I am often asked my opinion on things that involve football. The questions range from how to find which player position best suits a child to who I think will win the Super Bowl, and pretty much everything in between. I have many thoughts on the game, on coaching, and on improving performance, so I am starting Passing Thoughts to share some of those thoughts. I welcome your comments and conversation. –KR

Friday, February 1, 2013

Super Bowl Preview

It's hard to believe that Super Bowl weekend is here! There is plenty of excitement for this year's game, and you have probably already heard many of the media storylines for the game. I wanted to give you a quick preview of what to anticipate for the game itself...I think it will be a great game to watch!

The saying in football is that, "Defense wins championships." If you watched the second half of the NFC and AFC Championship games, you saw the truth behind this saying. Both San Francisco and Baltimore were able to hold their opponents from scoring a TD in the second half of their games. Both teams have an identity of strong, aggressive defenses that can get pressure with their front four defensive linemen and can dominate a game. While the defense definitely contributed to victory in the championship games, it really was the offensive changes and performances that defined the two teams through the playoffs.

San Francisco’s starting QB Alex Smith suffered a concussion during the regular season, and many doubted Coach Jim Harbaugh's choice to stick with the backup after Smith was able to return. That backup, Colin Kaepernick, has brought an entirely new dimension to the 49er’s offense. Kaepernick is able to create a little magic when a play looks all but dead, so he keeps the offense on the field and rolling. Kaepernick’s extremely athletic combination of running and passing, along with the strong 49er's running game has made the 49er’s offense a difficult team for others to predict and match.

Baltimore was on a three game losing streak deep into the 2012-2013 season, and Coach John Harbaugh felt a change was absolutely necessary. It wasn't a small change. He decided to fire his offensive coordinator, which is basically unheard of at that point in the season. In hindsight, it is easy to say that this was a bold and amazing move, and he was absolutely correct. The change in their offensive look makes Baltimore appear even more impressive offensively then defensively. Joe Flacco looks very relaxed, he has a great pocket to throw from, he is giving his star receivers a chance to make plays, and most importantly they are finding ways to get Ray Rice the ball within their new offensive scheme.

Two of the playmakers that I think will be fun to watch in this game are Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Since the beginning of the playoffs, both receivers have clearly become the "go to" guys for their teams, and they are presenting themselves as nearly unstoppable forces. Both defenses will always know where these receivers are on the field, but the question remains whether anyone will be able to stop them.

This should be a great game, with many off field storylines. We could discuss the coaching brothers, Ray Lewis, or Alex Smith. But really this game comes down to two very talented teams that are going to put on a tremendous show. Both teams are very well-rounded in all facets of the game.  This Super Bowl will truly come down to which team is able to create turnovers and capitalize from the mistakes of their opponents.  Looking forward to a great game! Enjoy!

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