The NFL is a copycat league. When a team has success, other teams study the reasons why and often try to implement a similar plan. Teams across the NFL will likely study the newly crowned Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers to figure out how to win next year’s Super Bowl.
In my mind, the three keys to Green Bay’s championship run were stellar quarterback play by Aaron Rodgers, dominant 3-4 defense and strong leadership by general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy.
Let’s look at the four AFC West teams and see if they are equipped similarly:
Elite quarterback? No, the team is likely about to start the Tim Tebow era. But he has a long way to go before he can be considered even a potential elite quarterback.
Dominant 3-4 defense? The Broncos are probably going to switch back to the 4-3 defense and an unsuccessful two-season run with the 3-4.
Strong leadership structure? We’ll see. General manager Brian Xanders is taking on an expanded role, legendary quarterback John Elway is the team’s new football leader and John Fox is the new coach.
Elite quarterback? No, but Matt Cassel showed in 2010 he can be a good quarterback. Cassel needs to continue to develop before he can be considered a true plus-quarterback.
Dominant 3-4 defense? The Chiefs run the 3-4 and it was pretty good in 2010. This is a young group. It could use a big nose tackle and another pass rusher, but this group is solid.
Strong leadership structure? Yes, the Chiefs have strong leadership. In two years, general manager Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley showed they are capable of turning this program around.
Elite quarterback? No. Jason Campbell will be Oakland’s quarterback in 2011. He has been inconsistent, but at his best, he can be an effective game manager.
Dominant 3-4 defense? We don’t know who will be Oakland’s defensive coordinator so we won’t know if scheme the Raiders will use. If they do switch to a 3-4, there are some good starting pieces on the unit.
Strong leadership structure? We all know Al Davis runs this show. And we all know his results haven’t been great for a long time.
Elite quarterback? Yes. Philip Rivers is a top-tier quarterback who is capable of taking his team on a long run run.
Dominant 3-4 defense? The Chargers will stay in the 3-4 defense that was No.1 in the NFL in 2010 under coordinator Ron Rivera, now the head coach in Carolina. This unit could use another pass rusher, but it’s pretty strong.
Strong leadership structure? The Chargers have a strong general manager in A.J. Smith who makes the decisions. Norv Turner’s job is to coach. This is a pretty similar setup to Green Bay’s.