kickoff return touchdown. Overall I felt that the 49er defense didn't show up. That unit is so highly regarded, with so many talented players, and their poor play in passing situations was fatal.

David Friedman said...


I agree with you both about Lewis's "absurd" response and also about San Francisco's lack of preparation showing up on the very first play. Fans tend to focus on what happens at the very end of a game but coaches know that how a game begins is very important; that sets the tone and it also may influence late game strategy/tactics. The 49ers started terribly in both halves and that proved to be the difference, though they still could possibly have salvaged the game with better playcalling/execution on their last drive--but their lack of preparation for what happened early in the game foreshadowed what happened at the end of the game.

DanielSong39 said...

I seem to recall this quarterback from the Washington Redskins who basically did what Flacco did, only he did it over a whole season and led one of the most dominating teams of all time.

His name: Mark Rypien.

Afterwards he held out and demanded to be paid like an elite quarterback and received an absolutely ridiculous contract - for 3 years for $9 million.

I think we all know how that one turned out.

Things may turn out differently for Baltimore but it's safe to say that a lot of Steelers fans were very happy about Flacco's new contract.