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  • Super Bowl Recipe

    What makes a Super Bowl contender? Plus, a Giant WR question
    • By Bucky Brooks
    • NFL.com Analyst
    • Published: April 12, 2019 at 05:58 p.m.
    • Updated: April 12, 2019 at 07:03 p.m.

    Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks knows the ins and outs of this league, providing keen insight in his notebook. The topics of this edition include:
    -- How will the Giants' passing game operate without a No. 1 wideout?
    -- Can a couple Jets defenders recreate the magic of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed?
    -- The tight end poised for a monster season with a new coach.
    But first, a look at the key ingredients that make up a Super Bowl roster ...
    * * * * *
    There are a number of ways to build a championship team, but I recently had a discussion with my "Move the Sticks" podcast partner, Daniel Jeremiah, in which we explored the essential pieces needed to field a Super Bowl contender.
    Drawing from my personal experience as an NFL player and scout, I believe elite teams feature eight to 10 "blue" players on the roster. Those guys are not only the team's designated difference makers, but they are typically regarded as top-10 players at their respective positions. As a player, I spent time with a Green Bay Packers squad that eventually won a Super Bowl with a star-studded lineup that featured Brett Favre, Reggie White, LeRoy Butler and a host of other studs who obliterated opponents with their individual and collective talent. Prior to that, I played on a Buffalo Bills team that was fresh off four straight Super Bowl appearances with a core of Hall of Fame inductees (Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith) leading the way. Despite these Bills' Super Bowl failures, I gained an appreciation for the collective ability needed to compete at the highest level while playing on a squad that owned the AFC for a four-year period prior to my arrival.
    Although the NFL has certainly changed dramatically since the 1990s, the core components needed to seriously compete for the Lombardi Trophy remain the same. The legitimate contenders in the league have a franchise quarterback surrounded by explosive playmakers with an exceptional offensive line leading the way. Defensively, the top teams can get after the passer with multiple players and they have a number of playmakers capable of taking over games. Whether it is coming up with timely turnovers or creating negative plays at the point of attack, the defense must have enough five-star talents to disrupt the flow of the opponent's offense.
    With those factors in mind, DJ and I came up with the ultimate roster composition for a Super Bowl contender in today's environment. Which positions should executives focus on in roster construction? The top teams have "blues" (top-10 players) and other steady performers in the following areas ...
    1 franchise quarterback
    3 offensive linemen
    3 offensive playmakers
    2 pass rushers
    3 defensive playmakers


    In a pass-happy league, it is important to have a roster that features enough weapons to win using the aerial attack as the driving force of the offense. Conversely, the defense must be able to disrupt the timing of the passing game and create turnovers on the second level.
    After taking a long, hard look at every roster in the league, I believe there are five teams already positioned to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy, as well as five hopefuls that could be a draft move away from potentially joining the winner's circle.

    SUPER BOWL-READY
    You can pencil these teams into your playoff bracket, likely as high seeds. They not only have all of the pieces of the puzzle in place, but they possess the right mix of veterans and youngsters to make it happen in 2019.
    New England Patriots
    Franchise quarterback: Tom Brady.
    Offensive playmakers: Sony Michel, James White, Julian Edelman.
    Offensive linemen: Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, David Andrews.
    Pass rushers: Michael Bennett.
    Defensive playmakers: Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, Dont'a Hightower.
    OK, the Patriots are the outlier in this group, lacking an established No. 2 pass rusher. But Bill Belichick's ability to use a variety of simulated pressures and exotic blitzes makes New England's pass rush more scheme-driven than others. With Van Noy, Hightower and others capable of contributing as pressure players, the Patriots are capable of disrupting the opponent's passing game without a name-brand QB hunter. That's why I slightly tweaked the formula here and listed one pass rusher and four defensive playmakers.

