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January 23, 2015 at 10:25 AM

Former NFL player Tedy Bruschi breaks down the Super Bowl

ESPN conducted a media conference call on Thursday with NFL analyst and three-time Super Bowl champion Tedy Bruschi earlier this week and he provided some good insight into the game.

Bruschi played in five Super Bowls with the Patriots, including the last Super Bowl in Arizona (XLII in 2008). Bruschi, who also played for Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll early in his career.

Here’s some of what he said about that and the Super Bowl:

Opening remarks on the Seahawks-Patriots matchup:
BRUSCHI:  The first time I realized it was going to be Seattle and New England, I think, to my former coaches both Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick, I think that I’m most closely connected to Bill Belichick and the Patriots. I think sometimes people forget that Pete Carroll spent three years in New England, and they were three very influential years of my career.
 
My second and third, fourth year, rookie year being with Parcells, we lost to the Packers in the Super Bowl that year. But Carroll came in ‑‑ I believe our records were 10-6 and 9-7 and 8-8, but there were so many young players like myself that learned a lot from Pete.  And so I’m excited to see my two former head coaches square off in the Super Bowl.  A lot of interest I have on very different levels with both organizations.
 
Q. You mentioned before that Coach Belichick would always kind of narrow things down to three or four things you have to do to win.  When you look at the Patriots defense versus Russell Wilson, what’s the key to controlling him and not letting him go off and beat you?
BRUSCHI:  Beyond the obvious answers, let me just say this: I think the Patriots secondary is more than enough to handle the Seattle receivers within the structure of a down. And now I say that last part of it because when you’re going up against Russell Wilson the structure of a down is always broken, because what I mean by structure of a down, I mean within the – under four seconds.  Under four seconds, a play should be over on the defensive side of the ball. The ball is snapped. You drop back in coverage. Or it’s a run play and you read your keys, you drop back in coverage, you attack the run, whatever it may be, and, boom, the play should be over.
 
But with Russell Wilson, you’re going to venture into those areas of time where you don’t practice every day, or you’re not used to defending these types of plays, because it’s so organic. The fifth second, the sixth second, the seventh second, sometimes longer than that. And the routes – so say you’ve got a slant route. That slant route then becomes a zig and then a zag and then up field. You don’t go over these things in practice, you see.
 
So that’s what makes it so difficult for this secondary who I feel matches their receivers, that, okay, once you’ve overmatched them and the play goes longer, now you’re sort of playing street ball and how do you react to that.  And that equals the playing field. So that’s where an advantage sometimes can be a disadvantage based on the relationships those receivers have with Russell Wilson.
Q. Can you break down the main defensive philosophies that you see between the Patriots and the Seahawks?
BRUSCHI: Sure. I think the main defensive philosophy of the New England Patriots is that there isn’t one. And that’s what makes them so hard to prepare for against sometimes is because the complexities of the different coverages that you can get and the different front variations you can get in terms of a week‑to‑week basis. So I would say their philosophy is to be a game-plan defense, to do whatever they feel does best to take away what you do well.
 
So then the general philosophy is basically take away the middle of the field, because I know Coach Belichick believes those are high percentage throws. And if you want to make it tough on a quarterback in the passing game, make him throw low percentage passes, which usually those are deep and outside the numbers.
 
Okay. Then going to Seattle, I think they’re very consistent in terms of what they do. They want to get after the pass or they want to control gaps on the line of scrimmage with quickness, with penetration and with speed, all over the place on the field. Cover three base team. Probably the best safety in the middle of the field in the NFL is Earl Thomas. And then a defense that is very intelligent in terms of reading route combinations. So they combine those philosophies with outstanding talent and you have one of the better defenses in recent memory.
 
Q. Without asking for a prediction, but what do you see on both sides of the ball as the key matchups for this game?
BRUSCHI: For the Seahawks, offensively, let’s see, Marshawn Lynch – I think Marshawn Lynch – I guess I can say this ‑‑ for them to win Marshawn Lynch needs to be the MVP.  Him running the ball the way he’s done. So for them offensively it’s to establish him. And then to do a good job after the structure of a passing play is broken down, because that’s a lot of production for this team in terms of Russell Wilson, the fifth, sixth, seventh second of the play which I’ve talked about, that’s important for them to have success, the way he improvises.
 
New England Patriots defensively on the other side of that stop the run and really play well as the longer a play goes. So that’s simple. And offensively, for the New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski to be the most valuable player, the value that he has for them, just a matchup with Kam Chancellor is something that I’m really looking forward to, so that’s the focus on, and the Seahawks defense is probably – they do what they do. I mean, if they prevent big plays and make the Patriots earn it up and down field, I think that’s probably one of their goals too.

 

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