Can Patriots secondary stop Peyton Manning?

902201.jpg

Can Patriots secondary stop Peyton Manning?

Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti are looking ahead to the this Sunday, when Peyton Manning returns to Foxboro, this time as a Denver Bronco.

Despite the victory in Buffalo on Sunday, the Patriots secondary still had some problems. They allowed 350 yards passing against Ryan Fitzpatrick after being torched for more than 400 against the Ravens' Joe Flacco the week before.

How does Massarotti feel about them defending Manning, who joins the Broncos after years of celebrated duels with the Bill Belichick-coached Patriots when Manning was the face of the Indianapolis Colts franchise.

"Not great," said Massarotti. "Manning is 5-2 in his last seven games against Bill Belichinck defenses, but he has throw five picks in the past two games."

Perhaps, though, Belichick should challenge Manning to throw the ball downfield, Massarotti said.

"I don't think he can throw downfield the way he used to," Massarotti said, noting that Manning, returning after missing a year following neck surgery, hasn't looked good in Denver's losses the Steelers and Broncos.

Said Felger: "I still think he's a good quarterback. He's an elite quarterback. When's the last time the Patriots beat an elite quarterback?"

Felger answered his own question by saying it was last season when the Pats beat Phillip Rivers and the Chargers.

What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

away_patriots_belichick_browns.jpg

What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

FOXBORO -- Ever wonder what might've been if Bill Belichick had remained the coach of the Browns, and later the Ravens, after they moved from Cleveland? He says he doesn't.

"I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it, no," Belichick told Baltimore reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. "I try to think ahead and make the best of the situation that I’m in, which is what I tried to do when I was in Cleveland. I took a team that wasn’t very good in 1991, prior to free agency and all of that, had a real good team in 1994. The team moved in 1995."

The decision to move the team helped undo the Browns season in 1995, and Belichick was later fired. There's little denying, though, that he left the pieces of a competitive roster behind. And he helped stock the Ravens' cupboard with valuable assets.

Five years after Belichick's tenure in Cleveland had expired, the franchise won a Super Bowl with linebacker Ray Lewis -- drafted with a pick Belichick had acquired -- as its foundational piece. 

"We made a trade that provided two first-round picks that Ozzie [Newsome] did a great job with," Belichick continued. "Ozzie and Ray Lewis were two of the cornerstones of that eventual championship team.

"I have a lot of confidence in my ability, I had a lot of confidence in the coaching staff and the players that we had at that time – 1995 wasn’t obviously a great year for us. I don’t think we need to talk about that. We all know what happened. But yeah, I think we would have been competitive if I had been the head coach there. I think we would have been competitive. We had a good team, we had a good staff, and we had a lot of good players.

"Ozzie did a good job with that team and made it better, and they won a championship five years later [with] some of the same players that we started with. But you know, it wasn’t my choice, Ted [Marchibroda] came in there and was going to transition that for what they needed at that point in time. But I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, no."