Ten-Point Stance: Mike Freeman's NFL Notebook Post-Super Bowl XLVIII

Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterFebruary 5, 2014

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1. A sea of chips

The league has watched Seattle dominate the sport, and now the inevitable talk about copying the Seahawks' success has begun. It's interesting talk. It's smart talk. It's also completely hilarious. 

That's because the Seahawks have something that cannot be duplicated: a gigantic, collective, massive, planet-sized chip on the shoulder. 

While athleticism can be duplicated, motivation and anger and wanting to disprove a system that said you weren't valuable cannot be replicated.

"We're like a band of misfits out there," Richard Sherman said.

Then, Sherman rattled off various Seahawks players' draft positions.

"Fifth round, Kam Chancellor," he said. "Sixth round, Byron Maxwell. Fifth round, Richard Sherman. Fourth round, K.J. Wright. Undrafted, Michael Bennett."

Twenty-one players on the Seahawks' 53-man roster went undrafted.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02:  Outside linebacker Malcolm Smith #53 of the Seattle Seahawks runs 69-yards for a touchdown after intercepting a pass intended for running back Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos in the second quarter during Super
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Linebacker Malcolm Smith, even after winning the Super Bowl and being named MVP, still seems irritated that he wasn't invited to the combine.

"We just have a great group of guys," he said. "Guys that feed off each other well. Guys that have the same type of attitude and approach to the game. A bunch of guys with chips on their shoulder and a bunch of guys that were overlooked."

"We don't have all of these huge-name, first-round draft picks," Cliff Avril said. "Of course we all have chips on our shoulders. People rejected us. They told us we weren't as good as someone else, and now look at what all these guys who were rejected have done."

So you will see the NFL undergo its copycat phase. Teams will look for the next Sherman or Doug Baldwin or Avril, and they will fail. Because the Seahawks didn't win with just talent, they won with heart, and their heart is unique.

Their heart cannot be duplicated.

 

2. How did Harvin score so easily in the Super Bowl?

Percy Harvin's ability to run transwarp speed was the primary factor in his 87-yard kickoff return. The other factor was that the Seahawks did something the Broncos hadn't seen before.

Said Harvin: "It was a counter-right. We hadn't put it on film all year, so we knew there was a great chance that we would catch them off guard. Those guys pretty much cleared out the whole right side of the field. I think there were only two defenders over there. I just took the gap and hit it as hard as I could."

 

3. Smith among historic company

Malcolm Smith won the MVP and is among the youngest players to ever earn the award. But look at this list. He's a part of some remarkable company:

Youngest players to win Super Bowl MVP
Player, TeamSuper BowlAge
Marcus Allen, L.A. RaidersSuper Bowl XVIII23 years, 302 days
Lynn Swann, PittsburghSuper Bowl X23 years, 317 days
Tom Brady, New EnglandSuper Bowl XXXVI24 years, 184 days
Malcolm Smith, SeattleSuper Bowl XLVIII24 years, 212 days
NFL

That would be three Hall of Famers, by the way.

 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02: Wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks  celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Christian Peterse
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

4. Doug Baldwin gets last laugh

Some of you won't like this, but I loved it. Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin responding to Cris Carter, who called the Seahawks' receiving group average. It is, in many ways, typical Seahawk: They get motivation from critics and are not shy telling those critics to shove it.

Here's what Baldwin had to say, via John Boyle of the Everett Herald:

OK, y'all listen to me loud and clear. Y'all listening? Y'all hear me? For all y'all who called us, the receiving corps, average, pedestrian, appetizers—I'm not going to say any names, but he knows who he is—I respect what you did on the field, but stick to playing football, because your analytical skills ain't up to par yet. You need to slow down and go back and not do it half-assed and put some effort into it, because you're saying some stuff that didn't really make sense.

That dude who said that we were appetizers, he told me to Google him, and I did Google him, but I didn't see any Super Bowl appearances, and I also saw two losses in conference championships. I have a Super Bowl ring, and I would gladly show that to him. And if he doesn't have time to come see it, tell him he can Google it.

 

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots congratulates  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after the Broncos defeated the Patriots 26 to 16 during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

5. Brady as league MVP is not crazy

Former Chicago quarterback Jim Miller was the only person out of 50 voters not to vote Peyton Manning as the league's MVP.

"It pains me because Peyton had such a historic season," Miller said, via the Denver Post. "He is the offensive player of the year, no question. But having played the position, when I looked at who had the most value to his team, I thought Tom Brady carried that team the same way Adrian Peterson carried Minnesota last year."

Miller is one of the smartest and most measured analysts out there, and his point is fair. There was the predictable, fake outrage. I mean, how dare a former quarterback actually have an independent thought. Good Lord, people. He voted Brady for MVP; he didn't turn over our nuke codes to North Korea. Relax.

Miller has a point, and I would add this: The Patriots had no business being in the AFC title game. There's very little talent on that roster. Look at what Manning had to work with versus Brady. It's remarkable the Patriots even made the playoffs. They had five Pro Bowlers: Brady, Logan Mankins, wide receiver Matthew Slater (for special teams), kicker Stephen Gostkowski and corner Aqib Talib.

So Brady had no Pro Bowl receivers or running backs or tight ends. His best offensive weapon was the freaking center.

