Chat with Tedy Bruschi
Welcome to ESPNBoston.com! On Monday, ESPNBoston.com NFL analyst, and former New England Patriot, Tedy Bruschi stops by to chat about the Patriots as well as the rest of the NFL news.
Bruschi retired in 2009 after 13 seasons and three Super Bowl wins with the Patriots. He started 189 games with New England, the most for any linebacker in team history. For his career, he had more than 1,100 tackles, to go with 30.5 sacks and 12 INTs.
Shortly after his retirement, Bruschi joined ESPN's stable of NFL analysts. In addition to being a regular NFL anaylst on ESPNBoston.com, Bruschi also appears on "NFL Live," "SportsCenter," ESPN Radio and other ESPN platforms.
Send your questions now and join Bruschi Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Tedy (1:59 PM)
Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. Let's go!
Tim (Brighton, MA)
Hey Tedy,I keep hearing the talk of Talib on Hilton, and I don't dislike the idea. But considering Talib seemed to have more success on big guys, and sometimes being beaten by Hilton-type guys (Steve Smith of course comes to mind) could you see Belichick and Patricia going a different route and using Ryan or Dennard on Hilton with safety help?
Tedy (2:01 PM)
I do see Talib matched up on Hilton in certain situations throughout the game. The interesting thing about T.Y. Hilton in Pep Hamilton's offense is that he moves around. Do the Patriots want Talib on Hilton if Hilton is lined up in the slot? Usually there are options for double teams with slot receivers. So it all depends on how creative Pep Hamilton wants to be with the Colts' offense. Is it possible that Bill Belichick says to Talib, "You have him no matter where he goes?" It is. But the Patriots usually like to use other players to double-team.
Billy (Los Angeles)
What was your welcome to the NFL playoffs moment?
Tedy (2:02 PM)
1996 Super Bowl. I was on the punt team and I had to block Reggie White. He tossed me about 10 yards. LOL.
Tedy,Where does the X-Factor for a Pats victory lie this weekend? Vereen? Blount? Stopping TY Hilton? Pressure on Luck? It seemed from seeing last years game pressure on Luck paid dividends, I know he is more experienced but is this this weeks X-Factor?
Tedy (2:03 PM)
I think the X-factor is going to be LeGarrette Blount. This Colts defense is 26th vs. the run. I think Blount and the power running game can be successful, but watch out for sub runs with Shane Vereen. That's something the Colts have struggled with, as they like to substitute a smaller defensive lineup against multiple-WR sets.
Tedy,Do you think letting Danny Woodhead walk for peanuts was the worst move of the Belichick tenure? I cant remember one that he missed on besides maybe sending Vrabel in the Cassel trade
Tedy (2:04 PM)
It was tough to see Danny Woodhead go to San Diego, especially with the production he's had this year - 76 receptions. There is only one more RB who caught more -- Pierre Thomas of the Saints with 77. But he had to be let go. Especially with an up-and-coming Shane Vereen, who does things very similar to Woodhead. At this point in time, I'd take Woodhead over Vereen. But Vereen has a bright future and he's working for less money.
Tedy, who is your sleeper defensive star this weekend for the Pats?
Tedy (2:06 PM)
Safety Steve Gregory. He's had some injuries to deal with and has struggled at times. Maybe he turns that all around with a big play in the divisional round.
Caleb (Provo (UT))
What's a guy like Austin Collie going through? Being signed, cut, and re-signed can't be easy.
Tedy (2:07 PM)
This guy has had multiple concussions in his past. He's bounced around the league, but this is a case of what players will go through to play this game. I'm sure he's just happy to have the opportunity.
Jimmy H (Newton)
Tedy, as a veteran of many playoff games, what changes the most? Is it the preparation? Physicality? Atmosphere? As a fan the build up to watching football at such a high level is exciting, but the thought of having your team play its last game is daunting. I know that players always label it "just another game", but I can't imagine they really feel that way.
Tedy (2:09 PM)
The "just another game" comment is one you hear a lot. But when watching the games, you can tell many players don't act that way. You can see the magnitiude of the game in their faces, in the biggest moments of the game. If players on your team get that way, you probably lose. This is where Bill Belichick's mantra of "one game at a time" benefits the Patriots. Bill never makes the players feel like one game is more important than the other.
Bill Burdick (San Diego ca)
Do you think if we apply a lot of pressure with different blitzes that would benefit us or is that too risky?
