Jets Expose Shell-Shocked Brady

In some circles, pressure on the quarterback is considered as important as a sack.  Pressure is the mechanism by which the defense forces the action and the pace of the game.  The defense can compel the QB to release the ball before he wants to…before he can set his feet; before receivers have a chance to complete their routes.  This Sunday, the New York Jets put on an exhibition demonstrating the finer points of QB pressure.

The Rise and Fall of an Icon

The Rise and Fall of an Icon

NFL Network analyst and former All Pro lineman Warren Sapp, in describing a highlight of Bart Scott running unimpeded at Brady said, “That’s almost like a duck and chuck.  He didn’t want to stand in there…and that’s not Tom Brady.”

Mike Martz, former head coach of the Rams, followed up with: “He’s just a little bit panicky in the pocket at times…and he’s a little timid with his footwork right now.”

Check the link to the NFL Network.

After the game, Jets players added:

Asked if the Jets succeeded in making Brady uncomfortable in the pocket, linebacker Bart Scott(notes) said with a straight face: “I don’t know. You¹d have to ask him. Maybe he likes people around his feet or people hitting him in the chest, or throwing people in front of him to the ground. Some people might not be uncomfortable in that situation.”

Defensive end Shaun Ellis(notes), who returned from a one-game suspension, was not as coy. He said he saw confusion in Brady’s eyes. “He was trying to figure out where everyone was coming from. We had him throwing off his back foot a lot.”

From an earlier post, here,  on September 1:

Tom Brady looks a bit skittish to me.  Rust and timing?  Maybe it’s that in his last two games, he was injured on a blitz by Pollard and harassed within an inch of his life by the Giants.  Doesn’t pressure make all QB’s somewhat less than awesome?  I know it might sound crazy, but he seems like he is more willing to let the ball go a quarter-second early.  He seems less willing to take that big hit — even though he just took a big hit from Albert Haynesworth.  In watching the first half vs. the Washington Redskins, I thought Brady did most of his damage with a clean pocket.  I also thought he did a very good job of getting rid of the ball BEFORE pressure came (until Albert put his weight on him).  I don’t know if Patriots fans would agree, but the ball seems to come out a bit quicker than usual.  He’s still accurate.  He can still throw the deep ball with touch and accuracy.  He still has total command of the offense and is likely to rack up some big numbers, but the real test for this team won’t come until they face elite defenses like Pittsburgh, San Diego (with Merriman), Indianapolis (with Bob Sanders) and others.  By the way, I think the Patriots have enough weapons (including Fred Taylor) to approximate what they did in 2007.  Look out.

If I saw it during a pre-season game, and Mike Martz and Warren Sapp are talking about it after WEEK 2, you’ve got to know that every defensive player on the Patriots’ schedule is salivating at an opportunity to play Brady BEFORE this gets fixed.  Carson Palmer hasn’t been the same since getting hit in the legs by Kimo Von Oelhoffen.  The Bengals, of course, have fallen farther than these Patriots are likely to drop, but things happen. 

Who knows!  It may never get fixed.  Sometimes a player gets hit in his Achilles heel and remains hesitant to jump back into the fray.  Brady’s life beyond football has been so much a topic of conversation that one can’t help wondering if the uphill climb to a 4th ring (without Bruschi, Harrison, Vrabel, Seymour, Weis, Crennel, Dillon, Vinatieri and so many others) is more appealing that crawling into bed with his family. 

The fans in New England are waiting for an answer, but you can believe that the Atlanta Falcons with Jonathan Abraham, Mike Peterson and company could care less.  They’re coming hard and they’ll be there all day.   Brady has earned the right to do as he pleases on the field – still, there is work to be done.  If Tom Brady is to restore his name and legacy, Week 3 would be a nice start to get started.  Time is running out and this won’t be any easier in 2010.

4 comments

  1. Great piece (as usual)…..

    This will be an interesting game for NE sunday vs. the Falcons. I say that because as good as the Falcons’ defense has looked in their past two games, their secondary is still suspect. I attribute that to the fact that in their last two games, they’ve played against two QBs who can’t throw the ball downfield(Chad Pennington and Jake Delhomme). We all know that Tom Brady can….and Randy Moss can go and get it. The key will be whether or not Brady has time. If Wes Welker plays, he will undoubtedly take some of the pressure off of Brady with those quick outs. On the flip side of that, if John Abraham and company start piling up the hits on Brady, it could get real ugly. The Falcons are a team that doesn’t blitz a whole lot. They usually depend on their front 4 to apply pressure. But something tells me that strategy will change this Sunday. 🙂

  2. I don’t want to oversell the Falcons because I can’t say I’m buying what their defense is selling. I wrote yesterday about the injury to rookie DT Peria Jerry. I think that’s arguably the most significant injury of the season. The Bears replacement for the undersized Brian Urlacher is Hunter Havermayer. Hunter can ball and always could. People outside of Chicago have never heard the name, but he can play. Polamalu is not gone for the season. Jerry, though, was perfect for this team. I don’t know that they have an adequate #2 to fill the void. We’re going to find out early on Sunday. If ATL can’t collapse the pocket and pressure the middle without blitzing, I suspect they’ll lose.

    OR, they’ll do as you suggested and change their approach.

  3. Agreed. Perry was playing some good football before the injury. The Falcons’ O-Line haven’t play this good since…..1998? 🙂

  4. In his last three full games, Brady has thrown 48, 53, and 47 passes. The Pats are 1-2, and required a minor miracle to win the one game. They haven’t had a dominant running back since Dillon left. They went 16-0 in ’07, but the Eagles really laid out the blueprint for beating this pass heavy offense. They almost won in NE with A.J. Feely. The Giants and Jets have simply hammered it home.

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