Tag Archives: super bowl

In Case You Missed It: The Couchletes on the Super Bowl

By Kevin York

The Super Bowl is over and I never wrote much in the aftermath of the game. Nothing about my thoughts on the game or my reaction to play calling. I decided to leave that to the Niner fans on staff here. I’m not going to write a recap of the game now, but as I thought about it, I realized we had some good posts leading up to the game, and also a couple following it, so I decided to compile all of them in one place. Just in case you missed any. To give you something new, I’m including a few editor’s thoughts on each post.

The Ray Lewis Double Standard – The Ray-Ray
Ok, so this one wasn’t posted directly before the Super Bowl. To be honest, I didn’t think the Ravens had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting there (past both Denver and New England) so I posted it earlier to make sure it was up before Baltimore got eliminated. I was wrong on that. But, as the Ravens went deeper into the playoffs, more of the mainstream media followed my lead and started bringing up Lewis’ shadowy past. They saw my post, obviously.

Super Bowl XLVII Prop Bets
Matt’s first post on The Couchletes was a good one. As he shared in a later follow-up post, he ended up going one for four on his prop bets. I have a feeling a lot of people lost out on those this year though given how crazy the game played out.

The Best Offensive Line Story of the Year: The Up and Down Tale of Bryant McKinnie
McKinnie had a solid game, helping keep Joe Flacco pretty clean for the duration of the Super Bowl, except for that one play where McKinnie got caught looking inside helping on a double team and Ahmed Brooks ran right outside of him and sacked Flacco for a considerable loss. Other than that, he had a pretty good game.

The Passing of the Torch?
I ended this post saying Willis isn’t performing in Ray Lewis territory at this stage of his career; but in the Super Bowl, although his Niners lost, Willis outplayed Lewis.

The Couchletes’ Super Bowl Picks
Mark and I both correctly picked the Ravens to win the game, although neither of us got the final score, but I was close  in picking a three point win. Got the margin right at least. I was dead wrong on my MPV though picking Ray Rice. Big miss. I over thought it. Mark was correct in choosing Joe Flacco though. Kind of…

Super Bowl Media Day (Next year we’ll be there)
I stand by my statement. Next year we’ll be there.

Super Regrets
Monday was a tough day for San Francisco fans and Matt pretty accurately captured the thoughts that I heard from most Niner fans the day after a rough loss.

So God made an Ad Man.
A hilarious post from Mark telling the story of him watching the Super Bowl for the commercials and providing his thoughts on the best and worst.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at kevin@thecouchletes.com

Super Bowl Media Day (Next year we’ll be there)

By Kevin York

Every year during the week leading up to the Super Bowl, one day is dedicated to media coverage of the game and the two teams participating in it. This day has come to be known as Media Day. On that day, media from around the world descend on the Super Bowl’s host city. Many of the reporters attending Media Day are from outlets that haven’t covered the NFL at all during the regular season or the preceding postseason games, which can lead to a circus of crazy antics and even crazier questions. That’s bound to happen when:

1. Reporters unknowledgeable on the two Super Bowl teams, heck, unknowledgeable on football in general, are assigned to cover the Super Bowl.


2. Bench players and role players, unaccustomed to media attention, find themselves suddenly with a microphone and camera in front of their face.

Unsurprisingly, Media Day typically generates its own wave of story angles (Chris Culliver, remember that time in 2013 when you outed yourself as a bigot?). I mean, that’s what happens when uninformed reporters are given a platform for asking stupid questions and when bench players are given a platform to finally be noticed for something.

Ryan and I were talking about Media Day earlier this week, wondering how the hell some of these “reporters” get passes for Media Day. Here’s a sampling of some of the questions that have been asked at Media Day over the years. Remember, this is just a small sampling of the dumbest, weirdest and most bizarre questions asked by these professional members of the media given a press pass.

  • At Super Bowl XLIII, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was asked, “Who has the better hair, you or Steelers safety Tony (sic) Polamalu?” Yes, that’s right. The Access Hollywood reporter called Troy Polamalu by the wrong first name.
  • At Super Bowl XXIII, San Francisco 49ers quarterback was asked, “So why do they call you Boomer?” Montana’s 49ers were playing the Cincinnati Bengals, quarterbacked by Boomer Esiason. A reporter actually mixed the two up, since they look so much alike. Wait, they actually look nothing alike. If, you know, you’ve watched any of their games and have actually seen them before.
  • At Super Bowl XXXIV, St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner was asked, “Do you believe in voodoo, and can I have a lock of your hair?”
  • At Super Bowl XXVII, Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith was asked, “What are you going to wear in the game Sunday?”
  • At Super Bowl XXXII, Denver Broncos fullback Detron Smith was asked, “What size panties do you think you’d wear?”
  • At Super Bowl XXXIV, St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace was asked, “After the game, in the shower, what’s your favorite bar of soap?”
  • At Super Bowl XXXIII, Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway was asked, “Are you going to listen to Stevie Wonder perform at halftime?”

