Before the NFC championship game, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman wasn’t a household name among NFL fans.
But after that game, when officials didn’t throw a flag on Robey-Coleman for the pass interference and helmet-to-helmet hit he put on New Orleans Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis on the same play, well, he’s a little more well-known.
And now Robey-Coleman wants everyone else to know: he hates the New England Patriots, thinks Tom Brady’s age has made him vulnerable and that he knows “the art of war.”
‘I naturally hate them’
Wrapping up his sixth NFL season and second with Los Angeles, Robey-Coleman is profiled by Ty Dunne for Bleacher Report in a story that posted on Monday.
Undrafted out of Southern California in 2013, Robey-Coleman earned a spot on the Buffalo Bills’ 53-man roster as a rookie, playing in 16 games with two starts. He’d go on to play in all 64 games over four seasons with 15 starts as the Bills’ slot corner. But when Buffalo hired Sean McDermott two years ago, one of his first moves was cutting Robey-Coleman.
The Rams quickly grabbed the Florida native. But despite how things ended with Buffalo, he hasn’t forgotten where he got his start, and the feeling he got seeing the Patriots twice a season.
“I’ve got Buffalo blood running through my veins, so you know I hate these guys. I naturally hate them. I never liked New England,” he said.
Robey-Coleman cites the Patriots’ “arrogance,” like when they go for it on fourth-and-3 in the fourth quarter and leading 17-0.
“[Expletive] like that. Little [expletive] to look down upon a team,” Robey-Coleman said. “That’s what makes you not like New England.”
(For the record, the Patriots never had a 17-0 fourth-quarter lead on Buffalo while Robey-Coleman played there.)
‘Let them leak slow’
Robey-Coleman acknowledges that facing the Patriots means you have to prepare at a level you’ve not prepared at before. Then he turned a little violent.
Dunne writes that Robey-Coleman balled his right hand into a fist, like he was holding an imaginary knife and looking down at a foe, explaining how you have to behave against New England.
“Stick a dagger in them. They’re not a team that you want to play around with. Stick the dagger in them and don’t leave it in them! Take it out!,” he said. “And let them leak. Let them leak slow. Put the dagger in them, pull it out, and let them leak slow. Just kill ’em slowly. That’s how you do them.”
While criticizing New Orleans for complaining about the non-call, saying the Rams “out played,” “out-schemed” and “out-coached,” the Saints and that they need to hold themselves accountable for their miscues, Robey-Coleman asserts he can be the dagger that ends New England in Super Bowl LIII.
“Because I know the art of war,” he said. “I know when to sink my teeth in. And when it’s time to take advantage, when somebody’s on their heels … you’ve got to come at them. Stick the dagger in them. Leave no doubt. That’s all you’ve got to say. Leave no doubt. Don’t fear, don’t fear, don’t fear beating the giant. Don’t fear beating the GOAT. Don’t fear it. Embrace it. Embrace it. Take it in — while you’re doing it.”
‘Age has definitely taken a toll’
Robey-Coleman also had words for 41-year-old Brady, who is playing in his ninth Super Bowl. While the Patriots’ offensive line has been stellar this postseason — Brady has not been sacked in 180 offensive snaps and has completed 64-of-90 passes (71.1 percent) over two games — Robey-Coleman believes he and his defensive teammates can get to the QB.
“We have to stay connected,” he said. “And [Brady] will slowly start to reveal himself.”
Similarly, Robey-Coleman agreed with Dunne that there are signs Brady isn’t the same Brady.
“Yes. Yes. Age has definitely taken a toll. For him to still be doing it, that’s a great compliment for him. But I think that he’s definitely not the same quarterback he was. Movement. Speed. Velocity. Arm strength,” Robey-Coleman said. “He still can sling it, but he’s not slinging it as much. Whatever he was doing—because of his age and all that—he’s not doing as much of that anymore. He’s still doing the same things; he’s just not doing as much of it. And sometimes, it’s not the sharpest. But it still gets done.”
Fueled by loss
Going undrafted put a chip on Robey-Coleman’s shoulder, but he’s fueled in large part by loss: as a senior in high school, he lost his mother, Maxine Robey, to a massive heart attack, and just a couple of months ago, his premature son, Nickell Jr., died only five days after birth.
His fearlessness on the field, or in front of a reporter, stems from those tragedies; Robey-Coleman isn’t going to hold back now.
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