Guest analyst: Mike Golic
Perfect matchup hard one to pick
By JOHN COTEY
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 25, 2003
Mike Golic is co-host of ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in the Morning. A Notre Dame graduate and nine-year NFL veteran as a defensive tackle for Miami, Houston and Philly, Golic joined ESPN in 1995 as an NFL reporter for Sunday NFL Countdown and also is an analyst for ESPN's and ESPN2's NFL studio programming. Currently doing his show from San Diego, Golic spoke with TV/Radio writer John C. Cotey recently.
This is a great matchup. The most amazing thing is, as we all covered the NFL and we talked about the unpredictability of it each week, with teams losing four then winning four and the ups and downs, and every team went through that, every team had some kind of story. But then we get No. 1 vs. No. 2 in both conference championships, and now get the Bucs vs. the Raiders.
You have the top passing team, the top offense against the top defensive team. You have the league MVP (Rich Gannon) against the league's Defensive Player of the Year (Derrick Brooks). I mean, this thing just sets up perfectly. I'm just glad we don't have two weeks in between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. Think of all the overanalyzing that would occur.
The one thing I thought was disappointing with the Raiders was to see them take some shots at (Jon) Gruden after he left. It's always amazing to me that that happens when somebody leaves, because they don't say anything when the coach is there. But I'd be surprised if this turns into a war of words or explodes, though the media will be around to help light the match.
I don't think either coach will be surprising the other in the game. I would say Jon has a bit of an advantage as far as that goes. He knows these players inside and out and knows what their tendencies are. I think his time there is certainly going to help him.
It's going to be, and I think you'll hear this term a lot this week, a chess match. Both coaching staffs are going to sit there and try to outthink each other. I think they'll both go with what got them there, outside of a little tweaking here and there. But the key will come down to game-time adjustments. Once the game starts and once we start to see the flow, whoever makes the better adjustments gets the upper hand.
I think you saw that with the Bucs a little (against the Eagles). I think the most impressive drive of the game was the second drive. For Tampa Bay to get points out of the next drive right after Philadelphia scored was a statement that said, "We don't give a damn that you just came down and scored." I thought it was a great statement drive. And the key to the game was Tampa Bay's offensive line, which did not play well in the 20-10 (regular-season win by Philadelphia). It blocked extremely well, and if anyone struggled Sunday, it was the Eagles offensive line.
I think this Super Bowl is what everybody wanted and it'll be interesting to see what happens. Oakland makes no bones about it: It is all about the short pass, and it'll try to stretch you over the top. But Tampa Bay had 32 interceptions, and it likes to control the middle of that field. This postseason, the Bucs have forced four turnovers a game, but the Raiders have only given it up once. They are a team that prides itself on not turning the ball over, and the Bucs are a team that prides itself on making the other team make mistakes.
You would think something has to give. But I don't know what it is.
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