It is only partially true that football games are won or lost during the week leading up to them – you can have the best battle plan but still have to execute it. That being said, the team that is better prepared for a matchup ahead is often the one to come away from it victoriously. Enter the New England Patriots’ week one opponent, who was beaten by a final score of 27-20: the Houston Texans.
Houston, employing ex-New England offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien as its head coach and featuring a staff filled with former Patriots assistants and players, certainly did its homework. However, the team apparently was still caught of guard by just how quickly quarterback Tom Brady was able to get rid of the football as an NFL Films clip captured by independent NFL reporter Dov Kleiman shows:
“That ball’s coming out so quick, it’s like: you want to rush, but...,” defensive edge Angelo Blackson told his teammates Brandon Dunn and D.J. Reader. Dunn answered that the team just needs to keep rushing. Blackson, who had a deflection that led to an interception early in the contest, then answered that rushing is still a futile endeavor: “If you’re rushing you ain’t never gonna... you know what I’m saying?”
Over the years, Brady has become famous for his quick release and how the Patriots are able to use it to counter teams with potent pass rushers – just look at Super Bowl 49 as an example, when New England’s quick strike approach wore down the defensive line. On Sunday against the Texans, the team used a similar approach as Brady’s average time from snap to throw was just 2.57 seconds.
The 41-year old was still sacked twice during the game, but the overall pressure was not enough to disrupt the rhythm of New England’s passing offense on a consistent basis: on the day, Brady was pressured only five times in total – the aforementioned D.J. Reader accounted for three of those pressures with two sacks and a quarterback hit, with star pass rusher J.J. Watt producing two hits.
The rest of Houston’s talented front seven – including Angelo Blackson – came up empty. While New England’s offensive line played a big role in that, so did Brady’s lightning-quick release. One would think that a team with that many former Patriots on its pay roll would not be surprised by the latter. But here we find ourselves for some reason.