    Cleveland Browns
    Franchise quarterback: Baker Mayfield.
    Offensive playmakers: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, David Njoku.
    Offensive linemen: Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, Chris Hubbard.
    Pass rushers: Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon.
    Defensive playmakers: Denzel Ward, Sheldon Richardson, Christian Kirksey.
    John Dorsey has helped the Browns shed their underdog label by adding five-star talents across the roster. Cleveland is absolutely loaded with difference makers at key positions, which makes a Super Bowl run a realistic possibility under new head coach Freddie Kitchens. Oh, and one side note: Kareem Hunt would merit serious consideration for "offensive playmaker" designation, but his eight-game suspension led me to settle with the other three.

    Los Angeles Rams
    Franchise quarterback: Jared Goff.
    Offensive playmakers: Todd Gurley, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks.
    Offensive linemen: Andrew Whitworth, Austin Blythe, Rob Havenstein.
    Pass rushers: Aaron Donald, Clay Matthews/Dante Fowler Jr.
    Defensive playmakers: Eric Weddle, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters.
    L.A.'s rise to the top of the NFC has been fueled by Sean McVay's play-calling brilliance and Les Snead's savvy talent acquisition. The Rams have been major players in the free-agent and trade markets, and the bold moves have helped the team become a dominant unit in the NFC.

    Dallas Cowboys
    Franchise quarterback: Dak Prescott.
    Offensive playmakers: Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Jason Witten.
    Offensive linemen: Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick.
    Pass rushers: DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn.
    Defensive playmakers: Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Byron Jones.
    Say what you want about Jerry Jones and his approach to team-building, but there's no disputing the promise of this Cowboys' roster. America's Team is loaded with young talent at marquee positions -- and the group's collective playmaking ability could make Dallas the NFC's No. 1 seed at the end of the 2019 campaign. And yes, Frederick's status is still uncertain, as the center missed the entire 2018 campaign with Guillain-Barre syndrome. But even if he's still struggling with the autoimmune disorder in the fall, RT La'el Collins is emerging as a fine lineman, and would slide right into the third slot above.

    Chicago Bears
    Franchise quarterback: Mitch Trubisky.
    Offensive playmakers: Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson, Trey Burton.
    Offensive linemen: Bobby Massie, Charles Leno Jr., Kyle Long.
    Pass rushers: Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks.
    Defensive playmakers: Roquan Smith, Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson.
    It's not a coincidence the Bears surged to the top of the NFC North after acquiring Khalil Mack just before last season kicked off. The ultra-explosive sack master not only completed Ryan Pace's roster makeover, but No. 52 gave the Bears the high-end difference maker needed to seriously contend for the Lombardi Trophy. Stout center Cody Whitehair also received consideration for one of the O-lineman spots above.

    CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR

    These teams are on the verge of joining the group above, but they need an additional piece to seriously contend for the crown.
    Philadelphia Eagles
    Franchise quarterback: Carson Wentz.
    Offensive playmakers: Zach Ertz, DeSean Jackson, Jordan Howard.
    Offensive linemen: Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks.
    Pass rushers: Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham.
    Defensive playmakers: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod.
    Need: defensive playmaker.
    The Eagles took a step back in 2018, with Wentz shaking off the rust from a knee injury and eventually suffering a back ailment. The team's defense needs some more juice on the second level. Some potential priorities heading into the draft: an explosive linebacker with blitz and coverage capabilities; a versatile defensive back with playmaking potential on the perimeter or near the box. Speaking of playmaking, that last offensive playmaker spot came down to Howard and Alshon Jeffery. Went with Howard because, since the RB entered the NFL in 2016, only two backs (Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley) have more rushing yards than Howard's 3,370.

    Los Angeles Chargers
    Franchise quarterback: Philip Rivers.
    Offensive playmakers: Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams.
    Offensive linemen: Mike Pouncey, Russell Okung.
    Pass rushers: Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram.
    Defensive playmakers: Derwin James, Casey Hayward, Denzel Perryman.
    Need: offensive lineman.
    The Chargers keep inching closer to Super Bowl contention, but are a few pieces away from fielding a roster that can win against any team utilizing any style. To be effective against heavyweights in the AFC, the Bolts' offensive line must be able to control the line of scrimmage to create running lanes for Gordon or provide sufficient protection for Rivers to deal from the pocket. If L.A. can find another piece to solidify the offensive line, we could see No. 17 spark the Bolts on a deeper postseason run.

