I've already told you how much I dislike NFL power rankings. They are worthless. Earlier this week I was checking up on my reader and came across this weeks power rankings from Bloguin's feature NFL site This Given Sunday. They ranked the Falcons second which doesn't excite or upset me but I was intrigued by the blurb that they associated with the ranking. Here is what they said:
But I don't feel any better about these guys, who don't play with the kind of passion required of a Super Bowl winner. Or at least it doesn't appear that way.
I'm not going to lie and say I watch every NFL football game every week and have an intricate knowledge of the NFL. I'm more of a college football guy (growing up in the South does that to you) and then I'm an Atlanta Falcons fan but not necessarily a huge NFL fan. One of the reasons for that is because I believe that college football in general is a much more exciting and passionate sport than the NFL. In general, the NFL is about money (which is a given as this is what the players do for their career) and it's about execution and out game planning your opponent.
When I look around the NFL I honestly don't see any teams that seem any more "passionate" than others. Sure the teams that have losing records and are at the bottom or the rankings tend to be broken and don't play with passion but that's a given. Are there individual players? Sure but even those players aren't necessarily the peak of their profession. Ray Lewis is one that comes to mind and yes he is elite (or at least he was). After that I think about guys like Cam Newton and Steve Smith as two of the most passionate football players I know and it hasn't equaled wins for them on a consistent basis in the NFL. Does it require outward passion to win a Super Bowl? No, it doesn't.
What it does require is inward passion. The type of passion that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have and have shown in their career. They don't wear it on their sleeve, but they do put in the extra time and they care enough to make that extra effort. In terms of off the field effort, Matt Ryan is in that field of elite QBs in this point of his career. Ryan cares, he's passionate about the game and he puts in the time. If you want outward passion the Falcons have Asante Samuel, they have Sean Weatherspoon, William Moore and Roddy White. There aren't a lot of guys in the league more charasmatic and passionate then those guys.
What about Tony Gonzalez? I was listening to 790 the zone in Atlanta this morning and Vonnie Holiday mentioned how much passion that he plays with on the field. At his age, to stay in the condition that he is in and to make the contributions that you do on the field then you have to have passion for what you do.
Are the Falcons "passionate" enough to win the Super Bowl. Absolutely, they are just as passionate as any other team in the NFL. The bigger question is if they can execute in the big game or in the games to get to the big game. Can they gain that 4th and short? Can they stop the run when they have to? Can they come back if they get down big? Those are the questions that face the Falcons, not if they are passionate enough.
Get more great Atlanta Falcons news and analysis over at The Grits Blitz.