Kind of astonishing, huh? Hard hitting journalism, right there. That’s what that is…

Given how much time and space these “reporters” waste on Media Day, Ryan asked, why can’t we go? Good question. Why couldn’t we? Our writing, our perspective, our football knowledge is better than at least half the people that receive passes to Media Day. It’s not just ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Fox and CBS there.

So we’ve made a goal. Next year The Couchletes will be at Media Day for Super Bowl XLVIII in New York/New Jersey. It’s going to happen.

All time dumbest Super Bowl questions sourced from Sports Illustrated.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at kevin@thecouchletes.com

The Couchletes’ Super Bowl Picks

We’re just two days away from the big game, and while we’ve published some good posts earlier in the week to get ready, we think it’s time to get down to it now. Who do we think will win? We’re going to tell you, at least each of our “experts” individually will.

49ers, 31-24
“Dual threat Quarterback Colin Kapernick will have a big day through the air and on the ground but workhorse Frank Gore steals the show as the 49ers power over Ray Lewis and an Raven’s elderly defense.”
MVP: Frank “the inconvenient truth” Gore

49ers, 31-28
“Both defenses are going to limit the running game, with extra men on Kap. David Akers puts them ahead with a field goal to redeem his roller coaster of a season, but way early in the game cause I don’t think I can handle it if it’s down to the wire and we *ahem* and the Niners maintain their narrow lead to win; and buses will burn in the Mission District.”
MVP: Frank Gore. Michael Oher still known as “dude from that Sandra Bullock movie?” for one more year.

Ravens, 27-24
“Given how the Niners secondary has been exposed lately, conventional wisdom would say a Ravens win would mean Joe Flacco tore them apart a bit; however, while Flacco will get his opportunities through the air, the threat of his passing attack will open things up for the Baltimore run game, which leads to my MVP…”
MVP: Ray Rice

Ravens, 35-17
“The Ravens will have the edge due to their reliance on natural remedies. It will be close for the first half but when Ray Lewis passes out Deer Antler, Unicorn Blood, and Cat Paws during half-time it will give them the boost they need to keep the 49ers explosive offense in check.”
MVP: Blue Ivy Carter has her first nationally-televised performance. It brings down the house when she does a three way mashup of Beyonce’s “Survivior” Jay-Z’s “99 problems” and Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit.”

I also think Joe Flacco will play quite well.

49ers, 31-24
“Harbaugh the younger and his coordinators craft an offensive game plan that is too much for Flacco, the Ravens and Harbaugh the elder to overcome. 49ers defense gives up a late touchdown to make the final score closer than the game actually was.”
MVP: Kaepernick 275 yards passing, 50 yards rushing 3 total TDs. (And hopefully thanks God during the speech)

49ers, 28-24
“Look for the Smith brothers to knock Flacco out of this elite conversation.”
MVP: Colin Kaepernick

49ers, 27-17
“The Ravens will be banking on the read option being a main go-to, but Kaepernick is going to pick apart a secondary that’s cheating up with its safties. And when the Ravens are looking pass, Frank Gore is going to run well enough to open up the pass. The name of the game is keeping the Ravens honest and the Niners will do just that in a tight game at the half that they open up in the late third quarter.”
MVP: Colin Kaepernick

So the Niners fans pick the Niners to win and the two non-Niners fans pick the Ravens…

The Passing of the Torch?

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports)

Photo Credit: (Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports)

The past two weeks have been full of Super Bowl story angles on the Harbaughs, Ravens, 49ers and various members of each team. Lost amid all the hype surrounding Ray Lewis’ impending retirement and the crowning of wonderkind of the moment, Colin Kaepernick, as the league’s next great quarterback is a story that, frankly, I’m surprised I haven’t heard much about. It’s the story of the meeting of two inside linebackers, one already established as a Hall of Fame shoo in, potentially the best linebacker of all time, and the other, a promising, young player that reminds many of the former.

