FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Another week, another pair of talented pass rushers for quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots to confront.
This week, Brady and his teammates on offense will be trying to negate the formidable pass-rushing abilities of Redskins linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo when New England visits Washington for Sunday’s game. The Pats fared well last Sunday in limiting the effectiveness of the Indianapolis Colts’ premier pass-rushing duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, but they’ll have to be on their toes again this week for another dynamic duo.
Kerrigan, a 6-foot-4, 267-pound rookie from Purdue, has 6.5 sacks and Orakpo, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound two-year veteran who starred at Texas, has 6.
“They’re good, very good,” Brady said on Wednesday during his weekly meeting with the media. “They’re good rushing the quarterback, and they’re good in coverage. It seems like every week we’re talking about good pass rushers, guys who can collapse the pocket, strip sack, and even if they’re not sacking the quarterback, they’re forcing the ball out [of the QB’s hands] quickly."
Facing those types of defensive players can cause a quarterback problems.
“You have to get rid of the ball quickly when you’re playing against good pass rushers,” Brady said. “You don’t have a lot of time to just sit back there and make decisions. If you’re playing those guys, you have to throw quick, use screens, draws and traps because if you let those guys tee off [and rush the passer], it’s hard.”
That could lead to more passes to the running backs, but the Patriots have not been using their backs as targets as often this season. Danny Woodhead has the most catches out of the backfield, with only 14. Next on the list are BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk, with 6 apiece. Wes Welker (93), Rob Gronkowski (65) and Aaron Hernandez (54) have been Brady’s main targets.
“The [backs] haven’t caught as many balls,” agreed Brady. “There have not been as many opportunities. It’s not like they’re not going out for passes, or that I say I’m not going to throw to running backs. I’m just trying to find the open guy.”