In the wake of the Super Bowl where the Seattle Seahawks defeated Denver Broncos 43-8, there are some interesting lessons one can learn by examining what happened. Many watchers of the big game were perhaps in shock to see Peyton Manning and the Broncos perform so poorly and be beaten so resoundingly. What happened?
The best summary of this game would be to say it was the change of times and playing style that created the outcome.
The playing style of the traditional quarterbacks in the NFL were to remain in the pocket, and although they would move around and avoid trouble, in this style of play they throw from that position. Quarterbacks in the game that currently use this style are Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and even Eli Manning. They are all brilliant powerful passers, but their style of play has become predictable in that they are no threat to run the ball.
What does this mean for the other team when facing a quarterback who is a pocket passer? It means they do not have to assign a man to cover the eventuality of the QB running, and therefore can have an extra man down the field to defend passes, etc. This was how the Seahawks defense was able to dominate the Broncos. They have a team that has drafted and signed talent exclusively to be the best at pass coverage and defense.
With Russell Wilson as the Seattle Seahawks quarterback you have the opposite of the traditional strong armed pocket passer. He is no comparision to the arm of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or even Tom Brady in the ability to get the ball down the field through passing deep. However, he is effective on the short to mid-range pass and a threat to run.
In fact many of the new breed of quarterbacks coming into the league in recent years are being selected high in the draft because they are this style of player. Look at Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Mathew Stafford and Nick Foles who are all this new style of the game generation of players. All of these QB's are threats to run or at least move out of the pocket and are a new hybrid between the old and new, so defenses have to assign an extra man or two to account for that variable in the game. There are even a few seasoned players at Quarterback such as Michael Vick that excelled at this style of play.
What does this all mean and what can we learn from the recent Super Bowl? What is means is that the NFL is changing and what worked in the past without fail is being replaced with a new style of playing. The Seattle Seahawks style of play was incredibly diverse with a sound defensive backfield, and a strong defensive line. However, they also had such diversity on offense that allowed them to be adjustable between the running back and the hybrid pocket passing & scrambling style of quarterback.
Much kudos is deserving of Pete Carroll's coaching style and his building of that team model. You can bet that many teams who have not been successful in the NFL and have been building their style of offense on the strong pocket passer model are taking note of what Seattle, Carolina and the 49er's have accomplished in the past two years and are drawing up a new draft board come April.
Times change and one must be willing to look at one's own gameplan now and then to see if it is still relevent. If you are not able or willing to look, you might find yourself being passed by the next generation thundering by you much like Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos experienced last night.