Seven Super Bowl Questions: Volume One

| January 31st, 2012

I can’t get too pumped up about the hiring of a QB coach/passing coordinator. This offense is going to run the ball and then use play action to get Jay into space and let him fling the ball down the field. I also don’t want to restart the “should we pay Forte” debate. Forte will be a Bear in 2012. He’ll either be on a long-term contract or he’ll be making more than $8 million. Either way, he’ll be just fine.

The Super Bowl is coming and it should be paid the proper deference. Here is volume one of seven questions I have heading into Sunday as the NFL prepares to crown another champion that is not the Chicago Bears. (They are listed in declining order of importance.)

#7 Will either side make a play on special teams?

The Giants are only in Indianapolis because Niners backup kick returner Kyle Williams played one of the dumbest games a return man has ever played in a big spot. We often spend the two weeks leading up the The Big Game dissecting the x’s and o’s on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball but one muffed punt return or a well-timed onside kick or a return TD could dramatically alter the outcome. Neither of these teams has excellent specials so might one group surprise?

#6 Will short yardage failure/success make a big difference?

There are two teams playing Sunday. One has a running back bigger than most linebackers with a history of running over defensive backs on Sportscenter. The other has a quarterback who impregnated a super model and dumped her for another super model. Now if you had to guess which is the better team in short yardage, whom would you select? Brandon Jacobs has struggled so mightily in short yardage that Giants fans litter talk radio with calls for Ahmad Bradshaw in those situations. No quarterback in the history of football has been more effective as executing the quarterback sneak than Tom Brady. (Many note that it’s Brady’s ability to read how defenders line up that makes him so effective.) Their last Super Bowl meeting came down to a man avoiding a sack by half a foot and throwing a jump ball subsequently caught on the helmet of a teammate. Which inches will decide this encounter?

#5 When defenses go into nickel, who’ll run the ball better?

Mike Francesa on WFAN in New York has done a nice job drawing the parallel between this matchup and the Giants matchup with the Buffalo Bills following the 1990 season. In that game NYG defensive coordinator Bill Belichick spent most the contest in a “big nickel” look and dared the high-flying Jim Kelly Bills to run the ball. They did, quite effectively, but the Giants were able to avoid the big play that defined the Bills that year and dictate the terms of play. The 2011 Giants are statistically the best big play offense in the game and it would be surprising if Belichick did not employ a similar tactic.

The Giants have no choice. When the opposing offense is prolific with minimal use of the wideout, a defense is forced to use linebackers and safeties to concentrate on slot receivers and tight ends. The G-men know they can get pressure with just their front four so they’ll try and create confusing looks in the secondary for Brady. If the Pats go to the run, can they find success over the duration of four quarters?

The top four will arrive by Thursday morning…