I had hoped that after Joe Flacco’s 23/28 247 yard performance in just over two quarters on Saturday night, the jibber jabber on Baltimore’s airwaves about the Ravens “needing” a dynamic wide receiver would quiet down at least a bit. Well, we’re now in just the second day of sports talk radio since the game, and it is obvious that those hopes are not even close to coming true.
Without singling out any particular local personality or caller, let’s refute the argument that the only piece missing from making the Ravens the 2009 Super Bowl Champions is a Brandon Marshall/Anquan Boldin type. Let’s also ignore for a moment the ramifications for everything from team chemistry to salary cap to future draft picks that would occur as a result of any hypothetical trade for either of the two aforementioned disgruntled wideouts, and focus on the bigger picture.
More specifically, let’s look at the Super Bowls from the last few years and see if the “game-changing WR makes all the difference” argument holds up.
Super Bowl XLIII
The best two wide receivers in the game, Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, both lined up for the same team. The LOSING team. The Steelers won with their defense and a QB who made plays when he had to. Santonio Holmes, despite his big postseason in 2008, will never be confused with Andre or Calvin Johnson.
Super Bowl XLII
Best WR in the game? Randy Moss. Again, on the LOSING team.
To be fair, the Giants had Plaxico “Shot my Leg Off” Burress, who was a game changer in his own right, but again, the Giants proved that a well designed defense can slow down any passing attack, even one as dynamic as the near 19-0 Patriots.
Super Bowl XLI
Let’s be honest. Yes, the Colts had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, while the Bears had Bernard Berrian and Mushin Muhammed. But this game came down to Rex Grossman vs. Peyton Manning.
Are there any among us who would argue that, had those two QBs switched teams, that the Bears, and not the Colts, would have hoised the Lombardi Trophy?
Pass throwers were the deciding factor in Miami, not pass catchers.
Super Bowl XL
Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El, Joe Jurivicius, Bobby Engram. Those were the four leading receivers in the game for the Steelers and Seahawks, respectively, and not a single “dynamic game changer” among the group.
Super Bowl XXXIX
Eagles – Terrell Owens
Patriots – ?????; I can’t remember, can you?
Who won that game?
Super Bowl XXXVIII
Panthers – Steve Smith
Patriots – See above. Again, the Patriots came out on top.
I could go on, but is it really necessary?
I’m going to side with my head coach, John Harbaugh, who has stated several times, in several ways, just how I feel about the whole debate:
“We don’t believe in one piece to the puzzle; that you plug one guy in, and all of a sudden you’ve got an offense.”
“I don’t know if [Todd Heap’s play] would end the talk about not having a big-name receiver, but maybe it would cut down on the talk. But it gives you another playmaker in the mix. We can spread the ball around pretty well, and [quarterback Joe Flacco] has proven he can spread it around.”
The second quote speaks to the other part of the argument against selling the farm for a big-name WR, the effect that a healthy Todd Heap, along with an improved offensive line that now includes Matt Birk, Michael Oher, and a more experienced Jared Gaither, will have on the Ravens’ passing game.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – a Brandon Marshall or Anquan Boldin is NOT the fail-safe missing piece keeping the Ravens from their second Super Bowl.
TO, Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Greg Jennings, and Larry Fitzgerald have as many Super Bowl rings COMBINED as you and I do.