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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is widely considered the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. He’s got the numbers, the wins and the Super Bowl rings to claim that title for a very long time.
The Kansas City Chiefs defense knows that they’ll have their hands full against Brady in Super Bowl LV on Sunday. They’ve faced him once before this season and several of them also played against him during his final season in New England last year. His veteran savvy makes him one of the most challenging quarterbacks in the game.
So what are guys like Frank Clark and Chris Jones keyed in on with Brady when it comes to this particular game? You’d think that it would be the quickness with which Brady gets the ball out of his hands or maybe his ability to read the defense pre-snap, but no. Instead, the Chiefs’ pass rushers are concentrated on his elite… shoulders? Yeah, that’s right.
“He’s got these shoulders,” A wide-eyed Clark said of Brady. “Have you ever seen Tom Brady’s shoulders when he’s in that pocket? Come on, man. Y’all have got to pull the film up for this one… because them shoulders be crazy sometimes. Like I don’t know. Tom Brady’s what, 43? I ain’t got nothing against nobody a 43-year-old, around that age range. But man, to be able to move his shoulders like that, playing in the league for 20-30 something years, for him to be able to move his shoulders like that still is quite amazing. Me and Chris Jones talk about it all the time. I think Chris (Jones) missed a sack because he shimmied them shoulders and started to run away. Like Chris completely missed him. He was like, ‘Man, I don’t know how I missed Tom Brady!'”
No one is going to mistake a 43-year-old Brady for Mike Vick when it comes to his elusiveness, but over the years he’s learned to navigate pressure in the pocket better than most. Part of the reason for his success, at least in the estimation of Clark and Jones, is due to his ability to dip his shoulders to get out of would-be sacks.
“Listen, Tom Brady doesn’t have the best feet, but those shoulders are ridiculous,” Jones said. “It’s hard to get to him because he moves his shoulders in ways— it’s like when you’re skating and your body is moving in different ways. He can move his shoulders like that and I actually got broken off by Tom Brady his last year at New England. I was going to make a sack and he dipped his right shoulder and got out of the sack. Tom Brady is slithery with those shoulders. He’s dangerous. That’s why it’s so hard to get to him. He don’t really take big hits, if he sees you coming he’ll go down. But if you don’t have a good hit on him, he’ll dip those shoulders like no other. He’s dangerous with those shoulders. He’s very dangerous, his pocket awareness is up there.”
I mean, if you can slip a 6-foot-6, 310-pound defensive tackle like Jones with a timely dip of the shoulders, you’ve got to be pretty good, right? And Clark, well, he likens Brady’s ability to that of an up-and-coming quarterback in the league who’s had to avoid constant pressure during his career.
“It’s like, nothing against him, but he’s not an escape artist,” Clark said of Brady. “Honestly, sometimes he’s just as good as Deshaun Watson, I think Watson’s the best, but you watch Tom Brady sometimes in that pocket and you can’t really tell the difference.”
When Brady drops back to pass on Sunday, the Chiefs’ duo of Clark and Jones will still pin their ears back, but they’ll be on the lookout for those shoulders so as not to fall victim to them again.