Having spent four and half seasons with the Jets playing in the AFC East, Leonard Williams knows better than most other Giants how tough of task it is to beat Tom Brady.
While Williams was a member of Gang Green, the Brady-led New England Patriots went 9-1 against the Jets, with New York’s only win coming in a 26-20 overtime victory back in 2015.
So when Brady leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into MetLife Stadium for a Monday night matchup against Big Blue, Williams knows that the key is going to be getting pressure on the legendary QB, especially from the interior of the line.
“Every time I’ve played against Tom Brady, even back in my early career against him, he’s known for getting the ball out really quickly,” Williams said on Friday. “He’s also not a scrambling type of quarterback, he doesn’t want to roll out of the pocket and stuff like that. He can if you allow him, but he doesn’t want to run the ball. He wants to step up in the pocket, he wants a clear step up lane and he wants to get the ball out quickly. For a d-line, we want to get that middle presence, that middle push, and not allow him to step into his throws. Get him throwing off of his back foot and stuff like that. Just getting pressure in his face.
“I think anybody can get rattled. Any quarterback can get rattled if you’re affecting him enough. But he’s obviously been in this game long enough where he can get hit, he can get back up and keep playing. He’s obviously been doing it for a long time. But for our defense to be effective, that’s what we’re going to have to come in handy, is not allowing him to step up and hitting him as much as possible.”
Brady has gotten off to a tremendous start in Tampa, leading the Bucs to a 5-2 record as he’s thrown for 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions. But what’s made October’s NFC Offensive Player of the Month so lethal with his new team has been the talented cast of characters around him, including Mike Evans, the injured Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, Ronald Jones, and Rob Gronkowski among others.
Getting in Brady’s face will certainly be a key, as Williams said, but so too will slowing down the Tampa run game, highlighted by Jones, Leonard Fournette, and LeSean McCoy.
“On offense, they have a lot of great skilled players on that side of the ball and a lot of weapons for Tom Brady to go to,” Williams said. “Their running backs are really good as well. I think that’s our main emphasis, is stopping the run first. Then the leader of the offense is Tom Brady clearly, so we need to also be able to stop him once we stop the run, or affect him as much as possible.”