Pats kept Peyton guessing

Join my chat every Monday to have your question considered for the weekly Bruschi on Tap Q&A.

Q. Tedy, other than Emmanuel Sanders, I didn't see a lot from the vaunted Bronco WR/TE corps. It's not always apparent from the TV broadcast what's happening with the coverages -- how did we keep them blanketed? In particular, Julius Thomas has been a matchup nightmare, but we barely heard his name all night. -- Leigh (New York)

A. What I saw was an uneasy Peyton Manning. That's the way he gets when he can't get the answers he wants. He's a guy who wants the answers to the test before it's handed out, and that's diagnosing pre-snap information. I just can't say enough about the plan Matt Patricia put together. He's a unique coach. I know how smart he is. He's one of the few coaches who has coached under Bill Belichick and is able to have his own ideas and schemes and implement them the Matt Patricia way -- not giving it to his players while doing his best Bill Belichick imitation. Players recognize that when a coach starts to develop for himself. Don't get me wrong, when he first started as an LB coach, Junior Seau and I gave him a hard time about being a young coach the way veteran players do. But he's developed into a true asset for this organization.

Q. Hi Tedy. From what I saw last night, the Pats' D did a nice job of lining up relatively the same, thus limiting Peyton's pre-snap reads. What's your take on the Pats' D schemes last night? In your opinion was it more scheme or execution that led to the defensive success? How about the 0-4 on fourth down for Denver? -- Todd (Pennsylvania)

A. There were some consistencies in the way they lined up -- LBs showed in the A gaps, LBs played off the ball, Kyle Arrington came off the edge once. But I think the main thing for Peyton was the challenge of determining where the rush was coming from. It was basically a four-man rush game. I didn't see a lot of blitzes -- it was four men on the line up to seven men on the line, and determining who drops out and who covers: Sending an LB up the middle or dropping Rob Ninkovich or Ayers into coverage; it was line of scrimmage disguise. Normally you would use DBs or safeties for disguise, but Matt Patricia wanted disguise at the line of scrimmage with his linebackers. I think that's best with some new players. It also played into the Patriots' defensive game plan that they got to play in sub packages all game -- with two off-the-line LBs in Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower. Those are two good players, and the problems might come when a team forces you into base. Playing sub when you just need two off-the-line LBs, it minimizes the loss of Jerod Mayo. I guess you could say the Broncos played right into the Patriots' hands last night.

Q. Starting five DBs; not something I'm used to seeing from the Pats. Do you think this will be a trend throughout the rest of the season, or was it due to the matchup against the Broncos offense? -- Andrew W. (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

A. This is the concept we talked about earlier in the week about daring Denver to run the ball. The Patriots weren't going to match up in their regular defense based on the way the Broncos spread things out. The Patriots needed their front 6 to stop the run, and a couple of the biggest plays of the game were stopping the run early, because once Peyton Manning sees something isn't working, he moves on. Once Vince Wilfork set that tone, the Patriots could settle into their sub defense.

Q. Hi Tedy. Based on last night, you have to smile at how BB put this team together. If Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis were designed to shut down this Denver offense, looks like it did the trick. -- Avi (Brooklyn, New York)

A. Those were two valuable offseason signings, especially in today's NFL where you have to cover. Browner's length was evident last night when matched up against Demaryius Thomas. Having Revis and Browner gives them incredible flexibility.

Q. Hi Tedy, what's going on with Patrick Chung?! Is he better than he's been given credit for all these years? We ran him out on a rail last time, but last night he was flying around the football. -- Anonymous

A. That's probably the best I've seen Patrick Chung play, especially in terms of coverage. Manning saw the matchups he liked against Chung, and Chung was up to the challenge. You really have to give him credit for his performance last night.

Q. Tedy, I think this team has a legitimate shot at winning the rest of the games on the schedule. Not easy wins, but wins. What is your guesstimate on this team's final w/l record? -- Joe (Boston)

A. Joe, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Some tough challenges ahead. Tough road games ahead -- Indianapolis, Green Bay and San Diego. Start thinking like the team does, one game at a time.

Q. What did you see in terms of how the Patriots defended the run? What was different this time vs. the prior match-ups with Denver where they got run over? Is it just as simple as new personnel or was there a scheme change? Thanks! -- Alex (Boston)

A. There was different personnel -- Knowshon Moreno wasn't there, it was Ronnie Hillman. Either way, I think stopping the run early was huge. You noticed Vince Wilfork winning at the line of scrimmage and getting penetration -- pressing his blocker into the backfield. It caused disruption and made cleaner reads for the linebackers like Jamie Collins. It wasn't huge on the stat sheet, but I thought Wilfork had some key plays early in the game stopping the run.

Q, Hi Tedy, did yesterday's game remind you of some of the Pats-Colts games of the early 2000s? It sure did to me with playmakers all over the place, not to mention that long face I so love to see on Peyton Manning in Foxborough! Go Pats!! -- Frank (Kennebunk, Maine)

A. Yeah, actually it did remind me of some of the schemes we ran. It wasn't too complex. There was line-of-scrimmage disguise. The complexity was which LBs were dropping into zone and which LBs were rushing. When they played zone, there was always an LB in the middle of the field to disrupt the crosser. I saw Ayers in coverage, Ninkovich in coverage, Hightower in coverage and Collins at times. Then there were other times those players were part of the four-man rush. That was something we always wanted to do as a front 7 was give Peyton Manning different pictures, different looks. That can be frustrating to him -- you go the sideline and look at the pictures as a QB and see something pre-snap that is different, but the post-snap result always ends up the same.

