Former Patriots star and current radio color commentator Gino Cappelletti talked with PFW's Kevin Fishbain about Saturday's playoff game vs. Denver.
PFW: Have you ever seen anything captivate audiences the way Tim Tebow has?
Cappelletti: I can't recall seeing anyone close to that, even. He has backed it up to a degree with his popularity. He had a great college career, but a lot of people thought he was above and beyond some of his college opponents. He is a big stud, he runs the football, which you can do in college, and you normally can't do that in the pros. Denver was 1-4 when they put him in, and look at his record. You have to start to believe that he's got some things that work. The players look to him, and I'm sure a few of them had doubts at one time. There's also the question of his type of quarterbacking being accepted by the pro football league. All these things are starting to be answered. I think he is for real. I think he will give you 110 percent all the time.
PFW: As a defense, how do you stop him?
Cappelletti: You try to take away his running to the left, and then you try to keep him in the pocket. Force him to come up in the middle. To me, he likes to bail out to one side or the other, preferably to his left. I would just say containment, good edge rush and a good push up the middle to try and condense that pocket — keep him in there. He's the type of quarterback that doesn't throw the ball as quick as a Tom Brady or other quarterbacks, and because of that, he's going to maybe get lost inside in that pocket.
PFW: What does having ILB Brandon Spikes and S Patrick Chung back do for the defense?
Cappelletti: With what they've been able to study, as well, those guys are starters and had been getting the most minutes, so you'd like to have those guys on the field as much as possible. I think bringing them back in maintains that continuity that you look for in the linebacking corps, just like the offensive line. Those things make you more sound. Having those guys ready to play is big.
PFW: Rookie RB Stevan Ridley has emerged as a top back late in the season. What have been your impressions of him thus far?
Cappelletti: His stature and size are not that big, but he is a very interesting running back. He has great balance, as do BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, (but) I think he stands out a little bit more in that department. With that you start shaking tacklers that way, and a tackler thinks he's got you, they squirm right out of their grasps, which is key. He's also got speed — Ridley turns the corner and he can fly down the sideline. He will probably take over most of the running.
PFW: How much do you think the recent playoff losses are on the minds of the players?
Cappelletti: A little more than should be on their mind. Once you get into the playoffs, it's one-and-done. That seems to have happened in those two games here at home. The Giants game at the Super Bowl was something else, but losing those two first games (to the Ravens and Jets, respectively), believe me, it's on their mind. They need to make sure they make amends to that, and hopefully they don't have to come from behind again. I think there will be a strong emphasis on moving on those first couple possessions and making sure to get some points up on that board. Then they'll be able to do some of the things they want to do. When you get caught in playoffs behind, you start doing things in desperation, and that's not a good thing. The Patriots have been able to keep their poise, and I really admire their last two games against Buffalo and Miami. Miami had them 17-0. Buffalo had them 21-0. They didn't panic — you could see it — and they stayed calm and cool and showed poise and went on to win.