In the copycat league that is the NFL, teams will spend the entire offseason dissecting hundreds thousands of hours of tape to find any possible advantage. You can bet every defensive coordinator will be trying to solve the read-option riddle.
The Chicago Bears can learn a lot from the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. Both teams finished up the year at 10-6, but one is holding a trophy and having a parade today while the other has a new head coach. It’s fickle, this NFL.
Here is the most important thing they can learn from Super Bowl XLVII Champion Baltimore Ravens:
It’s an Offensive League
If you take nothing else from the Ravens’ championship in 2013, take this – this is an offensive league. The Ravens’ win in the 2001 Super Bowl was the epitome of the “defense wins championships” model. Trent Dilfer was the “game manager” as Ray Lewis in his absolute prime was leading the Ravens defense that shut down virtually everyone in the league that season. The blueprint was a stout defensive line to keep blockers off playmaking linebackers and a ball hawking safety to make plays and create turnovers.
The Bears followed the Ravens’ model the following season when Mark Hatley “dropped 700 pounds of ass” into the middle of the Bears defensive line to keep would-be blockers off Brian Urlacher when they brought in Keith Traylor and Ted Washington and had Mike Brown in his prime. That 2001 team went on to go 13-3 after losing the season opener to the defending champion Ravens.
The Bears continued to lean on the “defense wins championships” model throughout the 2000’s as Dick Jauron and Lovie Smith tried to build a Super Bowl winner around a stout Bears defense with a middling if barely capable offense. They got close when the Bears’ top rated defense and a serviceable offense lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI.
Phil Emery has seen the light. He hired Marc Trestman to shift the Bears’ focus from defense to offense. The Ravens’ Super Bowl victory further validates that decision. If the team that exemplified defense wins championships is winning 34-31 shootouts en route to a Super Bowl parade, it’s time to change.