Angelique’s Study Guide to Super Bowl XLV

(so that your girlfriend– or friend– or you have something else to watch besides the commercials)

You may have already heard of Pittsburgh’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, either from watching the Steelers or perhaps an awkward encounter in a bar or bathroom stall.  He has gotten into a wee bit of trouble (i.e., a four-game suspension) for his bad behavior as it relates to women.  And you may know Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers because he is Brett Favre’s successor (you know Favre because he’s the one who sent the picture of his you-know-what to that girl…why do guys think that’s cool?)  You may not have heard about the two guys on either team who vied for both defensive player– and best female hair– of the year.  Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu beat Green Bay’s Clay Matthews by just two votes and got his own hair commercial (unrelated to the defensive POY award).  But just keep an eye out for the long hair and you will know who I’m talking about.  What else should you know?

  • The head coaches in this game are Mike Tomlin (perhaps the most attractive head coach in the NFL) for Pittsburgh and Mike McCarthy for Green Bay.  But just as often as you hear their names during the broadcast on Sunday, you will hear the names Dick LeBeau and Dom Capers.
  • Dick LeBeau is Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator.
  • Dom Capers is Green Bay’s defensive coordinator.
  • Quick history lesson:  Capers was once Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator and LeBeau was on his staff.  And the similarities don’t end there.  Dick and Dom (and the College Football Girl) were born in Ohio, both have been head coaches at one point in their NFL coaching careers, both are defensive innovators and both utilize the zone blitz. And while Dick LeBeau did not invent the zone blitz, he is the one most often credited with mastering it and bringing it into the modern era of football.
  • I can assure you the broadcasters will mention the zone blitz more often than you care to hear.  So be prepared to know some facts about it and what the heck they are talking about.
  • The ZONE BLITZ is a type of zone coverage defense.  What is zone coverage?  It is one of two defensive theories that can be used to defend against the pass.  In the NFL most teams utilize Man-to-Man in which each player has a specific person who he is defending against.  But some teams, like the Steelers and the Packers, use the other theory, which is Zone Coverage. In Zone Coverage he takes an area of the field and the person he covers may change based on who enters his zone.  Cover 2 and Cover 3 are the most common examples of Zone Coverage.
  • There are a lot of unnecessary details and descriptions breaking down the Zone Blitz, but what do you need to know to watch this game? The entire point of the Zone Blitz is to confuse the offense as to who is defending the pass and who is rushing the quarterback (blitzing).  If you don’t know where a defender is going or what his goal is, how do you try to stop him from tackling your teammate?  For example, a defensive player may “drop down,” meaning that he originally was farther deep down the field to defend against the pass, but immediately prior to the snap he comes up front to rush the passer.  It also utilizes the idea of blitzing or sending players at the quarterback who don’t typically blitz.  It’s all about creating confusion, throwing off the timing of the offense and masking moves. Each position has a specific, traditional job that a quarterback expects him to perform.  The Zone Blitz changes these traditional assignments and does it while aggressively attacking the quarterback so that he actually needs extra time to figure out what is going on, but to make matters worse, has even less time.
  • This is what Pittsburgh is best known for—but the fact that Green Bay also runs this type of defense means that they will certainly be prepared for it. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be playing in his first Super Bowl and has had a lot of pressure over the years replacing Packers’ legend Brett Favre (until Favre went to arch-enemy Minnesota and then even Satan could have been popular by comparison).  This is Roethlisberger’s third Super Bowl appearance (all in the last six seasons).  Both Rodgers and Roethlisberger were first round draft selections so no Tom Brady 6th-round-pick-turned-super-model story lines in this game.
  • If the Steelers are going to win they will need their running back, Rashard Mendenhall, to have an incredible game.  Their receivers are just not strong enough this year to make game-winning touchdown catches for them the way Santonio Holmes did in Super Bowl XLIII.
  • If Green Bay is going to win they can’t let the Steelers outsmart them.  There may be a trick play or two on offense for Pittsburgh to try to even the playing field.  Green Bay is the more talented team so it’s up to their coaching staff to prove it.

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