Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has prepared to face Tom Brady before. Eight times, to be exact.
His efforts have been enough for a win twice, occurring in Super Bowl XLII as the New York Giants' defensive coordinator and in the 2019 regular season with the Chiefs.
Now that Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Spagnuolo said preparation hasn't been any different.
“I still see the same guy,” Spagnuolo told reporters on Friday. “Now, you got to understand the lens I’m looking through is always looking at how good they are, even if somebody makes a mistake or has a bad down. I mean, I’m washing that right out because we prepare against the player that is going to be at his best.”
Brady is coming off a 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, where he threw two interceptions and two touchdowns while completing 54% of his passes.
He accounted for 216 yards and connected with six different receivers for an average of 8.5 yards per attempt. Antonio Brown, the Buccaneers’ newest wide receiver, led the box score with 57 receiving yards.
“Everybody is kind of working through the kinks,” Spagnuolo said of the Buccaneers’ offense. “I still see an extremely good football player that we need to worry about.”
Brady has not completed a pass of 20 or more yards in his last four games, going 0-19 downfield.
Opponents have sacked Brady seven times during that same four-game stretch.
Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor said the Chiefs’ interior pass rush is the key to keeping Brady from hurting Kansas City.
“You got to get pressure in the middle of the pocket, I think the whole NFL knows that,” Okafor said. "Tom Brady is the GOAT. He’s the best quarterback that has ever played this game and the only way to affect him is push through the middle.”
Even if the Chiefs prevent the long-ball, Brady is fifth in the league in passing yards and touchdowns this season, accounting for 2,955 yards and 25 touchdowns.
The combination of his output and his legacy gives Spagnuolo plenty of reasons to expect a full-strength Brady when the two teams face off on Sunday.
“I hope he is not at his best on Sunday,” Spagnuolo said. “When this particular individual is at his best, we all know what he can do and what he can be.”