Patriots: Let’s see how Tom Brady does with an unreliable defense behind him vs Packers
By Jerry Trotta
It’ll be interesting to see how former Patriots QB Tom Brady fares with an unreliable defense behind him on Sunday.
With all seemingly quiet on the New England Patriots’ front of late, all eyes have turned to quarterback Tom Brady and his quest to capture a seventh world championship in his first season away from his former team.
While Brady has certainly defied the odds making it this far, he and the Buccaneers will have their work cut out for them on Sunday against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who’ve won seven consecutive games dating back to the regular season.
It goes without saying that this will be Brady’s stiffest challenge of the season, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares with an unreliable defense in a game of this magnitude. After all, he’s notorious for getting off to slow starts in these sort of contests, and the Patriots’ defense always managed to bail him out before he started cooking.
Nobody would deny that the Bucs’ defense is littered with elite talent. From bruising linebacking duo Lavonte David and Devin White, to their stout defensive line — which will welcome Vita Vea back after he was activated off injured reserve this week — there is no shortage of playmakers.
As consistent as their front seven is, however, their secondary is an unpredictable as any in the NFL, and Brady diehards should be concerned that the game’s outcome will be contingent on their ability (or lack thereof) to slow down Rodgers, who performed at an MVP-caliber level all season.
With that in mind, the pressure will be on Brady to get the offense in a groove early. If he isn’t able to do so and Rodgers continues his blistering form, this game could get out of hand in the first half.
Not to mention that if the Packers establish an early lead, they’ll have no problem letting running back Aaron Jones chew clock and carry them to victory.
Though beating the Saints was no small feat, Drew Brees’ inability to push the pigskin beyond the numbers made it easy for the Buccaneers’ defense to prevent chunk plays. When all was said and done, he averaged a puke-worthy 3.94 yards per pass attempt and tossed three interceptions.
That won’t be the case with Rodgers, who finished 23-of-36 (63.8%) for 296 yards and two touchdowns to zero interceptions in the Divisional Round, averaging 8.2 yards per attempt along the way. Keep in mind that came against the Rams’ stifling defense, which conceded the fewest points (296) and first downs (280) of any team in the league during the regular season.
We hate to turn up the heat on Brady, but if the Bucs’ defense digs them an early hole, we’re just not sure he has enough juice left in his 43-year-old arm to lead a comeback. For his sake, we hope he remembers that he doesn’t have Bill Belichick on his side brainstorming a defensive game plan to hinder Rodgers and the Pack.