    New Orleans Saints
    Franchise quarterback: Drew Brees.
    Offensive playmakers: Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Jared Cook.
    Offensive linemen: Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk.
    Pass rushers: Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins.
    Defensive playmakers: Marshon Lattimore, Demario Davis, Vonn Bell.
    Need: offensive lineman.
    Sean Payton is an offensive wizard with a preference for leaning on a balanced approach to keep opponents on their toes, but he needs a more dominant O-line in place to fully implement his plan. The surprising retirement of center Max Unger leaves a void in the middle of the unit, which makes finding an interior blocker a top priority on draft weekend.

    Pittsburgh Steelers
    Franchise quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger.
    Offensive playmakers: James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster.
    Offensive linemen: Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster.
    Pass rushers: T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward.
    Defensive playmakers: Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave.
    Need: offensive playmaker.
    The Steelers might have a more cohesive locker room without Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, but the offense will surely miss their production on the field. Without a pair of five-star talents on the perimeter, Pittsburgh will need to add an explosive weapon via the draft to complement Conner and Smith-Schuster as the top offensive options.

    Kansas City Chiefs
    Franchise quarterback: Patrick Mahomes.
    Offensive playmakers: Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins.
    Offensive linemen: Mitchell Schwartz, Eric Fisher, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
    Pass rushers: Chris Jones.
    Defensive playmakers: Tyrann Mathieu, Kendall Fuller.
    Need: Pass rusher and defensive playmaker.
    The Chiefs have been widely hailed as Super Bowl contenders due to the emergence of Patrick Mahomes as the league's MVP, but a sagging defense threatens to torpedo those hopes. The Chiefs lost a pair of high-end pass rushers in the offseason (Justin Houston and Dee Ford) and the secondary remains a question mark despite the addition of the "Honey Badger." In a league that's governed by the passing game, K.C. must have edge rushers and cornerbacks as top priorities on the draft board. Lastly, we'll obviously have to see what comes of the ongoing investigation involving Hill.



    Last edited by Formula 21; 04-14-2019, 05:03 AM.
    Moving to LA is not a good business decision, it’s a death sentence.

  • #2
    There we go with that need for another OL. Just getting to average on the OL from near last will pay huge dividends for this team. Add in a RT and a productive Lamp and this team looks pretty solid.

    And I'd throw in a healthy Henry to the playmaker list too.

    As for a run stuffing DT, they don't appear on the list of needs. Plus, if you look at stats, 300 pound + DL do not get sacks. A sub 300 pound pass rush DT could become a playmaker, but they are rare creatures.
    Last edited by Formula 21; 04-14-2019, 05:14 AM.
    Moving to LA is not a good business decision, it’s a death sentence.

    Comment


    • #3
      "Los Angeles Chargers
      Franchise quarterback: Philip Rivers.
      Offensive playmakers: Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams.
      Offensive linemen: Mike Pouncey, Russell Okung.
      Pass rushers: Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram.
      Defensive playmakers: Derwin James, Casey Hayward, Denzel Perryman.
      Need: offensive lineman.
      The Chargers keep inching closer to Super Bowl contention, but are a few pieces away from fielding a roster that can win against any team utilizing any style. To be effective against heavyweights in the AFC, the Bolts' offensive line must be able to control the line of scrimmage to create running lanes for Gordon or provide sufficient protection for Rivers to deal from the pocket. If L.A. can find another piece to solidify the offensive line, we could see No. 17 spark the Bolts on a deeper postseason run."


      Hayward has lost a step, so probably shouldn't be on the list. O line is still a top priority, along with DT...

