Texans feel they can stop Brady
The Texans will face the NFL’s top-scoring offense on Sunday in an AFC divisional showdown, and that offense is of course led by quarterback Tom Brady who will be playing in his 23rd playoff game, including five Super Bowl appearances and three Super Bowl rings.
“He’s been at the top of his game for many years, not just this year,” head coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’s a tremendous player, Hall of Fame football player. He’s got his group in the right play, you know what I mean? He gets rid of the ball extremely quick, which can frustrate a defense from that standpoint.”
“Their quarterback is one of the all-time best,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “He’s got to be in the top five of all time for sure. They’re scoring more points than everybody else, and he’s behind a lot of it, although, they have a really good running game also. You can’t put enough accolades on the guy. And how many games has the guy won? It’s amazing. His record has to be unbelievable.”
Indeed it is – 152-45 in fact, including 16-6 in the postseason. With a win on Sunday, Brady will pass his idol Joe Montana as the winningest quarterback in NFL playoff history.
“I guess I'm aware of it,” Brady said earlier this week. “ I've been fortunate to play with some many great players and great teams. Football is a team game. I've been fortunate to play here and have the opportunity. There's no place I'd rather be.”
Even though Brady torched the Texans for 296 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 42-14 win at home on December 10th, they feel they can stop Brady this time around.
“You’ve got to put some hits on him,” nose tackle Shaun Cody said. “We realized that watching a few of the games after our game. I think the Niners did a good job of getting some pressure on him. Jacksonville got back there, so we definitely are going to try to get back there.”
“When it comes down to it, you’ve got to win your one-on-one battles,” defensive end Antonio Smith said. “That’s it, even when you’re running blitzes. If nobody beats nobody and they called a good protection, he can just sit back and throw the ball. It just comes down to one-on-one battles even though you’re blitzing, you still have got to beat a guy.
“We’ve got to make the plays that are out there for us to make, but you’ve got a better chance to win if you put more heat on Brady. I think the more hats you can get on him, which they don’t ever let you put too many hard hats on him, but whenever you can, it gets all quarterbacks a little bit rattled. Some falter and some stand tall and I’ve seen him stand tall in the past so he’s a great quarterback in that aspect, but still when you hit a quarterback he’s going to know you’re coming. He’s going to look for you the next time.”
Even if the Texans can pressure Brady like the hope to, they know how well he plays under pressure.
“It’s just because he’s better than the other quarterbacks,” linebacker Connor Barwin said. “That’s all. It’s not too complicated. He makes the right decisions. He knows where his guys are at all times. Those quarterbacks have to decide and throw the ball quick and he usually makes the right decision.”
“There’s no simple answer on him, obviously,” Phillips said. “He’s great against the three-man rush, a four-man rush, a five-man rush and even blitz coverage. We played a lot of zone against him last time and he did a good job against that. You have to put pressure on him somehow, but you’d like to be able to do it with a four-man rush and play man or zone, but the reason you can’t do it is he’s so good and he’s got such great receivers.”
Those Patriots receivers lead a versatile offensive group.
“I think that they have a unique system where I think it’s sort of like Peyton Manning where I think it is Tom Brady’s offense,” linebacker Barrett Ruud said. “I think he’s been around long enough where it’s the plays he wants to run, it’s the concepts he likes. And what they do differently than anybody is they have a lot of versatile players. They’ll have a tight end playing wide receiver one play. They’ll have a receiver in the backfield. They’ll have a tight end playing fullback. So they take advantage of having versatile players and it creates matchup problems on defense. And if you let that fool you before the snap, you can really get out of whack. That’s the biggest thing when you’re playing him is he knows his offense better than anybody. You just have to make sure you get lined up and do your job. You can’t over think things and don’t make it harder than it already is.”
The Texans and Patriots kick off at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Gillette Stadium at New England.