When Steelers safety Ryan Clark said this week that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ducks and flinches when he feels pressure, it caused a stir among those who saw Clark as calling Brady out. One of Brady’s teammates, however, says that there’s some truth in Clark’s comments — and that’s a reflection of the intelligence Brady brings to the game.
Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi discussed the matter with Clark today on ESPN’s NFL Live, and Bruschi said that when Clark describes Brady as shying away from contact, what he is actually describing is a smart quarterback who knows that as the most important player on the team, he can’t take unnecessary hits.
“He says ‘seeing ghosts,’ I say ‘protecting the franchise,'” Bruschi said. “Quarterbacks must think differently than safeties or linebackers.”
Bruschi said that when he was on the Patriots’ defense and was watching Brady from the sideline, he would be yelling for Brady to avoid contact in exactly the way Clark described.
“Tom has that clock, he feels it,” Bruschi said of Brady’s ability to feel pressure coming. “If you’re on that sideline you want him to go down.”
Clark took Bruschi’s comments as validation of his own critique of Brady.
“What I said was the truth, and Tedy just kind of agreed with me but gave you the reason why it’s OK,” Clark said. “When he’s in the pocket, he’s ducking. He’s looking. He wants to get out of the way. He doesn’t want to be hurt.”
Bruschi told Clark that after the Patriots lost Brady in Week One of the 2008 season and had to go with Matt Cassel the rest of the year, the Patriots knew that Brady had to protect himself going forward. In the same way, Bruschi said, Clark would want Ben Roethlisberger to go down and protect himself rather than getting knocked out of a game and relying on Charlie Batch to replace him.
“I would rather play with Tom Brady than with Matt Cassel,” he said. “Just like I think you would rather have Roethlisberger than Batch.”
If what Brady does is “duck” and “flinch” under pressure, then Patriots fans would gladly take Brady ducking and flinching for 16 games a season for several more years.