PDA

View Full Version : Four subplots worth watching in the Super Bowl


nojobny
01-30-2009, 09:22 AM
Four Subplots Worth Watching

By REED ALBERGOTTI

The real trick to watching Sunday's Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals is to filter out all the chatter and focus on the few small signs and subplots that could have the strongest possible impact on the outcome. Last year, for example, discerning fans knew the New York Giants had a shot against the New England Patriots: That's because the Giants' defensive line did a masterful job finding new and creative ways to spook Tom Brady, the Patriots' usually unflappable quarterback. It was Mr. Brady's jitters that kept New York in the game. So what should you watch for on Sunday? Whether you're a wonk or a football novice, here are four factors to keep an eye on.

Elementary Level
The Distraction Factor: NFL insiders say that often, the team that wins the Super Bowl is the one that had the least fun in the week leading up to the game. Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway says his five appearances in the Super Bowl turned him into a "travel agent and ticket broker" for family and friends who wanted to attend. Between the relentless media attention and having an entire week off, "there's too much time and too many distractions," he says. The team that prevails, he adds, is usually the one that has kept to its in-season routine. The Steelers may have the advantage, here: They took apart their entire workout facility, loaded it into a truck and shipped it to its practice facility at the University of South Florida.

Bachelor's Level
Troy vs. Larry: The big question is what will happen when two of the game's most recognizable players meet in midair. If Kurt Warner throws a deep pass to star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu is defending the play, there are two possible outcomes: The 5-foot-10-inch Mr. Polamalu can attempt to leap into the air and knock the ball away from the 6-foot-3-inch Mr. Fitzgerald. Or, he can go for the big hit and hope Mr. Fitzgerald drops the ball after impact. Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, a football analyst for Fox, says Mr. Polamalu will probably attempt the latter. "If history tells us anything, and it usually does, Larry Fitzgerald will come down with the ball," he says. In any case, he adds, Mr. Polamalu will probably make him pay for it with a "blow up" hit.

Master's Level
The Telltale Tapping: When Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner drops back to pass, keep an eye on the fingers of his left hand -- the one he doesn't throw with. Pittsburgh's defense is known for its devastating blitzes, but it can also run impossibly tight pass coverage, clouding the backfield with up to nine defenders. If Mr. Warner isn't finding any free receivers, he tends to pat the ball with his left hand as he considers throwing. If Mr. Warner is throwing the ball without patting it, "he's getting it out on time," says Mr. Long. If he pats it three to four times, Mr. Long says, "he's taking too long in the pocket."

Ph.D. Level
The Nickel Coverage Gambit: Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is a pioneer when it comes to fake blitzes and disguised coverages. But Arizona can limit Mr. LeBeau's options. Usually, Arizona lines up in a pass formation with three to four wide receivers about 60% of the time. Sunday, expect the Cardinals to line up this way 80% to 90% of the time. This passing formation, when manned by Arizona's corps of great receivers, should force Pittsburgh to keep five defensive backs in the game to help cover them, rather than four -- a formation commonly referred to as "nickel" coverage. Mark Schlereth, a former offensive lineman who won three Super Bowls with two teams, says Pittsburgh doesn't have as many blitzes and tricky stunts in its nickel playbook, so Arizona's offensive line should have an easier time figuring out who to block and preventing the chaos Pittsburgh feasts on. "If there's any confusion -- even the slightest amount -- Pittsburgh will kill you," says Mr. Schlereth.

link (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123327221825030937.html?mod=article-outset-box)

HometownGal
01-30-2009, 10:36 AM
Very nice read nojobny - thanks! :drink:

That's because the Giants' defensive line did a masterful job finding new and creative ways to spook Tom Brady, the Patriots' usually unflappable quarterback.

I'm very sure Coach Lebeau is cooking up a whole new recipe book of defensive schemes to "spook" Warner, as well, and get in his face as early and as often as possible. When Kurt is pressured, he tends to overcompensate and make mistakes. The Steelers D needs to make him feel their presence every time he goes back to pass.

The Fitz/Troy matchup should be quite entertaining! :tt03: I love Fitz, but he is going to take a beating out there when attempting to make or actually making those "Swann-like" grabs.

Hammer Of The GODS
01-30-2009, 11:50 AM
Ph.D. Level
The Nickel Coverage Gambit: Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is a pioneer when it comes to fake blitzes and disguised coverages. But Arizona can limit Mr. LeBeau's options. Usually, Arizona lines up in a pass formation with three to four wide receivers about 60% of the time. Sunday, expect the Cardinals to line up this way 80% to 90% of the time. This passing formation, when manned by Arizona's corps of great receivers, should force Pittsburgh to keep five defensive backs in the game to help cover them, rather than four -- a formation commonly referred to as "nickel" coverage. Mark Schlereth, a former offensive lineman who won three Super Bowls with two teams, says Pittsburgh doesn't have as many blitzes and tricky stunts in its nickel playbook, so Arizona's offensive line should have an easier time figuring out who to block and preventing the chaos Pittsburgh feasts on. "If there's any confusion -- even the slightest amount -- Pittsburgh will kill you," says Mr. Schlereth.

link (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123327221825030937.html?mod=article-outset-box)


I think the cards are in for a surprise if they think that the Steelers "nickel" package is what they want to see. This year the Steelers nickel is as strong as the base formation. So far this year Timmons has been on the field more in the nickel than in the base. Timmons is much faster than Foote and is better adept to rush the QB. Not to mention that the nickel brings out more DBs to defend the pass. The Steelers have nickle and dime DBs that could possibly start on other teams. I believe that there are no real weak spots in this defense. Injury is the only way this D will be "weakened"!



SIX!

.