Time for a quick Super Bowl prediction which will greatly impact my 14th annual NFL Franchise Rankings Post that is due out next week. If you have no idea what that means, you can read the 13th version from last spring here.
Anyway, having been in Phoenix all week, it has given me plenty of time to ponder and imagine what we might see on Sunday afternoon in Glendale when the Seahawks and Patriots square off.
It has also shown that the best way to win a Super Bowl in today's NFL is not this narrative that has been prevalent in the media over the last decade of just having some magical Cinderella run. I recognize that when a low seed makes a Super Bowl run, it makes us think that everything is random and unpredictable, but if you simply look at who the heavyweights have been in the NFL in this last decade, it is rather consistent.
New England has the most wins of this decade, regardless of whether you measure the last 10 years or if you measure from 2010-. They have a streak back to 2003 of 10 wins or more every single season. That is beyond absurd in today's era for excellence.
Meanwhile, since 2010, Seattle has the 4th most wins of the decade, with 57. They trail only New England (69), Green Bay (62), and Baltimore (59) for wins in the first 5 seasons of our decade. Yes, somehow the Giants (45) won a Super Bowl 3 years ago from out of nowhere, but otherwise, the teams that play in this game or hold the Lombardi Trophy in the end do so because they are in this mix just about every year. If we all believe that there is a 4-5 year sliding window for your "chance", then you get in that 10-win mix and hope that things break right for you once or twice.
The repeat is a different story. We haven't seen a repeat since New England in 2003 and 2004. In fact, Super Bowl Champions don't even win playoff games in the last 10 years. So, for Seattle to now be on the brink of a back-to-back speaks to their excellence and the team concept of football that we all enjoy so much. Do they have the best player in football? No way. Do they have a Top 5 player in football? Top 10? We can debate where Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman belong. But the point is that this is a team built through the draft and a coach that knows what he wants and how to get there. It is very impressive to witness.
Additionally, Pete Carroll is facing off with his old employer. Surely, this is not like Cleveland discarding Bill Belichick before his prime, as they have done pretty well without Carroll. But, the former Patriots coach who was replaced by Belichick back in 2000 has pretty much done nothing but win at both USC and Seattle since he was thrown out by the Patriots after the 1999 season. Sometimes you just need to grow into your job before you fully realize your potential (Jason Garrett?).
So how do I see this game turning out? Well, according to my preseason predictions, I have the Saints beating the Broncos. Which is another way of saying that what makes this game great is that no matter how hard you study it, it cannot be predicted.
That said, I have the Patriots winning this one, 27-23. I think the Seahawks are a fantastic team, but the Packers showed a similar QB in Tom Brady some of the way to attack the Seahawks defense and that defense - as good as it is - is nothing compared to the team that won the Super Bowl last year. Meanwhile, the Seahawks offense is all predicated on the ability to design opportunities for Russell Wilson to make great things happen, and I count on the defensive mind of Belichick to have some surprises (and 2 excellent corners) to quiet a Seattle offense that lacks electric playmakers.
So, give me New England to get back to the throne, to the disdain of all of those who hope for their failure given the headlines of the last few weeks.
Should be a tremendous game.
TODAY'S DRAFT PROFILE:
(Each issue of S.O.D., we shall tackle another draft prospect. No, I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.)
Find all the profiles here.
Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State - 6'4, 320 - Junior
With almost all of the premium defensive linemen now profiled, let's move on to the 11th player on our list (if you wish to look at all of them, check out this link). Goldman is part of a Florida State team that tried to defend its national title in 2013 and came close before bowing out to Oregon in Pasadena on New Year's Day. He is a strong, prototypical defensive tackle that took over full time duty with the drafting of Timmy Jernigan (Baltimore Ravens) last spring in this same process. In his high school recruiting class of 2011, he was the 2nd ranked defensive linemen in the country, behind Mario Edwards, who also has lined up next to him for the Seminoles the last several years. He played 3 years at Florida State before declaring for the draft this month and amassed 4 sacks and 8 tackles for loss in 2014. I watched the games versus Louisville, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oregon to review his work.
