BOSTON (CBS) – Former New England Patriots linebacker and current NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest joined The Adam Jones Show on 98.5 The Sports Hub Thursday night to preview Saturday’s Divisional Round playoff game between the Patriots and Colts.
McGinest faced the Colts many times during his 14 years in the league (12 with New England), so he shed some light on what that rivalry was like.
“There were some great matchups, great games, great quarterback play – two of the best quarterbacks in the game going head to head. As a defense it was a chess match with Peyton, making those adjustments and right when you thought you figured things out he’d change it and duke you,” McGinest said about the Patriots/Colts rivalry.
“The games came down always to the last quarter, the last few minutes and both teams had a lot of respect for each other. Both organizations had a lot of respect for each other.”
McGinest sat it on a lot of meetings with Bill Belichick in preparation for these big games, and he talked a bit about how the gameplans against the Colts were never the same.
With so many weapons (obviously including #18) to deal with over the years – Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, Dallas Clark and the like – it was incumbent on the players to just follow the script and “do your job” as Belichick always preaches.
“We wanted to be well prepared, we wanted to play a smart football game and we wanted to go in confident knowing we can play 100 miles per hour, because everybody was comfortable with the gameplan. We always knew it was going to be a dog fight.”
However, this Colts team coming to town Saturday night is not the Colts team of old, with only a handful of holdovers from the previous era.
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So while the rivalry is not what it was, the keys to a victory are simple and have basically remained the same: stop the quarterback (Peyton Manning/Andrew Luck), stop the receiver (Marvin Harrison/T.Y. Hilton), stop the running back (Edgerrin James/Donald Brown) and stop the pass rusher (Dwight Freeney/Robert Mathis).
“You have to eliminate the big plays, Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton are the culprits when it comes to that. Those are two guys that can improvise and make plays all over the place. Hilton is an explosive player and creates matchup problems, so they’re going to have to find a way to stop him.”
“Luck won’t quit. He doesn’t get down on himself. He’s motivated, and that’s the kind of guy that’s really dangerous. And also [Donald] Brown. He doesn’t get a lot of respect but he does a lot for them in the passing game and in the running game,” said McGinest.
“When you look at their defense, of course it starts with Robert Mathis. If you can’t protect your quarterback and keep him upright it’s going to be a long day.”
Listen below for the full discussion: