Marshall hasn’t forgotten Brady
Hey, Tom Brady. There’s a guy in Colorado who has a score to settle with you. It’s Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, itching to get Brady and the defending Super Bowl champions back in Denver later this year.
“We’re going to handle what we’ve got to handle. We can’t wait to get them in our house,” Marshall told me Wednesday. “It’s a rivalry. It’s something you circle on the schedule.”
It clearly irks Marshall that New England has been established as a prohibitive favorite to repeat as league champion. Denver refuses to concede anything to any AFC rival, despite the love
prognosticators are giving the Patriots.
“We know what they say. There’s a 51 percent chance they’ll win the Super Bowl,” Marshall said. “That’s ridiculous.”
What’s more, Marshall has had a bone to pick with Brady for more than 18 months, ever since Brady arrogantly and openly dissed him during Denver’s 20-18 victory at the AFC championship game in January 2016. That’s a big reason why on a hot summer day, Marshall was already anticipating a game against the Patriots in November, when Brady next visits Denver.
“He don’t do so well over here,” said Marshall. He knows Brady’s career record against the Broncos in Colorado is a weak 3-7, including four losses during New England’s last five visits.
The bullies on the Denver defense have messed so badly with young quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, I’m beginning to wonder if coach Vance Joseph should hire a playground monitor at training camp.
Early in practice on a sun- ny summer morning, Marshall jumped a route and picked off a pass from a bewildered Lynch, who never saw the linebacker coming. Maybe it would be a more fair fight if Marshall picked on a quarterback closer to his own size, like Tom Terrific, who’s married to a supermodel and owns five Super Bowl rings.
The relentless pressure of edge rusher Von Miller, who insists 30 sacks in a season is feasible, strikes fear in the hearts of quarterbacks. The No-Fly Zone, led by shutdown corners Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, force an offensive coordinator to adjust his game plan accordingly. Marshall understands and accepts those harsh realities often mean Denver’s inside linebackers are targeted as the holes in a stout pass defense.
Marshall remembers Jan. 24, 2016, as if it were yesterday. The Broncos were playing New England with a trip to Super Bowl 50 on the line. It was second down. The Patriots broke the huddle.
“Tom Brady …” Marshall recalled. “He looked at (running back) James White and said: ‘You’ve got 54. Get open.’”
Marshall didn’t need to check his jersey. He’s No. 54. Brady shouted the PatriNFL ots were coming after him.
“Before the play,” said Marshall, still mystified how Brady could have such open contempt of his pass-coverage skills. “He didn’t read the defense. He just said: ‘You’ve got 54. Get open.’” How did Marshall react? “I took it as a challenge. I was offended, at first. … He said it so loud, like he wanted me to hear,” Marshall said.
From the shotgun, Brady took the snap and immediately looked for White on an option route. He threw. Marshall refused to be beaten. The pass fell incomplete.
Marshall trotted to the Denver sideline, being replaced in Denver’s thirddown defensive package by teammate Danny Trevathan. Before leaving the field, however, Marshall recalled, “I looked at Brady and I looked at James White, like ‘All right. That’s how you feel about me?’”
There was no harm to the Broncos on the play. But it left a permanent scar on Marshall’s pride.
“I’ll never forget that,” Marshall said. “I’m going to say something to Brady at some point.”