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Bill Belichick on Peyton Manning: ‘If you tell them what you’re in, you’re probably not going to like the way it’s going to end up’

11.22.13 at 10:44 am ET
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Bill Belichick and Peyton Manning meet again on Sunday night. (AP)

Bill Belichick and Peyton Manning meet again on Sunday night. (AP)

FOXBORO — The real chess match to watch Sunday night is not between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. It’s not even Bill Belichick against Wes Welker.

The most fascinating match-up to watch is how Belichick’s defense adjusts to Manning’s always-changing tempo at the line of scrimmage and how Belichick’s troops attempt to disguise their defense.

Belichick gave some very interesting insight Friday morning on whether he still intends to disguise his defense to a high degree.

“You have to,” Belichick said.

Why not just try to execute your defense against Manning and hope your execution is better?

“Well, you can do that,” Belichick said. “It’s just a question on whether you can hold up in it or not. But I’d say the odds of that aren’t great, to be honest with you.

“Usually, when he sees what it is, he gets to the play he wants to get to and I would say they’ve hit a lot of big plays on plays like that. He sees a blitz, calls a tear screen to Demaryius Thomas and it goes 75 yards for a touchdown. You can be in whatever you want to be in but if they have a play to beat it and it’s well-executed, which it frequently is with Denver, you’re just playing right into their hands.

“They’ve waiting all day to run the play against that situation. You tell them, ‘Here we are, we’re going to be in Cover-2 zone, go ahead run your best play.’ Well, they will. We’re going to be in “man-free” or we’re going to be in blitz or we’re going to be in “man-under 2-deep,” what are you going to do about it? Well, they can usually do something about it. I don’t really think anybody has had a lot of success playing that way.”

The Broncos have scored 398 points in their 10 games, averaging nearly 40 points per contest. They are on pace for 637 points in 16 games, which would shatter New England’s mark of 589 in 2007, a season in which the Patriots averaged 36.8 points per game.

“Now, if you just out-personnel them at every position across the board and say, ‘OK, we’re all just going to lock up on one guy. We’re going to take everybody. We don’t care that they know where we are because we’re that good.’ I just don’t anybody has been able to do that [successfully]. They’ve scored more points than anybody in football. It’s hard to do. Somewhere along the line they have a good matchup if they know exactly what you’re in. I don’t think anybody has played them that way very effectively in whatever it is they’ve tried to play, man, zone, blitz, man-free, 2-deep man, 2-deep zone, 3-deep zone, 3-man rush. If you tell them what you’re in, you’re probably not going to like the way it’s going to end up. Sometimes, it’s situational and sometimes you have to live with that but I don’t think down after down, anybody’s really had much success doing that.”

Of course, the art is in the deception. Is there an art to defensive masking that goes on? In other words, organized chaos.

“Absolutely it’s got to be coordinated as a team,” Belichick said. “Yeah, you can’t have one guy disguising on things and somebody else disguising somebody else. a good quarterback would probably be able to figure out what you’re trying to do and see that one guy is way out of position. You have to be very well coordinated on that because what they do with the cadence, they make it hard for you to do that. Sometimes they run up and snap the ball real quickly, so it forces you to get lined up. Other times they go up there and they delay and check the play and get into a formation that kind of makes you declare so they can see what you’re in and then get to the play they want to get to and go at a very slow pace. It’s hard to over-disguise because if they go quick then you could be way out of position. [Peyton] does a real good job of that, of changing the tempo to kind of force the defense to show what they’re in so he can get to it and then obviously the plays they go quick on, they don’t really care what the defense is in because they’re kind of all purpose plays. No matter what they’re in, they have the answer on the play somehow.

“We’ll see how it goes Sunday night but I would say normally at home, it’s hard for the defense to hear the offensive calls. It’s hard for the offense to hear them. It’s hard for the defense to hear them. It’s hard for the defense to hear the defense’s calls, if there’s crowd noise, which sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t. But I would say it’s the same thing playing on the road that it’s hard enough for us to hear what we’re trying to tell each other when the quarterback is turning around and actually talking to the guy and you’re standing five yards away to try to hear them, it’s pretty difficult. I mean, that’s been my experience. For example, when we used to play Indianapolis in Indianapolis, you could hear what he was saying there but here it was much harder to do that, I would say most of the time. You could never count on it, let’s say that. You might hear something because it was quiet at a certain point but you could never count on, ‘Well, we’ll be able to hear this or we’ll be able to hear that’ because there are too many times when you just can’t. Crowd noise is just as big a problem for the defense as it is for the offense, in trying to communicate.”

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