It's amazing to me sometimes my head doesn't fall of my shoulders with the amount of head shaking I do. The comments on the radio or below articles around the internet are always good for a raised eyebrow, always have been and always will. The problem, however, is when a fallacy is propagated by the media, fanning the flames of knee-jerk fan reaction.
The Mike Munchak regime took a lot of heat from Titan fans for being too "old school". Their stated mission of being a team that runs the ball well and that plays solid defense was laughed at as eyes rolled hard into the backs of heads. The NFL has moved on, that's a poor philosophy, it's not like that anymore, right? The prevailing sentiment both from fans, but also national media members, is that you need to sling the ball around the yard to win in today's league.
Quite simply put. That's not true.
Let's take a look at the league's rushing statistics for the 2013 regular season.
- All but 3 of the 12 playoff teams were in the top half of the league in rushing.
- 6 teams were in the top 10 with 3 in the top 5.
- The only team in the bottom 10 at all was the New Orleans Saints at 25th.
- The 49ers and Seahawks, two of the four remaining teams, came in at 3rd and 4th respectively.
- The only team without a top 10 rushing attack left standing? Denver at 15th. And they have Peyton Manning.
- 8 of the top 10 teams in points allowed were in the playoffs. That's right, 8!!!!
- The only 2 to not get in were the Miami Dolphins and the Arizona Cardinals, and they were right there at the end.
- The only two teams in the bottom 10 were the Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers. Again, they have Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.
- The Seahawks and 49ers place 1st and 3rd respectively.
What does this all tell us? Maybe you don't know what you think you know. Maybe the eye test and your memory from the weekend's highlights have you mislead. Part of me wonders if this is a result of the Red Zone channel. When all you see is the results of drives and the final high flying play, you tend to play into the sensationalism created by the channel. No one sees how the team actually got there anymore.
To be fair in this assessment, I also looked at the league's passing statistics.
- 7 of the top 10 teams made the playoffs in this category as well.
- 2 of those teams remain, Denver (I see Peyton Manning again) and New England.
- There was a surprising 4 teams in the bottom 10 however, in Seattle, San Fransisco, Carolina, and Kansas City.
After watching a fabulous two weekends of playoff football, play by play, it seems to me that running the ball and good defense still win games. Especially when it gets cold, rainy, and windy. It certainly doesn't hurt to be prolific on both sides of the ball. 3 of the 4 remaining teams have excellent rushing attacks and solid defenses, the other team is the Broncos. That's not to say that you can't win with a different philosophy, but you better have Peyton Manning to do so.
It doesn't seem that it was Munchak's philosophies or vision that ended in his demise, but rather his lack of execution on that goal. The concept was right, the implementation is what didn't work. So the next time you're at the bar with your friends talking about the Titans, let's keep this in mind, and refrain from unfounded cliches about throwing the ball more or the concept that running the ball is antiquated. When talking about the head coach you want, keep in mind that you don't necessarily want an offensive coordinator that will have the team throwing for 4,000 yards. What you really want is to win, and go to the playoffs, however you get there.