Ravens Must Pressure Brady, Or He Will ‘Kill You’

The Patriots up-tempo offensive style makes it difficult to get to the quarterback.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Categories: Garrett Downing

Linebacker Jarret Johnson was short and to the point this week when asked about the importance of getting to New England quarterback Tom Brady.

“You have to pressure Brady,” Johnson said. “If you let him stand there, he is going to kill you.”

It’s that simple.

The Ravens are coming off a win over Houston where they didn’t sack quarterback T.J. Yates at all, and they recognize that will have to change to have success against New England.

Applying that pressure, however, is a challenge.

New England’s offensive line has given Brady time to throw this year, as the Patriots allowed 32 sacks during the regular season, tied for ninth fewest in the NFL.

But the Ravens’ defense (48 sacks) is one of the best in the league at getting to the quarterback and Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano has the task of drawing up a game plan with a variety of blitz packages that will make life tough on the future Hall of Fame quarterback

“You have to mix it up on him,” Pagano said. “It’s a combination, whether you’re sending four or five, zone pressure, man pressure, all out blitz.”

One of the difficulties with getting pressure on Brady is the kind of up-tempo style the Patriots use. They often work out of the no-huddle, keeping defenses from making personnel substitutions or even having time to get in the play call.

That leads to confusion on the defensive side, which a 12-year veteran like Brady is able to exploit.



Johnson On Facing Brady

“They do a great job with the tempo,” Pagano said. “They make it really hard for you to call a game because of the tempo, the fast pace, but at the same time you can’t sit there and say ‘okay, we’re just going to let him dictate to us.’”

The Ravens have to disrupt Brady’s timing, and sending blitzes can be a big part of that.

However, communication on blitz packages is even more important against the Patriots because defensive players don’t have much time to go over the play call, assess the formation or make adjustments.

“You have to communicate, everybody has got to be on the same page,” Pagano said. “You see people pressure him, and because of the pace and the tempo they work at, there’s a lot of confusion.

“You see guys blitzing that are supposed to be covering and you see guys running wide open down the field and he finds them. So if you are going to pressure him, everybody better be on the same page and you better know the call.”

The Patriots ran their fast-paced offense to near perfection in their 45-10 victory over the Broncos last week.

New England was able to “up-tempo” Denver, Pagano said, as Brady threw for 363 yards and a playoff-record six touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked once.

In the past, Baltimore has been able to pressure Brady and he has struggled in some of those contests. 

In Baltimore’s last three games against New England, the Ravens have sacked Brady three times in each contest. He has thrown four touchdowns compared to five interceptions.

The Patriots won two of those games – by a combined nine points – but Brady was far from perfect.

And for the Ravens to have success on Sunday, they’ll have to keep it that way.

“If he gets in a rhythm,” Pagano said, “and you don’t go after him and he’s got time, it will be like shooting fish in a barrel.”

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