NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the Patriots' matchup with the Broncos and Tim Tebow.
Baldinger said Tebow present a real threat to all opposing defenses, and he doesn't expect him to hit a wall anytime soon.
"First of all, he's a great running back," Baldinger said. "If you just strip everything else aside, the guy's a 240-pound running back, and there's not that many of them in the league. And if you watch him against the Bears -- and I mean elite defenders in [Brian] Urlacher, [Lance] Briggs, [Julius] Peppers, [Charles] Tillman -- he either ran around them or through them last week. That was a great test for him, and he passed that test.
"Even though they only put up 13 points [and needed] overtime to get it, they still moved the ball throughout the game. And then when they were down 10-0 they said, 'OK, let's spread it out. We have to throw it.' And he spread the Bears out and he threw it, and he threw it pretty well. They had seven drops by wide receivers, but he extended plays, he played a style of offense that's difficult to defend. He breaks your defense down. It's more than a gimmick, it's more than a wildcat.
"But can he stay healthy taking as many hits? Because the Chicago Bears whacked him. For whatever reason, he just keeps getting up like nothing happened to him, like his armor is just made of steel. … He's indefatigable. You get to the fourth quarter, he's the only guy that looks fresh on the field. He never wears down."
Denver has the league's top ground game, and Baldinger said running back Willis McGahee has a lot to do with that.
"I've seen Willis McGahee run away from the Oakland Raiders and run away from a lot of defenders this year, where it looks like he'd got a new lease on life," Baldinger said. "Teams are having a tough time -- I don't care if it's the Chicago Bears or whatever good defense has been out there, teams have a hard time handling it.
"Not every running back in the NFL could adapt to the read option and what the reads are. … It's different. I'm not so sure every running back could adapt to it, the way that the plays break and what to look at. Willis McGahee, a lot of people thought that he was done and cooked, this is the best year he's had in years, maybe since he left Buffalo. It certainly has worked for him.
"Now, I do think there's going to be a time when it catches up to them, when they're not going to be able to run the ball, but I haven't seen it yet. They were very effective against the Bears, Not all game long, but in a lot of key spots where they were a difficult team to defend. I think the Patriots will have their hands full this week."
The Patriots come in with a high-powered offense led by Tom Brady, but Baldinger cautioned not to sell the Denver defense short.
"The Pats haven't seen two pass-rushers like [Elvis] Dumervil and Von Miller yet," he said. "If you put Nate Solder or Matt Light on a short corner and think you can just spread this team out and go find [Rob] Gronkowski or match up Aaron Hernandez or put Wes Welker against a rookie corner in Quinton Carter or somebody and just think that Brady can just stand there and deliver the ball, you're also crazy as well. These guys off the edge, you've got to have a game plan for these guys. You've got to put a tight end over there, you've got to put a back over there to slow these guys down.
"Even Von Miller with the cast on his hand, from a broken thumb, was incredibly effective last week. And if you look at some of the quarterbacks they've faced, including the Green Bay Packers and mighty Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers required to have his elite mobility and movement to escape a lot of rushes. Brady doesn't have that. He's got to beat them with speed and decision-making, as we know, and with the accuracy of the ball. That will be tested.
"I'd be surprised if the Patriots take the ball on the first three series and march down the field and score three touchdowns and really take Tim Tebow and Denver out of their offense completely. I don't think it's going to be that easy."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On the struggling Patriots defense: "They went to a 4-3 and that didn't work. Now they're back to running some 3-4 but they can't keep linebackers healthy to run it and they don't have good edge pass-rushers. So, they just keep constantly changing right now trying to see who's healthy and putting the right defense on the field to make it work. Meanwhile, guys that looked like they were going to be a cornerstone for the defense for a long time like Devin McCourty, here he is in Week 14, he doesn't have an interception and he's getting beat repeatedly, because he doesn't know who back there helping him over the top from the safety position. Suddenly, he doesn't look like a lockdown corner anymore and a guy that you can build with.
"Injuries have played a part, changing the schemes have played a part. But the basic foundation is they don't have good safeties, which are hard to find in this league, and they don't have good pass-rushers. I don't care what scheme you put in or who's coaching it, you're going to break down at key points of any game."
On if the offense can carry the Patriots to the Super Bowl if the defense doesn't improve: "I don't think so. We saw it when we go back to 2007 with the Giants. If you're asking Tom Brady just to be Superman every single week -- you saw the frustration last week on the sidelines. You saw the frustration against the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo this year when he threw four interceptions. If he's got to be pinpoint throws all game long to put the score into the 30s and sometimes into he 40s to win, that's a lot of pressure on anybody. ...
