Having lost 43–8 to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII and 26-20 to hem in overtime during this regular season, Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas knows as well as anyone just how unforgiving the Seahawks defense can be. He says he respects what they’re doing and what they’re capable of, but he thinks the Patriots will be able to sneak past the “Legion of Boom.”
Sure, Thomas has personally been smothered by Seattle, but he is picking the Patriots because of their exceptional ball protection and Tom Brady. Thomas, who is in Arizona on behalf of New Era Cap, the official on-field cap of the NFL, which will be hosting a Style Lounge on Friday and Saturday, is aware that one of the most intimidating things Richard Sherman and his crew did all season was limit the Broncos passing game. The Bronco’s wideout is, after all, one of the NFL’s best (and now one of its most desirable free agents.)
Thomas talked with MAXIM about his Super Bowl scouting report, playing with an ailing Peyton, and how he thinks he stacks up against the league’s best receivers.
The Seahawks have almost the same roster as they when they beat your Broncos in last year’s Super Bowl. What is your scouting report and do you think they’ll take the Patriots?
My personal scouting report is mainly you got to take care of the ball on offense. If you’re able to do that it’s gonna be a dogfight the whole game. When we went to Seattle this past year, we was able to take care of the ball. We eventually lost in overtime, but all I can say is they got a great defense. Everybody flies around with the ball. And their offense, they got Marshawn, Wilson and all those guys - they’re gonna get in the endzone eventually.
I think the main thing is taking care of the ball and not letting their defense score, getting the ball in short-field advantages. They will pick the ball and put points on the board.
The Seahawks strength is the aggressive defense, which, frankly, is not afraid to play a little dirty and take some penalties. What is it like preparing for the Seahawks defense and is it actually different when you have to step on to the field to play against it?
They line up on the defense so fast and get up the field and put so much pressure on the quarterback, when you’re preparing for them, you think you have time to do diffident things and go down the field on them, but you ain’t got much time, so you got to switch it up by the time the game gets going. I just remember being on the field with them. Them boys, they fly around everywhere. There’s five or six guys, like, every time somebody catches the ball. It’s a dog fight. They throwing their bodies, they’re throwing out big hits and everything. I thought it was gonna be totally different when I was preparing for them on film. Then I got on the field, I had to switch up some things because it was totally different. The game speed is fast, of course, but they just fly around. They go by, they shook ‘em, and they just try to have fun. That’s what the game is about.
Did you match up with Richard Sherman in last year’s Super Bowl?
We didn’t really match up because they don’t match up. That’s one thing they don’t really do. They keep their cornerbacks on each side. But, you know, I did go both sides and Richard Sherman is great at what he does. That’s why he’s one of the best in the game. I got respect for him. But we didn’t really match up.
You came across him a few times. Do you advice for whichever Patriots receiver he is going to cover?
You just got to be patient. You got to be patient; you got to be subtle with everything you do. You can’t try to rush nothing because he’s gonna wait. He’s long, he’s got an advantage and he’s got great ball speed. He played receiver in college. Hopefully they’ve been watching enough film and they’ve got an idea of what they’re gonna do because the Patriots ain’t really got a receiver with size. They got smaller, quicker guys. Ours are big. So I think with them, they’ve got to use their quickness against him.
What’s your prediction for a final score on Sunday? I can’t be the first person to ask you.
You aren't actually the first, but it wasn't about the score. It was ‘Who do you say is gonna win?’ and said the New England Patriots. I got the New England Patriots winning. I think they're gonna win the game. I don't really know what the score is, but if New England scored 28-plus points, I think they will win the game.
Why is it that you're picking the Patriots in general?
I think I know football, but if you have Brady come out, play good, you're gonna have Revis to match up, and New England don't turn the ball over much at all. And that's where Seattle builds off you. If you don't turn the ball over, you'll be fine against them. You'll have a chance. And New England is great with not turning over the ball. They actually get more turnovers. So, you know, I think whoever wins, the turnover margin will win the game. Whoever will be in tough, tough situations, and I think Tom Brady, you know, is great at it. He's been in it too many times and won a couple.
And do you care about this Deflategate thing?
I don't care at all about that. I don't think that helped. You know, they scored three touchdowns on the ground, running the ball. They won the game doing that. So it really don't matter. That don't bother me.
The Broncos went all-in on trying to win a Super Bowl the last two seasons, but now the team looks headed for a lot of changes, even if you do re-sign. New coach Gary Kubiak, probably significant changes to the offensive and maybe Peyton Manning retires. What are your thoughts on the team’s future?
Everybody knows it's a business and if I sign or if I don't, I don't know. I can't really say what's going on right now. I'm gonna let my agent handle that. But it's always - you know - teams always rebuild, and you never can say what will happen, you know? I ain't gonna say ‘We're gonna go out and win the Super Bowl,’ but you never can say. You might have a year nobody ever expected.
You know, I love the Broncos. That was my first home, and I hope it'll be my home forever. And I've just got respect for what they're doing. The guys upstairs ... you know, I let them handle what they've got to do, and I really can't say much on that.
You've played in a very interesting part of NFL history as a receiver for Peyton Manning at the end of his career. He’s one of the best quarterbacks ever, without a doubt, but like any great athlete, it can be challenging to see these guys struggle at the end. What has it been like for you personally to be part of both the greatest season he's never had and now, perhaps, a very difficult end of his career?
You know, it's been different. Ups and downs always come, and I pray for Peyton because I learned so much from him as a younger receiver, and I think he helped my game out big time. And people don't understand that working with him you get better off the field, and that's everybody around him. It's just, you gotta go out there and compete. But this year he had, it was one hell of a year, you know? We were out there having fun every week, you know?
I feel like he had a good year, it just didn't come out right. Little injuries bothered him. And I just hate to see, you know, a man coming off of surgery like he did, and being able to pick the numbers up. And people talk about what he can and can't do now. It’s hard to say, but I've got all the respect in the world for him. And if he did come back, you know, I'd be happy to have him, because every time I'm on the field with him, I try to get the ball in my hands.
You're heading into free agency as one of the most durable receivers in the NFL. You've played all 16 games for three consecutive seasons, and aside from your touchdown totals, this past season was the best of your career. Where do you think you rank with the best receivers in the NFL?
You know, I really don't get no ranking on it, but I think - I think - I'm a top receiver. You know, people say numbers don't lie. The numbers don't lie. I think I'm good at some stuff better than other guys, you know? I feel like I'm one of the best at yards after the catch, and not many guys can say that. I ain't gonna say I'm the best receiver in the game, but I think I'm in the caliber to say I'm a top receiver.