Tedy (2:11 PM)
Andrew Luck is a dangerous quarterback. He does an outstanding job of staying alive in the pocket. Not only that, this is one of the strongest quarterbacks in the NFL. I've seen defenders draped all over him and he still completes a pass downfield. So bringing pressure can be dangerous. If you blitz, you better get there. This guy has a little Ben Roethlisberger in him. He will extend the play and make you pay.
Billy (Los Angeles)
If you had to pick one, what was your favorite Adam Vinatieri moment from your time as teammates?
Tedy (2:12 PM)
The obvious answer is all the game-winning FGs, especially in the Super Bowl. But when Adam and I were rookies, I was on kickoff coverage when he kicked off to Herschel Walker and ran him down to make a tackle. He gained instant credibility from all of us.
What is step 1 to Belichick's defensive plan for Saturday?
Tedy (2:13 PM)
Step 1 is making sure the defense understands the threat that Andrew Luck is, and making them aware of all the possible ways he can beat you. There are many of them.
David (North Attleborough)
Is Andrew Luck enough of a threat running with the ball to use a player to spy on him?
Tedy (2:14 PM)
I would say no, although Luck is extremely athletic. He has exceptional arm talent and you would rather give up a 20-yards scramble than a 5--60 yard pass. You need that extra player in coverage.
Who do you think will have to have a breakout game for the Colts knowing that Coach Belichick will blanket what they do well and that's take away T.Y. Hilton and everything deep?
Tedy (2:16 PM)
Donald Brown. This kid makes big plays as a receiver and a runner. He's a guy that has fought all year to earn his keep, starting the year behind Vick Ballard. Then they signed Ahmad Bradshaw in August. Then they traded for Trent Richardson. When all is said and done, he's still been their most productive back.
Zach (Arlington, MA)
Tedy, should Talib guard Hilton or Fleener? And if Talib is on Fleener - what is the strategy to shut down Hilton?
Tedy (2:18 PM)
We've seen Talib on receiving tight ends before. They put him on Jimmy Graham. Coby Fleener is a lesser version compared to Graham. They list Fleener as a tight end but he's basically a receiver. If they were to put Talib on Fleener, I would assume it would be the red zone. If that happens, then you put another cornerback (Dennard, Ryan, Arrington) on T.Y Hilton with multiple double-team options with your safety.
Gary (Falls Church, VA)
Hi Tedy. Although Aqib Talib has had a great year, isn't Dennard a better matchup against a speed guy like T.Y. Hilton (if he is fully healthy)??
Tedy (2:21 PM)
That's the thing, if they do put Talib on Hilton. I think Talib will know that the majority of his work will be done early in the down. I don't think he should be left all alone on Hilton. You should still have over-the-top help, so Talib being disruptive with Hilton at the line of scrimmage is something he'd need to do in that matchup. I don't think this is going to be 'You shadow this guy wherever he goes.' Even if that does happen, there is a possibility of having zone behind that -- almost like a box-and-1 in basketball. That's about all the basketball knowledge I have; I'm coaching the 13-year-old team with my son.
Tedy (2:21 PM)
How do you think the pats will try slow down Mathis? Running the ball, screen passes ???
Tedy (2:22 PM)
Mathis is an undersized outside linebacker/defensive end. Running at those undersized players is always an option, although Mathis always counters that with penetration through the gaps. Extra help in pass protection would be smart for tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon, but there is going to come a time when they are one-on-one. Tom Brady will know that and he will have that clock in his head, telling him how much time he has to get rid of the ball.
Tedy Bruschi (New england)
Tedy (2:23 PM)
Wait for the breakdown, Tedy.
Tedy (2:23 PM)
Come on, man!
Tyler (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Hey Mr. Bruschi. Obviously both of these teams are very good at keeping their composure when things go wrong. Both can come back from tremendous deficits to win a game. Which team has the edge in this game that features two teams that have the same habit of starting slow and finishing strong? The team with the rest and the experience, or the team riding a wave of emotion? Thanks.
Tedy (2:25 PM)
I'd still favor the team with the rest and experience. This has the possibility of being a high-scoring game. The biggest aspect of this game will be winning the turnover battle. Andrew Luck had problems with turnovers in the 2012 matchup between the teams.
Bobby D (Watertown)
Tedy, it seems to me that Legarrette Blount has done nothing but gain yards every time he touches the ball. His running style uncannily resembles Corey Dillon, minus the stiff arm, and he bruises opposing defenses. Fully acknowledging Ridley's skills I think this team has to stay with Blount. Does he remind you of Corey? Is he the clear #1?
