The Eagles Have to Throw Press Man Coverage at Tom Brady

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

We didn’t really preview the Eagles/Bucs game on Sunday. It wasn’t planned that way; it was just one of those busy weeks where a lot was going on. Jim Gardner signed off from the 11 p.m. news on WPVI. Carson Wentz talk permeated the feed, etc.

But allow me to bring a tweet thread to your attention. This guy Jonny Page does some stuff for Bleeding Green and his All-22 clips are very good. He went back to the Bucs/Saints game from a few weeks ago, which the Saints won 9-0, and focused on what New Orleans did well:

Press man really is the way to go against Tom Brady, especially with a couple of replacement receivers coming in for Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown.

It’s an interesting thought exercise, because you often hear people say that you have to make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket. You have to generate pressure with the front four and try to move him and get up in his face. But more often than not, Brady is getting the ball out so quickly that guys like Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave don’t even have time to get there.

So instead of disrupting Brady, why not disrupt his receivers? That’s what New Orleans is doing in the clip above. When Brady completes his three-step drop, look at how tight the NOLA defenders are:

There’s nowhere to go with the ball because the Saints players were very disruptive and physical at the line of scrimmage. They walked Malcolm Jenkins into the box to handle Rob Gronkowski, and matched Marshon Lattimore to Mike Evans. Cameron Jordan had a good game and that front four was able to generate pressure to complement the jamming at the line.

That’s the key for Sunday. You know the Eagles sat in that soft cover 2 early in the season, and they still open games in relatively conservative fashion before making the necessary adjustments. Brady’s the kind of guy who will devour those kinds of looks, which you can see in his seasonal spray chart here, courtesy of NFL NextGen Stats:

He’s not just eclipsing league averages in that 0-10 yard range; he’s obliterating them. Those passer ratings are astronomical, and if you sit off of him and let him get the ball out quickly, he’s just gonna chew you up with dink and dunk shit all the way down the field.

That’s exactly what happened the first time these teams played, and Brady did this:

If you add up passes behind the line of scrimmage and 0-10 yards down the field, Brady was 29-30 for a touchdown against the Eagles. Pretty crazy when you write it out that way. He only missed one pass in those combind ranges.

So it’s pretty obvious what the Eagles have to do on Sunday. Get up in these receivers’ faces, make it difficult for them to get off the line of scrimmage, and then hope your front four can get to Brady on the back of that disruption.

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