Patriots

Tom Brady familiar with Gus Bradley defenses, realizes Chargers are big test

Tom Brady familiar with Gus Bradley defenses, realizes Chargers are big test

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Tom Brady has seen this Chargers defense before. Sure, he saw it last season when he hit 68.1 percent of his passes for 333 yards and a touchdown. But he's seen it now several times over the years. 

Gus Bradley's fingerprints were on the Seattle defense in Super Bowl XLIX -- he'd moved on to coach the Jags by that point -- when Brady won his fourth Lombardi trophy. The Seattle defensive coordinator in 2014, Dan Quinn, later moved on to coach the Falcons and Brady saw a similar style of defense again in Super Bowl LI. Last year's AFC title game? Same deal. Bradley was the head coach in Jacksonville from 2013-16 and even though he wasn't on the sidelines for a shot to go to the Super Bowl last January, his defense had taken root and was on display. 

So this week should be deja vu all over again for Brady, no?

"Knowing part of the scheme is one thing," Brady told WEEI's "Mut and Callahan Show" Monday morning. "But they incorporate [different] players. And we played them last year, and we didn't play particularly well. 

"I think the challenge is it's a very fundamentally sound defense. They don't really give you any plays. They don't void any zones. The put pressure on you with a great rush. I think that's the challenging part. Any time they can rush with four guys and force the ball out quickly -- I mean, they're all reading the quarterback, they break on the ball, they get a lot of turnovers. Any sloppy play in the pass game results in turnovers. You hold the ball for an extra tick of a second and it's a strip sack by [Melvin] Ingram or [Joey] Bosa."

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Bosa and Ingram were the definition of disruptive against the Patriots last year. Ingram had nine hurries, including a hit that resulted from a vicious spin move on Joe Thuney. Bosa had a sack while working on Marcus Cannon and generated seven more pressures. 

That type of pressure combined with coverage from 2018 All-Pros Desmond King and Derwin James and 2017 All-Pro Casey Hayward . . . makes . . . life . . . difficult. Not because what they do is exotic. There are only two teams that blitz less often than them. They're just good.

"Coach Bradley’s defense is very disciplined," Bill Belichick said. "They do a great job of creating negative plays in the running game. They usually overload the box so they put one more guy in there than you can block. They’re fast. They’re very aggressive."

"I think this is one of those games we have to play on time," Brady told WEEI, "we have to stay ahead on down and distance. We have to have a great complementary game. It's gotta be well-balanced. It's a great test." 

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NFL odds: Patriots co-favorites to win Super Bowl 54 after schedule release

NFL odds: Patriots co-favorites to win Super Bowl 54 after schedule release

The 2019 NFL schedule is out, which means we know who, when and where the New England Patriots will play this season.

That also means it's prediction time, and oddsmakers began the process immediately Wednesday night by putting out updated odds to win Super Bowl LIV.

To the surprise of no one, the defending Super Bowl champions are favored to repeat at +600 odds. But they have company in the Kansas City Chiefs, the team they beat to reach Super Bowl LIII last season.

Here are Super Bowl LIV odds for every team, via Caesars Palace:

The Patriots will have to fill Rob Gronkowski's massive void and have some question marks at wide receiver. But Tom Brady and Bill Belichick still are experts at their respective crafts, and with a schedule that presents few pitfalls, New England should win the AFC East with ease to set up another deep playoff run.

Oh, and about the Patriots' competition... The three other AFC East teams all have odds of +6000 or longer to reach Super Bowl LIV, a reflection of just how weak this division is.

There might be a new contender elsewhere in the AFC, though: The Cleveland Browns boast the fifth-best Super Bowl odds in the NFL after acquiring big names like Odell Beckham Jr., Kareem Hunt, Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon this offseason.

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Tom E. Curran's week-by-week breakdown of 2019 Patriots schedule

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Tom E. Curran's week-by-week breakdown of 2019 Patriots schedule

For months, we've known which opponents the Patriots would face in 2019. But we had to wait until Wednesday to find out when every game would slot into their 16-game schedule.

The defending champions will open on Sunday, September 8 against the Steelers, and their schedule includes five primetime games.

But between the intriguing matchups, the most challenging games, and the games that are basically glorified bye weeks, Tom E. Curran takes a week-by-week look at what's ahead for New England in its Super Bowl defense.

Click here for Curran's take on the 2019 schedule.>>>>

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