How do you attempt to stop, or even slow down, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?
It’s not easy.
Brady has led the Patriots to three Super Bowl victories and five total Super Bowl appearances, making him the most accomplished quarterback in the league as far as team success. He’s as good as it gets in terms of current National Football League quarterbacks. Sure, Denver’s Peyton Manning is right there too. Choose your poison. Either one can be deadly to opposing defenses.
But when it comes to Brady (who has a 10-4 career record in games against the Colts), he can pick apart secondaries if given enough time. And that’s the key. When teams have had success against New England’s offense, it’s when they’ve been able to put enough pressure on Brady and get him out of his rhythm.
“We got to make sure we get after him because he is a talented quarterback, has been for a number of years in this league and we got to get him to move his feet just like everybody says,” Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said earlier this week.
The Patriots — much like Indianapolis — have battled injury issues along the offensive line. New England has allowed 40 sacks this year. That’s more than the Colts have allowed (32). And Manusky’s defense has come up with 42 sacks of its own as a team, led by outside linebacker Robert Mathis and his league-leading 19.5.
In recent games, New England has done a better job at protecting Brady as linemen have gotten healthier.
“[They’ve been] changing the guys around a bit sometimes, had a couple of miscues here and there from a protection standpoint. Pretty much the last couple weeks they’ve been trimming it up. They’ve been doing a good job of protecting the pocket and protecting him,” Manusky voiced.
In 12 previous games (regular-season and playoffs) against the Patriots, Mathis has registered five sacks and two forced fumbles.
A key in helping the Colts pass rush to be more effective will be good pass coverage down field. The more time it takes Brady to find an open receiver, the more time it will give the Indianapolis defense to get to the quarterback.
“They’re just great at executing everything, regardless of what they’re doing. They line up in a lot of different formations but they run the same type of plays and they’re extremely efficient at it,” inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman said. “Their execution is at a pretty all-time high.”
Safety Antoine Bethea, who has three career interceptions against Brady, knows that the Indianapolis defense will be severely tested.
“Still the same Tom, making those good throws, control of the offense and just continuing to be that elite quarterback,” Bethea said.
“Like we always say, we can’t beat ourselves. That’s the biggest thing during this time of the year, you lose, you go home. So we want to go out there and play our style of football, mistake-free football, penalty-free football and just be on your P’s and Q’s.”