Patriots

Giardi in Denver: Broncos defenders target Brady

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Giardi in Denver: Broncos defenders target Brady

DENVER -- In Week 12, the Broncos pressured Tom Brady on nearly half of his dropbacks, but that stat comes with an asterisk. No Edelman. No Amendola. James White not yet a factor. The Pats offense was stuck in neutral then, and for many weeks to follow.

That all changed Saturday in the Divisional Round playoff game versus the Chiefs.

Brady averaged an eye-opening 1.94 seconds from snap to release on his 42 passes. That can neutralize even the best of pass rushes, which is something the Broncos possess.

“You said two seconds? Sometimes I only need like one,” said Von Miller to a room that soon filled with laughter. “It’s quick. We have to be tight in the secondary. That little window that we get, we—me, [OLB] DeMarcus [Ware], [DE Derek] Wolfe and [DE] Malic [Jackson] – have to get there. [OLB] Shaq [Barrett], everybody, we just have to get there. This is one of those games where you can’t make excuses. We have to get our hands up, bat some balls down and we just have to get there, plain and simple.”

“It means that I have to get off the ball a little quicker,” said DeMarcus Ware, who didn’t play the first times these two teams met, “and I need to get to him in 1.8 seconds, to be honest with you.”

But Ware, who’s been around for a mighty long time, saw just how impotent the Chiefs pass rush was against the Pats with Brady getting it out that quickly.

“If he’s getting the ball off in 1.9 seconds, nobody is ever going to get to him,” he admitted. “You can see that from the Kansas City game, in which they had [Kansas City LB] Tamba Hali and they had [Kansas City LB Justin] Houston and they still couldn’t get there. You have to be able to have those corners to buy you just a little more time to get to him.”

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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