While many have derided the Colts and crowned the “Patriots Way” winners in the NFL’s version of the Cold War, it’s becoming evident that the Patriots (and much of the league) are now playing the game the way the Colts have for more than a decade:
But even the Saints are merely a variation on the type. They, too, are built on a franchise quarterback – surrounding him with an array of weapons that would make the Pentagon blush. Their defense, too, is a paper tiger – an assemblage of talent that would have been mocked in the “defense wins championships” era of Doomsday Defenses, Steel Curtains, and Purple People Eaters.
That era is not yet wholly gone, but it is unrecognizable from even 10 years ago.
This season suggests that there are essentially two models for success in the National Football League: the Indianapolis Colts model and the Pittsburgh Steelers model.
The Colts model is the reality the league has created. By emphasizing offense at every turn – by making quarterbacks as precious a fabergé eggs and penalizing defensive backs for anything short of wearing strong cologne – the NFL has essentially changed the balance of power in the game. An elite quarterback can now unlock even the most dominating defenses.