Super Bowl: No Predictable Mismatch

There’s something perversely fun about reading pre-game analysis in a post-game context. As in how Sports Illustrated sized up the Super Bowl. SI saw it as close — as did most fans and pundits alike — with the Oakland Raiders edging the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-22.

What made no sense, however, was the “matchup” of Raiders Coach Bill Callahan and Bucs’ counterpart Jon Gruden.

“Oakland’s attack is based on some of Gruden’s theories as implemented by Callahan and assistant coach Marc Trestman, who constantly tinker with them,” explained SI . “Gruden has an intricate knowledge of the offense that is used by both teams, but he doesn’t have the personnel that the Raiders do. Bottom line: Players make systems. Edge: Raiders.”

Number one. Somebody obviously mistook fat for big and old for fast. Somebody also discounted team speed. In football, it kills.

Number two. Gruden knows the Raider offense better than anyone. Better than anyone who tinkers with it. He installed it and hired Callahan and Trestman to help implement it. In practice, the 39-year-old Gruden even played scout quarterback to give the Buc defense an insider’s perspective on the Oakland offense. From audible cues to Rich Gannon pump fakes, the Bucs were code breakers. Code breakers who were better players, a lethal parlay.

SI , however, did have an interesting take on Oakland’s AWOL center Barret Robbins. The eight-year veteran and Pro Bowl selection “is the key to the line’s success,” assessed SI . “So surly that some teammates avoid speaking to him in the locker room for fear of incurring his wrath, Robbins is nonetheless a schematic savant who makes the blocking calls before each snap. ‘He’s like Rain Man with pads,’ says fullback Jon Ritchie.”

Makes you wonder why the Raiders didn’t, in effect, babysit their troubled and troubling center before the biggest game of his — and everyone else’s — life. Tijuana isn’t exactly Savant City.

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