NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth weighs in on Ravens
EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
Two-minute question: What's the best way to defend Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning?
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is entering his 15th season in the NFL (not counting the one he missed with a neck injury). Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees is in his 10th season as an NFL coach, all in the AFC, and all either as a linebacker coach or a defensive coordinator.
Suffice it to say Pees and Manning have seen plenty of each other. Their teams have squared off 11 times, in fact, including the playoffs, with Manning holding a 7-4 record in those games.
And Pees said the only way to beat Manning is to "out-execute him." Waiting for Manning to make a mistake, Pees said, is a fool's errand.
"We approach everything with him as [if] he’s always going to be right," Pees said on Monday as the Ravens continued preparations for the season opener at Denver on Thursday night.
"Instead of going the other way and saying we’re going to trick him," Pees added, "we’re going to assume that he’s always going to make the right choice and read the right things."
Like the Ravens, the Broncos have a few new pieces this season, the most notable on offense being slot receiver Wes Welker, who landed in Denver after a messy divorce in New England.
Welker could be an ideal fit for Manning and the multi-faceted, up-tempo offense that ranked fourth in the league last season in offense and fifth in passing. Welker joins an offense that features big-play receivers Demaryius Thomas (94 catches, 1434 yards, 10 touchdowns last year) and Eric Decker (85-1064, 13 TDs).
"Pick your posion," Pees said. "If you want to double somebody, he’s going to find the other guy."
Lardarius Webb, who missed both games against Manning and the Broncos last season with a knee injury, said the key, in the secondary at least, is communication.
"We have to be on point," he said. "We have to communicate in the back end. We have to play smart football."
Ravens defensive tackle Chris Canty called Manning "a pro's pro. He’s going to be prepared; he’s going to be at the top of his game. It really comes down to executing your job."
"We’ve just simply got to out-execute them. If you’re in man coverage, you’ve got to cover your man," Pees said. "If you’re in zone coverage, you’ve got to play with good eyes and break on the ball. If we’re [playing] the run game, we’ve got to play the blocks and get off the blocks.
"I’ve gone up against him so many times, and I’ve seen so many people try to trick him, and very seldom [does it] ever work. You’ve just got to out-execute them. Period.”
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