LA plans to pres­sure Brady

Bosa, In­gram could spend af­ter­noon in back­field

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By JOE REEDY

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Charg­ers de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Gus Bradley might be feel­ing the most pres­sure go­ing into Sun­day’s AFC di­vi­sional-round game at New Eng­land.

Bradley’s game plan of us­ing seven de­fen­sive backs to neu­tral­ize Bal­ti­more quar­ter­back Lamar Jack­son re­sulted in a 23-17 win. His chal­lenge this week is com­ing up with the right strategy to con­tain Pa­tri­ots QB and five-time Su­per Bowl cham­pion Tom Brady.

Bradley isn’t tip­ping his hand about us­ing seven DBs for a sec­ond straight week, say­ing each op­po­nent is dif­fer­ent.

“I learned through Larry Coyer when I was in Tampa about the im­por­tance of per­son­nel place­ment,” Bradley said on Thurs­day. “We talk about per­son­nel place­ment ev­ery week. I think for that game, that was more of a de­ci­sion we made for that game and ev­ery week is dif­fer­ent.”

Brady said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call Wed­nes­day that the Charg­ers us­ing seven de­fen­sive backs on all but one of the 59 snaps did sur­prise him and that it could present some dif­fi­cult matchup prob­lems if they used it again Sun­day.

“It’s unique. They play tough against the run, but also have the speed and quick­ness to play against the pass,” Brady said.

“They get home quickly. The quar­ter­back is al­ways un­der pres­sure be­cause they have a pass rush. The sec­ondary knows you can’t hold on to the ball for­ever and they jump routes.”

In last year’s Week 8 game — which the Pa­tri­ots won 21-13 — the Charg­ers played dime (six de­fen­sive backs) on 53 of 82 plays. Brady threw for 333 yards and a touch­down, but the thing for him that stuck out about that game was that New Eng­land made four trips to the red zone and had just one TD and three field goals.

“They’re good at ev­ery level. They use a lot of de­fen­sive backs at dif­fer­ent times and that cre­ates a lot of prob­lems,” Brady said. “They chal­lenge you in ev­ery way. Be­tween coach­ing and scheme, it is a great de­fense.”

The Charg­ers’ phi­los­o­phy of get­ting as much pres­sure as pos­si­ble will not change this week. They did a great job of that last week against Jack­son, record­ing seven sacks despite rush­ing five or more only four times in 59 plays.

Ac­cord­ing to Spor­tradar, the Charg­ers blitzed on only 17.7 per­cent of plays, which was third-fewest in the league. In last year’s game, they did rush five or more on 10 plays and sacked Brady three times.

De­fen­sive end Joey Bosa has 6 ½ sacks in seven games since re­turn­ing from a foot in­jury, while Melvin In­gram had a pair of sacks and a fum­ble re­cov­ery.

“Our de­fen­sive line has to put pres­sure on him. He’s not very mo­bile, but he does step up into the pocket and throw,” cor­ner­back Des­mond King said. “We have to bring pres­sure up the mid­dle and play good de­fense in the back end.”

Brady is av­er­ag­ing 2.61 sec­onds to throw ac­cord­ing to the league’s Next Gen stats. He will be the third-quick­est QB they have faced this sea­son, as Oak­land’s Derek Carr and Pitts­burgh’s Ben Roeth­lis­berger av­er­aged 2.55 sec­onds. The Charg­ers sacked Carr in two games and got to Roeth­lis­berger once.

Brady presents much of the same chal­lenges as Roeth­lis­berger in ex­tend­ing plays and read­ing cov­er­ages.

“The way he han­dles the of­fense, he’s been in that style of of­fense for many years, so they’re on the same page,” Bradley said of Brady and the Pa­tri­ots. “Their of­fense op­er­ates with pre­ci­sion, and they’re all on the same page. As you watch it, you can see it all come to­gether for them.”

Be­sides get­ting pres­sure on Brady, an­other fo­cus will be on tak­ing the run­ning backs out of the pass­ing game. Pa­tri­ots run­ning backs were tar­geted a league-high 157 times, while the Charg­ers al­lowed 7.0 yards per pass at­tempt to run­ning backs, which was eighth-worst in the NFL.

The best matchup might be Pa­tri­ots tight end Rob Gronkowski against Charg­ers safety Der­win James. Los An­ge­les goes into the game al­low­ing only 6.3 yards per pass at­tempt against tight ends, which was sec­ond in the league.

“We have to play sound foot­ball and cor­rect mis­takes. We have to take a look at the notepad be­tween plays and see what win­dows of op­por­tu­nity he had and close them up,” de­fen­sive tackle Damion Square said. “You can’t try to be over­whelm­ing and get out of place or Tom will find out. Ev­ery­one has a job to do.”

Photo by Louri­ann Mardo-Zayat / lmzart­works.com

Tom Brady and the Pa­tri­ots host the Charg­ers to­day at 1 p.m.

Photo by Louri­ann Mardo-Zayat / lmzart­works.com

If Tom Brady, pic­tured, and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots are to reach an eight con­sec­u­tive AFC Cham­pi­onship game then they are go­ing to have to slow down Joey Bosa, Melvin In­gram and the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers’ vaunted pass rush.

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