Mike Freeman at CBS Sports has a good piece that places the potential achievements of Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger in proper historical perspective. A win on Sunday gives them their second title together and given the youth of both and the quality of their organization, they'll certainly be in the hunt for more. How will Tomlin and Big Ben stand up to other great coaching/QB duos, including the modern standard of Belichick & Brady? Freeman rolls through several other combos, including Bill Walsh/Joe Montana, Jimmy Johnson/Troy Aikman and Don Shula/Bob Griese. I'd like to take this moment and say the emphasis on QB/coach continuity makes the achievement of Washington Redskins' head coach Joe Gibbs even more amazing. Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks at the helm. Joe Theisman won for the 'Skins in 1982, Doug Williams in 1987 and Mark Rypien in 1991. And in '87, Williams was splitting time with Jay Schroeder most of the year, so it's really three titles with four different quarterbacks.
A similar theme is hit over Fox Sports by Adam Caplan, who notes that the common denominators of success are stability at head coach, stability at quarterback and drafting well. I have to say I was a little disappointed with this article. The teaser to click on it said we were going to find out what Green Bay and Pittsburgh had in common to get here. I guess it was true enough, but I thought we might get an examination of how both use 3-4 schemes and have superb playmakers at linebacker--something that makes them stand in contrast to New England, who runs a 3-4, plays a great system, but lacks really elite playmakers on defense. Perhaps we could have drawn a lesson that playoff football is different from regular season football. The latter emphasizes consistency, something New England excels at. Winning one-and-done games means you need players who can turn a game on a dime. Green Bay and Pittsburgh have a lot of those, including on the defensive side. That's my thought anyway. But in the end I'll never argue too much with a column that says teams aren't going to benefit from running head coaches in and out constantly. And I'll also take Caplan's emphasis on stability at quarterback to reiterate my call for Gibbs' acknowledgement as the greatest coach ever--yes, I'm a Redskins fan and maybe the frustration of having never seen the troops only win one playoff game without Gibbs (1999 vs. Detroit) is boiling over right now.
We'll conclude with ESPN.com's latest update on the main soap opera story of this year, which is Green Bay's refusal to let injured players join in the team photo, including men like linebacker Nick Barnett, who've been key to the team's success in the past. What quite frankly shocked me was that Aaron Rodgers came out and was a company man, implying that the players who chose to rehab somewhere else than Green Bay had essentially separated themselves from the team to such a degree that excluding them was justified. I didn't expect Rodgers to rip the hand that feeds him and took huge risks to get him on the field in 2008, but let's not act as though players rehabbing elsewhere is some incredibly unusual circumstance. For those who would defend Rodgers' statements, let me ask--if Brett Favre made a similar dissing remark about his injured teammates, what would you say?
Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary on the NFL playoffs and coverage of college basketball.