In an ongoing series, FPC Raiders delves into the possible playoff matchup between the Patriots and the Oakland Raiders. Today, we look into the Patriots’ signalcaller, Tom Brady. More specifically, how the Raiders can give Brady a playoff defeats before the Super Bowl.
At 40 years old, Brady appears to live somewhere the fountain of youth. Over the last two years, Brady’s 60 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 8000-plus yards passing signify little to no deteriorating of skills. If the Raiders hoped to catch an old Brady in the postseason, they are mistaken.
As mentioned, later in a career filled with wear and tear, a quarterback should begin to fade. Passes start to lack the same zip and begin to sail. Yet, Brady’s completed two-thirds of his passes in the last two seasons. In addition, his yards per attempt hover around eight yards, a half-yard improvement from his career average. Under those circumstances, Brady evolved into a more aggressive vertical passer. Granted, throwing to Randy Moss in ’07 looked easy. Yet, now, armed with a different cast of weapons, Brady still appears rather focused on the big play. While not blessed with cannon, Brady does possess the arm talent to make every throw.
Plan of Attack
- Pass Rush Depth. If you watch Super Bowl 52, the Philadelphia Eagles taught a master class in dealing with Brady. First, send waves of depth at him. If the Raiders do not sub in and generate pressure, Brady’s pacing and knack for nuance will beat them. Along with Mack and Irvin, Key, Carradine, Brown, etc must cycle in and out of the game. Teams that stay with a tight rotation will catch a beatdown.
- Perimeter Speed. Now, Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon occupy the starting tackle spots. While both possess immense size, their lack of lateral movement could force Brady into shuffling either direction. If Mack and Irvin can continuously win these battles early, that will slow the tackles down and make Brady a sitting duck.
- The Mission. During the Norton era, the Raiders could not derail or slow down any opposing tight end. However, under Paul Guenther, the Raiders must succeed where previous DCs failed. Gronkowski is Brady’s favorite mismatch. With that in mind, who covers him? Granted, Karl Joseph brings physicality. However, his lack of size makes him a liability here. In all honesty, the logical choices seem Nicholas Morrow and Obi Melifonwu. With Morrow, you have a smaller linebacker than can stay stride for stride with Gronk. Meanwhile, Obi can use his angular frame and speed to shadow Gronk.
In reality, Brady does not appear to age. Therefore, Oakland needs to stay scheme disciplined and do not go overboard in defending Brady.