I try not to overstate the lessons to be learned from the teams who reach the Super Bowl. The Packers did not plan to need a shoestring tackle of DaSean Jackson to advance from the Wild Card round. They didn't game plan a B.J. Raji pick six against the Bears third-string quarterback when they gathered for training camp this summer. Football is not baseball. There are no best-of sevens. Unlike most other sports, the bounce of the ball on a single play can determine the fate of an entire season. But still these two clubs provide valuable examples of how to excel in the current NFL.
What the Bears Can Learn From Sunday
Editor's Note: The final four remaining in the Fantasy Playoffs (Shady, BigT, IrishSweetness and MikeBrownhadaPosse) need to have their Super Bowl selections to me by Friday at 12:00 pm CST.
Editor's Note II: Keep piling on the t-shirt ideas on the post below. I'm going to look at the options on Thursday and will present the finalists with the Saturday Show this week.
One Quarterback, One Scheme
Every play Aaron Rodgers has run in the league and Ben Roethlisberger has run since 2007 have been called by the same man - Mike McCarthy in Green Bay and Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh. Jay Cutler has had three coordinators, and three distinctly different offensive styles, in the last three seasons. You will not find a successful quarterback in NFL history who has endured without continuity of style from the play-calling department.
Draft Your Bread & Butter
The Pittsburgh Steelers first two picks of the past four drafts. 2010: center, defensive end. 2009: defensive tackle, guard. 2008: running back, wide receiver. 2007: linebacker, defensive end. Do you think they're a team that prides themselves on running the ball and stopping the run? Outside of a misguided selection of Limas Sweed in 2008, the Steelers stick to their plan. They find the players best suited to fit their identity.
The Green Bay Packers first and second picks over the past four drafts. 2010: offensive tackle, defensive tackle. 2009: defensive tackle, edge-rushing linebacker. 2008: wide receiver, quarterback. 2007: defensive tackle, running back. Dom Capers becomes defensive coordinator in 2009, installs the 3-4, and they take two defensive tackles and an edge linebacker. The other three selections protect the perimeter, throw the ball and catch the ball. The core of the current Packers - passing game and pressure. They may not always get it right on draft day but they have a plan.
The Chicago Bears first and second picks over the past four drafts. 2010: (no picks first two rounds) safety, defensive end. 2009: defensive tackle, wide receiver. 2008: offensive tackle, running back. 2007: tight end, defensive end. (Side note, what Wal-Mart you think Dan Bazuin is managing these days?) The Bears seem to employ the "best player available" technique but I've found that approach to be a cop out. Jerry Angelo and the Bears need to start drafting exclusively for need and that means attacking the offensive line position with gusto this April. This draft will be an interesting test of organizational direction.