Former Jet gives big game analysis
Super Bowl 50 couldn’t have two more similar teams. With both the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, you have two fundamentally sound teams led by top flight quarterbacks and smash-mouth defenses. To former NFL safety Erik Coleman, the two teams match up well on both sides of the ball.
“It seems each team has the answer at each matchup,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun game to watch.”
Coleman, a Mt. Sinai resident, spent four seasons with the New York Jets along with stints with the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions before retiring in 2012. He has worked as an analyst on SportsNet New York, along with spots on ESPN NewYork and Sirius radio. Coleman also handled color-commentary for the Stony Brook Seawolves in 2015.
Carolina signal-caller Cam Newton lost his top receiving threat in Kelvin Benjamin before the NFL season kicked off. So what did he do? Carve out an MVP-worthy season without a star receiver.
Newton’s opposing signal-caller, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, poses no threat with his feet, but his football acumen is what sets him apart from the 31 other starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
“He does a great job of preparing,” Coleman said. “He understands defenses like no one else. Peyton constantly puts the offense in the correct situation.”
Even with the Panthers’ linebacker Thomas Davis suffering a broken arm in the NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina’s defensive lineman poses a significant threat to Denver with Star Lotulelei and Charles Johnson. For the Broncos’ running tandem of C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman, establishing the run early is a need.
“It’s a tough matchup,” Coleman said. “I like Denver’s chances running the football if they can get out to a lead. You can’t run the ball if you’re losing.”
On the flip side, the Panthers’ offensive line has its own headaches to sort out leading up to Super Sunday with Denver linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller and Derek Wolfe.
“Ware is still playing at a high level after 11 years,” Coleman said. “The skill set of the Broncos’ defensive line makes it that you can’t double-team anyone.”
Coleman actually trained with Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart and tight end Greg Olsen in the offseason. The two have been integral parts in Carolina’s offensive schemes. With Stewart, Coleman sees a bell-cow back.
“He’s strong,” Coleman said. “The legs on him are like tree trunks. He does a great job of breaking tackles and moving the chains for the offense.”
On Olsen, Coleman said he’s “a great athlete.”
“He has great hands,” Coleman said of the tight end. “He does a good job keeping the defense honest in the middle of the field.”
The matchup of Panthers DB Josh Norman and Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas is poised for primetime. Thomas is a perennial Pro Bowler while Norman is arguably the best cover corner in the NFL. If Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders struggle, Manning could lean on tight end Owen Daniels.
“Norman matches up well against the Denver receivers,” Coleman said. “Daniels is still an explosive tight end. Yet Carolina’s pass rush is amazing so it’ll be interesting to watch that chess match.”
Denver’s secondary is anchored by Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. will have tough assignments in Carolina receivers Ted Ginn Jr., Jerricho Cotchery and Olsen. But Coleman feels that Denver has the edge.
But, with Von Miller telling Fox Sports after the AFC Championship, “I wanted to do it for Peyton,” the drive to get Manning a second Super Bowl ring in what could be his final game could be all the motivation Denver needs.