Klee: Gamesmanship alive and well for Broncos vs. Patriots

By Paul Klee Updated: January 15, 2014 at 9:10 pm • Published: January 15, 2014 | 8:40 pm 0

DENVER — Hey, Marquice Cole. Dig the hair. Wish I had that much.

Anyway, welcome to Colorado, sir. Trust me, you'll take our weather over New England's every day, twice on NFL Sundays. Say, quick question:

What were you doing when the Broncos offered a roster spot five days before the AFC championship game against your old team, the Patriots?

"I was watching cartoons," he said Wednesday. "SpongeBob, with my son."

What did Marquice Jr. say about the move? (He's 6.)

"Why are you going to wear all that orange?"

Let the debriefing begin. Gamesmanship is alive and well in the NFL playoffs.

Bulldog cornerback Chris Harris tore an ACL Sunday. He's out. So the Broncos signed another cornerback. It just so happens the new cornerback played on defense or special teams in 13 games this season for the Patriots.

Cole was cut in Week 17. His son's favorite players are Patriots Devin McCourty and Chandler Jones. Dad left a handful of his belongings in his locker in Foxboro.

"Dev (McCourty) said he's going to take my headphones," Cole said.

So it's fair to say Mr. Cole knows a thing or two about the inner workings of the Patriots.

Truth is, I doubt Cole is on the active roster Sunday at Sports Authority Field. Yes, the Broncos defense is decimated by injuries. Their injury situation is equal to that of the Patriots; that's just not the popular narrative. But there are still five cornerbacks on the roster more familiar with their scheme than a free agent signed Jan. 14.

Before the Colts played the Pats last week in the playoffs, the Colts signed ex-Patriot wide receiver Deion Branch. He was inactive for the game.

I also doubt Cole can share the sort of deep, dark secrets that will bring down the Patriots. If the Broncos are hinging their trip to the Super Bowl on inside information learned from a reserve cornerback, book your tee times and fishing trips for next week.

That's no way to beat Tom Brady and the Dark Lord of Foxboro.

"I'm definitely going to talk to (Peyton Manning). He's the quarterback of the team," Cole said. "But as far as him picking my brain, he's one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league. There's nothing, really, I could tell him that he doesn't already know."

Why sign an ex-Patriot?

Better question: Why not?

There's an open roster spot. Why not search for an edge to win the game?

If foul weather allows a golfer to clean and place the ball, rub the Titleist until it's new. Wear sunglasses during the poker game. If the opponent pockets a scratch on the billiards table, place the cue ball in a prime position to close him out.

In the grand NFL tradition of cutting corners to find an edge, signing a free agent with intimate knowledge of an opponent's playbook is child's play. It's not like Cole is filming an opponent's practices or circumventing the salary cap. The Pats and Broncos know.

"I played with (Cole) a couple of years there in New England. He's a smart guy, a tough guy, does a great job on special teams and things like that," Wes Welker said.

This move is quite Patriot of the Broncos.

In a hallway at Dove Valley on Wednesday, the newest Bronco met the oldest Bronco and exchanged pleasantries.

"That's literally what he said: 'Hi, how you doing. I'm Peyton Manning. Nice to have you, Marquice,'" Cole said.

"That's the extent of it so far. No telling where it would go, but that's the starting point," Manning added.

To reach the end point, the Broncos are doing their homework. Only a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII earns an 'A.'

Game on.

-

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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