By: Jake Mackey
There has always been one simple formula to slowing down Tom Brady. Pressure him up the middle or from the edge and he will be off all day. Due to his uncanny ability to get rid of the football so quickly, it is much easier said than done.
However, you can go back to just about any postseason loss by the Patriots over the last seventeen years and find that the vast majority of the time the number one reason why they lost that game was because Brady was walking on eggshells in the pocket. Teams such as the Giants, Jets, Ravens, and Broncos have been able to do it and others like the Pittsburgh’s of the world have failed miserably.
Going into this upcoming season the biggest storyline across the National Football League is who can stop the Patriots? Who has the defense to get Brady off his game and also be able to score. In the NFC the Giants with their highly talented defense and weapons on offense have the tools to do it, but you never know if Eli is going to be at a ten or a two on game day. The Packers have the fire power to get into a shootout but certainly do not have the defense or the brains on the coaching front.
The one team in the AFC that can really get to Tom Brady on defense, that has the coaching, and most importantly is not intimidated by the awe of Gillette Stadium, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft and his Death Star like planes wielding five Lombardi Trophy’s, is the Houston Texans. This is not the Gary Kubiak lead team that came into Foxborough on Monday Night Football in 2012 wearing letterman jackets only to then lose 42-14.
They are lead by a group of former Patriots coaches and players, (you know the names by now, I don’t need to list them) who have played this Patriots group multiple times in the past two years. Twice it did not look like a contest. However, when it mattered most in the divisional round of the playoffs last January, they showed up when not one person thought they would. They got to Tom Brady and forced him into to turnovers and were in it with the eventual Super Bowl champions for three quarters. If the, “Brock Star” had any skills as a quarterback they would have been in it until the end.
While you cannot read into preseason games as to how a team will fair in the regular season, joint practices are another situation because starters are getting more reps and the competition level is most likely higher. Houston, according to those who cover the Patriots apparently were once again making life tough for Tom Brady’s offense. Now I am not saying that the Texans are going to end the Patriots season or even beat them in week three at Gillette Stadium. However, they are not afraid of the Patriots and that is how any team that has ever had sustained success against Brady and the hoodie got their start. If Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson can just be sufficient quarterbacks, they will be a thorn in the side of the Patriots.