"If your quarterback has to do it all and cover all of your flaws the way Peyton Manning had to do in Indianapolis, then I think eventually it catches up to you. Because every single step that you go in the food chain through the playoffs, you're running into a less and less flawed team, and your flaws get more and more exposed. That's what happened, in my mind, to the Patriots here in the playoffs over the last few years."
Daniel Jeremiah calls NFL Sunday to preview the NFL Draft and discuss what the New England Patriots will be looking to do starting Thursday night.
In hour 2 of NFL Sunday, we get more draft talk from Price and Dickerson. They discuss if the Pats will trade up or down at all or what they can get by staying put. Also, what does the RB position look like for New England? We hear from Daniel Jeremiah from the NFL Network and NFL.com and get his thoughts on the NFL draft and what the Patriots will do. Finally, the boys talk about the Greg Hardy situation in Dallas.
It's finally the week of the NFL Draft and the guys are psyched. They kick off the show discussing the release of the NFL schedule and how they expect the Pats to do against a relatively easy road for the Super Bowl champs. Greg and Chris talk about any difficult match-ups and if any teams in the AFC East can contend with the Patriots. Then the boys move on to the Draft and where the Pats may go. WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia joins the program to discuss his thoughts on the upcoming draft, the Pats needs and his ideas on why the Patriots may in fact trade up this season.
Greg Dickerson and John Tomase discuss the amazing season for the Celts and if they have any chance against Lebron and the Cleveland Cavs in a seven game series. If they do, HOW ... how do they get it done?
Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine joins the guys to talk about the Celtics playoff push, the development of Marcus Smart and James Young, and the prospect of Brad Stevens leaving the Celtics for a college job.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Joe and Lou Merloni talk with the hero of the night, Mookie Betts after the Red Sox come back to beat the Toronto Blue Jays in walk-off fashion in the first game of the series
Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox super utility man Brock Holt, who hit the game winning 3 run home run that propelled the Red Sox over the Baltimore Orioles, and played some stellar defense to seal the win.
Continued Red Sox talk on benching Victorino and the Red Sox pitching issues..and Sean's love for the band Poison.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
DJ, Naoko and Pete get into the huge week for the Bruins that saw the franchise move on from GM Peter Chiarelli. They discuss why that was done and if they agree. What does this mean for Claude? They talk about Claude and if he can exist here. If not, who would work in Boston? They also get into the NHL Draft Lottery last night and talk to ESPN Boston's Joey "National" McDonald live from Tampa, Florida.
Stephen A. expressed his thoughts on Tom Brady's White House snub and Floyd Mayweather's past.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys discussed Kevin Love and the Celtics.
The Celtics, unsurprisingly, were swept by the Cavs and Jackie helped the guys recap the season, and the crazy final game which saw some hard fouls as well as an ejection of JR Smith.
The guys dissect Bruce Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer on Friday night.
The Red Sox rotation has the worst ERA in the league. No one thought this team had a true Ace, but did we think it was going to be this bad?
Dale, Michael and Jerry discuss the struggling Red Sox, in particular the tattered shape of their starting and relief pitching.
Dale and Michael discuss the sweeping nature of the exit of the Celtics, and whether or not Kelly Olynyk made a dirty play when he injured Kevin Love's shoulder early in the final game.
We look into four injuries in pro and Boston sports where a debate erupted about whether or not there was an intent to injure on the play.
Mikey, Lenny, and Erin talk about the Sox 7-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Patriots Day and the Sox hold on first place in the AL East. Also, the Celtics trail the Cavs 1 Game to 0 in their 1st Round series and the 2015 Boston Marathon is in the books.
Mikey Adams, joined by Lenny Megliola and Chris Villani, talks about the Red Sox home opening win at Fenway and the Bruins fallout after missing the playoffs including the future of Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien.
Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season
Gerry, Kirk and Glenn discuss Bruce Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer and Chris Gasper's latest column.
Football fans and Fantasy Footballers know that there is NO Offseason in the NFL, so Jim and Pete are back with the first of a series of Fantasy Football Podcasts of the “NFL Draft variety.” Tune in and you’ll get an in depth analysis on Pete’s most first batch of scouting reports on this year’s crop of Rookie Targets. Jim and Pete kick it off with a lot of focus on a Runningback rich draft class, some of the top Wide Receiver talent and touch on the top Quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Enjoy!
Uncle Buck joins Chris on the show again to talk about Raw from 4/20, finishing maneuvers and gives a few classic match picks.
Stephen A. expressed his thoughts on Tom Brady's White House snub and Floyd Mayweather's past.More from this show
Gerry, Kirk and Glenn discuss Bruce Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer and Chris Gasper's latest column.More from this show
The Celtics, unsurprisingly, were swept by the Cavs and Jackie helped the guys recap the season, and the crazy final game which saw some hard fouls as well as an ejection of JR Smith.More from this show