They should be on page one of the NFL Coaching Manual: The Eight Keys to Super Bowl Success:
1) timely defense;
2) limited penalties;
3) reliable kicking;
4) good turnover ratio;
5) special-teams tackling;
6) stout offensive line;
7) balanced attack; and
’8′) experienced quarterback.
If a head coach had to select a single key, it’s an easy choice: the savvy signal-caller.
When exactly the QB became so important, who knows. Maybe it was the day Montana, Unitas or Cecil Isbell first laced ‘em up and stepped onto an NFL field. Maybe it was when Sid Gilman and Hank Stram were walking the AFL sidelines. Whenever it happened, pro football, in large part, is a quarterback game.
Having a defense that can hold a fourth quarter lead is vital. But you can be sure that no coach will be hoisting the hardware in February without a strong QB under center.
Tickets to Dallas are on the line this Sunday in conference title games as four field generals try to keep their teams and their dreams alive.
Sanchez has been written-off so many times you’d think he was the Jets’ back-up. After their home loss to Green Bay, Ryan nearly threw his QB under the bus: “He gives us the best chance to win,” Rex cautiously stated. Thanks a lot Coach. I don’t know how far Sanchez can take the Jets but the young man from USC has got moxie to burn.
The Bears win against Seattle was mildly impressive. Seahawks were running on fumes. But lucky for Jay Cutler his opposite in green & gold has no more experience in NFC title games than does he. With a workaday receiver corps, Cutler will keep it simple, keep it safe (turnovers) and hope the Bears’ pass rush can keep pressure on Rodgers who can’t afford to go flash.
After another strong passing performance in 2010, multiple concussions and guiding his team to two road playoff wins, Aaron Rodgers has earned his stripes.
It helps to play in a community where the fans are chomping at the bit for a new hero to bury memories of the old one. The other side to that coin is that Packerland is the biggest pressure cooker for coaches (Dan Devine) and QBs in all of pro football.
The Green Bay quarterback is egg-shell and one hard hit away from being benched. I’m not sure he should even be playing. Rodgers and the Pack bested Eli in Week 16 (45-17), but if you discount 2010 triumphs over Brett (Vikes were a mess) they’ve come up short in other recent match-ups against super QBs (Warner / Favre 2009).
Every NFL game is trench warfare. If the Packers’ O-line can hold their ground watch as Rodgers matriculates and Starks runs to daylight.
Big Ben qualifies as just that super QB and should be the favorite to raise Mr. Lombardi for a third time. He knows what it takes to get there and then how to win it.
By surviving a dicey off-season, early suspension, punch in the face (Seymour) and broken nose, Roethlisberger may figure the title trophy is his and the Steelers for the taking.
Confidence and resiliency: they’re not listed in the eight keys but then they’re not something a coach can drill in practice or inspire with rah-rah speeches.
In basketball, confidence can come quickly (Lakers’ Magic 1980). In football it takes time. It’s a process of trial & error, a journey of failure & success during which coaches and teammates forge a bond.
We know Mr. Roethlisberger has the Lombardi swagger. The other three, only time will tell.
Keys to Sport
About the Author
Written by Steven Keys
A native of the old Northwest Territory (IL), my wife and I have lived in four Midwestern states and Arizona. Today we live in Duluth, Georgia. I have a history / legal background.