One of the narratives heading into any Super Bowl is experience. Does one team have more players that have appeared in the big game than the other?
According to Super Bowl XXXVII champion and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks, experience doesn’t matter nearly as much as we think it does.
“Experience? That doesn’t matter Sunday,” said the Hall of Fame linebacker on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “You’re playing a game of football. All the events of the Super Bowl are for us coming in and around it. For those playing the game, when that ball snaps it’s not about who is playing in the Super Bowl it’s about execution. X’s and O’s, Jim’s and Joe’s.”
Brooks, playing the linebacker spot, made his living chasing down quarterbacks and running backs. He collected 13.5 sacks and 25 interceptions during the course of his 13 year career.
So from his perspective, how do you try to contain Cam Newton, who seems to be a force of nature unlike any we’ve seen before at the QB spot?
“I begin by saying I’m glad I didn’t have to tackle him,” said Brooks laughing. “I’m glad that wasn’t my problem. But, to the guys that are playing today, what I suggest to them is you have to do it as a collective effort. Obviously, this season you watched the Atlanta game and Atlanta devised a gameplan that was able to slow down this offense. Put Cam in positions he’s not used to being in, playing behind the downs, 2nd and long, 3rd and long, where he’s not dictating the action. And, not turning the football over for your offense. So, they (Atlanta) was able to do that and that was a blue print of them losing.”
In the Atlanta game, the Falcons were able to hold Newton to just 191 total yards and one touchdown en route to a 20-13 win. However, despite that being a blueprint, Brooks thinks it’s easier said than done.
“Now, actually getting it done is a whole different category,” said Brooks. “But, that’s what you have to do. You have to take away the run game of Carolina, make Cam extend the downs, meaning play behind the downs in long yardage situations. And, know that he’s going to make plays. But, limit the explosive plays that they make. That’s one thing about this Carolina offense that’s happened in the playoffs. They’ve not had to play a full 60-minute game.”
As a defensive guy, who was involved in perhaps the most dominant defensive win in Super Bowl history, Brooks knows good defense when he sees it and Denver’s has impressed.
“They spoiled me last week, by continuing good defense,” said Brooks. “I thought it was a lost art. But two games playing on championship weekend made me proud. That’s what Denver’s been able to do, stay optimistic. Keep the noise out. No matter what our offense is doing, we’re going to do our job and we’re going to find a way to win. That’s what they’ve done for their team.”