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SteelersFever
06-13-2007, 08:17 AM
Title: NFL Super Bowl Champion: Third Year Theory
Source: Steelers Fever
Date: 6/13/07
Author: Neal Coolong

Link: http://www.steelersfever.com/editorials/0733.html

Summary: The concept of a team needing to pass through three levels -- Years -- in order to become Super Bowl champion. It's retrospectively looking over the previous three seasons of a champion, and noticing a trend that suggests that champion started off having a talented team that hasn't brought it together yet (Year 1) followed by a season where they broke out, and maybe even became the trendy pick for a Super Bowl, but fell short (Year 2) and finally, after facing some adversity during the third season, came together and won it all (Year 3). Year 0 exists for teams that have taken drastic steps back from Year 1, and don't look to bring themselves forward this season.

tony hipchest
06-13-2007, 08:40 AM
another fine job by mr. coolong

lamberts-lost-tooth
06-13-2007, 09:06 AM
Good article..and I believe that that Neal does a very good job of backing the three year theory...however I think that by probing just a little deeper...some teams would move from one category to another....

Being a Homer...Lets start with the Bengals...(of course!) With the loss of Eric Steinbach at left guard and the retirement of their ceteran center they have bigger questions with their front five than the Steelers...simply because out of their projected starting O-line, only one player started all 16 games last year. Of course with typical head-scratching, arbitrary precision...Marvin Lewis explains this all away by saying "I don't know that we lose anything (except) experience,"...:hunch:

Also take into consideration that outside of two very talented WR's in Chad & TJ....without the suspended Chris Henry the remainder of their WR corps had a grand total of ....one catch. I am sure that the bengals fan base are thrilled that the FO neglected the Tight End position...again

Odell Thurman is one jaywalking ticket away from making Jeanty a starting LB..

....and the secondary is up for grabs with two very talented young players in Hall and Joseph...but young they are...and I am sure that Ward is already thinking that both had better bring apples for the teacher. In reality Hall will get some time to develope..which means O'Neal (who spent the season in Lewis's doghouse last year) will start the season.
At safety the overrated Dexter Jackson will be the starting beside Madieu Williams who is going to WOW anyone with his steady but unspectacular skills.

QB and RB are strongpoints....but in my assessment...without a great TE or a legit 3rd reciever...we should be able to cover easily and have the men left over to stop the run...
simply put..2nd tier team.

Livinginthe past
06-13-2007, 09:08 AM
Well, the Colts have been living 'year 2' for the last 5/6 years up until last year.

The Patriots were a mediocre 8-8 in 1999, went backwards to 5-11 in 2000 and then won the SB in 2001 - so I don't see a correlation there.

Tampa Bay went from 10-6 (2000) backwards to 9-7 (2001) and then leapt to 12-4 and won the SB (2002) - so its not strictly true here either (the backward 2nd year).

I left off the Patriots 2nd and 3rd wins as the fact they actually won SB's in the previous 3 year stretch negates the theory.

The Ravens went from 6-10 (1998) to 8-8 (1999) to 12-4 and a SB win (2000) - but there was no playoff appearance in year 2.

St Louis Rams went from 5-11 (1997) backwards to 4-12 (1998) then amazing step forward to 13-3 and a SB win (1999) .

To be quite honest, I can't see a correlation between the article and the facts and the Colts comparison seems to be a poor one - mainly because they have suffered very few regular season blips compared to the Steelers who were up and down in the years previous to their SB win.

Work fine as a theory if you apply it to....well....to just the Steelers really.

Elvis
06-13-2007, 09:11 AM
Yeh.. lets just play and see what happens in '07
:tt02: :tt02: :tt02:

fansince'76
06-13-2007, 10:53 AM
Sorry, not buying the theory - San Diego a year 3 team? The Steelers were listed as a year 2 team essentially due to the coaching turnover and San Diego's in the same boat in that regard. Sure, Tomlin is completely unproven as a NFL HC, but Turner hasn't exactly been a knockoff of Lombardi or Walsh in his previous stints as a HC. Not only that, but SB runner-up Chicago is listed as a year 2 team, while the Bungles, who haven't won a playoff game since Bush Sr. was in office is listed as another year 3 team? Riiight.