I’m talking about Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis.

As Lewis’ career winds to an end in the Super Bowl, Willis has put himself in a position to take over the mantle as the premier inside linebacker in the game. Over the first few years of Willis’ career, we heard this Lewis-Willis comparison many times. The way Willis approached the game, the way he played it, his body, it all reminded us of Ray Lewis. So why haven’t we heard about this passing of the torch the past two weeks?

Perhaps because the workman-like, no frills, stoic approach Willis takes isn’t something that makes a lot of waves among the other showier stories that emerge during Super Bowl week (Chris Culliver anyone?). Or maybe it’s because his 49ers have finally had some other stars emerge, stars that want the attention (looking at you Kaepernick). Or maybe it’s because Willis’ counterpart on the inside of the San Francisco linebacking corps, NaVorro Bowman, also emerged as a prime time player this year.

I don’t have the answer as to why, but in my eyes, the comparison still sticks. So I decided to take it a step further than the eyeball test. Over the first six years of each of their careers, Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis have played the exact same number of games. They each only missed four total games over that span (maybe they have the same deer antler spray guy). It sets things up perfectly to compare the two head to head. Is Willis really deserving of the comparison? How does he stack up to the future Hall of Famer? Can we say that this is a passing of the torch situation?

Total Tackles
Lewis (875) vs. Willis (812)

Solo Tackles
Lewis (698) vs. Willis (621)

Lewis (19.5) vs. Willis (17.5)

Lewis (12) vs. Willis (7)

While Willis’ numbers are good, they don’t quite stack up to those that Lewis put together over his first six seasons. Of course, we’re looking at these numbers in a vacuum, which for some reason, people tend to do a lot when they look at sports stats. One could easily argue that Lewis had much better defensive tackles lining up in front of him over his first six seasons, absorbing blockers, freeing Lewis to make more plays. In fact, this has long been an argument made against Lewis by the Ray-Ray haters. Nonetheless, the fact that Lewis’ numbers are better across the board, make quite a statement.

Given these numbers, I think we can reasonably say that although Willis is a good player, it’s unfair to compare him to Lewis. After six seasons, Lewis had already established himself as the type of player that could be called generational. Willis isn’t at that point, and at this point in his career, about halfway through, I think he’d have to increase his production a bit to reach that status by the end of his career. What could make that even harder is that over the previous two seasons, we’ve started to see his counterpart on the interior of San Francisco’s linebacking corps, NaVorro Bowman, emerge as just as good of a linebacker as Willis himself, possibly even better. In my opinion, Bowman had the better 2012 campaign.

Not quite a passing of the torch situation, but on Sunday we’re in for a treat watching two defenses anchored by stellar, Pro Bowl caliber (at least until the past two seasons in Lewis’ case) inside linebackers. These two solid defenses have been overshadowed a bit by their offenses leading up to the game, but come Sunday, I have a feeling we may be in for a defensive battle.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at kevin@thecouchletes.com

The Best Offensive Line Story of the Year: The Up and Down Tale of Bryant McKinnie

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Jake Roth/ US Presswire)

Photo Credit: (Jake Roth/ US Presswire)

As people look forward to Sundays Super Bowl, there’s been plenty of talk about the skill position players. Joe Flacco. Colin Kaepernick. Ray Rice. Frank Gore. Michael Crabtree. And of course, Ray Lewis’ retirement. There’s a big storyline that many people are missing though, and it’s one that casual fans may not notice.

This Super Bowl matchup features two really, really good offensive lines.

The big guys in the trenches often get overlooked because they don’t score and they don’t tackle. There aren’t a lot of stats to measure them by, at least none that someone watching a game on tv instead of from the press box can keep track of easily.

San Francisco has one of the three best offensive lines in the game, maybe even the best. They’ve largely built it from the ground up through the draft, which is exactly the way I’d do it if I were running a team. I always advocate building a team from the inside out, starting with two strong lines. A good offensive line can make an average quarterback or running back good or a below average quarterback or running back average. Everything starts with the offensive line. You can’t run or pass with any effectiveness unless the big uglies up front are winning their battles.

Photo Credit: (Paul Sakuma)

Photo Credit: (Paul Sakuma)

The 49ers’ Mike Iupati is probably the best guard in the league. Joe Staley is a top five tackle and the other tackle, Anthony Davis, is a top ten tackle. They drafted all three along with Iupati’s counterpart opposite him on the right side of the line, Alex Boone. Only center, eleven year veteran Jonathan Goodwin, was not drafted by the 49ers.

