In the postseason, success against quarterback Tom Brady happens when defenses can hit Tom Brady, cleanly and legally and sufficiently to get him looking at the pass rush instead of his receivers.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald knows this concept applies to all quarterbacks. And that it particularly applies to Brady.
“You do that with any quarterback,” Donald told reporters on Thursday regarding the concept of getting pressure on Brady. “You can affect them and get them a little rattled. When you’re playing against a guy like Tom Brady, that’s a must to have success. I think it’s going to be important for us as a defensive line, as a unit that’s actually up there rushing and going against him as far as trying to affect him any way we can. We got to be great at that.”
Indeed they do. Donald elaborated on that concept in a conversation with NBC’s Mike Tirico, the video of which is attached to this post.
In recent years, Brady has reacted to early and consistent pressure not simply by watching the rush more than he should but by getting rid of the football before he gets hit, sometimes recklessly. That happened on multiple occasions in last year’s NFC Championship, opening the door for a potential comeback win by the Packers, after they fell into a 28-10 hole.
The Buccaneers also need to hope they can run the ball against the Rams. That will take some of the steam out of the L.A. pass rush. However, this could be difficult to accomplish if center Ryan Jensen and/or tackle Tristen Wirfs can’t play due to injury. Both are game-time decisions.