There is only one game that matters remaining in the 2010 NFL season, and the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t in it. Instead, we will see the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers duke it out in Dallas at the Super Bowl. Instead of pouting about how the Chiefs didn’t make it to the big game, we should take the opportunity to get a good look at why the Packers and Steelers made. Those teams have demonstrated how to get to a Super Bowl. We need to see what we can learn from them so that in the coming years, we can there as well.
Many different kinds of teams can get to the Super Bowl. Just look at the difference between the teams that went last year compared to the teams that made it this year. However, there are similarities between the Packers and the Steelers that I will highlight so that we can determine where the Chiefs fell short this year.
The first attribute that helps to make the Packers and Steelers Super Bowl teams is that their quarterbacks are efficient. Note that this doesn’t mean that they have a top 10 passing offense (although Green Bay does), but that they make each pass count and limit interceptions. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has the third highest passer rating in the NFL compared to Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger 5th highest. The Chiefs’ Matt Cassel has the 13th best passer rating.
Considering the quality of the Chiefs’ receiving corps, I think that 13th is very acceptable. What I want to see is an upgrade to our wide receivers. Hopefully that upgrade will mean more passes caught and yards gained which should make Cassel’s passer rating better.
One area that we should feel good about, pertaining to passer rating, is the about of interceptions thrown this year. Cassel threw fewer interceptions than either Rodgers or Roethlisberger this year. As the Chiefs’ passing game strives to get better and more passes are thrown, if that number stays constant it should mean the Chiefs’ offense is taking a step in the right direction.
The next characteristic of the Super Bowl teams I want to discuss is their defenses. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh have a top 5 NFL defense. They not only kept the opposing teams from gaining yards but also from scoring points. They are the number 1 and 2 teams in points allowed with each teams allowing their opponent an average of about 15 points per game.
On the defensive front, the Chiefs made a big step forward this year. Provided they can continue moving forward, the Chiefs should have a top 10 NFL defense next year. One thing that will help them is if the offense can step up a bit more. There were times this year that the defense hardly got a rest and so were tired towards the ends of games which allowed opponents to score on them. If the Chiefs’ offense can have fewer three-and-outs then defense should be better rested.
However, don’t think that it is completely the offense’s fault. The defense needs to get more consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks from sources that aren’t named outside linebacker Tamba Hali. Another thing our defense needs to work on is figuring out how to defend tight ends. All season we were consistently beaten by our opponents’ tight ends. We need to fix that problem otherwise the San Diego Chargers’ Antonio Gates and Oakland Raiders’ Zach Miller will beat us every time we play them.
Finally, we need to talk about the third aspect the Packers and the Steelers have in common. They are both top 10 teams in causing both sacks and interceptions. Some may be wondering why I am combining these two areas. The answer is that they are interwoven.
Pass coverage forces to the quarterback to hold the ball instead of throwing it which allows the pass rush to get the sack. On the flipside, getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks causes bad throws which can end up as interceptions. The defense as a whole works to get the pass defense interceptions and the pass rush sacks.
By the way, don’t assume that good defenses always lead in these categories either. Having defensive success doesn’t always indicate success in getting sacks and interceptions. Take the New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens as examples. The Jets have the third best defense in the NFL yet, they are 25th in interceptions. Meanwhile the Ravens’ defense is 10th in the NFL yet they are 27th in sacks.
When we look at the Chiefs, we find that they are 10th in sacks and 20th in interceptions. Based on the play that I’ve seen, I believe that the pass rush is leaning on the pass defense to get some of their sacks. I say that to take nothing away from a player like Tamba Hali who is, sometimes, just unblockable. I say this to point out that if the pass rush and pass defense can work equally well instead of one being better than the other, then I think the amount of sacks will stay the same while allowing more passes to be intercepted.
Some people may read this article and say, “Gee Adam, thanks for stating the obvious.” Or perhaps they say it using … less delicate language. To be clear, what I said isn’t as obvious as one might think. The most efficient passer, the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. Neither did the number one defense in the NFL, the San Diego Chargers (haha). No, it was the combination of efficiency, all-around good defense, and getting sacks and interceptions which helped the Packers and Steelers get to the Super Bowl. Since they got to the Super Bowl before us, the least we can do is let them teach us how to get there.
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Topics: Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Gates, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Dallas, Defense, Green Bay Packers, Interceptions, Kansas City Chiefs, Matt Cassel, New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL News, Oakland Raiders, Offense, Outside Linebacker, Passer Rating, Pittsburgh Steelers, Quarterback, Sacks, San Diego Chargers, Super Bowl, Tamba Hali, Tight End, Tom Brady, Wide Receivers, Zach Miller