“All good things must come to an end,” most people say. Whether they be students, politicians, janitors, street vendors, lifeguards, or prison wardens, this phrase is tossed around too often.
So, here too does this phrase apply as the Super Bowl is this Sunday. A common reaction many sports fans will have after the game will be to look at a calendar and think, “Oh no, there’s no more NFL until August!” Of course, that’s just the preseason. The next regular season will be 7 months after the Super Bowl.
Sunday will be the last game of the 2012 season, the last game for both the Ravens & 49ers, and the last game for Ray Lewis. For both teams, it will likely be the last time several players are on either team, as no NFL team can retain every single player over into the following season.
Going into the game, both teams will try to develop strategies to stop each other’s quarterback. The only quarterback the Ravens faced that is close to Colin Kaepernick’s ability was RGIII, in a game we lost. Although, on the bright side, we did limit the Redskins’ ability to succeed against us with Griffin, it was instead their backup quarterback who won the game.
Part of this worries me in an unlikely scenario no sports media have mentioned: if Kaepernick goes down, the Ravens will have to face Alex Smith who will have a major chip on his shoulder. Think about it, if Smith comes in, the Ravens still face a decent quarterback who was playing very well before his injury. As well as the fact that the Ravens have had two weeks to scheme against Kaepernick, but likely not at all for Smith.
During last week, there were a lot of sports articles that dealt with a big accusation by former wide receiver Tim Brown, who alleges that his former coach sabotaged their team in Super Bowl XXXVII. What his side of the story came down to relied on a couple factors, namely that coach Callahan changed the game plan the Friday before the Super Bowl that year. That a Super Bowl could be easily lost just by a sudden adjustment in game planning is very frightening for a football team.
I bring all of this up because of the simple reality that scrambling quarterbacks have a low career expectancy. I say this because history has shown that quarterbacks who rely on running for extra yardage in every game tend to succumb to serious injuries more often than all other quarterbacks. Kaepernick is one of these quarterbacks, as is RGIII and to a lesser extent Russell Wilson. (Russell Wilson has the ability to scramble for first downs & touchdowns, but he does not do so enough to be labeled) All three made the playoffs this year, and Kaepernick’s 49ers have made it the farthest. Also, Kaepernick has started the least games of the three, meaning his body has faced less punishment.
Michael Vick was quite the athlete in his first 2 years. He could outrun any defender and made it far in the playoffs, doing the unthinkable at that time by beating Brett Favre in Lambeau Field. However, in the following preseason, Mr. Vick was on the cover of Madden 04 and faced our Ravens. I personally will always remember the sequence, where on the first series the Falcons faced 3rd & 10 after two incomplete passes. Vick then scrambled with the ball gaining 8 yards before he was tackled by our player Adalius Thomas. Vick was injured and did not play again until there were four games left in the season, so about 14 weeks. That injury severely damaged his career, as has similar injuries to other scrambling quarterbacks.
So, if the 49ers lose their starting quarterback, they have a backup who is aching to get another playing opportunity. Plus, this is a quarterback aching to prove himself that our defense haven’t been game planning against all week. Either quarterback will prove to be a big obstacle to our defense.
Thankfully, one huge benefit going our way is that our offense has carried us throughout the playoffs, rather than our defense. If Kaepernick or Smith can move all over us, Flacco can do the same if not better. The amazing highlight of the postseason where Flacco threw the 70 yard touchdown to Jacoby Jones has finally established trust to everyone that he is instrumental, rather than detrimental, to our team’s success.
As the last several Super Bowls, about 9 in a row, have been outstandingly close (and super), expect yet another closely matched match-up.
Everyone enjoy your Super Bowl as much as you can. Go Ravens!