- Congratulations to Richard Dent for being elected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And congratulations to Dan Pompei from the Chicago Tribune, whose job it has been to convince the voters that Dent was worthy. Here’s the announcement.
- Former Rams running back and current NFL Network analyst Marshall Faulk defends Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Via Fred Mitchell and David Kaplan at the Chicago Tribune:
“If you want to criticize something, let’s talk about the offensive line, let’s ask the decision-makers up in the front office in Chicago, and I know they’re going to hate me for this, but why is Jay Cutler and Matt Forte playing behind that? I’m not going to get on those guys, because you can’t even move outside until you fix inside.”
- Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune breaks down the Steeler’s overload blitz:
“The key for the Steelers is their pre-snap disguise. Free safety Ryan Clark will show a single high safety look (Cover 1 to the offense) while strong safety Troy Polamalu will move to his blitz alignment and time the snap of the ball. What the Steelers create is a two-on-one blitz versus the running back in protection (strong safety and nickel back) with the outside linebacker “scooping” to attack the left tackle. This blitz will test the protection schemes of the Packers’ offensive line and could get a free runner at [Green Bay quarterback Aaron] Rodgers‘ blind side.”
- Sam Farmer, writing for the Chicago Tribune, gives his keys to the game. Here’s an interesting excerpt:
“The Packers need to attack Ben Roethlisberger from his right side to push him left. That means the Steelers quarterback will have to throw across his body when he scrambles loose, rather than setting up in a more natural stance and finding his receivers.”
“Hines Ward recalled how Tomlin initially instituted dress codes and included more contact than an MMA fight during his first training camp.
“‘He was very militant,’ Ward said. ‘Some veteran guys challenged his authority, and they’re no longer here. The guys that he kept, we bought into his belief and his system.'”
“When you walk in our building and you have pictures of Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Mike Holmgren — our history is among us all the time,” he said. “It creates a standard and expectation that fits right along with our visions.”
- Farmer also quotes Tomlin in this excerpt from the same article:
“Roethlisberger will be without Maurkice Pouncey, the outstanding rookie center who suffered a high ankle sprain early in the AFC championship game against the Jets. The Steelers switched to backup center Doug Legursky, a second-year player who finished the game.
“‘The NFL is made up of lots of players like him — guys who somehow got an opportunity and seized it,’ Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. ‘We’re completely confident (in him). That’s why we’re not changing what we do.'”
- The Bears’ failures at the top of the NFL draft are certainly highlighted when Chicago fans compare them to the two Super Bowl teams. From Pompei:
“The Packers and Steelers are two reasons you shouldn’t get too enamored with free agents. Neither team usually is a player in the free agent market, and both are better because of it.”
- ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert explains why former Vikings receiver Cris Carter came up short in the Hall of Fame voting. Few people cold seriously doubt that Carter will eventually get in.
- Albert Haynesworth has been accused of assaulting a driver during a road rage incident. I’m shocked.
- Anyone still remember that there was once something called The Playoff Bowl? From Richard Sandomir at The New York Times.
- I was thinking of Cutler as I read this interesting fact from Pompei, this time writing for The National Football Post:
“Matt Cassel has Drew Brees to thank for his success last season. Cassel’s coach Todd Haley made Cassel watch a lot of tape on Brees’ footwork and his pass drops, and rode Cassel hard about trying to do it the way Brees does it. Brees is known for having the best footwork in the league, and Haley wants Cassel as close to that as possible. Haley asks some of the same things of Cassel that Sean Payton asks of Brees. Haley and Payton were co-workers in Dallas.”
- In the same article Pompei says that the greatest passer of all time is playing in the Super Bowl this year. It’s not who you think it is.
- Another Pompei-ism:
“Even based solely on the regular season, I thought McCarthy should have been runner up [to Bill Belichick].”
I think McCarthy should have won.
- John Glennon at The Tennessean talks to former NFL general manager Charlie Casserly about the Titans head coaching search:
“You don’t hire an offensive or defensive guy. You hire a leader. That’s the No. 1 thing to look for is a leader, someone to stand in front of the room, command the respect of the organization and obviously the players, and somebody the owner feels good about.
“Because wherever their expertise is, they have to be able to hire around it. So No. 1 is leadership, the second thing is the ability to communicate, and the third for me is to hire and delegate.”
- The Sports Pickle provides you with your Super Bowl alternative television viewing options.
- Best Super Bowl party ever. If you can get through it without a gang member sticking a stolen butter knife in your back. Via BenMaller.com.
- Also via BenMaller.com the dating site Smartdate gives the results of a new sort of Super Bowl contest.
- WXOW in La Crosse, WI reports that one of the four men who were featured on a commercial for never having missed a Super Bowl will miss this one. Seventy-nine-year-old Robert Cook, of Brown Deer, Wis., is hospitalized and has sent his two daughters to Dallas instead. Via BenMaller.com.
- From The Onion:
“ARLINGTON, TX—Despite the overwhelming media hype, countless interviews with players and coaches, and considerable speculation about the big game since the conference champions earned Super Bowl berths nearly two weeks ago, Super Bowl XLV still hasn’t happened yet. “It feels like it should have happened last Sunday, but it didn’t,” Ohio-area football fan Jared Britton told reporters Friday, adding that instead of the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl happened.”
One Final Thought
Football con man Michael Vick won the AP Comeback Player of the Year award despite having attended a party just last June at which a man was shot in cold blood. I’m wondering if he still gets this award if it had been a dog.