With Ndamukong Suh up next, Tom Brady isn’t afraid to take a hit
|08.24.11 at 6:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady remembers the first half last Thanksgiving in Detroit against then-super rookie Ndamukong Suh and the Lions.
The Lions made life tough on Brady, hurrying him several times, with Suh getting through for a sack (see below) on Brady’s first drive, as the Patriots offensive line was back on its heels. The Patriots trailed 17-10 at half before outscoring the Lions, 35-7, in the final two quarters to breeze to victory at Ford Field. Suh didn’t really bother Brady the rest of the game as he finished 21-of-27 for 341 yards, four TDs and a perfect rating of 158.3.
So this Saturday night is probably just the test Brady and the offensive line need to really see if they are close to game-ready for the regular season on Sept. 12.
“We played them last year, too, so we have a very good idea of the issues they present for the front, with the running backs included,” Brady said. “It’s a very talented group – a very talented front, especially pass rushing. They can get after the quarterback, so you’re not going to be standing back there holding onto it for too long – not that we do that very often anyway.”
Of course, it won’t just be Suh but Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams who can make life tough on Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Matt Light, Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.
“But especially a week like this where all those guys really feed off the sacks, the negative plays, their crowd really feeds into it – really what was evidenced by us in the first half of the game last year,” Brady added. “That’s always a concern when you play a team with a good front, so there’s a lot of thought that goes into play calling, and obviously me making quick decisions and getting rid of the ball.”
While not being sacked, Brady was hit several times in the legs, including twice near the knees in last Thursday’s 31-14 win at Tampa. He doesn’t want to get hurt of course, but getting hit, Brady said Wednesday, does serve a purpose.
“That’s part of the preseason process – to have guys sack you and knock you on the ground so your body can kind of callous to those hits. Hopefully not too much, but enough where you can — that’s actually a nice thing to have happen for a quarterback is to get hit you kind of settle into the game because everybody goes out there with some anxiety, some nerves. The offensive linemen, it gets knocked out of them pretty quick because they’re able to hit somebody right across from the line of scrimmage. For a quarterback, it’s nice sometimes to take a hit and you really settle into the game.”
As for the Patriots’ 2-0 record, the same as the Lions heading into this weekend? Don’t read that much into it.
“I don’t think we do,” Brady said of feeling overconfident after two very easy wins in the preseason. “Detroit was 4-0 a few preseasons ago and ended up being 0-16. I just read the Colts lost like eight straight preseason games and they seem to be…they’re a pretty good regular season, postseason team. So I think more of it is just there’s individual preparation that’s taking place. However good it looks, it’s not ever as good as it looks and however bad it looks, it’s never really as bad as it looks.
“I think you have to take those plays – I think when I’m out there, I’m trying to make sure that every play is a positive play. Whether you’re scoring, we’re out there to score points, that’s what we’re trying to do. But in a preseason game where you’re trying to work on some real individual things and then cumulatively as a team you see where you’re at. But individually I’d like to think that I can make more progress this week than I did last week. That comes from working at it in practice. Like I said, you create some awareness in practice by what you did in the previous week. So things that were issues for you in the game, you think about, you work on them and the next week you see if you made improvements.”
The biggest improvement for Brady and the offense from the start of camp to now is unquestionably the rhythm and timing of the personnel. It’s starting to click.
“You make a really conscious effort because you go through all of training camp and a lot of 7-on-7 drills where there’s no pass rush and you can kind of look to the right and look to the left, and ‘Yeah, okay where am I going to throw the ball now?’ and you throw it,” Brady said. “In the game, you don’t have a lot of time. Some plays, you think you may have time and a guy gets an edge on an offensive lineman and he’s at the quarterback. You’ve got to make a good, quick decision of ‘okay, what am I going to do now? You try to throw it away. You try to put it where only your guy can catch it.
“So, a lot of it is just getting used to the tempo of a real game. That’s why we play those preseason games. Really, when you start training camp, it’s the same way. You feel like everything is slow. You’re like, ‘God, I just can’t read things fast enough. I’m not getting the ball there fast enough.’ And I think over the course of the six weeks of training camp, preseason games, you really get into the flow of the game, so ‘OK, now I know the tempo. Now I really –’ Then you can actually bring that to practice the next week. Because we know from the previous game how you’re going to feel when you’re out there, boom, decision-making which is something I have been thinking about, it’s actually been a lot better the last few days, so we have to keep that going.”
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