      Comment


      • #4
        I think the DL played fine last year, and with Jones and some of the other available, I think there is every reason to think it will be about the same or even better. I would not rule out a top DT dropping to us, and that would be a windfall. But even if they don't I think we are OK. The meltdown against NE was the whole team, so the run D gets dramatically overrated. Plus, NE is going to have a tough time doing that to anyone again, because some of their key elements have been lost.

        As far as OL, I agree, that is the bigger issue. We have the elements for a truly dominant O. We have a good mix of RB, and depth there. We have as good a QB as any team in the AFC. The WR corp is coming along nicely, and with a little help from current players on the roster, we could really be great. We have probably the best TE in the AFC now that Gronk is retired, and a great blocking TE in Virgil Green. The OL was the big problem.

        When other teams got it figured out, our production stopped and it was always inconsistent. Rivers gets rid of the ball reasonably quickly and doesn't take that many sacks. He makes great decisions. But we need to give him the time to get the ball to the WR. NE beat us because Rivers was being forced to get rid of the ball quickly. He can make the amazing throws downfield and the WR can get off of the press, but you have to give them time to separate and get downfield. We need an OL that can give our RB a chance to hit the seams. There are holes to run through, we need to stop the penetration and give our RB a chance to make the cuts, and to get out as receivers.

        The only problem with the OL is you cannot force the solution. It may be priority #1, but are the right pieces there. We can take an OG, C, or OT and any of them will make us better. But the key is to find the right guy and be able to shuffle the line enough to get the best out of the talent we have. And the right pieces have to be there when we pick.

        Comment


        • #5
          Pfft, Dallas is ahead of us? Dak is mediocre and I feel for the guy but Frederick may never play again.

          Comment


          • #6
            One thing that is missing is that a lot of teams have the ingredients that are necessary and don't make it. If a team has a major hole, even if it is not one of the areas listed, the other teams will probably find a way to exploit it.

            As far as Dallas, is anyone sure that Witten is going to be as good as he was? I hear Frederick has a good prognosis, but even without him they have a good OL, with Collins and Connor playing reasonably well last year. Witten was starting to slow down quite a bit before he retired the 1st time, and a year off is probably not going to help him much in that area. I know he is saying he is still working out just as hard, but a lot of guys say that when they retire. Can't think of many examples where it is true, or has at least played out. I am also not sure I would call Robert Quinn a top pass rusher. He has been around some other good DL, and he has not been a great pass rusher since 2012-2014-ish.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Steve View Post
              I think the DL played fine last year, and with Jones and some of the other available, I think there is every reason to think it will be about the same or even better. I would not rule out a top DT dropping to us, and that would be a windfall. But even if they don't I think we are OK. The meltdown against NE was the whole team, so the run D gets dramatically overrated. Plus, NE is going to have a tough time doing that to anyone again, because some of their key elements have been lost.

              As far as OL, I agree, that is the bigger issue. We have the elements for a truly dominant O. We have a good mix of RB, and depth there. We have as good a QB as any team in the AFC. The WR corp is coming along nicely, and with a little help from current players on the roster, we could really be great. We have probably the best TE in the AFC now that Gronk is retired, and a great blocking TE in Virgil Green. The OL was the big problem.

              When other teams got it figured out, our production stopped and it was always inconsistent. Rivers gets rid of the ball reasonably quickly and doesn't take that many sacks. He makes great decisions. But we need to give him the time to get the ball to the WR. NE beat us because Rivers was being forced to get rid of the ball quickly. He can make the amazing throws downfield and the WR can get off of the press, but you have to give them time to separate and get downfield. We need an OL that can give our RB a chance to hit the seams. There are holes to run through, we need to stop the penetration and give our RB a chance to make the cuts, and to get out as receivers.

