The 2015 NFL season came to a close on Sunday with the Denver Broncos defeating the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 by a score of 24-10. Now that the season has ended, it is time to set complete focus on free agency, the draft, and other offseason activities, as well as reflect on any ramifications of the season and the Super Bowl itself.
1. The NFL is a copycat league and some prospects will benefit
There isn't a truer fact about the NFL than the fact that it is truly a copycat league. From the read-option craze with Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson in 2012 to the Seattle Seahawks inspired craze to find big cornerbacks (no matter how bad they actually were at playing football) to the fad that will capture the spirit of the offseason's frenzy this year.
The Broncos won the Super Bowl in dominating fashion and they did so by adding talent to all three levels of the defense. But primarily, they utilized elite pass rushers with DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. Because of how dominant Ware and Miller were on the game's biggest stage -- and throughout the entire season and playoffs -- we should expect this year's copycat trend to be to center focus around pass rushers.
Teams know pass rushers are important and teams are always looking for them. The Broncos didn't invent the concept of edge rushing. But they did display perhaps the most impressive feats of pass rushing in recent memory with the entire country watching. Teams are going to try even harder to find pass rushers because of it. They will overpay even more. They will overdraft even more.
And there is no other prospect who will benefit from this overreaction more than Noah Spence. Spence has separated himself as the best pure pass rusher in the draft over the course of the regular season and the Senior Bowl, and some team might think they see the next Von Miller in his game. When Spence gets drafted in the first five or six picks, I hope he sends a thank you note to Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.
2. A sloppy Super Bowl is an accurate representation of this season
This NFL season was really rough to watch. Between bad offensive line play, hurt quarterbacks, terrible referees, slow pacing of games, and many, many other things, it was simply a bad year.
Super Bowl 50 did a good job of reflecting that. Take away the fact that this game featured Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset with a second championship and this game has little flare or story lines. It was a sloppy, slow-paced game that was the cherry on top of a sloppy, slow-paced season.
3. The Panthers ran into a buzzsaw and that's okay
Carolina's offense was absolutely boat raced by Denver's defense from the start of the game. Cam Newton struggled to get anything consistent going, and his overachieving wide receivers and offensive line played like the units many expected them to play like before the season began.
This doesn't take anything away from the Panthers season. They were the best team in the NFL all season long. Had they won against the Broncos, we likely talk about them having one of the best NFL seasons of all time.
But... they didn't win.
The Panthers ran into the most dominant playoff defense since the 2000 Ravens. They ran into the best trio of cornerbacks in the NFL and two elite pass rushers who were playing out of their mind.
The Broncos ran into a similar buzzsaw team two years ago in the form of the 2013 Seahawks, another dominant defense that had all the momentum in the world. But the Broncos used that game to determine what changes needed to be made to get them over the hump and they are now Super Bowl champions because of it. Hopefully, the Panthers can gather as much from this loss as the Broncos did two years ago.
4. Bradley Roby is a lesson for all
Maybe no cornerback prospect caught as much flak during the 2013 regular season than Ohio State's Bradley Roby. He was a dominant player in 2012. But in 2013, he had a lot of up and down performances, with one in particular against Wisconsin and Jared Abberderis.
A lot of people harped on that one bad game and ignored many of the great traits that Roby displayed as a prospect. Because of those traits, Roby has become a big-time contributor on a Super Bowl winning defense. The selection of Roby was a huge addition by Denver.
Hopefully, Roby will help teach us to not get caught up in the moment and get too into our hot takes during games.
5. Some Twitter follows for the offseason
With free agency and #draftszn upon us, here are some of my favorite offseason follows
@JeffRisdon (Jeff Risdon): Lead writer for RealGM.com, on-air personality for ESPN, contributor to DraftBreakdown.com.
@FBallGamePlan (Emory Hunt): CEO and Founder of FootballGameplan.com.
@JoeGoodBerry (Joe Goodberry): Writer for CincyJungle.com.
All three of these guys have unique and fresh perspectives on the NFL and the draft. They call it like they see it and are sincerely genuine, which something we simply do not see enough of.