Curran's pregame thoughts for Patriots-Broncos

Curran's pregame thoughts for Patriots-Broncos
November 24, 2013, 8:00 pm
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Broncos’ interim coach Jack Del Rio has coached six times against the Patriots – five times as head coach of the Jaguars and once as defensive coordinator of the Broncos. He’s 0-6 against the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady combo. Given the ability of the two teams, there’s every reason to suspect that in-game adjustments and game management decisions are going to factor in heavily. Del Rio, to put it plainly, has not had great success in the past.
2003: 27-13
2005: 28-3 * (playoffs)
2006: 24-21
2007: 31-20* (playoffs)
2009: 35-7
2012: 31-21 (Denver DC)
Peyton Manning’s ability to diagnose defenses and get the ball out quickly is what has made Denver so tough to deal with. This season, Manning’s getting the ball out in 2.33 seconds, best in the NFL. Last season, he got it out in 2.50 seconds, trailing only Tom Brady (2.47). This season, Brady is at 2.54, sixth in the NFL. A Patriots source told me before the game that the game plan defensively is simple -- flood the field with defensive backs and make Manning think it through. With winds whipping through Gillette Stadium, Manning may have to hold the ball longer and throw with more velocity than he normally does. Or can.
Steve Gregory being down tonight impacts the Patriots’ communication ability on the back end. That should be a concern giving the crossing routes Denver likes to feature Eric Decker on. Sketch Decker in as the X-factor for Denver. Crossing routes if the Patriots are in zone require excellent communication as a player passes from zone-to-zone. Additionally, the Broncos run a ton of combo routes and rubs designed to create contact between defensive backs and receivers.
Former Patriot Rosevelt Colvin was on the field before the game and said that a key to tonight will be the ability of Matt Patricia to adjust defensively if the weather forces the game plan for the Broncos to be shelved. More specifically, it will be Belichick making the changes but the point remains.