Since he took over the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback role early in the 2001 season, Tom Brady prioritized appearing in the Super Bowl as often as possible.
Brady has slain every dragon from Kurt Warner to Patrick Mahomes en route to winning seven Super Bowl rings in 10 appearances. ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio believes the three-time NFL MVP will need to deal with a different type of beast if he hopes to win another championship this season.
Mike Florio thinks Washington’s defense could keep Tom Brady out of Super Bowl 56
If you asked most football fans who or what stood in Brady’s way this coming season, you’d likely get many of the same answers. Perhaps it’d be Mahomes and the Kansas Chiefs Chiefs in a Super Bowl rematch, or it’s Aaron Rodgers playing for the Green Bay Packers and exacting revenge for last year’s NFC Championship Game.
Florio sees a much different roadblock in Brady’s way. During a recent appearance on Moose & Maggie on WFAN in New York, the NBC Sports analyst explained why he believes the Washington Football Team’s defense, led by reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young, could make Brady’s life miserable in the postseason.
“Tom Brady is a year older from last year, and he doesn’t move as well as he used to, and he gets rid of the ball very quickly when he feels the walls caving in. If they can bring heat on him — and we’ve seen it before: the Giants in a couple of Super Bowls, the heat [comes] up the middle; the Jets got him in the playoffs one time [with] heat up the middle — you don’t give him a chance to set up a throw. That’s how you beat Tom Brady, and I think Washington has the defense to do it.”Mike Florio
That sound you hear is Patriots fans clicking away after being reminded of Super Bowl 42 and Super Bowl 46.
Washington absolutely has the talent to make Brady’s life difficult
When Brady and the Buccaneers squared off in last season’s Wild Card Round, he completed 22 of his 40 passes for 318 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 31-23 victory. Fans of the New Orleans Saints, along with the Packers and Chiefs, will attest to what happened next.
But Washington remained in the game and kept it close in the second half despite former undrafted rookie Taylor Heinicke starting at quarterback. It helped that Washington’s defense sacked Brady three times and totaled seven quarterback hits.
Although all five of the Buccaneers’ starting offensive linemen are expected to return in 2021, they’d have to face a brilliant Washington pass-rush in any postseason game. Young is a bonafide star in the making and another defensive end, Montez Sweat, had nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss last year. Daron Payne, the young defensive tackle, had three sacks and forced three fumbles.
As Florio pointed out, Brady has historically struggled in big games when the opposing pass-rush breaks free. Just think back to when Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham strip-sacked Brady in Super Bowl 52. The Denver Broncos sacked the then-Patriots quarterback four times and recorded 17 QB hits in the 2015 AFC Championship Game. Brady and the Patriots lost both games.
If Young and Washington’s defense get the opportunity to face Brady in the 2021 NFL Playoffs, they’ll be ready to cause havoc. For the first time in years, Washington fans should actually have legitimate optimism about a deep playoff run, especially if the offense is capable enough.
Washington will get another crack at Brady in Week 10
Before Washington can even think about defeating Brady in the postseason, they’ll need to do it in the regular season first.
Washington hosts Tampa Bay on Sunday, November 14, in a Week 10 showdown. Given that Mahomes and the Chiefs play Derek Carr and the Raiders on Sunday Night Football later that day, the odds are currently against NBC picking up the Wild Card Round rematch and turning it into a primetime game.
Nonetheless, the Tampa Bay-Washington game will provide a necessary look at how Brady, who turns 44 in August, will handle one of the league’s top defenses. That matchup will become especially interesting if Brady is battling any more lingering injuries that neither he nor the Buccaneers choose to report.
If Washington does indeed win the NFC East, don’t be surprised to see the two square off two months later in the postseason. It’d be fitting if, once again, an NFC East team comes in the way of Brady’s pursuit for another ring.