Why the LA Rams pass rush is key to containing Tom Brady’s passing

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams have never faced a quarterback like Tom Brady this year. But then again, Tom Brady has never faced a defense like that of the LA Rams so far this year either. Something has to give when they meet this weekend, the only question is, who?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have gotten a lot of offense this year because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line has allowed Brady to get all warm and cozy in the pocket. A cozy Brady is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL. So one secret is to make him… less cozy. Well, now the only trouble is, how to do that?

The LA Rams have enjoyed the sage veteran play of quarterback Matthew Stafford. He brings an element of seen-that-before to the pocket that the Rams offense has not enjoyed in recent years. A similar ‘boost’ in instant passer processing occurred when the Buccaneers added Brady to their roster a year ago. But he is not a demi-god of passing perfection. He can be fooled, thrown off his game, disrupted.

Disruption wins against Brady

The New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice in the regular season. In the same year, the Chicago Bears’ defense held him to under 20 points. The keys to those three losses? Brady was sacked three times in each of those losses. For the Saints, they were able to pick off Brady passes five times in two games.

Of course, the LA Rams defeated Brady in 2020 as well. And while the Rams only sacked Brady once, they did manage to pick off two passes. In a bit of cosmic irony, it was the 199th selection from the 2020 NFL Draft, Jordan Fuller, who intercepted the 199th selection from the 2000 NFL Draft, Tom Brady.

VI: Pissing off the passer

Tom Brady, like almost every successful NFL player, succeeds because he is able to diagnose what the defense is doing, or trying to do, and he counterpunches very effectively. But Brady is not infallible. He doesn’t like to be taken to the ground often. Who can blame him? At the ripe old age of 44, bumps and bruises ache for days, and he doesn’t bounce nearly as well at this stage of his NFL career as he once did.

This is not a McVay area of expertise. This one falls to LA Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, who still has plenty of ties to the Atlanta Falcons. Why mention that? The Falcons just played the Buccaneers. In fact, Raheem Morris’ Falcons faced Tom Brady twice in the last three games of the 2020 season.

While Morris wasn’t very effective against Brady with the Atlanta Falcons, they did manage to sack Brady four times and intercept him once. In both of those games, WR Antonio Brown was a huge weapon for the Buccaneers in those two games, putting up 231 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Brown is unlikely to suit up for the Buccaneers in Week 3, having tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

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While the Buccaneers are 2-0, the Atlanta Falcons defense did manage to get to Brady three times and bring him to the ground.  During that one, they closed to within three points of the Buccaneers, at 28-25.  The reason? The Falcons defense, despite not having a good reputation, was able to harass Brady enough to keep it close. In fact, it was a close game until Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan melted down and threw two pick-sixes to put the game well out of hand.

So how can the LA Rams bring down the Buccaneer beast known as Brady in the pocket?