ChronoCross
06-13-2007, 11:16 AM
A well thought out article, and a good read. But there is a lot to be questioned about it.

The Duke
06-13-2007, 05:17 PM
Nice article, but Steelers will win :tt02:

PalmerSteel
06-13-2007, 07:57 PM
i dont buy that 3 year stuff at all. teams have way too many changes in players year in and year out in this era.

ncoolong
06-13-2007, 08:52 PM
As usual, it's fantastic to receive feedback. I decided to post it all here as opposed to SteelersLive, mainly because it's so FREAKIN' long, so I apologize to those who actually read the whole thing.

Some may not have...

"Well, the Colts have been living 'year 2' for the last 5/6 years up until last year."

Actually, no, they haven't. They were embarrassed in the playoffs by your Patriots in 2004, were an odds-on favorite to win it all in 2005 and clearly had a loss in the middle-to-late part of 2006 that had most people writing them off (at Jacksonville).

I will remind you all again this is a retroactive theory. the results will be better known at this point next year. While I do recognize that conveniently removes most if not all doubt about it, let's keep in mind this is done for entertainment purposes.

Also, you'll notice I didn't point out any team earlier than the Steelers' Super Bowl win. This was intentional, Living. Personally, I think you used it as a ploy to passive-aggressively point out the Patriots were able to repeat as champions, while the Steelers lost to the 2-14 Raiders. Nuthin' but love for the Pats, though. Jerk. No worries, I'm sorta kidding.

"...<the Colts> have suffered very few regular season blips compared to the Steelers"
Umm...did you forget the fact they lost two of their final three games that year? No, they hadn't clinched yet.
As for others...

"Sorry, not buying the theory"
Of course you aren't! You didn't read it. We'll start with your mark against San Diego. I left off the coaching part largely because I was running over 10,000 words at one point. However, look at the Theory as explained: A first year of amassing talent on a young team - they just missed the playoffs after going 10-6. A second year of breaking out to a high level, but falling short, all the while gaining the experience and anger to take it all in a third year. Does this NOT sound like the San Diego Chargers? C'mon now...and if you disagree, take a look at the current Super Bowl favorites.

"...SB runner-up Chicago is listed as a year 2 team, while the Bungles, who haven't won a playoff game since Bush Sr. was in office is listed as another year 3 team? Riiight."
Chicago has done nothing to suggest they can stay at the level they were last year. I refuse to ever give a team the benefit of the doubt because they lost a big game the previous year (not a peep from you, Living). They won't have their versatile LB not named Urlacher, they lost their defensive coordinator (their new one was the first coach I covered...a Pittsburgh guy, too! More on Bob Babich in a later column), and basically did nothing but anger their fans and players for an entire off-season. As long as No. 8 is under center...can you give this team Year 3 status?

Much is made out of teams that don't make the playoffs following a Super Bowl win. What about the team that lose the Super Bowl? Seattle eeked in a horrible NFC and should have lost in the first round, Philadelphia didn't make the playoffs, Carolina didn't make the playoffs (I don't think).

I guess you could call Year 2 sort of like The Schwartz. There's an upside, and there's a downside. Pittsburgh is Lone Star, Chicago is Dark Helmet.

I mentioned quarterbacks a minute ago. Is it a surprise that the ones generally considered the best are all on Year 3 Teams? This isn't an accident. The QBs are usually the face of that tough loss they suffered in Year 2 - except for the Chargers, as LDT clearly held that look when he was about to attack the entire Patriots' defense after their playoff loss. Carson Palmer had that look when Santonio went over the pylon (I'm still saying it, the most satisfying non-playoff win since Pittsburgh kicked the halos off the Pats in 04). Steve McNair had it when his team couldn't get a first down in the second half. Peyton Manning had it when he looked at his wife a few months after his first Super Bowl win and realized TONY ROMO is apparently marrying Carrie Underwood.

