The NFC currently has an edge over the AFC, primarily because the best teams in the NFC possess a physicality that the best teams in the AFC can’t match. The Patriots hope to change that in part with the addition of cornerback Brandon Browner.
Browner’s former teammate in Seattle, cornerback Richard Sherman, recalls Browner explaining that the Seahawks brought them to town to use their size in defending receivers.
“He told me one of the things I’ll never forget,” Sherman told Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “He said, ‘They brought us in here — we’re both big, tall and long — to put our hands on people, to stand up toe to toe every play and put our hands on people, so that’s what we need to do every time.’ And he didn’t say anything else the whole camp to me.”
Sherman believes that Patriots hope that Browner will help New England do to the Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning what the Seahawks did in Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I do think that was a huge part of it because [the Patriots] know Denver’s receivers gave them problems with physicality a lot of times,” Sherman said. “Especially once Aqib [Talib] went out, they had trouble stopping them, and it’s a game of wills. The Broncos were able to impose their physicality on them, and I think Brandon will negate all of that, and have a countering effect, impose his will and play a tougher game.”
It will take a while for Browner to be ready to make that impact, apart from his four-game suspension to start the season.
“It’s still a work in progress, man,” Browner recently told Howe. “Stuff is still new to me, so I have some up days and down days. Some days, I feel like I’ve got it, and some days are rougher than others.”
The goal will be for Browner and Darrelle Revis (who isn’t quite as big but has the physicality) to give opposing receivers the roughest days possible, as the Patriots try to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their last Super Bowl win by getting their next one.