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Defense Looks to Put Pressure On Brady


Even the Redskins admit that the New England Patriot's offense is fun to watch.

On television, that is.

It won't be fun this Sunday at FedExField when they line up against the second-ranked Patriots offense.

The Redskins defense will have its hands full. The Patriots' skill and athleticism on offense is no secret to anyone around the league.

It's all centered around quarterback Tom Brady. Through 12 games, he has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 3,916 yards, 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Brady is averaging 326 passing yards a game. If he maintains this pace he will finish the season with 5,221 yards and break Dan Marino's single season passing record of 5,084 yards.

Head coach Mike Shanahan is all too familiar with Brady's abilities and admires his talent.

"He's impressed me through the years...He's extremely bright," Shanahan said. "He just gets it. He's cool, calm and collected. He reads defenses extremely well. He has a very calm demeanor.

"And it's kind of fun to watch him. He can sit back in the pocket and it's like he doesn't have a care in the world."

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett echoed Shanahan's comments on Brady.

"If not the greatest, he's got to be in the top one, two, three," Haslett said. "He's poised, he's big and he has an unbelievable arm. He can make all the throws."

The Redskins know they must generate some pressure on Brady, although Haslett admitted there was some risk in blitzing him. Brady can read defenses so efficiently that he'll be able to find the "hot" receiver before a defender even gets a hand on him.

"The key with Brady is not letting him sit in the pocket," defensive lineman Stephen Bowen said. "Try to create some pressure. A lot of games you see he's just standing back there. If he's able to do that, he's going to be able to tear us apart. That's the key to winning a game."

Stopping Brady is just one piece to the puzzle, though.

Brady has a pair of big, athletic tight ends who some believe are transforming the way the position is played in the NFL.

Rob Gronkowski has 65 receptions for 928 yards and 13 touchdowns. Aaron Hernandez has 54 receptions this season for 523 yards, and five touchdowns. They are particularly effective in the red zone, and the Redskins know they must be stout in that area on Sunday.

When Brady isn't throwing to his tight ends, he usually targets wide receiver Wes Welker, who leads the Patriots with 93 catches for 1,253 yards and eight touchdowns. One of those eight touchdowns was a highlight reel 99-yard touchdown catch-and-run.

At 5-9, Welker is not the most dominating wide receiver, but it's his intangibles that make him so difficult to cover.

"Dude has heart," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "He has a ton of heart. He may not be the most physically gifted athlete but he finds a way, and Tom and him have an amazing connection. They have figured each other out and they're going to be tough to stop."

Defensive coordinator Haslett understands Welker's importance to the Patriots offense as well.

"He's a remarkable receiver," Haslett said. "Obviously, he's their go to guy. He's hard to put your hands one. He's fun to watch if you're not coaching against him, but he is remarkable the way he gets open."

With weapons on the inside and outside, the Patriots' offense has shown versatility to use different formations at any down and distance.

"They can get going on first and 10 passing the ball," linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "Really we have to prepped from the get-go. We see a lot on film where they are passing on first and second down, all kinds of different things, spread formations on second and 10.

"It'll be a real challenge, but we have to find a way."

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