Brandon Browner is the talk of the town after his showing against the Broncos on Sunday evening and he deserves the praise. Browner successfully limited the Broncos starting tight end Julius Thomas to just one catch while he was in coverage, with the touchdown catch for Thomas coming against Pat Chung. Tread into the praise with caution as Browner is much more likely to cause pain rather than pleasure.
Browner plays the game with a sort of edge. An edge that Bill Belichick doesn’t tend to gravitate towards. That edge is playing the defensive back position like a safety trying to undress the receiver – he plays rough. In today’s NFL, you just can’t do it anymore meaning with the fantastic plays, you’re going to get multiple flags.
In just three games of play, Brandon Browner has six penalties. Four of those penalties are of the defensive holding or illegal contact varieties and those are the ones that won’t lead to losses usually. However, Browner does have two pass interference calls, which are spot fouls and could really alter a game as he’s covering deep threats.
What the Patriots have Browner doing is actually pretty amazing. Browner is playing corner on wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, he’s also lining up as a safety and they even have him in a hybrid line backing role at times, which is something I told you all to keep an eye on back when Jerod Mayo went down. Browner’s edge also pumps this defense up and he’s embracing that leadership role:
“I’m just trying to be that attitude. I’m just trying to spark a flame in the guys by the way I play, because I know that goes a long way,” Browner said. “Just like when I’m on the sideline, and I watch Gronk make a big play and he spikes the ball, I feel that energy. I’m just trying to be that guy on the defensive side of the ball.”
What Patriots fans need to remember is that his play will help lead to wins and this defense needed some attitude. What fans also need to remember is his style of play could lead directly to a loss. It’s a reality check coming from the most sincere of places because the Patriots defense needs this guy. Patriots fans are a bit impatient, as if you couldn’t tell from this season, so let’s just be realistic.
Those six flags are most per game of any Patriots player and Browner’s effectiveness is based solely on how he wants to play. If he’s neutered by the sissification of the league towards wide receivers, then he isn’t going to produce the same as you saw against the Broncos. Patience, as was so key for the offense early this season, will be key in Browner as refs let them play rougher in the playoffs typically.
Browner has been as big of an addition to this season as Revis in a lot of ways because of how he matches up with players like Julius Thomas and Martellus Bennett and he will need to continue to be great against Coby Fleener, Brandon Pettigrew, etc.
This year’s schedule led to Belichick making the call to get better against some of the league’s top pass offenses and that preparation has paid off as the Patriots have won five straight and head into the bye week. Browner’s style will hurt sometimes, but it’s so worth it.