When the Denver Broncos promoted Joe Woods to defensive coordinator, he talked about sprinkling some sugar on defense. So far, that has taken the form of more zone coverage concepts on early downs to keep the secondary fresh.
The tactic has actually worked, despite many fans complaining about it. On third downs, the Broncos mostly run man coverage and are one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL at getting off the field on third downs.
Against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, however, Chris Harris Jr. thinks the best way to keep him flustered and frustrated is to stick to man coverage most of the time.
“It’s always a challenge,” Harris said of the Patriots and Brady. “They always come up with something that you haven’t seen on film. They always try to make you think. They always play your hurry up, so you have to be prepared for that. They’re always kind of a step ahead of the game. You want to challenge their receivers and make it hard for them. I think most teams that play them play them in more zone. They play them zone-blitzes and things like that. We’ve been able to play man versus them and make them work to get open.”
I heard a former offensive lineman on Orange & Blue 760 say recently that defensive players are dumb. They are told to attack this gap or that gap and in most cases, I think he is probably right, but you don’t become a historically great defense by having those kinds of players. The guys on the Broncos defense are smart and they beat guys like Tom Brady by outsmarting him on the field. It’s why Brady struggled to put up points against Denver.
Before Chris Harris even made this comment, I wanted to see Denver run man defense all the way against the Patriots. Now I am even more convinced of it.
The season is on the line. Screw keeping guys fresh. Put it all on the line in this game. This is your Super Bowl. Play through the discomfort or go home.