- O.K., you can stop laughing now. What follows is advice from players and coaches who’ve been to battle with the Patriots and have a few things to say about surviving Tom Brady, Bill Belichick & Co.
Against New England’s Offense . . .
•• ERIC WEDDLE, Ravens FS
Look at the times Brady has had not-so-stellar games—those have been when he’s hit. Mix up your coverages, be confident, be able to match up when you play man or combo coverages. If you don’t have the guys to do that, it’ll be a long day.
•• KAWANN SHORT, Panthers DT
You’ve got to rattle Tom. Hit him every play; get that man out of his comfort zone. He’s dangerous in the pocket; get him running. The defensive tackle, along with the defensive end, we have to stay outside and rush the pocket. And the guys inside have to get the pocket moving.
•• STEVE MCLENDON, Jets DT
Anytime you get a chance, hit him. Put your body on him. Be physical.
•• OLIVIER VERNON, Giants DE
Then get your hands up and pray he misses his target.
•• LORENZO ALEXANDER, Bills LB
Give him multiple looks. Make things look the same, but they’re really different—and then make things look different, but they’re really the same. Throw him off, make him check to [some scheme] you’d rather be playing against.
•• DENNIS THURMAN, Former Jets and Bills DC
The thing they do better than anybody: They get in an empty set and [Brady] sees which matchup he likes. It’s like schoolyard ball: That guy can’t guard that guy; I’m going to throw him the ball. Every call you have on D, you have to have an empty adjustment for that, or they will destroy you.... If you have a look Brady thinks he knows, and it’s not what he thought, you may make him pump the ball—and now maybe you have a chance to get some pressure on him.
•• TERRELL SUGGS, Ravens OLB
You have to cut the head off the snake—number 12—because he’s not going to make a mistake. You can’t play him like a normal QB. If you’re looking at him, your guy is probably scoring. Keep your eyes on your luggage—your man—and be fundamentally sound.
Against New England’s Defense . . .
•• ELI MANNING, Giants QB
You have to be very patient. They might give you the flats or check-downs—you have to be willing to take those all day. Take the completions and just move four, five, six yards at a time.
•• ERIC DECKER, Titans WR
They don’t give up a lot of big shots. They say, ‘You’ve got to beat us.’ That’s when you need all 11 guys to function as one, to drive the field, to sustain. If you can hold on to the ball and get first downs, you’re taking time away from their offense. That’s a way to beat them.
•• RICHIE INCOGNITO, Bills G
I don’t want to say they’re vanilla, but what they do on tape is what you’re going to get in the game. They’re not going to come out with some exotic blitz, like [Vikings coach] Mike Zimmer.... And they’re going to test your weakest player constantly.
•• BRANDON LAFELL, Bengals WR
Bill [Belichick] is going to find your strengths and take those away. Your No. 3 receiver had better be on his A game—you’re going to have to beat them with him.
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