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."


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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Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

The New England Patriots added even more depth to an elite group of cornerbacks Sunday by acquiring Michael Jackson in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

Jackson, who's listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. The Detroit Lions signed him off the Cowboys practice squad last season and he played in one game for the NFC North team.

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Here's an updated look at the Patriots' cornerback depth chart with Jackson in the fold:

--Stephon Gilmore
--Jason McCourty
--J.C. Jackson
--Jonathan Jones
--Joejuan Williams
--Michael Jackson
--Myles Bryant
--D’Angelo Ross

It should be noted that Justin Bethel is listed at cornerback, but most of his snaps come on special teams. 

A strong case could be made that cornerback is the deepest position on the Patriots roster. The group is led by Stephon Gilmore, who became the first Patriot ever to win the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. Gilmore is the league's best cornerback and has earned first team All-Pro selections in back-to-back seasons. 

He's not the only talented cornerback in the Patriots secondary, though. 

J.C. Jackson excelled in coverage last season, too, especially on passes beyond 20 yards. In fact, Jackson had the lowest passer rating allowed when targeted of all cornerbacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.

One of the most intriguing players in the Patriots secondary is second-year cornerback Joejuan Williams. He was a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2019 but saw limited playing time as a rookie.

The depth of the Patriots defense has been hit hard in recent months due to free agent departures and veterans opting out of the 2020 season amid concerns over COVID-19. One position that has remained largely intact is cornerback, and barring any significant injuries, it could be the team's most productive position this coming season.

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

The New England Patriots have added another cornerback to their depth chart.

On Sunday, they announced they've acquired Michael Jackson from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick.

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Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (158th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys out of Miami. He started his rookie season on Dallas' practice squad before being signed by Detroit.

The 23-year-old played in only one game last season for the Lions.

Jackson joins a Patriots cornerback group that currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, D'Angelo Ross, Justin Bethel, and Myles Bryant.