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I Could Listen to Ernie Adams Describe How He Got Inside Peyton Manning's Head Until the Sun Goes Nova

With the Patriots in the middle of a massive rebuild, I don't want to be accused of living on past glory. Wait. Strike that. For now, I don't care if that's what anyone says. Truth is a defense against libel. This rebuild is going to take a while. And even though I'm here for the process no matter how long it takes, there's no logical reason not to bask in the warm, nostalgic waters of a great Dynastic run. 

Fortunately in that regard, we don't have to just rely on slanted, biased, bizarrely negative docuseries to bring us the fond memories. We also get to hear from the men who lived them. Who built the Dynasty with their vision, their braun and their brains. This week, that means International Man of Mystery Ernie Adams guesting on Julian Edelman's podcast. It's almost three hours long, so I won't bother to embed the video. But it's here if you're looking for something to but on your car's Bluetooth for a long commute or whatever. 

Among the highlights though, are Ernie explaining how he and Bill Belichick met and how bad they were as offensive linemen:

Plus they take a deep dive into Super Bowl XXXVI:

And a great discussion around the times Edelman was pressed into defensive duty that gives you some insight into the basics of how the Patriots taught pass coverage:

But to me the real money shots of the discussion start around the 1:03:30 mark, when Adams explains how they shut down some of the most prolific offenses in the history of football. Specifically, he offers up a bit of trivia I hadn't ever put together, but plan on using to win bar bets for the foreseeable future. And it is how three times in the postseason they shut down offenses that had scored over 500 points that season: The 2001 Rams, the 2004 Colts and the 2018 Rams. He then drills down into how they beat those Colts teams in 2003 and '04. This time in particular:

And how years later he got to sip the sweet, sweet nectar of Peyton Manning's frustration:

Boston.com - “Part of that was I knew in the middle of November it was going to come down to us against the Colts,” Adams recalled. He would scout the Colts each day even as New England prepared for other games.

“It didn’t matter if we playing the Jets in a regular season game, I made a point of spending an hour a day at least studying the Colts,” he said. …

“The thing was, everybody was trying to play them in cover-3, and cover-1, and they killed them running up the seams,” Adams explained. “It was a slaughter. So I said, ‘We can’t do this. We need to go in and play cover-4. We cannot get chewed up in the seams.'”

He was emphatic about the Patriots’ need to commit to an unorthodox approach.

“Romeo Crennel, our defensive coordinator who is one of my favorite people, said, ‘OK, when do you want to play cover-3?’

“Never, not against this team,” Adams recalled telling him. “Just don’t do it. They will kill you.” …

Manning confirmed it years later during an episode of the “Manningcast.”

“This is maybe two years ago, I’m watching a Monday night game on the simulcast with Eli and Peyton Manning, and somebody’s playing cover-4 and Peyton goes, ‘Yeah, cover-4, I don’t really like my in-cuts and my seams against that.

“I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Yes! That’s why we played it against you!’ It made my day.”

There's just so much to love about this. First of all, it's another revelation about something that remained a secret to anyone outside the Patriots meeting rooms about what exactly Ernie's role was. When he and Belichick were in Cleveland, Art Modell used to walk around saying he had a check in his pocket for $10,000, and he was ready to give it to anyone who could answer the question, "What does Ernie Adams do?" And here's your answer. Or at least a tiny sliver of what he did. Romeo Crennel was the best defensive coordinator in the game. His 2003 team had allowed the fewest points in the league, with three shutouts and just one (garbage time) touchdown allowed over a span of six home games. Yet when it came to the idea of completely scrapping what they normally did at Ernie's suggestion, Crennel deferred to this eccentric, shadowy genius. 

It's also great to get to get to hear Adams relive these things after spending decades in the background. He's like a retired military leader, recounting the great strategies that won a war. And Edelman is a guy who served under him, grateful to hear about the tactics that defeated the enemy hordes. Even in the battles that were fought before he was (literally) drafted. 

If I can ask for anything beyond a 2:47 conversation between these two, it would be for more Ernie Adams. I don't know if at 71 years of age he's up for it. But I'd listen to this man's podcast on a weekly basis. He's got enough tales to tell to give him material for hundreds of episodes. And Patriots fans alone would be enough to make him the No. 1 sports podcast in the English speaking world. Make it so. And the name for such a show would be the biggest no brainer in the history of the medium. 

Good talk, gents. Keep them coming.