I’m currently reading the book “Rebel Yell”, written by S. C. Gwynne, about the life of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Early in the book it describes a time in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) in which Jackson established himself as a worthy war general and tactician to be reckoned with. He was unassuming, disciplined, and boring by personality, but was as gifted as any in field tactics.
I give you this example because this weekend is Matt Ryan’s and Alex Smith’s chance to establish themselves on a stage they’ve fallen short on so many times before.
You see it isn’t enough for Ryan and Smith to be in the playoffs anymore. Now is the time for them to take that next step and change the national narrative personally and for their franchises. The Falcons, having never won a Super Bowl in their 50-year history, is making its fifth playoff appearance since Matt Ryan was drafted in 2008. The Chiefs, who haven’t won or appeared in a Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV, are in the playoffs for the third time in four years with Smith. It’s no surprise they’re here, it’s would be a surprise if they made their presence felt.
This would be the part where I qualify their previous playoff failings by telling you that the teams they took before had obvious flaws. That in the playoffs before they ran into obvious teams of destiny or much better opponents, but I’m not going to do that. This isn’t about what happened, anymore; it’s about what Matt Ryan and Alex Smith are going to do this time around with their teams that are built to make a run.
Matt Ryan has put together a season worthy of MVP consideration, with an offense that is top-10 all-time in NFL history and a defense that has come together late. He has the Seahawks at home this Saturday in rematch of the 2012 NFC Divisional Game. On the other side is Russell Wilson who has been to two Super Bowls, winning one. There are no more excuses, there is no more Mulligan, Ryan has to perform and take full advantage of this opportunity to lead his team back to the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl.
Alex Smith has looked every bit of what we’ve been accustomed to seeing. Efficient, careful, and willing to make the safe throw or run. He’s a steady hand for Kansas City, now he needs to prove that is what can make the Chiefs Super Bowl Champions. Smith will never wow anyone with his statistics and that is okay, but 41 regular-season wins in four years with the Chiefs mean nothing now. He faces the Pittsburgh Steelers in Kansas City on Sunday against a counterpart (Ben Roethlisberger) who owns two Super Bowl rings.
Matt Ryan and Alex Smith are unassuming, disciplined, and boring by personality. They’re also gifted Quarterbacks in the National Football League. This weekend is the beginning of their statement to the National audience that they are more than what has been written or said before.
Let’s see what they do with it.