I'm not usually a heavy sigh kinda guy. I like to let conversations and thoughts play out for other people and then generate my own ideas to bring to the table. I don't know what it is, but ever since the word dynasty has been used and "franchise 15 year quarterback" about Andrew Luck, I started grinding my teeth down.
Dynasties in this modern era from 1980-2011 have a tough defense every single one of them. Be it the Cowboys or 49ers, Redskins and even the Patriots, all have featured defenses that made plays and offenses that were disciplined and less than flashy.
Of course the most recent example is the Patriots, but does anyone remember when Tom Brady was considered an overrated system quarterback by nearly everyone, even the experts? Peyton Manning might of had a few more shots at Championships had he not been intercepted every which way by Ty Law in the playoffs. The Patriots, before the bombs and blasts in the passing game with Randy Moss and Wes Welker, were a patient, short passing offense that relied on its defense to make the biggest plays. Two of New England's three Super Bowl titles came on last second field goals from their kicker Adam Vinatieri, who also notched another couple of clutch kicks in the playoffs, one being in the infamous tuck rule game in the worst snow storm I've ever witnessed.
It was defense that shined for the Dallas cowboys in all three of their Championship games, delivering two blow outs to the Buffalo Bills, and featured Larry Brown grabbing two interceptions on "How the hell is he starting a superbowl" Neil O'Donnell for the third.
The Redskins featured a pretty tough defense as well, with a disciplined patient offense. Joe Gibbs never gets enough credit for his three titles and should really have a place in the conversation of 'greatest of all time.'
Gibbs won three separate Super Bowl titles with three different quarterbacks.
The offense was tweaked a little to fit each change, but the defense played the same style throughout his tenure.
The 49ers had trouble winning the tough defensive-battle type games. Their biggest nemesis during their time was the New York Giants team with a tougher, hard hitting defense coached by Bill Parcells. This all changed somewhat for the 49ers with the arrival of Charles Haley. Charles provided the violent streak, and some contend, dirty style of play and the 49ers would collect two Championships in his first four seasons. Bill Romonowski would be added in 1988 and the nasty streak for this team would only grow. A 55-10 whooping of Elway's Broncos was the most complete performance by the 49ers team capping off a dominating 1989.
There is also a very eerie stat that is attached to all of these teams in their Championship years. The average points allowed for each team in each championship season is around 250-270.
Or about 15 to 17 points per game.
Look that up on pro football reference, it took me a bit to notice, but it's almost to a T, that number pops up again and again across all these teams.
Some names to note.
New England's dynasties featured:
Cornerback Ty Law
Cornerback Asante Samuel
Safety Rodney Harrison
Safety Lawyer Milloy,
Defensive Tackle Vince Wilfork
Defensive End Richard Seymour
San Fransisco's dynasties featured:
Defensive Back Ronnie Lott,
Defensive end Dwayne Board
Defensive End Charles Haley
Middle Linebacker Bill Romanowski
Dallas Cowboys' dynasty featured:
Middle Linebacker Ken Norton Jr.
Defensive End / OLB Charles Haley (Who already had two titles with the 49ers)
Safety Darren Woodson
Cornerback Deon Sanders
The Washington Redskins dynasties included:
Defensive End Charles Mann,
Cornerback Darrell Green
DefensiveEnd Dexter Manley (cool name for a defensive player)
Each one of these players made multiple Pro Bowls and played more than three seasons with their respective teams. It takes more than an offense to win multiple Championships and more than one special player. I wanted to write this mostly - not as an attack against the new/old immortal quarterback convention spouted by everyone since Johnny Unitas played -, but as a reminder that the teams you look at to find a model had much more than one great player at one position, and all of them featured a defense that didn't just play with a lead, they could carry you in lean offensive times. I bet Peyton Manning would give up his 49 TD season for another ring in a heartbeat.
49ers championship defensive ranks
1981: 2nd in points and 2nd in yards
1984: 1st in points allowed and 1st in yards
1988: 8th in points 3rd in yards
1989: 3rd in points and 4th in yards
Redskins Championship defensive ranks
1982: 1st in points and 4th in yards. (In the case of this team. It was a strike shortened year with only a nine game season. Their kicker won six of their eight games on last second field goals that season and won MVP of the league.)
1987: 6th in points and 18th in yards
1991: 2nd in points 3rd in yards
Dallas Championship defensive ranks
1992: 5th in points 1st in yards
1993: 2nd in points 10th in yards
1995: 3rd in points 9th in yards
New England championship defensive ranks
2001: 6th in points 24th in yards
2003: 1st in points and 7th in yards
2004: 2nd in points and 9th in yards
I think the most interesting facts about these numbers are that defense is matched by the offense, something I will note with a follow up article on the offenses of these teams. It is rare, even in the Patriots' modern dynasty, to find a team that is drastically worse in one area than the other. The idea that offenses alone can carry the day to multiple titles is not bared out even in this offense-friendly league.
Anyway, with all that said, I can't just dismiss the QB position entirely and I'm not trying to. Next up, we'll take a look at the offenses that brought these teams success. Conventional wisdom says running the ball is out if you want to win in this league but what I found was not only interesting, it might give us hope that Pete understands football on a better level than fan perception.
Stats were provided from ProFootballReference. I realize that traditional stats don't have many fans, especially here, but these stats do help somewhat provide a snapshot of these teams and their success.