With both the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens punching tickets to New Orleans in two weeks for the Super Bowl with victories today, it shows defenses still win championships. In today’s NFL game, so much emphasis is put on elite quarterbacks that defense is an afterthought.
Entering the playoffs three weeks ago, everyone said the early favorites to reach the Super Bowl were teams led by Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. Some gave the 49ers and Ravens a shot, but said it wasn’t going to be their quarterbacks leading the way if they made it that far.
Usually, elite quarterbacks rise to the occasion in the postseason and advance their teams to the big game. Look at the last several Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. Guys like Eli Manning, Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Manning again, Manning, Roethlisberger again, and Brady twice in a row, have won since 2004.
This year, either Joe Flacco of the Ravens or Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers will be a world champion. It just doesn’t have the glare like the years past. Nothing against either quarterback and I know their respective fan bases will say otherwise, but these two are not and will never be elite quarterbacks.
Flacco was supposed to be elite, but doesn’t have the poise to do so. He does make plays sometimes, but receivers like Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith or tight end Dennis Pitta bail him out. It has nothing to do with his passes rather than the ability of his receivers to bring the ball in.
Then mix in a fantastic offensive line blocking for him, giving him protection and making holes for one of the best backs in the league in Ray Rice, and Flacco quickly is at the bottom of the most effective of the Ravens’ offense. Add that to a very good, but aging defense and out of the 22 starters on both sides of the football he’s probably 17th or lower on the list of most important to the team.
Same goes to Kaepernick. He has a very strong arm and is a very mobile quarterback, but he’s never going to be the next star. Teams will figure him out and not allow him to be so effective. I honestly think you could take him out and put Alex Smith back in for that run and they’d end up in the Super Bowl still. Kaepernick is a byproduct of a great system with great receivers and a solid running game. His defense is the reason why they’re in this position and he can thank them for that.
We all know the drill, after the game the national media will turn into their typical annual circus of over hyping the Super Bowl winning quarterback and asking if he’s the next greatest ever. We all know both never will be in that conversation as both teams show it’s not about how great your quarterback is but how effective he is in big situations and not turning the ball over.