What I liked: With Jernigan's review in my memory from last draft season, I can compare the two by saying they share a trait of being stout in the middle and standing his ground quite well against the run. What makes Goldman a much better prospect for me than Jernigan is the way that Goldman is able to get upfield and make things happen behind the line of scrimmage. He possesses a real push on his pass rush and can get north to collapse the pocket from the middle. He is very good with his arms and hands in that when he is able to get them on the chest of his blocker, he is able to easily control them with his strength and move them where he wishes. He is very good with leverage and with a body that is built for this position is a load to deal with all afternoon. Which leads me to maybe his most appealing attribute from a Dallas standpoint, which is his battle. I really liked his motor in these games both from a consistency level and from a standpoint of not giving up on any play. He fights and moves as a play develops and stays after it which leads him into many opportunities because he is staying active and energetic. He reminds me quite a bit of Nick Fairley.
What I did not like: Like Jordan Phillips, it is fair to ask him why we did not see more devastating statistics than we did. If the average top prospect at this position is making 20-25 explosive plays (Sacks + Tackles For Loss) in 2014, why is Goldman at 12? There is a very deep rotation at Florida State that kept his snaps down and energy up, but still, you would prefer to have more than 1 play a game that gets recorded. I would say that Goldman was on the scene a lot and drawing all sorts of opportunities for his mates, as well, but that is a question. Also, it would be nice if he was a bit more difficult to move when he gets double teamed, but now we are nitpicking. He is not moving when single-blocked very often.
Summary: He is very young and medically fit. He has high energy and is ready to compete in all situations and he has some real gifts as a 1-gap penetrator and a middle patrolman that makes him a very appealing option at DT if he were to be available at the pick. You are looking for someone with a full skill set, room to grow, and a fire in his belly to make a difference and I think I see all of that with Eddie Goldman. He is absolutely a 1st round caliber football player that would answer a lot of concerns in the middle if he were available.
Today's Email/Tweet Of The Day:
There is never a shortage of DeMarco Murray emails every day as this thing continues to boil up as the issue of the offseason. It seems highly unlikely that Dez is going to get away as that just doesn't seem possible with the franchise tag leverage. Nobody knows how he will handle that if it comes to that, but at least with Dez Bryant, it comes down to the idea that he either plays for Dallas in 2015 or he doesn't play anywhere (Holdout).
With Murray, it seems a real possibility that by spring break Murray could be signing in a another port. That would disappoint many of us who think he is a vital cog in the wheel, but realities do suggest that there are many more reasonable replacements for Murray than for Dez. In fact, the drop-off from Dez to whoever they come up with as the new Dallas #1 WR (internally, free agency, or draft) would be significant.
But, the drop-off from Murray to one of the many vets or rookies on the market seems like it would hurt, but not destroy what the Cowboys like to do. So, allow me to answer Carl's question. Was Murray's 2014 a fluke?
Well, the very nature of the term suggests some seasons we have seen in sports which are simply above their normal ability and unsustainable in the sample size. Honestly, I don't think he was "hot" or "in the zone". Most everything he did was repeatable and sustainable in its design and execution. There is nothing complex about a zone stretch play to the outside, but rather the Cowboys have assembled a unit that carries it out very well.
Now, nobody is going to guarantee health - especially for a player who gives and receives hits constantly - but, given his health and those up front, there is no reason the Cowboys shouldn't be a Top 5 rushing team in 2015, too. 1800 yards? Who knows? but, remember, Murray won the rushing title by almost 500 yards. A top 5 rusher was someone who had over 1,250 yards in 2014. He could regress by 600 yards and still do that. And if he is Top 5 in the NFL in rushing, he deserves his money.
So, to answer your question, I have complete confidence that he could be a 1,300 yard rusher for the next few years barring some health concern that every RB in football is subject to. In other words, I don't think he "lucked" into his year and therefore is a major regression candidate.
Next Draft Profile: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson