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Week 11 Patriots vs Bills: The Pressure on Tom Brady Wasn't Real

Rex Ryan knows how to get under the skin of the Patriots quarterback- make him overthink so he gets frustrated.

I used to have this huge hunk-a-junk of a computer at work. It wasn't old, it didn't have outdated specifications, and it worked fine for 99% of what I wanted to do, but I was absolutely unable to get it to work with Microsoft Excel.

Whenever I opened the program, my computer would freeze. Whenever I tried to type in information, my computer would freeze. Whenever I tried to save my work, my computer would freeze.

There was just something about Excel that my computer hated, even though the program isn't supposed to be difficult to utilize.

Rex Ryan is Tom Brady's Excel.

The New England Patriots quarterback is brilliant and able to succeed because of his ability to maneuver during the presnap and to set up his chess pieces in the best possible way to win in the fastest way possible. He's a computer that takes the input and spits out a touchdown.

Rex loves to mess with Brady's input by showing far too much for Brady to internalize before the pressure hits home and he does it in a low risk way. Blitzing Brady is a terrible idea because the quarterback can find the hole and exploit it. Simulate a blitz and Brady's gears start to whir, but he has no place to go and he runs through his motions too quickly.

He gets frustrated.

"A lot of [the Bills defense] had to do with getting [Brady] off his spot and making him see different looks," Bills linebacker Manny Lawson said after the game. "We didn't pressure too much and we really only ended up rushing three guys or four guys. We didn't come with our full team. If we can get him off his spot and make him worry about his feet, we would stand a good chance of competing with Brady."

"We really were just trying to knock off their timing," Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham agreed. "We didn't really blitz a lot, we really were just rushing two or three guys a lot. But those guys up front, they did a tremendous job of getting to the quarterback."

So how were the Bills able to hit Brady time and time and time again (10 time, according to the official statistics)? They jammed the computer.

Quiz: Where is the pressure coming from?

You'll see five defenders on the line, plus a sixth that looks like he's in tight coverage of Danny Amendola. It's third down- of course he should be in tight coverage of Amendola. Rob Gronkowski is also aligned inside of Danny Amendola and there's a linebacker in the box- there's no way that any defense would not play tight coverage against Gronkowski and Amendola on a key third down, right?

Brady reads the Rex defense and thinks that he needs an offensive lineman for each of the defenders. He can expect one of the two farside linebackers to pick up running back James White if he leaks into the flat, meaning there has to be one player on the left side of the line to block one of the linebackers. That would give the Patriots five blockers against four rushers and they should be able to win.


Both of the linebackers on the far side dropped into coverage, meaning that the entire left side of the line was not blocking anyone. Mario Williams chipped Rob Gronkowski on the near side to allow the farside linebacker to drop to a reasonable depth before bending the edge against Cameron Fleming.

This leaves Josh Kline with one of the interior defenders and David Andrews with the other. Unfortunately, this also means that Nickell Roby, aligned against Amendola, has a wide open lane to rush after Brady. Since Brady favors his left side so much, he is unable to see the pressure come from the right end until it's almost too late.

The Patriots were bailed out by a defensive pass interference call, but this is how Rex Ryan is able to get into Brady's head.

Rex doesn't like to blitz against Brady, but he loves to make Brady think that multiple rushers are coming. On the Patriots opening drive, the Bills brought more than four rushers just once; they rushed just three players twice. By disguising where the pressure is actually coming from, Brady needs to hold the ball for a second longer than he would like and that disrupts the entire flow of the offense.

The Bills head coach highlighed "simulated pressures" after the game as a reason for the improved result against Brady. The pressure is real, but it's not. It's a shell game where the Patriots quarterback has to figure out which four players are rushing the passer.

In my case, Excel always eventually worked out and I was able to finish my job, but it didn't make it any less frustrating to watch.

Brady will always get the best of Rex. The computer just takes some time to find a way to work.