The Broncos had five Pro Bowlers, and two of them were tight end Julius Thomas and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

The offensive talent deficit between the Broncos and Patriots is staggering. It's like going from Michael Jackson to Justin Bieber.

Did Manning deserve to be MVP? Of course he did, but so, too, did Brady. That's not a crazy notion at all.

 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02:  Smoke from fireworks wafts over MetLife Stadium at the end of the halftime show of Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. More than 80,0
John Moore/Getty Images

6. More cold-weather Super Bowls coming

You can count on this. It's a lock. And not a few cold-weather cities. But a lot.

The success of the New York Super Bowl—and it was a success, strictly in terms of the weather (more on the transportation issues in a moment)—will only embolden the NFL to test Mother Nature further.

I'll give the NFL credit. They took a huge risk, and it worked. Just keep this in mind: A few weeks before the game, there were several nasty storms and a cold snap. I live about 10 miles from MetLife, and it was nasty.

The NFL also got extremely lucky. By 8 a.m. the morning after the game, the area was blanketed with snow. That is amazing fortune. Roger Goodell has a weather control button on his desk.

The fact that the NFL got lucky won't matter to them. The league will open up bidding to places like Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis again and New York again. Everything except Fargo will be in play.

From everything I'm hearing, Philadelphia and Denver are the front-runners for the next cold-weather site. Especially Philadelphia. The owner of the Eagles, Jeff Lurie, is a powerful voice in the league, and he's pushing hard for one.

"Philadelphia would be an amazing place to have a game," he told reporters this week, via Zach Berman of The Philadelphia Inquirer. "All the infrastructure, state-of-the-art stadium, great fanbase. It's pretty obviously very capable of hosting it, and we'd be very excited to participate in it. And I think the community would wholeheartedly embrace it."

That's debatable. One thing I noticed about the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl is how so few people who lived in the area, especially the Jersey side, gave a damn about the fact the game was here. Few did. That might explain why this Super Bowl was one of the—sorry—coldest tickets ever.

 

7. Mass transit headache

While the game itself was a success, some of the logistics surrounding it were not. Particularly the ass transit system (no not a typo) known as New Jersey Transit.

Anyone who has spent five minutes on NJT knew this was going to be a disaster, and it was a disaster. The New Jersey train system, on a low-key day, is poorly run—that's a nice way to put it. So all of the stories about fans being jammed in huge lines, passing out on trains and the overall experience being one of misery was not a shock at all.

Passengers were reportedly chanting on the trains: "New Jersey sucks!"

The trip home for fans after the game wasn't a picnic, either.

There is a lesson for the NFL here. Though New Jersey's mass transit is horrible, if there were a Super Bowl in places like D.C., Philly or Boston, how would those cities handle the mass influx of people who would utilize mass transit to get to the game?

Look at the list of some of the previous Super Bowl cities: Miami, New Orleans, L.A., Tampa, San Diego, Phoenix, Houston—those aren't cities that rely so heavily on a transit system to move people. This Super Bowl was the first big commuter Super Bowl, and that part of it was an epic failure.

 

Jim Mone/Associated Press

8. Suh total pro in practice or uncontrollable?

I'm not a huge Ndamukong Suh fan. Never have been. While I'll acknowledge his tremendous ability and skill, he's just been a flat-out jerk on the field and a bad example for all NFL players. On the field.

Yet what former NFL fullback and current Fox analyst Heath Evans reported on Suh—that teammates say he is an irresponsible jerk in practice—seemed off. From everything I've heard about Suh, that isn't the case. It didn't make sense. For once, I think, Suh was treated unfairly.

Whenever I've written anything negative about Suh, I've gotten calls, texts and/or emails from Lions players and others attesting to his work ethic in practice. The premise was always: He makes mistakes on the field, but in practice and in the locker room, he's a great pro. It's why he was voted team captain.

I know his old coach, Jim Schwartz, attested to the fact he was never late in meetings, but it is also true he did not state if Suh was uncontrollable. My guess: Suh has a fat ego like every other superstar, and like every other superstar, he would occasionally not listen to his coaches. Like, say, Brett Favre.

 

9. Torn ACLs

The brutality of the NFL is well known, particularly with the head injuries. Yet what makes the sport so nasty is the daily abuse the body takes. Little exemplifies this more than this list.

@ACLrecoveryCLUB on Twitter

There were 62 torn ACLs in the 2013 season. That's an incredible stat, and supposedly that number is slightly lower than the previous year. There are only a few thousand players in the NFL; to lose that many to torn ACLs is pretty remarkable. 

 

10. The Dolphins…what the hell?

Finally, we end with the Miami Dolphins and something that is just utterly puzzling. And that's putting it kindly.

Remember after the initial explosive days following the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito scandal, the owner of the team put together a committee that included, in part, such huge names as Dan Marino, former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor and former NFL coach Tony Dungy?

It sounded impressive. It sounded legitimate. Turns out it was neither, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald

The committee hasn't met. It may never meet. There's no agenda. It may never have one. It was all bulls---.

It was all bulls--- to placate the media and public clamoring for answers. We were all bamboozled.

The best part: Committee members had messages left on their phones telling them they were committee members just one day before the committee was announced.

I mean, you can't make this stuff up.

 

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.