Thursday, January 17, 2013
Bruschi's Breakdown on Patriots-Ravens
Every week before the Patriots play, Tedy Bruschi and Mike Reiss dissect what they think they'll see unfold on the field in "Bruschi's Breakdown." This week's breakdown is posted for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Ravens.
Bruschi starts off by acknowledging that the Ravens will present an entirely different kind of challenge than the Texans did last Sunday:
"Based on the way the Ravens have played the Patriots in recent years, most recently beating them in the regular season this year, I can see them having a lot of confidence coming into Gillette Stadium. Let's be clear here -- what happened this past week was a Houston Texans team that wasn't ready for the moment against the Patriots. That won't happen to the Ravens."
Bruschi also addressed how he thought the loss of Rob Gronkowski would impact how the Ravens defend Patriots:
"He's that good, and, when he's healthy out there, that's when the Patriots are most dangerous. It hurts Super Bowl championship chances because, with all due respect to Wes Welker, I believe he is the second-best offensive player on that unit. So if you're a defensive coordinator looking at the Patriots, you ask this question, 'How many times do you realistically think Hoomanawanui is going to be targeted?' Not very much. Maybe there is a surprise one time down the field, but you don't have to put the same type of attention on him as you would on Gronkowski. He can be singled up, and if you're dropping back in zone and he makes the catch, just tackle him. This allows you to focus on adjustments to the other side of the formation. It gives you a little more freedom defensively and that's good news if you're the Ravens. Gronkowski had only three targets in that Sept. 23 game, and that's because of what Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees was doing -- taking away Gronkowski and forcing quarterback Tom Brady to look other places, and that's when Lloyd came up big on the outside. This time around, look for Pees to try to take away Welker and those option routes. You could see double-teams and defensive ends rerouting Welker. Remember, Pees was a former Patriots defensive coordinator, and his knowledge of the New England offense helps."