Most importantly, Tom Brady had it when he had to look Peyton Manning in the eye, and take in that southern sneer of his, and congratulate him on beating him in the playoffs. While Brady will certainly lead the league in WR Broken Fingers this season, he's right up there with the other guys in the running for Biggest Chip on Shoulder.

fansince'76
06-13-2007, 09:48 PM
"Sorry, not buying the theory"
Of course you aren't! You didn't read it. We'll start with your mark against San Diego. I left off the coaching part largely because I was running over 10,000 words at one point. However, look at the Theory as explained: A first year of amassing talent on a young team - they just missed the playoffs after going 10-6. A second year of breaking out to a high level, but falling short, all the while gaining the experience and anger to take it all in a third year. Does this NOT sound like the San Diego Chargers? C'mon now...and if you disagree, take a look at the current Super Bowl favorites.

Sorry, but I did read it, and I'm still not buying it. Yes, I agree that does sound like San Diego, but the fact remains that the very abrupt coaching change is not factored in at all, and that is a HUGE factor to leave out. San Diego can go either way, IMO - either Turner royally screws things up, or he's the catalyst to get a very good team built by someone else over the hump, ala John Gruden.

Another big determinant in a team's fortunes over a season are injuries - if the injury bug bites a highly-touted team particularly hard (like the Panthers a few years back), that team's season can very easily die a quick death. However, to be fair, this one's a factor that can't really be accounted for by any theory, because it's a wildcard. Although I feel your 3-year theory does have its merits, there are important factors not considered by the theory that can throw a huge monkeywrench into that 3-year timetable.

As far as SB favorites are concerned, from what I've seen in the media it's either the Patriots (overwhelmingly) or the Colts who have been predicted to be the AFC representative in SB XLII.


Chicago has done nothing to suggest they can stay at the level they were last year. I refuse to ever give a team the benefit of the doubt because they lost a big game the previous year (not a peep from you, Living). They won't have their versatile LB not named Urlacher, they lost their defensive coordinator (their new one was the first coach I covered...a Pittsburgh guy, too! More on Bob Babich in a later column), and basically did nothing but anger their fans and players for an entire off-season. As long as No. 8 is under center...can you give this team Year 3 status?

I think the loss of Henry for 1/2 a season is going to hurt Cincy a lot deeper than people think. Their offense was definitely noticeably affected by his absence in the games he was suspended for last season. Their D will be improved, but I don't think a unit that is as defensively-deficient (particularly against the run) as the Bengals' D has been can be turned from a liability into an asset in one offseason. Can I personally give the Bears (or any other NFC team for that matter - more on that later) year 3 status by your scale? No, not really. But I don't see anything from Cincy that suggests they should be ranked a year 3 team on your scale, either.


Much is made out of teams that don't make the playoffs following a Super Bowl win. What about the team that lose the Super Bowl? Seattle eeked in a horrible NFC and should have lost in the first round, Philadelphia didn't make the playoffs, Carolina didn't make the playoffs (I don't think).

And all those teams are from the NFC - no surprise there. The fact is, the NFC is now the weak sister the AFC used to be when NFC teams were rolling off 13 straight SB wins in a row, usually in blowouts. As it stands now, 8 of the last 10 teams to win the SB have been the AFC representative. Sure, the 2003 Raiders tanked, but that was an extremely old team that was built to win then and there and to hell with the future. The only other AFC SB-losing team in the last 10 years was Tennessee, and they went 13-3 the year after losing the SB to the Rams, losing to the eventual SB champion Ravens in the divisional round.

GBMelBlount
06-13-2007, 09:51 PM
Great post Neal.

As you said, this is retroactive, also known (I think) as backfitting. It is the best way of after the fact analysis based on craploads of data. This is a very interesting theory. It is not meant to be an axiom (absolute mathematical law.) It must be understood that with the HUGE multiplicity of variables, no theory like this is absolute. It is put out there for others to "ponder." As many apparently are. Something broadrush like this will never stand up to scrutiny of the minutiae of very specific & targeted detail. I appreciate the huge amount of research that you have obviously done. Again, great post.

tony hipchest
06-13-2007, 09:57 PM
As usual, it's fantastic to receive feedback. I decided to post it all here as opposed to SteelersLive, mainly because it's so FREAKIN' long, so I apologize to those who actually read the whole thing.

