Last night the football universe bore witness to one of the best and most bizarre editions of the greatest championship game on the planet. Super Bowl XLVII had everything except overtime and a wardrobe malfunction (come on Beyoncé, we were all counting on you). At the center of this football classic was a duel between two quarterbacks that could have easily been Raiders if it were up to Al Davis.
For decades Davis preached the philosophy of production over percentages. In stark contrast to the ever popular West Coast offense that calls for high percentage short to intermediate throws that act as extended running plays, Davis always wanted throwers willing to wing it down field in hopes of gaining huge chunks of yards as quickly as possible.
For years Joe Flacco struggled to find his rhythm as an NFL thrower cut right from the Davis cloth. Given his size, arm strength and desire to put the ball 15+ yards downfield seemingly every time he drops back Flacco is a QB Davis surely admired. In keeping with Davis’ philosophy, Flacco isn’t likely to ever be among the NFL’s top tier in completion percentage. But in yards per attempt you’ll find Flacco in the top 15 of that category almost every year.
2012 will go down as the year in which it all clicked for Flacco. In the postseason he revealed himself to be a big game quarterback with the knack for throwing the ball over the heads of hapless defenders en route to hoisting a Lombardi and earning a Super Bowl MVP.
Of course Flacco’s QB counterpart in that memorable game in New Orleans was a man Davis most definitely had designs on prior to his passing.
There was plenty of speculation that during the 2011 NFL Draft Davis had designs on moving up to take an intriguing QB prospect from Nevada with California roots named Colin Kaepernick. Perhaps sensing Davis was going to get his man Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers beat Al at his own game by getting a higher pick in round 2 in order to grab Kaepernick.
After spending his rookie season seeing minimal action in specialty packages Kaepernick inherited the 9ers’ QB gig once Alex Smith went down with a concussion. Harbuagh’s controversial decision paid dividends as Kaepernick had his team mere yards away from the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Like Flacco, Kaepernick is a big kid with a big arm. However what made Davis so enamored with Kaepernick is his uncanny athletic ability. Not only can he toss the rock deep with accuracy but Kaepernick is equally adept at running right by defenders, making plays in the open field few who have ever played the position are capable of.
No doubt Mr. Davis had to be smiling last night as he watched many of his ideals on display on football’s biggest stage. Of course Davis likely would have taken no solace in the fact that his beloved Raiders are without anyone matching that talent profile at the quarterback position…then again…
What we saw from Terrelle Pryor – perhaps Davis’ final gift to the football world – could indicate the Silver and Black have just such a dynamic talent on the team just waiting to burst onto the scene. Only time will tell. For now just know that the Al Davis way is alive and well in the NFL and somewhere he was smiling ear to ear watching Super Bowl XLVII unfold.