BOSTON (CBS) — Former Patriots safety James Ihedigbo certainly has some knowledge of how the team operates on defense. Count him among those who would not be surprised if the Patriots turn in a dominant performance on the defensive side of the football in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons – and who also would not be surprised to see most of the media and fans in the Patriots’ corner come Super Bowl Sunday.
Ihedigbo joined Zolak & Bertrand at Radio Row in Houston on Monday to talk about the Super Bowl and what to expect in the game. Ihedigbo played for the Patriots in 2011, when they made it to the Super Bowl and lost to the New York Giants.
Ihedigbo spoke about a contingent of fans and media outside of New England who he believes are actually rooting for the Patriots to win the Super Bowl – regardless of what the polls may say. He thinks it’s because they’ve accepted the greatness of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and simply want to witness history.
“When you look nationally, when it comes to the Super Bowl, everybody wants to see the legacy of Tom Brady continue,” said Ihedigbo. “He’s going to be at a level of no other quarterback.
“How can you argue about him being the best of all time if he wins the Super Bowl on Sunday? People want to see greatness.”
Ihedigbo went into detail on what to expect from the Patriots defense in the Super Bowl. He believes that they will need to be dominant on defense in order to beat the Falcons, because he believes that great defense is necessary to win any Super Bowl.
He thinks the idea of the Patriots getting torched on defense is silly, even though the Falcons have the league’s No. 1 scoring offense.
“I don’t know why everyone’s saying this is going to be such a high-scoring game … are you kidding me?” said Ihedigbo. “The Patriots aren’t giving up 40 points in a Super Bowl. It’s not happening.”
Much like how the Patriots approach just about every game, Ihedigbo expects them to take away the big play ability of Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense, forcing them to score touchdowns on long drives of multiple short-to-intermediate plays.
“[The Falcons] thrive off the big play,” said Ihedigbo. “[The Patriots] limit those passes. They force Matt Ryan to make outside throws. Because [the Falcons] have an in-breaking offense; all their offensive plays are designed to be throws over the middle.
“[The Patriots] are going to pack the middle of the field and force them to throw the ball outside. It has yet to be seen how consistent Matt Ryan can be doing that.”
The defense certainly has a tall task in front of them to slow down the high-powered Falcons offense, perhaps their biggest test of the season. But if any coach is a safe bet to find a way to slow them down, it’s Belichick.
Listen to the full podcast below: