- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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The NFL is a copycat league, but I don't think the Ravens' 34-31 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII will spark any new trends in 2013.
Let's face it, the Ravens were outplayed in some respects. I don't think GMs and coaches will look at the Ravens' winning formula and say, "That's what we need to do." After all, they were outgained by 100 yards and allowed a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers -- not recommended for consistent winning.
However, we can extract a few things from the game that can be applied to the current plight of the Jets. For instance:
1. All about the quarterbacks: Unlike the Jets, who have coached around Mark Sanchez for the better part of four years, the Ravens and 49ers made Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick the focal point of their respective offenses. They weren't game managers, they were game changers -- Flacco with his pocket passing, Kaepernick with his dual-threat skills. Kaepernick began the day with only nine career starts, but he certainly wasn't babied by coach Jim Harbaugh. On championship teams, the quarterback is the catalyst, not a complementary player. If the Jets don't feel that way about Sanchez, they need to find a new QB -- and they might.
2. Leadership matters: The Ravens were built on strong leadership, from old war horses (Ray Lewis and Ed Reed) to young, ascending stars (like Flacco). That served them well in the third quarter, when the 49ers reeled off 17 unanswered points to make it a game. Instead of panicking, the Ravens regrouped and finished the job. Every championship team has a few good men. The Jets used to have a bunch of them, but they eliminated too many leaders over the last couple of years. This should be a point of emphasis for new GM John Idzik.
3. Revis Island in the Bay area: If Darrelle Revis is put on the trading block, the 49ers should waste no time in calling the Jets. Flacco torched the 49ers' secondary for 287 yards, averaging 13 yards per completion. The secondary didn't get much help from the pass rush -- where did you go, Aldon Smith? -- and the back end wasn't up to the challenge. The 49ers did a nice job on vertical threat Torrey Smith, but they didn't have a physical corner who could bang inside with Anquan Boldin (six catches for 104 yards). He was money on third down, catching all four passes thrown to him, including a TD. Imagine if they had Revis; Harbaugh wouldn't be whining and the 49ers would be preparing for a victory parade.
4. The pistol has pop: Rex Ryan said after the season that he'd like to incorporate the "pistol" formation into the Jets' offensive repertoire. Most of the 49ers' rushing attack came out of the pistol. Unofficially, they racked up 124 of their 182 rushing yards on 20 designed rushes in which Kaepernick took a direct snap and handed off. The pistol is more unpredictable than the shotgun because the running back is directly behind the quarterback, not to his side, making it harder for the defense to anticipate which way he'll run. This would be a nice wrinkle for the Jets' ground game.
5. Defensive depth is important: Let's face it, neither team played a vintage defensive game. The Ravens and 49ers allowed a combined total of 835 yards, perhaps because fatigue was a factor. The 49ers used primarily only 13 players on defense, a remarkably low number in this era of specialization. The Ravens used 16, closer to the norm but still not an overly high number. With so many teams employing spread offenses, it's imperative that teams develop a deep defensive roster, especially on the back end.
The NFL is a copycat league, but I don't think the Ravens' 34-31 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII will spark any new trends in 2013.Let's face it, the Ravens were outplayed in some respects.