Chiefs explain why Bucs’ Tom Brady is so hard to sack

Though not as mobile as other quarterbacks, the 43-year-old has his own way of making defenders miss.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) works in the pocket during a win over the Packers in October at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) works in the pocket during a win over the Packers in October at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Feb. 3, 2021

One thing Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs’ 25-year-old quarterback, has over Bucs counterpart Tom Brady is athleticism, which Mahomes shows regularly by scrambling away from pressure to extend plays.

Though Brady, at 43, is not nearly as mobile, he has his own way of making defenders miss.

“He’s been doing it for 21 years or something, so he knows how to not go down,” Chiefs defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon said Wednesday on a media Zoom call. “He moves his shoulders and he gets out of your way. Not the same way Pat does — Pat is a whole different beast — but Tom is really skilled in that pocket. So it’s really (a matter of) crushing that pocket so he has nowhere to go.”

Brady has lasted more than two decades in the NFL by avoiding big hits and taking extensive care of his body, with an emphasis on stretching and flexibility, in addition to nutrition. Being something of a contortionist with his shoulders helps, too, making him a smaller target.

“Have you ever seen Tom Brady’s shoulders when he’s in the pocket? You’ve got to pull the film up for this one,” Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark said. His shoulders are crazy sometimes. Like, I don’t know. Tom Brady is what, 43? I don’t have anything against anybody of 43 years, or around that age.

“Man, to be able to move his shoulders like that, playing in the league for 20-, 30-something years, for him to be able to move his shoulders like that still, it’s quite amazing. Me and (defensive tackle) Chris Jones talk about it all the time. I think Chris missed a sack because (Brady), like, shimmied his shoulders a certain kind of way. Chris, like, completely missed him.”

While Brady is “not an escape artist,” Clark said, he can be as hard to bring down as athletic Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. “I think Deshaun Watson’s the best,” Clark said. “You watch Tom Brady sometimes in that pocket, you can’t really tell the difference.”

Alex Okafor, another veteran Chiefs defender, said Brady has some other tricks to avoid being sacked. Brady was brought down just 21 times this season, including once by the Chiefs in the Nov. 29 game, and a combined five times in the three playoff games.

“The most difficult things about bringing him down is, one, he gets the ball out quick. In most situations, he knows where he wants to go with the ball,” Okafor said.

“And two, he’ll sit back 8-9 yards, and as an end you think he’s going to be at that spot and you rush 8-9 yards deep and he steps up to 5 yards. And that’s how he gets a lot of people to miss sacks on him. So we’ve got to be conscious of that, mindful of that, and put a plan in place around that.”

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