After the Patriots and Falcons face off in Super Bowl LI in Houston, the attention will turn to the Twin Cities, the next host of the big dance.
Minnesota last hosted the Super Bowl in 1992. Mark Craig of the Star Tribune wrote Sunday that the NFL looks much different than it did 25 years ago. For comparison, Craig pointed out that Bill Belichick was making his head coaching debut at 39 years old, and the Metrodome was barely 10 years old.
Craig spoke with ESPN analyst Bill Polian, who was the Bills general manager when they played the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI, about the way the league has changed. Craig wrote:
Polian noted that 25 years ago the Redskins and Bills ran the ball a combined 51 percent of the time while finishing 1-2 in scoring that season. "The Hogs," Washington's vaunted offensive line in the 1980s and early 1990s, were light by today's standards at 288 pounds per man. And, heck, a 30-second Super Bowl ad was a bargain at $850,000 compared with last year's $5.01 million.
Several rules have been altered or added since 1992, and four teams have been added. Craig went on to point out that free agency and the salary cap are now a part of the NFL, and the integration of social media for the league has been significant.
Another adjustment made in the past 25 years has been an increased focus on player safety. Former Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher, now a studio analyst with CBS, said it's the change he most appreciates.
"We've learned a lot, and I think we're doing everything we possibly can do to take the head out of the game," Cowher told Craig. "It's been a little bit of an adjustment from a teaching standpoint, a coaching standpoint and a fan standpoint in terms of acceptance. But we're making the transition in trying to make the game safer and still keep it a physical, hard-hitting, aggressive game."
East-West Shrine Game offered big benefit for Vikings
The East-West Shrine Game may not garner the same attention as the Senior Bowl, but the practices and culminating matchup that took place Saturday is beneficial for those NFL teams involved.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards served as the head coach for the West team, which defeated the East 10-3. Edwards also had with him Kevin Stefanski, recently named the Vikings quarterbacks coach for 2017, who served as the offensive coordinator; Hank Fraley, who coached the offensive line; and Andrew Janocko, who coached the tight ends.
John Holler of Viking Update said the experience was valuable for the Vikings coaching staff. Holler wrote:
The advantage to the Vikings was Saturday's game was the first time that active NFL coaches were used to coach the game. It gave Minnesota a chance to not only get their defensive coordinator an up-close-and-personal look at the draft-eligible seniors who opted to play in the game – not to mention their quarterbacks coach and an offensive line coach. Some of the biggest franchise questions that are going to need to get answered this offseason are the long-term disposition of the quarterback position and a much needed infusion of talent on the offensive line. Edwards getting a week-long look at every defensive player he had is a nice advantage.
Both sides of the ball got involved in finding mid- to late-round picks and] undrafted free agent gems, likely generating some strong opinions this week because the Vikings were as embedded as any franchise in the Shrine Game. The intel collected is priceless, especially for a team without a first-round pick.