ESPN.com's John Clayton says that even though Tom Brady is a sure first-ballot Hall of famer, he isn't the feared quarterback he used to be. Clayton says that opponents with the ability to rush the quarterback -- including the Giants -- are confident they can get in Brady's head and disrupt his game.
In his story "How Vulnerable is Tom Brady?," Clayton writes:
"I think it starts with hitting him,'" Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "Even when you don't actually get sacks, just keeping people around him so he can't step up. I think he gets a little frustrated when he has to go to his second or third receivers. You can kind of confuse him sometimes with our coverage. I thought there are a lot of things that can get him rattled, but it just seems like not too many people are able to do that.'"
The Detroit Lions exposed Brady's vulnerabilities in the preseason. Other teams sprinkled in successful defensive schemes that affected him at times during the season. The concept that appeared to work best was using enough man coverage on the pass-catcher to disrupt timing and separation and then augment that with getting defenders around Brady's feet.
The Giants possess three great pass-rushing defensive ends -- Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul -- and thus have the type of defense that could disrupt Brady in Super Bowl XLVI. Those three ends have combined for 30.5 of the Giants' 48 sacks and pose big problems for the Patriots' offensive line. At times, the Giants attack with four defensive ends.
"We have to be aware that they're all in there for the speed,'' Patriots guard Logan Mankins said. "The line has to know what's coming and what they can do with those four guys and just be up to the speed of the game that they're going to bring in there.''
Like most quarterbacks, Brady likes a clean pocket. He has a slide step that allows him to buy extra time to release a pass, but if the step isn't there, he tends to rush throws and get frustrated. He'll get in the faces of his blockers if things don't go right.
The Giants got to him in their last Super Bowl meeting.
"We had a lot of hits on him,'' Tuck said. "Even when we didn't hit him, he didn't have the time to sit back there and allow some of the routes to develop. We know that as a D-line, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure that we are in his face. He is a hell of a quarterback, and he is going to do a lot of things to throw us off our rhythm. I really expect them to use their screen game, quick throws, to kind of get us out of our game early.''
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