Some may not have...

. i read the article and i enjoyed it neal, just like all of your articles (yes i actually read all the articles on the homepage- i dont think mike and y'all put them up there for decoration).

whether one agrees with it or not the premise of the article definitely isnt foreign. it has shown true with the steelers, colts and it is natural to look at the chargers as this years favorite. its about as natural as the assumption that the nfc loser in the sb is gonna struggle to make it back to the playoffs. of course no patriot fans want to hear this, because their team has bought the right to be considered the year long favorites and have their team atop every power ranking from now until january. no colt fans want to hear this because as the defending champs they feel they should be favorites. no ravenfans want to hear this because no matter how bad they suck or how overhyped they are, they feel with ray lewis on their team they should ALWAYS be considered favorites.

while the premise has been thrown around, what you did was try and apply it to all the teams to see which "year" they might fall in, which was a daring approach that took some thought. i read all sorts of people dog sportswriters because theyre not a particular homer for their team, or because they happen to write for a rag they dont like. i dare anyone who is so overly critical who comes off like they can do so much better, to send a pm to mike and take him up on his offer to write some articles for the site.

again, keep it up neal. it was a good offseason article and i like the way you defended your writing. :thumbsup:

Livinginthe past
06-14-2007, 01:49 AM
As usual, it's fantastic to receive feedback. I decided to post it all here as opposed to SteelersLive, mainly because it's so FREAKIN' long, so I apologize to those who actually read the whole thing.

Some may not have...

"Well, the Colts have been living 'year 2' for the last 5/6 years up until last year."

Actually, no, they haven't. They were embarrassed in the playoffs by your Patriots in 2004, were an odds-on favorite to win it all in 2005 and clearly had a loss in the middle-to-late part of 2006 that had most people writing them off (at Jacksonville).

Well, Neal, your 'year 2' definition was 'maybe even became the trendy pick for a Super Bowl, but fell short' - which describes the Colts to an absolute tee over the last 3/4 years.

Every year, it was going finally be Mannings year and every year - they fell short - sure they got beaten by the eventual champions on a couple of occasions - ain't no shame in that.

The Colts have been consistent regular season performers over this period - sure they had the odd blip (Jacksonville)but their overall record for the season has been very solid over this stretch (12-4,14-2,12-4,12-4).

The Steelers...not so much (8-8,11-5,15-1,6-10).

I will remind you all again this is a retroactive theory. the results will be better known at this point next year. While I do recognize that conveniently removes most if not all doubt about it, let's keep in mind this is done for entertainment purposes.

Most theories on past events tend to be 'retroactive' and they are often used to predict future trends - what im saying is that there is barely any substance to the '3 year theory'.

Also, you'll notice I didn't point out any team earlier than the Steelers' Super Bowl win. This was intentional, Living. Personally, I think you used it as a ploy to passive-aggressively point out the Patriots were able to repeat as champions, while the Steelers lost to the 2-14 Raiders. Nuthin' but love for the Pats, though. Jerk. No worries, I'm sorta kidding.

You didn't point out any team prior to the Steelers SB win?

In other words you theory is based solely on the Colts and Steelers?

I thought the Colts/Steelers comparison was heavily flawed (entertaining though) for the reasons I pointed out in the previous post - they simply haven't had similar regular season runs or media expectation reagrding imminent SB success.

When the Steelers won it all, they come from nowhere - when the Colts won it all they did it with HFA and as favorites in every game.

Oh, and I don't have to be as subtle as you suggest regarding the Patriots repeating - I just didn't realise the theory was based upon the Colts alone and not any other SB winner in the past 5/6 years.

"...<the Colts> have suffered very few regular season blips compared to the Steelers"
Umm...did you forget the fact they lost two of their final three games that year? No, they hadn't clinched yet.
As for others...

I was referring to the 'overall regular season' performance and the final record, rather than actual momentum from any one game.

The Colts have been super solid (despite what you may think of their defense) as a whole in the regular seasons prior to their SB win - the Steelers hadn't.

