Message to Andy Reid: if you want to beat teams like the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, look at the losers of the conference title games, not the winners.
The New York Giants and New England Patriots are moving on to the Super Bowl. However, they needed mistakes by their opponent to get there. The Super Bowl matchup could have easily been the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
The two conference title games featured top offenses versus top defenses. The Patriots and Giants are teams that relied mostly on their offense during the regular season and were both ranked in the top 10.
Defensively, the Giants and Patriots ranked towards the bottom of the league during the regular season (27th and 31st respectively). Granted, each team’s defense has played better in the postseason than the regular season, but they’re far from dominant units.
In contrast, the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers were both ranked in the top 10 defensively but were average to below-average on offense. This is why both conference championship games were very competitive.
If not for Lee Evans’ inability to hang on to a game-winning touchdown pass or Billy Cundiff’s missed chip-shot field goal, Baltimore and their top 10 defense could be the AFC champs.
If not for the 49ers’ Kyle Williams, who muffed a punt that set up a Giants score in regulation and then followed that by fumbling a punt in overtime to set up the game winning field goal, San Francisco could be the NFC champs.
The two teams with the better defense could have, and perhaps should have, won the game.
But instead, the glory goes to the teams with better offenses that feature a heavy passing attack…something that Andy Reid might look at as justification for his pass-happy ways. Plus, besides maybe Jerod Mayo on New England, neither of the Super Bowl teams feature good linebackers.
This is great news for Andy! This justifies him passing the ball relentlessly and he can still ignore the linebacker position on defense! All is good in Andy’s world!
But Andy, did you not notice how well the 49ers’ and Ravens’ defense played and were very affective against those prolific offenses? Hogwash! Juan Castillo and the Three Stooges of a linebacker corps would have fared just as well, right?
Being an Eagles fan, it was odd to see linebackers making plays in Sunday’s games. I mean, Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman were all over the field doing things like “tackling” and “defending the pass.” Even 300 year-old Ray Lewis made his presence felt.
The defenses of the Ravens and 49ers made several key stops throughout the game and also when it mattered in the fourth quarter (another thing that is foreign to Eagles fans).
With the game tied at 17, the 49ers defense stopped the Giants three consecutive times in the final five minutes of regulation, plus twice in overtime. The Ravens limited the Patriots offense to just two of five red zone conversions and came up big in the fourth quarter with an interception and a huge three-and-out with under three minutes to play.
The 49ers and Ravens were let down by their offense and special teams. Both defenses played good enough to win and stifled Tom Brady and Eli Manning for the most part.
Andy Reid needs to recognize this and stop making ridiculous decisions about his defense. He’s been at a serious loss of what to do ever since the death of Jim Johnson.
The first thing he needs to do is admit to himself that maybe, just maybe, linebackers are important for a defense. He also needs to find a way to fix the worst mistake of his career in the hiring of Juan Castillo.
The worst thing he can do is look at the Giants and Patriots as “evidence” that he still needs to prioritize offense over defense. Unfortunately, he could also look at the fact that six of the 12 playoff teams were ranked in the top 10 on offense but were average, at best, on defense.
Only four of the 12 teams in the playoffs were ranked in the top 10 on defense. However, if you eliminate a couple of special teams mistakes, the teams with the better defense would likely be the ones in the Super Bowl.
They say that the NFL is a copycat league. From the West Coast Offense to the wildcat formation to the Tampa Two, schemes and philosophies are copied and tweaked to personal preferences.
So Andy, please, if you want to copy the successful teams of this season, take notice of the two teams who lost on Sunday, not the two teams that won.