So the Super Bowl matchup is set.
There's a few lessons our own Atlanta Falcons can take home from watching these two teams play. None of them are exact matches, naturally, and there are plenty of other ways you can build an organization that can contend with the Patriots and Giants of today's NFL. But I thought it was worth looking at where both organizations are worth emulating.
To me, the Patriots provide an instructive look at what an offense can do without a compelling ground game. The Falcons are never going to abandon the run the way New England has, but the Patriots have thrived by having too many options for opposing defenses to account for. That can happen through the magic of two tight end sets, as jackofallspades suggested in a FanPost the other day, or it can happen simply by having a deep set of receivers.
If the Falcons want to emulate the Patriots, they need to get the most of their receivers. I don't know if Dirk Koetter is in love with Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier, Kevin Cone and so forth. If he's not, I hope the team brings in receivers that can bring a new look to the depth chart. The Falcons had little ability to spread the field with multiple options, and it's one area in which I'd like to see them emulate the Pats. The Falcons are going to ease up on the run in 2012, right?
The other lesson the Falcons can learn? Don't neglect defense, and don't put all your eggs in the draft pick/aging veteran baskets. The Patriots have an abysmal defense because the Patriots ignored it, realized it stunk and starting sinking draft picks that didn't pan out into solving that problem. This season, they brought in a half-dozen dudes who were mostly on the wrong side of 30, with some success.
Thomas Dimitroff is never going to neglect the D, but it's a reminder that he needs to land those picks.
The Giants took an interesting road to get here, one I suspect the Falcons will need to emulate if they're going places in the playoffs in 2012.
The Giants boast an excellent pass attack that leans on the echoes of Junes Jones' famous Run N' Shoot. Assuming you can lean on echoes. Eli Manning just slings all day long, the Giants sprinkling in just enough run to let defenses know they won't abandon it entirely. This is a team that lets its options run like hell and trusts in them. The Falcons would be wise to start doing that with Julio Jones and (if they re-sign him) Harry Douglas.
And hey, they got hot at exactly the right time. The Falcons could use a little of that magic pixie dust.