"Sorry, not buying the theory"
Of course you aren't! You didn't read it. We'll start with your mark against San Diego. I left off the coaching part largely because I was running over 10,000 words at one point. However, look at the Theory as explained: A first year of amassing talent on a young team - they just missed the playoffs after going 10-6. A second year of breaking out to a high level, but falling short, all the while gaining the experience and anger to take it all in a third year. Does this NOT sound like the San Diego Chargers? C'mon now...and if you disagree, take a look at the current Super Bowl favorites.

Sory to get all passive/aggresive again but seeing as you bring up the current SB favorites - I was wondering how long any one team could remain at 'year 2 status'?

The last time the Patriots had a drop off was after the 1st SB win in 2001 when they missed the postseason on a tiebreaker.

"...SB runner-up Chicago is listed as a year 2 team, while the Bungles, who haven't won a playoff game since Bush Sr. was in office is listed as another year 3 team? Riiight."
Chicago has done nothing to suggest they can stay at the level they were last year. I refuse to ever give a team the benefit of the doubt because they lost a big game the previous year (not a peep from you, Living). They won't have their versatile LB not named Urlacher, they lost their defensive coordinator (their new one was the first coach I covered...a Pittsburgh guy, too! More on Bob Babich in a later column), and basically did nothing but anger their fans and players for an entire off-season. As long as No. 8 is under center...can you give this team Year 3 status?

Its all opinion I guess, but I see no reason to doubt Chicagos potential to repeat in the NFC - they are well coached and especially well drilled on ST's which i think is a hall mark of a disciplined team.

Grossman isn't a very good QB, but in the NFC Chicago don't need him to be one.

Good teams lose good players and co-ords all the time - its the price of success that every team has to contend with.

Much is made out of teams that don't make the playoffs following a Super Bowl win. What about the team that lose the Super Bowl? Seattle eeked in a horrible NFC and should have lost in the first round, Philadelphia didn't make the playoffs, Carolina didn't make the playoffs (I don't think).

I guess you could call Year 2 sort of like The Schwartz. There's an upside, and there's a downside. Pittsburgh is Lone Star, Chicago is Dark Helmet.

Agreed. SB losers often have a terrible following year.

I mentioned quarterbacks a minute ago. Is it a surprise that the ones generally considered the best are all on Year 3 Teams? This isn't an accident. The QBs are usually the face of that tough loss they suffered in Year 2 - except for the Chargers, as LDT clearly held that look when he was about to attack the entire Patriots' defense after their playoff loss. Carson Palmer had that look when Santonio went over the pylon (I'm still saying it, the most satisfying non-playoff win since Pittsburgh kicked the halos off the Pats in 04). Steve McNair had it when his team couldn't get a first down in the second half. Peyton Manning had it when he looked at his wife a few months after his first Super Bowl win and realized TONY ROMO is apparently marrying Carrie Underwood.

Most importantly, Tom Brady had it when he had to look Peyton Manning in the eye, and take in that southern sneer of his, and congratulate him on beating him in the playoffs. While Brady will certainly lead the league in WR Broken Fingers this season, he's right up there with the other guys in the running for Biggest Chip on Shoulder.

The best teams have the best QB's - yeah thats one theory I think I can buy :cheers:

ncoolong
06-14-2007, 04:43 AM
Living - I think you're taking this far too seriously, man...For the life of me, I don't understand how it is you seem to overlook the Steelers' Year 2 when they were 15-1, since you seem to continuously mention they came out of nowhere. And the Colts didn't even have a bye in last year's playoffs. They were NOT the favorites against the Ravens. Nor were the Steelers against Cincinnati and Indianapolis...not sure about Denver.

However, I appreciate the laugh:
"Grossman isn't a very good QB, but in the NFC Chicago don't <sic> need him to be one."

Yeah, they sure didn't against the Colts! How can you be a Year 3 Team if your QB can't win the Super Bowl game? And they're biggest competition is the Saints...for some reason, you seem to be doubting the obvious Third Year Theory potential of that team.

Really, it's not something I drew up multiple versions and threw it around a billion different scenarios. I wrote most of it while I was on a conference call the other day and wasn't interested in the subject.