Baltimore’s offensive line is not quite as good as San Francisco’s, and wasn’t as built through the draft, but is also a top ten unit. I don’t know the last time we’ve seen two lines this good in the Super Bowl. We didn’t get it last year. New England and New York deployed solid lines, but they weren’t in the same league as this year’s group. The Packers and Steelers started two injury plagued lines the year prior.

It really is a great story, but the matchup of these two great offensive lines isn’t the story I’m referring to in the title of this post. That story belongs to just one member of the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive line.

When people think about the Ravens’ offensive line, the first name that usually pops in their head is Michael Oher, the big tackle that the book and movie, The Blind Side, were based on. Next is probably guard Marshal Yanda. I mentioned earlier that San Francisco’s Iupati is probably the best guard in the league; Yanda is the other guard in that conversation. Both made my All-Pro team. Once you get past Oher and Yanda, the next name to come up is center Matt Birk, the veteran who was close to retiring last year, but came back another year for a shot to win the big one.

The name that probably doesn’t come up as often is the Ravens’ other tackle, Bryant McKinnie, and for good reason. He reported late to camp, out of shape and overweight. The team cut his salary and he sulked his way through bad practices. He wasn’t a starter at the beginning of the year; he wasn’t even a starter at the end of the year. McKinnie didn’t become a starter for this year’s Ravens team until the wild card round playoff game against the Colts.

What did he do in that game, his first start of the season? McKinnie held Colts pass rusher Dwight Freeney to not only zero sacks, but no tackles at all. None.

Bryant McKinnie began his college football career at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he moved from his high school position of defensive end to offensive tackle. After two years at this junior college, he transferred to the University of Miami for his junior and senior year. As a Hurricane, he was an All-American his junior year and was unanimously selected for the honor again as a senior. He also received the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman, was selected as Sports Illustrated’s Player of the Year and finished eighth in the Heisman voting as a senior. That 2001 Miami team also won the national championship.

Photo Credit: (Doug Pensinger/Allsport)

Photo Credit: (Doug Pensinger/Allsport)

McKinnie was drafted in the first round of the 2002 NFL draft as a 6’9″ 335 pound senior by the Minnesota Vikings with the seventh overall pick. For the next eight years, the giant tackle was a mainstay on the Vikings’ offensive line, even making the Pro Bowl in 2009. From 2003-2007, McKinnie started every game and had a streak of 80 straight games started. He was a solid NFL tackle and for the most part, lived up to the hype surrounding him coming out of Miami.

In the summer of 2011, his fortunes went south, and due to his own doing. He reported to training camp weighing over 400 pounds; this coming after he finished the previous season at 360 pounds and promised coaches he would get in shape over the summer and drop some weight.

After he was cut by the Vikings, McKinnie was signed by the Baltimore Ravens, largely due to former Miami teammate Ed Reed speaking on his behalf to Baltimore management and vouching for him. He started all 16 games for Baltimore that year, but then at the beginning of 2012, McKinnie’s fortunes again changed as I described earlier with reporting to camp overweight and having his salary cut.

So how did we get to this point? How did McKinnie regain his starting job, in the playoffs no less, and dominate a great pass rusher like Dwight Freeney?

Bryant McKinnie worked his butt off, for one thing. In addition, a string of other things happened along Baltimore’s offensive line that eventually put McKinnie back in a place to step back into a starting role. Ironically, turns out Michael Oher was not as astute at protecting Joe Flacco’s blind side as the movie based on him would seem to indicate. He’s much better playing at the right tackle spot where he can run block. However, during the regular season, the Ravens played Oher at left tackle and rookie Jah Reid at right tackle since McKinnie reported to camp out of shape. When Reid suffered a toe injury, and McKinnie had put together several really good weeks of practice, it led coach John Harbaugh to move Oher back to right tackle, where he played in previous seasons, and start McKinnie at left tackle.

The lineup change ended up paying off for Harbaugh, McKinnie and Baltimore. The big tackle has played well throughout the playoffs and done his part to give Joe Flacco plenty of time to throw the ball downfield, which is exactly what he’s done.

While this matchup of offensive lines is certainly impressive, what’s more impressive is the up and down story of Bryant McKinnie and how he’s worked himself back into a job and helped lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at kevin@thecouchletes.com