Tedy (2:27 PM)
I do think LeGarrette Blount is now the Patriots' No. 1 back. But the Patriots' idea of a No. 1 back is different from everyone else's. You can be the No. 1 back going into a game, but if someone else comes in for you and they're being more productive, that player will become the new No. 1 back for that game. I still think that's the way the Patriots should handle it. Start Blount, see how he does within the first 5-10 carries, but you also have to mix in Stevan Ridley and sub runs with Shane Vereen. Whoever Josh McDaniels thinks is performing the best that day will get the most carries in the fourth quarter.
max (my cube)
Tedy, what do you foresee in terms of the offensive game plan? A heavy dose of Blount to keep the pass rush at bay?
Tedy (2:28 PM)
They're going to try Blount, definitely, but this defense can be taken deep. Kansas City showed that last week and safety LaRon Landry is an in-the-box, stop-the-run, physical player. They will test his range.
Guy Smith (America)
Hey Tedy, Will the bye week help or hurt this Patriots squad. The players get an extra week of rest to heal up the battle scars, but I'm worried it might curtail the performance of some of tr new guys. It seemed like the final two games of the season guys like Siliga, Hightower , Collins, and Ryan were starting to gain some positive momentum. I'm hoping this off week doesn't set them back.
Tedy (2:32 PM)
Guy, I trust the mental toughness of this team. They've shown it all year. The coaching staff knows how to handle a week off. But there is one thing and I hope it's mentioned to the team this week, or they recognized it by watching games over the weekend -- there is always a new brand of officiating come playoff time. You could see officials were letting defenses be more physical and more aggressive -- whether it was hitting receivers coming across the middle or playing more aggressive pass coverage down the field. So defensively, the Patriots need to come out and playing aggressive, especially with the receivers. If it gets called, then you adjust. But from what I've seen, they're letting these guys play. Offensively for the Patriots, they need to anticipate the Colts DBs playing them more aggressively. This is something the Colts have an advantage with -- they have one game under their belt with playoff officiating. This affects not just pass coverage, but all aspects of the game.
Hi Tedy, Big fan- thanks for all your work on the field and now on ESPN. The Colts' comeback was impressive and showed mental resilience. What differences do you see in the Pats defense versus KC that should allow us to contain the Colts more successfully? It seemed incredible that Luck and Co could put up 45 against an Andy Reid-coached playoff team. Thanks.
Tedy (2:34 PM)
That comeback also surprised me. I thought the Chiefs' defenders viewed the game as being over. They thought a 28-point lead was enough. By the time they tried to turn it around, it was a ballgame again. The one play that concerned me was the Donald Brown fumble on the goal-line, and it looked like it bounced off another player and into the hands of Andrew Luck, who ran it in for a touchdown. To me, that's a "destiny" play. The 49ers had a similar "destiny" play on kicker Phil Dawson's game-winning field goal that went through the arms of a Packers defender. When I see these plays, it makes me think someone is watching over these teams. LOL.
Tedy (2:35 PM)
I've been on teams like that before.
Tedy, What can we expect from the other receivers if Edleman gets double teamed?Who has to step up?
Tedy (2:36 PM)
As receivers, I would look to Danny Amendola. Then, out of the backfield, I'd look for Shane Vereen.
Maddie m (Dartmouth, NH)
Tedy, if you could put one player on the 04 championship team to give the Pats a boost (aside from you) who would you pick?
Tedy (2:38 PM)
This is an interesting question, Maddie. For this game, facing Andrew Luck and his talented right arm, I'd give them Ty Law. ... And on offense, I'd give them Matt Light to slow down Robert Mathis.
EJ (Hollywood, CA)
Is the Colts secondary as bad as it looked this weekend? Was that a one time, game-specific, breakdown? The Colts are a very tough and talented team, but if their defense is that easy to expose.....
Tedy (2:40 PM)
EJ, you're only as good as your last game and from what I saw, they can be exploited. Also, Darius Butler is a former Patriot and the coaching staff knows his strengths and weaknesses. Look for them to attack Butler with Edelman and Amendola.
Tedy - the Colts have had some wild swings this year. Which team will show up against the Patriots?
Tedy (2:41 PM)
One thing is for sure, Avi, Andrew Luck will remember what happened the last time he was in Foxboro. The score was 59-24. Andrew Luck gave the ball away multiple times. The Colts will put points up on the board. So will the Patriots. Whichever defense makes more big plays to give their offense extra possessions will win this game.
Tedy (2:47 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting. Great questions. Enjoy another weekend of playoff football.