HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – The two best teams in the NFL are preparing to collide in what could be one of the most historic Super Bowl events of our time. If Peyton Manning and Denver win, Manning will win his second while Denver will win its third. The debate will not stop until the gong sounds about whether or not Manning is the best quarterback to ever play the game.
While we can agree that Peyton Manning is one of the best to ever play the game, disagreement sits here on the question of him being the best ever despite 5477-plus yards passing and 55 regular season touchdowns in 2013.
His numbers might suggest such and there are also other variables to consider. The game has changed with the addition of pistol formations and zone-read offenses. Having success generally relies on quarterback mobility. Manning and the word mobility have very little relationship.
But, one can argue that he has the highest football I.Q. in the league. In addition, Manning has perfected one of the quickest releases in football despite having had four neck surgeries.
However, there are a handful of other quarterbacks who belong in the conversation as best-ever such as Montana, Bradshaw, Brady, Elway, Favre, Aikman, and Fran Tarkenton. A couple of others deserve mentioning – Roger Staubach and the late great Johnny Unitas. All were/are mobile except Brady and Aikman.
Conversely, should Seattle prevail, there will be big discussions on whether or not ‘Hawks Head Coach Pete Carroll fielded the best-ever Super Bowl defense. Better know your stuff before making that argument.
These are some of the most memorable defenses in Super Bowl history – Green Bay, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Baltimore, and the New York Giants. The three best from that group are debatable. But, for now, I will lean towards any of the four Steelers’ defenses of the 70’s, the ’85 Bears, and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
General Manager Rick Smith and new Texans Head Football Coach Bill O’Brien must be spending lots of hours debating what to do with that first pick. Here’s a suggestion for both – trade down. Yes – the Texans need a quarterback in the worst way, preferably a big, mobile, and smart signal caller.
We know what you’re thinking! Rolling the dice to trade down might cost them specific skills at the position. However, they stand to gain an additional first-round pick. Just a reminder – quarterback Case Keenum is and should be on the roster when the season starts. So, the Texans do have an option.
Taking a look at the defense, a compromise would be detrimental to the success of the franchise. The Texans should consider a defensive player with one of the top three picks. We’ll expound more on that after the upcoming NFL Combine.
Meanwhile, Denver and Seattle are prototypical Super Bowl models which other NFL teams would love to clone. That brings us to the Houston Texans, namely Rick Smith and Bill O’Brien who are now on the clock.
-The Texans need a smart and nifty quarterback, but don’t have to draft him with the first pick. Russell Wilson was a third-round selection. The Seahawks had initially addressed their quarterback situation in the off-season of 2012 by signing then free-agent Matt Flynn to a three-year, $26 million dollar contract with $10 million guaranteed. There are few free-agent quarterback options available this upcoming off-season, if any. Consider trading down to get the QB and the extra first-round pick. Even with trading down, one of the top 7 or 8 quarterbacks should still be available.
-Must have a more-than-capable running game to compete and help protect the quarterback. Both Seattle and Denver have dependable running games. There’s uncertainty surrounding the health of Arian Foster.
-Add good depth at quarterback, running back, and most definitely, the secondary.
-Change the 3-4 defensive scheme to the 4-3. Protect your investment in J.J. Watt. He could use a little help up front.
-That said bolster the front seven, second level included, with a play-making LB in the first round with that second pick.
-Add a defensive end – doesn’t have to be Jadeveon Clowney. Sean Phillips and Malik Jackson of the Broncos were 4th and 5th round picks respectively. Seattle’s Red Bryant was a 4th rounder while Chris Clemons was undrafted. Chris’ brother, Nick, is a member of the Denver defense.
-Draft a dynamic safety in the later rounds. Six-foot-three, 232-pound Seattle strong safety Cam Chancellor was drafted in the 5th round out of Virginia Tech.
-Address the needs of the offensive line. Drafting Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M is probably unlikely since NFL teams traditionally do not use the first pick on a right tackle. However, protecting the QB will be a top priority. Manning was only sacked 18 times in the regular season, untouched so far in the post-season.
-How to measure success in personnel hires. The Texans have not appeared in a Super Bowl. Seattle became a member of the NFL in 1976. This will be their second appearance. But, it was Pete Carroll who accomplished the feat of getting his team to the big game in 4 seasons. Denver Head Coach John Fox got it done in three seasons.
-Embrace what it feels like not to play in the big game. The experience of seeing two other teams on the biggest stage after what was projected to possibly be the Texan’s year should create some angst.
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