FOXBORO, Mass. — Brandon Browner and Alan Branch won’t be much help in preparing the New England Patriots’ offense for the Seattle Seahawks’ defense. Prepping for the Seahawks’ offense is a different story, however.
One would assume that since the two Patriots defenders played with the Seahawks, they would be in head coach Bill Belichick’s ear about tendencies, schemes and a possible Super Bowl XLIX game plan for the Seattle defense. It doesn’t really work that way, however.
The beauty of Seattle’s defense is in the simplicity. Everyone has their job, and if they do it well, there are no leaks. The Seahawks primarily align in a Cover 3, in which both outside cornerbacks and the free safety drop into a deep zone. The linebackers and slot cornerback cover the shallow portion of the field, and the defensive line rushes. Starting linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright rarely blitz.
If Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels can’t figure that out, then the Patriots have bigger problems than DeflateGate.
So instead of helping the Patriots’ offense prepare for the Seahawks, Browner and Branch can spend their time helping their position-mates with opponent tendencies.
Browner lined up across from Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin in practice for three years and fellow starter Jermaine Kearse for two. Browner probably knows their tendencies better than any other opposing cornerback in the NFL.
Branch practiced across from starting center Max Unger, left guard James Carpenter and left tackle Russell Okung for both seasons he played on the Seahawks, and he’s familiar with right guard J.R. Sweezy.
“Probably offensive line, just for the fact that a lot of them are still the same people who were there when I was there,” Branch said Thursday when asked if he can be more help preparing the Patriots for the Seahawks’ offensive or defensive line. “The defensive line has changed. I guess what I do is defense, so I’m not much help on offense.”
Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, who was with the Seahawks briefly during the 2013 season, can be some help, too.
“I played against a lot of those guys, so I know how they play,” Siliga said.
If you’re doubting that those practice reps will be of much help, consider that Belichick, who usually clams up at the thought of leaking some intel, even admitted as much.
“Well, certainly what we see and what they’re doing now is important, but I’m sure that they can — they played with those guys,” Belichick said. “They certainly can give us some insight into some specifics about them.”
The Seahawks only have one former Patriots player on their team, so in a game that’s expected to be close, New England has that slight advantage. It is slight, though.
“I will try (to help), but at the end of the day, man, they’re champs for a reason,” Browner said Sunday night. “There’s only so much I can tell these guys. I’m a defensive player.”
Branch ultimately concurred.
“At the end of the day, we just gotta go out and play well, but when it comes to certain moves that someone might like more — in a certain situation, I can help them with that,” Branch said. “Really I don’t think I can help them too much.”
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images
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