The comparisons are here.
From now until Feb. 7, you will see people analyze each position and unit on the field for the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. They will tell you which is better.
Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning.
The Broncos offense and the Panthers offense.
The two defenses.
Hopefully someone looks at the water people. They play a crucial role in the success of a team. All athletes need some high-quality H20.
What you read is, of course, opinion. No matter how many screen grabs they use with fancy arrows and circles, they know as much as you. Instead, let’s look at the head coach for each team for Super Bowl 50, and the one who is no longer in Denver.
Regardless of the level of play or sport, a team takes on the identity of its coach.
When you get to a Super Bowl, that can serve as the difference between a win or loss.
Look at Super Bowl XLVIII two years ago. One team was confident and brazen. Some would view it as cocky. When the Seattle Seahawks took the field, they had the swagger Pete Carroll exudes on the sidelines. The other was anxious and meek. Some would view it as weak. When the Broncos took the field, they had the dumbfounded look John Fox exudes on the sidelines.
It’s not just sidelines where you see this with Fox. You see it in preparation and schedules. One of Fox’s downfalls is that he overthinks situations. When he has time, he fails.
The moments of failure for Fox came after a bye week. This is a theory, but the record lends some credence to that.
Again, not to harp on bad memories, but look no further than the Super Bowl two years ago.
What did Fox and his staff do over that two weeks? The Broncos weren’t prepared. They failed to make adjustments. They were caught off guard by the crowd noise.
As it stands now, Denver has a huge advantage over two years ago just from the person it has at coach.
The moment isn’t too big for Gary Kubiak. It helps that he’s been here six times before and had success (he’s won three Super Bowls). He’s not as brazen as Carroll, but he’s extremely confident. He trusts himself but he trusts his staff and his players. It may seem like a small aspect for a professional team but it’s huge.
There are still rumors that former Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase told Fox they should have a silent count to brace for the crowd noise. Fox ignored him. When the game started, there’s a NFL Films clip that captures Fox saying, "It’s a little louder than we thought it’d be." No, there’s no “we” in this. Gase told Fox to have a silent count and Fox brushed him off.
Kubiak has more trust in his assistants. He has more trust in himself.
What makes this Super Bowl so intriguing is that Ron Rivera is so similar to Kubiak in his personality and how he holds himself. Rivera does have a tendency to show more emotion on the sideline than Kubiak, but both have a quiet confidence about them. The one thing Rivera has that Kubiak doesn’t is a sweet nickname. Rivera is known as “Riverboat Ron.” That comes from his penchant to go for it on fourth-down and throw caution to the wind with some of his calls.
That attitude is seen with his Panthers on the field. Newton and his teammates have fun. They’re confident. They don’t care what people think.
The Broncos, on the other hand, are a tale of two personalities. The defense is no nonsense and always striving to get better. It’s never satisfied and wants to be the best ever. At the same time, it isn’t afraid to bust a move and keep it real. They’re mean and tough yet fun and cool.
The Denver offense is a little more muted. It’s confident it can make plays and even be great but it doesn’t want to take anything away from the defense. The offense is always striving to get better, though it’s a skosh more challenging. It’s not so much shy or timid as it is quiet.
When you put it together, people know what to expect from Carolina. There’s no secrets or surprises. The Panthers are in your face. They are the “Riverboat Ron” persona exemplified.
People still ask “What is the personality of this team” when they talk about the Broncos. They don’t know what to expect, which leads people to underestimate them. They continue to think Denver just isn’t that good.
The same holds true for Kubiak. I’m telling you, a killer nickname for him would really help. At some point people will figure out they can’t underestimate Denver or Kubiak.
Until that happens, Kubiak and the Broncos will continue to sneak up on people.