This dude had the gall to call out Richard Sherman as if he was, well, Richard Sherman.
“He’s just a normal guy,” San Diego receiver Keenan Allen told reporters of the cornerback Sherman, after the Chargers’ victory Sunday against the Seahawks. “We can go at him. We took some shots at him. We are not going to shy away from him. He’s not really a shutdown corner.”
Right away, this sounds like the trainer in “Rocky IV,” screaming in regards to Ivan Drago: “He’s not a machine! He’s a man, he’s a man!”
After Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers didn’t throw one Week 1 pass in Sherman’s direction, San Diego’s Philip Rivers, occasionally, put it in the air toward the hair. Now it’s Peyton Manning’s turn, and to me, the biggest theme heading into Broncos-Seahawks is tempo. Which team and players will set it? Who will play “not to lose?” As Allen said after the upset Sunday against the champs, “We definitely wanted to come out and show we could go any way we wanted to — and that we were in control of the game.”
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Tempo. The Broncos set it in the first half of the first two games.
Tempo. The Broncos couldn’t find it in the second halves, notably Sunday when Kansas City had the ball in the third quarter for, approximately, eight eons.
Tempo. Rivers attacked with his passing and San Diego disproportionately dominated the clock against Seattle.
Tempo. The Super Bowl was still winnable for Denver after Kam Chancellor’s famous hit on Demaryius Thomas, but the Broncos sure looked timid and a step slow against the tempestuous Seattle defensive players … who seemed to control the game as if they were an offense.
“We look at it as a new season, new year, new players,” Broncos receiver Andre Caldwell said Monday. “So that’s in the past.”
Perhaps. But those are a lot of the same fellows out there for Seattle, notably No. 25. This is not a regular regular-season game. This is a mind game. The Seahawks were in Denver’s head on Super Sunday. We’ll find out if they’re still there this Sunday.
Asked if Denver is better equipped to beat Seattle this go-round, Thomas said, “I think so. We’re 2-0, I think we’re fine.”
After the Chargers’ Sunday victory, Allen might have been speaking in the language of adrenaline. I watched the Seahawks-Chargers game Monday, and Sherman didn’t always look like “a normal guy.” Yes, Allen broke away from Sherman’s blanketing wrath a few times, notably on a second-quarter quick inside slant, which kept an eventual touchdown drive alive. But Sherman’s mere presence altered plays. Such as, on San Diego’s fourth third down of an early drive — with the Chargers 3 for 3 on thirds thus far — Rivers clearly looked for Allen, but saw Sherman hovering, and Rivers took a sack. According to Pro Football Focus, Sherman was thrown at six total times, allowing only 54 total yards. So Richard Sherman is suddenly not Sherman Hemsley.
But here’s the good news. The vaunted Seattle secondary looked vulnerable, notably defending a tight end. And Julius Thomas, with four touchdowns already, is the Demaryius Thomas of tight ends. Even Seahawks superfan Sir Mix-A-Lot, a connoisseur of a different type of tight ends, can’t deny. Against the Seahawks, the aging Antonio Gates hauled in three touchdown passes for San Diego. The tight end beat the safety Chancellor one-on-one for his first score, and he jetted past a linebacker for the next two, both times with Chancellor diving into the play too late.
Denver must set the tempo, thwacking Seattle’s defense in a Chancellor fashion, early and often. And it appears, Manning won’t pull an Aaron Rodgers against Sherman.
“He’s a great player but he doesn’t affect our game plan. I think he doesn’t change anything that we do,” Caldwell said. “He’s a good player. A lot of people talk bad about him. … I got a lot of respect for him, but I know we’re definitely not scared of him on this side of the ball.”