2017 South Side Questions: How Will Defense Pressure Tom Brady?

The regular season is now over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the playoffs as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to playoff success, in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: How will the Steelers get pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?

It’s not exactly a secret that if you don’t get pressure on Tom Brady on defense, then you’re going to have a bad day. Perhaps better than anybody else who has ever played the game, Brady is a quarterback who can pick apart a defense all day as long as he is able to just stand in the pocket and read the coverage and find the open targets. Plus, he can hit all the throws, on top of that.

But get a little bit of pressure in his face, and, at least at times, he can be like a completely different quarterback. He is not a very mobile player at all and is not built for operating on the fly or flushing out of the pocket. This isn’t exactly a secret, but it’s awfully difficult to actually get him in those uncomfortable positions.

The Patriots rely upon a short passing game, primarily, which has been especially the case since Rob Gronkowski was lost for the season, so that means quick-release rhythm passing, and it’s very difficult to get a rusher home in time to disrupt those sorts of throws.

But if you can get just enough to get Brady to shift his release point, it can have an effect. Even Jarvis Jones has had some solid pass-rushing games against Patriots left tackle Nate Solder. You would hope that James Harrison would be able to have similar success, and he does have a sack or more in each of the first two preseason games.

Of course, whenever this topic comes up, the answer always shifts toward interior pressure, since it’s the quickest way to get into the backfield. But the Steelers don’t seem to have really gotten a lot of interior pressure lately, and that could be a concern.

It would not surprise me to see a lot of inside linebacker blitzes peppering the A Gaps from the defense tomorrow night. Not even to bring an extra rusher, but just to bring that body type right up the gut. I feel like it might be their most successful approach to pressuring Brady. But we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Walt Dongo

    they wont be able to pretty much unless we plan on playing man defense vs their receivers, which we wont be doing.

  • JAMESH

    For all his other deficiencies, McCullers does seem able to put Centers on skates. This backs the C right into where Brady likes to settle. Hit every WR within the first five yards to disrupt those quick patterns.

  • JB Burgess

    They got decent pressure in the last meeting. The issue was the ignorance of Butler matching Timmons on Edelman, and not jamming the Pats wr’s. If the Steelers lose, it will be because of the Three Stooges. Tomlin, Butler and Haley. And Ben is the Shemp of the crew

  • Steve

    Bring up the gut Timmons, which definitely will rattle Brady and get him out of rhythm.

  • Steve

    Shazier needs put on Edleman, which would make a good matchup.

  • Steve

    Just read when the Steelers run over 100 yards they are undefeated. So lets hope Bell has a Great day.

  • The Truth

    Why do I get the feeling the Steelers will use the bend/don’t break defense?

  • mokhkw

    It’s my biggest fear tbh.

  • mokhkw

    Tuitt & Hargreaves have to get consistent penetration so they can bring a LB or Safety as a blitzer. If they bring another blitzer without that DL pressure Brady will dink & dunk his way down the field.

  • capehouse

    Tom Brady. 19 TDs and 0 INTs in 6 games against Tomlin’s Steelers. Ouch! We better come up with some way to stop getting bit*h slapped by him.

  • dany

    Certainly the most important Tomlin Patriots game. If theres a time to change what they do it’s now! If not, those statistics are entrenched in history

  • Steve Johnson

    LOL. Now that’s is funny and could be true as well. I think the Steelers have the personnel, but the scheme they use is not affective against the Patriots. Never has been, so, like you said, can the Coaches come up with a scheme that can beat them? I’m not so confident, I hope so, I’m tired of defending the Steelers at work after losing to the Cheatriots.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Bump and run sometimes is all you need as the WR will need an extra half second to get into his pattern and get free for those short passes. But that extra time is the difference between allowing another reception or actually getting there to disrupt the play. The interior rushers should have a clock in their head and after 2.5 seconds just get your hands up as just a couple of batted balls can get the D off the field.

    Turnovers would be preferable, but sometimes a deflected pass or just tackling the catch is all that is required to make a big stop.

    I would blitz up the middle and occasionally a blind side cat or safety blitz to see if you can hammer Brady and separate him from the ball.

  • Ralph Wagner

    The Steelers own the Bengals, the Patriots own the Steelers so goes the NFL.

    I don’t want to see the Bengals beat the Steelers but definitely would like the Steelers to beat the Patriots Time for the worm to turn. LOL

    Go Steelers

  • Mr. Nuts

    You know what’s going to get pressure on Brady? A Steelers lead. Long drives for 7s. Give the defense a bit of a cushion — so the front 7 can pin their ears back and drop Brady — or at least rush him.

    If the D’s stuck defending a one or two point lead — that’s going to be an issue.

  • disqus_WrRvUyG2DA

    Blitz Shazier like a dart up the middle if there is no TE going out for a pass. We need Shazier on Bennet. If you can get to Brady get your hands up after 3-4 seconds to deflect the pass. Bump their wrs at the line will help also so their wrs wont be able to go wherever they want. Also watch that qb sneak on 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1.Brady does it all the time.

  • kjacksonpgh

    Rodney Harrison has said repeatedly on the air that the way you beat the Patriots is to be aggressive with their receivers at the line of scrimmage. This disrupts the timing of their routes and forces Brady to hold on to the ball longer. This also will hopefully allow our Dline and LB’s time to get after Brady or at least make him uncomfortable. We cannot be a passive defense and always play a zone coverage. In past games against Brady that zone style of defense is what has allowed Brady to pick us apart. We must also protect the middle of the field against the seam routes.

  • jeff kopay

    Yep. Tiny 7 yard cuts and they’ll just end up bleeding to death.

  • Moofarbubu

    If you put Shazier on Edleman, who do you put on Dion Lewis or White or Martellus Bennet? I think Timmons is going to have to be put in coverage against these guys at times, and we’re just going to have to accept it. The Patriots don’t have a ton of superstars but they do have numbers and are very good at using that to cause matchup problems. They have a bunch of very, very good players at almost every position.