Don’t Let Russell Wilson’s Success Distract From How To Build A Winning Franchise in the NFL
By Leo Howell
Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Michael Strahan, left, looks on as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) celebrates with the Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The day after the Super Bowl is commonly a day for fans to figure out how their team can best emulate the style of the lucky franchise that got the chance to lift the Lombardi Trophy the night before. Last season, fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were thrilled at the thought of a decent defense with a versatile running back and a deep ball quarterback winning the Super Bowl when the Ravens won it all, only to find that both the Buccaneers and Ravens had letdown seasons in 2013.
This season, following a victory by the Seattle Seahawks, a primary topic of discussion among fans is how the Buccaneers can get the mobile, creative quarterback like Russell Wilson under center and emulate the Seahawks’ success.
The problem with that is simple: The Seahawks didn’t win BECAUSE of their quarterback. They won WITH him.
Much like the Ravens, who had a balanced offense and an opportunistic defense, the Seahawks’ dominant defense and complimentary offense provided them with a perfect balance on both sides of the ball, and helped them make a run to the Super Bowl. Both teams also featured key special teams plays, something often overlooked when considering the keys to a team’s success.
Russell Wilson is a fantastic quarterback, and he’s only getting better. He’s poised in the pocket, has incredible arm strength and accuracy on the run, and has the mobility to extend plays and pick up big gains on the ground. But before Wilson, it was Joe Flacco winning a Super Bowl, with a totally different skillset.
The common thread among Super Bowl teams is not their quarterback. Nor is it any other single position. The Seahawks dominated in the Super Bowl because of a total team effort from a talented, well-constructed roster. The same can be said for almost any other team that wins the Super Bowl.
Quarterback is simultaneously the most important and most overrated position in football. Russell Wilson was a key member of the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, but he was not the lone reason they won the Super Bowl. A quarterback with a skillset like Wilson’s may not have even made the playoffs without the suffocating defense, powerful rushing attack, and nearly perfect special teams play.
The Buccaneers are poised to make a quick turnaround and contend for a Super Bowl with the right additions and the right coaching. But simply trying to copycat the Seahawks, or any other team, would be foolish.
Building the right roster with the right players is more than just following a blueprint, which is why the Buccaneers made a change at GM as well as head coach. The owners want the team headed in the right direction, and they know that means building the right roster to be coached by the right head coach. That’s what happened in New York, Baltimore, and Seattle, with vastly different quarterbacks, and that’s what will happen in Tampa if Jason Licht and Lovie Smith can get the right pieces in place.