A couple of articles by Grantland’s and Smart Football’s Chris Brown on the things that make the two Super Bowl participants good. First, how a 37-year old quarterback three years removed from spinal-fusion surgery has managed to put together the best NFL offense in history:
Because he’s in such control _between- plays, Manning has created a paradox: He often sees simpler and more basic looks than even the greenest rookie quarterback, which has allowed him to take a different approach from most NFL passers. For most of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning ran one of the simplest, most concise playbooks in the NFL — and he destroyed teams with it. It worked because every member of the Colts mastered those few plays, and because Manning expertly toggled between them based on the defense he faced.
Coaching is a hard profession. It certainly has its rewards, as skyrocketing salaries for NFL and college head coaches illustrate, but failure is the norm. Being a coach means eventually getting fired, and making a career out of coaching at all is an accomplishment. Carroll, however, has done something especially rare, pushing through wrenching public failure to succeed beyond all expectations. A coach can’t do that without learning from past mistakes, and Carroll has certainly changed for the better.
Much of the credit goes to Carroll’s defense, which has been the foundation of his success and remains closely tied to the first lessons he learned as a very young coach. “To be successful on defense, you need to develop a philosophy,” Carroll said at a coaching clinic while still at USC. “If you don’t have a clear view of your philosophy, you will be floundering all over the place. If you win, it will be pure luck.”