ESPN AFC East Blog:
For two months, Tom Brady has been more difficult to decipher than hieroglyphics. ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer claims to possess the Rosetta Stone. And he's about to share it with us and the New York Jets, whom Brady and the New England Patriots shredded 45-3 barely five weeks ago. "So how do you stop Tom Brady?" Dilfer posed. "Very simple: Understand his starting point. "Dilfer goes on to say teams should "Make him go to No. 2 and No. 3" and "Slow him down." Well gee, Trent, thanks for that one. How do you stop him? You stop him. Well no shit Sherlock. In case you haven't noticed, Trent, let me recap the Patriots offense, post-Moss: Consistently inconsistent. Since Randy Moss was traded, six different receivers have led the Patriots in receiving yards, including a slot receiver less than a year removed from major knee surgery, a 5'7" tailback who was cut by the Jets, two rookie tight ends and a career kick-returner. My point is that you can't pinpoint and "take away" Brady's first option because he doesn't have one. Brady doesn't even know who his first option is. Brady's No. 1 target is the guy you can't cover: the guy who is open. Why? Because Brady is the best there is, yes even better than the almighty Peyton Manning, at finding the open guy. Peyton can get away with throwing to covered receivers because he is so talented he can literally "throw receivers open." (I mean that in the real sense of the term, not the over-used ESPN usage of the term, used every time some scrub QB on a 6-6 WAC team throws a touchdown pass in the Let's All Swap Blood Samples Until We All Contract AIDS To Raise AIDS Awareness Bowl). But he's not as good as Brady at going through each receiver to find the open guy. My point is, you can't "force" Brady go to No. 2 and No. 3 when he's just as likely to throw to No. 4 and No. 5 as he is to throw to No. 1.
The formula for beating Brady actually is fairly simple: get pressure on him with a 3- or 4-man rush. This enables you drop 7 or 8 into coverage, making it difficult for his receivers to get open. However, you have to find a way to get pressure with only a 3- or 4-man rush. If you don't get pressure, his receivers will get open -- even against Darrelle Revis. How do you get pressure with the 3- or 4-man rush? That's the million dollar question. I don't think Trent Dilfer has the answer.