The Unsung Heroes of the AFC & NFC Championship Games
When the dust settles and the QB’s that have led their team to victory are surrounded by the media and fans of their teams, there will be a few important pieces that will briefly celebrate, then calmly walk to their locker, pack their bags and leave. To further on Duncan’s previous post I thought we would celebrate the forgotten folk, the people that are integral cogs in what could be Championship teams.
Jon Ryan- Seattle Seahawks Niners, Punter
On a team of big names, Jon Ryan stands out as one of the most important, yet understated pieces of a team full of important, yet overstated players. The Seahawks punt unit in general has been outstanding allowing less than 100 yards all season…all season. A mixture of fantastic Special Teams play and trademark Defence means that a bruising Offence led by Marshawn Lynch pretty much always faces decent field position. Jon Ryan is as important a piece as any of the nicknamed players or units on this team that we have come to know very well over the past season.
Phil Dawson – San Francisco 49ers, Kickers
Dawson has had a long and storied career. He scored the first points for the newly formed Cleveland Browns in 19999. After sticking with the Browns for 13 years he then moved to the Niners, where this season he is on a run of 27 consecutive field goals and scored the 2nd most points for kicking points for the Niners. In a game that, as previously stated will be dominated by field position and Defensive play the game could very well be decided by kicking and Dawson is surely the favourite to react well in a clutch situation.
Derrick Coleman – Seahawks Fullback
I feel I couldn’t post this week without mentioning the inspirational story of Derrick Coleman, who has been profoundly deaf since the age of 3. Despite facing endless adversity he made it to the NFL and is now the first legally Deaf player to play the game. This weekend though he will be given a very important job. Keep Marshawn Lynch upright. Derrick Coleman should be applauded for showing the world what he’s had to go through just to get here and now as a reward he has the chance to make it to a Super bowl. Derrick Coleman should surely be the Gentleman of the week.
Michael Hoomanawanui – Patriots Tight End
Hoomanawanui has had to step up in a big way since Gronk went out injured. That being said his skill set is slightly different to Gronk’s and in typical Belichick fashion he is being used to maximise these skills to aid the Patriots. Hoomanawanui is a blocker and it is obvious that he is having an effect in the Run game as the Patriots Offensive line continues to impress. If the Patriots are to win this game, it will probably be through riding the Run game quite heavily, like we have seen throughout the latter part of the season, this of course has been achieved by having a versatile extra blocker in like Hoomanawanui.
David Bruton – Strong Safety/Special Teams, Broncos
David Bruton is the perfect fit for a Special Teams unit. He is big and strong at 6,4 and 210+ pounds. But also surprisingly quick. On Punts, he blocks for the punter, using his size to create time for the team to set up. Another plus of having him in this position is how useful he is if they decide to fake the punt, which happened earlier in the season where he got a first down. He also uses his speed on Kick offs, where he plays on the outside and is generally one of the first to get to a returner. As with the Seahawks and Niners game, a matchup of this magnitude will come to field position and players like Bruton will be integral for this.
Kyle Arrington – Nickelback, Patriots
Against a Broncos team loaded with Receiver talent and in particular that of slot Receiver Wes Welker, Arrington will be an important piece in the puzzle of a Patriots Defence that looks like it’s made up of many pieces of many puzzles that happen to fit together perfectly. The Arrington Welker matchup will be one to marvel as 2 masters of the slot go up against each other. The dominance of one of these players could be the difference between a win and a loss for either team.
There are plenty more unsung heroes, but I thought I would take the opportunity to highlight the ones that stand out. These games will be largely on the QB’s for their respective teams, but what I hope you will see from this is the importance of every piece of every team in being instrumental to a victory or a loss.