Daily Camera (Boulder)

Bron­cos’ Ryp­ien hop­ing to buck trend vs. New Eng­land

Young QBS have strug­gled against Pa­tri­ots’ de­fense

- By Ryan O’halloran Sports · College Sports · American Football · Super Bowl · NFL Football · Denver Broncos · England · Ryan Tannehill · Deshaun Watson · Baker Mayfield · Bill Belichick · New York Giants · Drew Brees · San Diego Chargers · Russell Wilson · Seattle · Ben Roethlisberger · Pittsburgh · Lamar Jackson · Baltimore · Atlanta · Los Angeles Rams · Las Vegas · Kansas · Kansas City · Buffalo · New York Jets · Miami · Englewood · Matt Ryan · Jared Goff · Derek Carr · New England Patriots · Daniel Jones · Josh Allen · Blake Bortles · Stephon Gilmore

EN­GLE­WOOD — Matt Ryan. Jared Goff. Derek Carr. Ryan Tan­nehill. De­shaun Wat­son. Pa­trick Ma­homes. All $100 mil­lion quar­ter­backs who couldn’t solve the fig­u­ra­tive Ru­bik’s Cube that is the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots’ de­fense.

Daniel Jones. Sam Darnold. Josh Allen. Baker May­field. All re­cent top10 draft picks, but they couldn’t do it, ei­ther.

“It” was beat the Pa­tri­ots in gen­eral and coach Bill Belichick’s de­fen­sive scheme in par­tic­u­lar as young play­ers.

Bron­cos quar­ter­back Brett Ryp­ien, as­sum­ing he starts for Drew Lock (right shoul­der), is up next for the Pa­tri­ots, who have won 22 of their last 23 games against first- or sec­ond-year quar­ter­backs.

Good luck, Brett.

“They do a great job dis­guis­ing and they use a lot of (de­fen­sive backs), which makes it tough to iden­tify in the run game and cer­tain stuff in the pass­ing game like where your 1-on-1s are,” Ryp­ien said.

Two of the many bedrocks for a Belichick-coached de­fense: Dis­guis­ing and chang­ing the pres­sure plan.

Dis­guis­ing is mak­ing man cov­er­age look like zone cov­er­age and vice versa in an ef­fort to force the quar­ter­back to wish the foot­ball had a string at­tached so he could pull back his throw.

“I’m sure he’ll have some­thing,” Bron­cos backup quar­ter­back Blake Bor­tles said of Belichick. “He’s one of the best to ever do that ex­act thing and tak­ing away what you do well. He’ll have some­thing di­aled up and some­thing cre­ative that is dif­fer­ent than what they have showed on tape so we’ll have to fig­ure it out and make the ad­just­ments.”

So how does a de­fense dis­guise cov­er­age?

Last year against the Gi­ants, whose coach/play-caller was cur­rent Bron­cos of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Pat Shur­mur, the Pa­tri­ots showed sin­gle-high safety and side­line-to-side­line man cov­er­age.

As Jones took the snap, Jonathan Jones, the Pa­tri­ots’ slot cor­ner, re­treated back and the lone safety slid over to play two-deep. At the same time, cor­ner­back Stephon Gil­more re­leased his man re­spon­si­bil­ity and dropped into zone cov­er­age.

Gil­more in­ter­cepted a Jones pass. An­other young quar­ter­back had been fooled.

Bron­cos de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ed Donatell was asked in a phone in­ter­view how he and coach Vic Fan­gio try to con­fuse quar­ter­backs.

“If you look at us, it’s no se­cret, our safeties show more of a ‘shell’ look,” Donatell said. “And be­cause we have a stout run sys­tem in­ter­nally, we’re able to hold (the safeties) af­ter the snap a lit­tle bit be­cause they al­ready have depth (down­field).

“We want the quar­ter­back to not know the cov­er­age (un­til) a sec­ond or two af­ter the snap whereas many times, peo­ple may be run­ning some­where and the quar­ter­back sees that and is able to put the puzzle to­gether.

We want him to see ‘gray’ (un­cer­tainty) for an in­stant and hold­ing our safeties makes it harder for him to de­fine.”

Easy to de­fine has been the Pa­tri­ots’ track record against young quar­ter­backs.

Among the league’s cur­rent starters, 14 faced the Pa­tri­ots as a rookie or sec­ond-year player.

Beat the Pa­tri­ots (four): Drew Brees (Charg­ers), Russell Wil­son (Seat­tle), Ben Roeth­lis­berger (Pitts­burgh) and La­mar Jack­son (Bal­ti­more).

Wil­son had the best game, throw­ing three touch­downs and no in­ter­cep­tions in a 24-23 win in 2012.

Lost to the Pa­tri­ots (10): Ryan (At­lanta), Goff (Rams), Jones (Gi­ants), May­field (Cleve­land), Carr (Las Ve­gas), Ma­homes (Kansas City), Allen (Buf­falo), Darnold (Jets), Tan­nehill (then with Mi­ami) and Wat­son (Hous­ton).

Throw­ing mul­ti­ple in­ter­cep­tions in their first game against the Pa­tri­ots were Ma­homes, Allen, Wat­son, Jones and Goff.

Com­bine the va­ri­ety of cov­er­ages with the var­ied pres­sure plans, and it’s a hand­ful for any quar­ter­back.

“(Belichick) does kind of change things week to week and he’s been able to do that re­ally well when those guys buy into what the game plan is ev­ery sin­gle week,” Ryp­ien said.

 ?? Elsa / Getty Im­ages ?? Brett Ryp­ien led the Bron­cos to a vic­tory over the win­less Jets in his first start Oct. 1, but the Pa­tri­ots’ de­fense fig­ures to present a much tougher chal­lenge Mon­day.
Elsa / Getty Im­ages Brett Ryp­ien led the Bron­cos to a vic­tory over the win­less Jets in his first start Oct. 1, but the Pa­tri­ots’ de­fense fig­ures to present a much tougher chal­lenge Mon­day.

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