So please, take it with a grain of salt.

Livinginthe past
06-15-2007, 01:29 AM
Living - I think you're taking this far too seriously, man...For the life of me, I don't understand how it is you seem to overlook the Steelers' Year 2 when they were 15-1, since you seem to continuously mention they came out of nowhere. And the Colts didn't even have a bye in last year's playoffs. They were NOT the favorites against the Ravens. Nor were the Steelers against Cincinnati and Indianapolis...not sure about Denver.

However, I appreciate the laugh:
"Grossman isn't a very good QB, but in the NFC Chicago don't <sic> need him to be one."

Yeah, they sure didn't against the Colts! How can you be a Year 3 Team if your QB can't win the Super Bowl game? And they're biggest competition is the Saints...for some reason, you seem to be doubting the obvious Third Year Theory potential of that team.

Really, it's not something I drew up multiple versions and threw it around a billion different scenarios. I wrote most of it while I was on a conference call the other day and wasn't interested in the subject.

So please, take it with a grain of salt.

Well thats fine, I guess.

I'll be sure to 'add salt' in future :wink02:

ncoolong
06-15-2007, 08:31 AM
Just because the Patriots have disproved this theory by being in Year 3 for the last six years doesn't mean you have to poke holes in everything. Or maybe it does...oh well.

The Bears are still going to fall off quite badly this season. When a team's shaky quarterback situation is bolstered by Brian Griese, you're going to have problems. I like the Vikings' chances this year (Jackson is better than people are assuming), and the Pack are a dangerous team when Brett has nothing better to do that throw for the end zone 65 times a game.

Which poses an interesting question...do we feel the way Favre is going after Marino's record is something he is doing at the detriment of his team? He had something close to 40 more pass attempts than the second-highest total in the league last season. Granted, he didn't have the greatest running game behind him, but with Lynch in there, will it even matter?

My point is, it seems to me he's clearly gunning for the record, and putting his individual accomplishments behind the need of the team (you cannot win by doing nothing but throwing the ball. Manning had a great ground attack to go along with his passing last season). You aren't going to usher Lord Favre out of town, but perhaps they should have. People would have paid to watch Favre break the record in Jacksonville, and they could use him. They need their future QB getting snaps (other than his achilles, that is).

I don't like it.

Livinginthe past
06-15-2007, 09:00 AM
Just because the Patriots have disproved this theory by being in Year 3 for the last six years doesn't mean you have to poke holes in everything. Or maybe it does...oh well.

The Bears are still going to fall off quite badly this season. When a team's shaky quarterback situation is bolstered by Brian Griese, you're going to have problems. I like the Vikings' chances this year (Jackson is better than people are assuming), and the Pack are a dangerous team when Brett has nothing better to do that throw for the end zone 65 times a game.

Which poses an interesting question...do we feel the way Favre is going after Marino's record is something he is doing at the detriment of his team? He had something close to 40 more pass attempts than the second-highest total in the league last season. Granted, he didn't have the greatest running game behind him, but with Lynch in there, will it even matter?

My point is, it seems to me he's clearly gunning for the record, and putting his individual accomplishments behind the need of the team (you cannot win by doing nothing but throwing the ball. Manning had a great ground attack to go along with his passing last season). You aren't going to usher Lord Favre out of town, but perhaps they should have. People would have paid to watch Favre break the record in Jacksonville, and they could use him. They need their future QB getting snaps (other than his achilles, that is).

I don't like it.

I'll offer you the standard $5 bet, Neal - I can't resist when someone makes a prediction I disagree strongly with!

I'll take the Bears winning the NFCN - you can have the scatter gun Packers and the run stuffing Vikes (i'll even throw in the 'underrated' Lions)!

Personally, im not particularly assuming anything about Jackson other than he has started only 2 games as a pro - and that that fact makes him a shakier prospect than Grossman.

On the subject of Favre, I think the organisation is mainly to blame - the guy has got a fire burning to still play the game - its upto the management and/or the fans to take his career off life support.

It also seems that Green Bay don't feel that their QB of the future currently resides on their roster.