So maybe stopping Tom Brady is impossible without resorting to tactics used by Robert De Niro’s character in The Fan. Maybe this is more of a how to limit Tom Brady and beat the Patriots, but I’d argue it is nearly impossible to win a game against the Patriots without stopping Tom Brady at least a few times. This is the definitive how to guide on stopping Tom Brady. Okay, it isn’t definitive, but it is a guide and you didn’t write it.
Disguise the coverage
If Tom Brady knows the coverage, there is a good change he knows exactly how to exploit it. The Raiders need to completely change the way they disguise their coverages and force Brady to read and react to the coverage post snap. For the Raiders this also means more mixed coverages. Strict man-to-man will be hard to accomplish without Michael Huff and Chris Johnson who did not participate in practice on Thursday so the Raiders need to explore zone coverages in addition to man.
Blitzing good quarterbacks can be dangerous. The real good ones like Brady will just dump it into the hole the blitzer vacated or exploit single coverage on the outside. Organic pressure with the front four and the occasional zone blitz will have to get the job done. The Patriots boast and excellent offensive line, so Richard Seymour and his gang have their work cut out for them. The best quarterbacks will get the ball out quickly to mitigate the pressure so the Raiders will have to apply it quickly and from both sides.
Keep him off the field
No matter how great a player is he can’t hurt you if he isn’t on the field. The Raiders need long sustained drives and touchdowns early. The Raiders have been a quick strike offense in 2011 and won last week despite not converting a third down. No team would ever shy away from quick scoring, but drives that don’t result in a score still need to chew up clock. Not only will longer drives keep Brady off the field, but they will keep the defense fresh to deal with Brady when he is on the field.
Take Away Wes Welker
Tom Brady will find the open receiver and the is little doubt coverage on the Patriots receivers and tight ends will be important, but even Brady gets to third down occasionally and when he does he’ll look for Wes Welker. Welker will find soft spots in zone coverage and runs routes against man that give him all the separation Brady needs. Welker and Brady will slice through a defense nine yards at a time if you let them. Rough up Wes Welker at the line of scrimmage, drop defensive ends into coverage underneath and instruct the lineman to get their hands in the air to disrupt the underneath passes. Do this and maybe the Raiders young secondary has a chance.
So there you have it. Tom Brady stoppage in four simply stated yet massively complicated elements. In Tom Brady-like fashion he will now burn the Raiders without throwing to Welker and despite disguised coverage, pressure, and a low time of possession.