The Jaguars are a team rooted in dominance on defense, which is highlighted with a pass rush led by defensive end Calais Campbell and his 14.5 sacks. The Jags finished the year ranked second in sacks (55). After all, there’s a reason they’re called the “Sacksonville” on social media these days.
But what will it take to beat Tom Brady? We can look back to Miami’s stunning Monday night win over the Patriots late in the regular season to draw a few conclusions.
Creating intense pressure has been a way to beat Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the past. The Dolphins earned their victory in part, by pressuring Brady on 35.6 percent of his dropbacks, according to Pats Pulpit. In that game, Brady averaged only 5.4 yards per attempt, significantly lower than his overall season average of 7.9 yards.
New England’s offensive line is vulnerable to power up the middle. Miami sent extra rushers, frequently up the middle, to add to Ndamukong Suh and really pressured the middle of the Patriots offensive line, where Joe Thuney and David Andrews are susceptible to power rushes. This disrupted Brady’s ability to set himself to throw. Brady was forced to retreat to throw rather than step up in the pocket.
When Brady’s feet are planted, he’s nearly unstoppable. Miami kept making him move his feet and reset, which led to some of the uncharacteristic inaccuracy we saw throughout that game.
Jaguars’ biggest threat, All-Pro DL Calais Campbell hasn’t had a sack yet in January, but if anyone can take Brady down, it’s Campbell, and he will create a lot of “push” through the middle of the line.
That means pass rushers Yannick Ngakoue, a strip-sack artist, Dante Fowler Jr., Marcell Dareus and Malik Jackson could add to Brady’s discomfort in a similar way the Dolphins did.
Ngakoue led the NFL with six forced fumbles during the regular season to go along with 12 sacks, and could pose significant problems for the Patriots’ offense.
Yes, the Dolphins front seven and defensive coordinator Matt Burke laid out a blue print on exactly how to make Brady uncomfortable and ineffective. One that we’re sure, the Jaguars are at least studying, themselves.
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