              The only problem with the OL is you cannot force the solution. It may be priority #1, but are the right pieces there. We can take an OG, C, or OT and any of them will make us better. But the key is to find the right guy and be able to shuffle the line enough to get the best out of the talent we have. And the right pieces have to be there when we pick.
              Steve, sounds like you want a road grader to replace Tevi who can also pass pro. Sounds like Risner...if he's there at #28, no brainer...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Topcat View Post

                Steve, sounds like you want a road grader to replace Tevi who can also pass pro. Sounds like Risner...if he's there at #28, no brainer...
                I would be stoked to see Risner there at #28. I think he'll go earlier.
                2019 Adopt - A - Bolt

                KYZIR WHITE

                CORTEZ BROUGHTON

                Comment


                • #9
                  first thing that comes up for me w/this (fantastic/great) post is the draft.

                  when looking @our defensive playmakers.... great job by team Tommy John.

                  Desmond round five !! Derwin dropped like a rock/didn't mess up the JB pick.... Denzel a very so!id round two selection, and Hayward an extremely savvy FA p/u.

                  not so much on the other side of the ball.... great get w/Keenan round three, albeit we paid our dues in waiting him out, and still have to withstand the worry 'bout injury concerns/history.

                  will give them the benefit of the doubt w/MG3, albeit not sold that was "great" drafting ?? even more so w/MW, and.... wasn't a fan of the HH pick @the time, and.... hoping for the best there.

                  would like to see another offensive playmaker added (i.e. Bryce Love or ?), and to see a DT (oh say can you see Star Lotulelei ?) added (JJ is most likely a rota/backup guy).

                  and then there was the Oline.... lotsa swings and misses, and.... who was the difference maker they missed on ?? Bobby Massie (maybe ?) Ramczyk (def).

                  do they/we have enough sand in our pants to go Kyle Long w/Kaleb McGary @28 ?? do they double dip on the Oline ?? (do think we def need to go OT).

                  Robert Woods, Rob Havenstein, Bobbie Massie, Kyle Long, James Conner, Juju Smith Schuster, Stephen Tuitt (personally was not in favor of this guy in the draft).... these are the names that catch my attention, and.... draw my attention to our FO.... it all starts there.
                  10 characters * Nasir, Badgley, Facyson, Rochell, King, Okung, Patton, Denzel, Tevi, Newsome

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Tevi is better run blocker than pass pro, no ??

                    and re: NE.... personal suspicion runs by way of the refs, their homefield shenanigans and our Gus scheme, and prolly the whereabouts of Joey 'n Mel ?? !!

                    re: the redo.... on the defensive side of the ball, think we need starters el doble @DT.... would draft one and sign Shelton @the nose.

                    and think we're looking FS in the draft, albeit would find a way to sign Jamie Collins to handle SAM and start in our nickel/425 for if and when Denzel is on the DNP list.

                    @WR willing to give Dylan Cantrell the benefit of the doubt and to hold off during the draft re: the Tyrell vacancy, and.... to of course make our perennial UDFA fishin' trip.

                    gotta get us an OT, albeit reluctantly/begrudgingly resigned to giving Q the nod @b/u center, and.... would def bring in Tony Adams as the proverbial hedge @the OC/OG.

                    also will volunteer that after reading this bit from the op, am not so inclined to go big banger @RB, and prefer the likes of a game changer/playmaker, ala B. Love or similar ?? !!

                    and.... think Dallas is legit (am a Dak supporter/believer).
                    10 characters * Nasir, Badgley, Facyson, Rochell, King, Okung, Patton, Denzel, Tevi, Newsome

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I guess they feel Hunter Henry not an offensive weapon

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by chargerkdb View Post
                        I guess they feel Hunter Henry not an offensive weapon
                        I think they list the top 3. It's not so much Hunter Henry isn't an offensive weapon as he is just not as productive as Williams, and I would agree with that.

                        Regardless of how productive he is, Hunter gives the offense a huge matchup problems for defenses. It's really hard for defenses to defend pass catching RB and TE, if there are WR who can challenge a D. We have 3 WR who can attack any part of the field, with Henry who can beat any LB man on man, and challenge the S up the middle, as well as block in the running game. If the OL can get to the point where they can stop quick pressure and pick up blitzers better, then Henry and the RB are going to eat defenses alive on hot routes. The offense will be like the 13-3 team in 2009, where no one wanted to blitz us. And this time we have a D.

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