Q. Did you see the attempted knee hit by T.J. Ward on Rob Gronkowski!? Dirty player or just trying to stay within the rules? It seems players are going for Gronk's knees now. What should they do to prevent an injury? -- Steve (Boston)

A. I'm not aware of a reputation for T.J. Ward that he is a dirty player. Given the size Gronkowski has in the middle of the field, I'd go low, too. I wouldn't purposely try to hurt him, but I was always taught to wrap up the legs. Once he catches the ball, snap that head around, eye the defense and if someone is going low, protect yourself. As a QB, Tom Brady has to realize this, too, and I know he tries to put it only in places that Gronkowski can do this. He's that accurate of a QB, but there are certain times he has to put it high because there is going to be good coverage .

Q. Hi Tedy! Great Win! What about Alfonzo Dennard ? Why he is not playing ? He is not on the injury report, so what's the deal with him? -- Claudio (Brazil)

A. This is something that is easy to overreact about -- when a player hasn't made a contribution in a week or two, you wonder what the problem is. Isn't this the same thing we were talking about with Julian Edelman? Certain weeks call for different things, and they'll switch it up, and coaches also evaluate throughout the week who is doing well against the specific schemes that week. This is what good coaches do. I wouldn't be surprised if Dennard has more of a role after the bye week. This organization also protects players when they are struggling or injured, and there will be nothing public about it.

Q. Hey Tedy, do you see any difference between the defense without Browner and the defense with Browner? How do you feel about Browner's play so far this season? -- Nikita (Israel)

A. Browner is a unique individual who caters to today's NFL. He's a defensive coordinator's dream -- you can pick and choose who you are going to put him up against. He has enough skill to match up with Demaryius Thomas and make plays down the field like he did last night. He has the size and physical mentality to cover a receiving TE, many of which are throughout the NFL. With Browner and Revis, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia can start there, and then everyone else's job becomes so much easier.

Q. Hey Tedy, great game yesterday, but still got to keep emotions in check -- it's just one game! As a former player, can you give insight on what it's like watching your former team play? Do you still have the desire to play? Thanks for doing the chats! -- Brendan (Hoboken, New Jersey)

A. I haven't had the desire to play in a long time, but last night I felt that itch being there at the stadium with all my other teammates who were part of the three Super Bowl championships we won together. Do I want to play a whole game? No. Maybe one play. And then straight to the ice tub and do my ESPN Boston chat with Mike Reiss!

Q. TB 54, I feel like we're blitzing a lot, which may mean we can't generate pressure up front. I like Ayers and his pressure, along with Dominique Easley. Do you think this is more a product of life without Chandler Jones or do you see it continuing when he comes back? -- James (Cleveland, Ohio)

A. They didn't blitz at all, really. I can see how it might have looked that way, but it rarely happened. When a linebacker rushes the passer off the line of scrimmage, it's considered a blitz. But for me, it's more about the numbers. And the numbers were always four last night, and it was just a matter of where they came from. If Hightower rushed, Ninkovich dropped back. If an on-the-line player stayed on the line of scrimmage, it was only because he had the RB man-to-man. They do those schemes to fool Manning, so I can understand how someone can be fooled watching on TV. You are right -- scheming and disguising where the four-man pressure is coming from is a result of not being able to line up and just rush Chandler Jones off the edge. You don't have that talent right now. So how do you compensate? In the Halloween spirit, you play a little trick or treat.

Q. Tedy, can this "new look" 2-4-5 defense be successful against other teams going forward? If it confused Manning, I would guess that lesser QBs would fare the same or worse. -- Rob (Westwood)

A. First, it's more of a 4-2-5. I usually don't use the numbers like that, but the 2-4-5 would indicate that it's a two-man front. I would call it more of a 4-2-5 to entertain the number designation because there are four down linemen, two linebackers off the line and five defensive backs. One of those five defensive backs can come down and play in the box, and there is so much flexibility with that, it's hard to designate it with a number. When the offense comes up to the line, they want to distinguish who are the four down linemen. To your question, this can change week-to-week based on teams coming out in more traditional formations (that would be matched with more of a 4-3-4 grouping based on your numbers).

Q. Tedy, isn't it encouraging to see Danny Amendola finally making some plays on offense consistently? -- Carlos (New Haven, Connecticut)

A. It's very encouraging. This kid is 100 percent toughness. It's just that sometimes his body can't always match his mentality or heart. To see him put together some consistently good performances where he's contributing to winning football, I think we'll see how good of a player he can be.

Q. When Chandler Jones comes back, assuming he plays up to the ability we know he can play, where do we play Ayers? Any shot we would ever bump Nink to linebacker? -- Guy S. (America)

A. I think Ayers then sits. But you have a valuable three-man rotation now with Jones, Ninkovich and Ayers at DE/OLB. I think the great thing that Ayers has started to show is that he can rush the passer and also drop back in coverage and get away with it. The sack he had last night in a three-man rush was solid, but also don't take away from what Vince Wilfork did -- he broke down the pocket by pushing his blocker 5 yards back to create a clean path.