For the second straight week, the New England Patriots’ playoff opponent signed a familiar face off the street.
The Denver Broncos signed former Patriots cornerback Marquice Cole on Tuesday in preparation for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against New England. Last week, the Indianapolis Colts signed wide receiver Deion Branch before their divisional-round playoff matchup against the Patriots. Branch did not suit up Saturday as the Colts lost to the Patriots.
Cole played 13 games for the Patriots and was cut before New England’s Week 17 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. Cole was used primarily as a special-teamer, though he was forced to play 165 defensive snaps this season. Out of his 104 snaps against the pass, 58 came in the slot. So, if Cole was to play Sunday, he’d likely cover either wide receiver Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola.
Cole’s experience with the Patriots means he has a lot of practice against the New England receivers, so he knows their tendencies. He also can provide some insight on the Patriots’ offense and defense.
What Cole might have trouble with is actual coverage if he’s asked to play defense. Cole was targeted 15 times this season and allowed nine receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns. He had one interception when safety Devin McCourty leaped out of bounds and tipped the ball back to the cornerback.
Cole allowed a 100.8 passer rating and was targeted every 11.56 snaps. He allowed 1.28 yards per snap and 8.87 yards per attempt. There’s a reason Cole was used primarily as a special-teamer.
Against the Miami Dolphins in Week 8, Cole was targeted as soon as he came on the field for an injured Kyle Arrington. Cole’s coverage on Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace actually wasn’t bad (he stayed with Wallace but couldn’t connect with the football as he swatted), but it looked a lot worse after the speedy wideout broke free for a touchdown.
Check out a GIF of the play, via BostInno.
Cole was signed by the Broncos this week because cornerback Chris Harris was placed on injured reserve after tearing his ACL last week against the San Diego Chargers. Cole’s snaps likely would come after cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Quentin Jammer, Champ Bailey, Kayvon Webster and Tony Carter.
If Cole does see the field, Amendola and Edelman might be licking their chops. They know Cole’s tendencies just as well as he knows theirs.
Last week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick dismissed the notion that a former player could provide insight, but that was regarding Branch, who hadn’t been on the team for an entire year. Cole’s knowledge is much more recent, and he’ll have some idea of what’s going on with the Patriots on offense and defense.