Bills top wide out Stevie Johnson had a performance to forget on...
Buddy Nixon Super Bowl Leftovers
So the Supes is over, Bawldimore is champs, and so begins the start of the high point of the Bills year: the offseason. At least for the past decade or so, free agency, draftnicking, and the relentless optimism of training camp have provided much more excitement than regular seasons littered with late fall losses to 4-7 Dolphins teams. But before we take a look ahead, I have a few thoughts I want to unload about last night’s finale:
-After hearing Donte Whitner credit his departure from Buffalo as a major reason for his career’s resurgence this week, it sure looked like the Donte Whitner the Bills had from 06 to 10 was playing for San Francisco last night. Almost every big play Baltimore made in building their 15 point first half lead had Donte’s finger prints all over it: he was too deep in his cover 2 zone on one play, bit on a opposite side sluggo leaving the middle of the field open for a big Torrey Smith catch, and a bad face mask. To cap it all off, he gave up multiple red zone touchdowns. If there was a LVP last night, it was probably Donte. I don’t root for him to play poorly, but it looks like SF has the same player we had: a fearsome hitter who often gets lost in coverage.
-Baltimore did a pretty good job containing the pistol zone read stuff from San Francisco early , but the Niners still wound up racking over 450 yards, with 182 coming on the ground. I bring this up because it was potentially an important step in cementing option and zone read concepts as valid in the minds of NFL coaches, thus continuing the movement that’s picked up steam in Seattle, Washington, and (presumably) Philadelphia. Here’s hoping the trend takes hold in even more offenses, as it should make things much more interesting to watch in the coming years.
I bring this up partly because I would love to see a NFL version of the Oregon Ducks and partly because it is a source of optimism when you think about some of the similarities between SF offensive coordinator Greg Roman and his counterpart in Buffalo, Nathaniel Hackett. Like Hackett after him, Roman wasn’t particularly well known when he followed his college head coach to the NFL. Even though the brunt of Roman’s experience was as a NFL coach, and he ran a prostyle offense with Andrew Luck at Stanford, I have to think his exposure to some of the more creative zone read college attacks assisted in implementing the pistol formation to San Francisco’s offense. In the same manner, Hackett went from the NFL to College where he ran a West Coast Offense at Syracuse with some zone read plays sprinkled in. We haven’t seen the new coaching staff make any decisions yet, but in terms of guys who could use college concepts to innovate a pro offense, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who fits the Greg Roman profile better than Nathaniel Hackett.
-I thought America the Beautiful by the Newtown Elementary kids was beautiful, as was the National Anthem, but I’d be lying to ignore this piece of absurdity inserted into the middle of it all:
If nothing else, you have to admire the enthusiasm.
-For the amount of complaining that went on about Ray Lewis overexposure in the weeks leading up to last night, I found Ray Lewis’s terrible play to be shockingly underexposed. Lewis was slow, couldn’t cover anyone, and Trevor Pryce went as far as to say he thought Ray had the yips. I guess it shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering Lewis was mediocre when he did play this year, but still. The Ravens won, so it doesn’t really matter, but they did so despite the second guy to grab the Vince Lombardi Trophy, not because of him.