The Los Angeles Chargers made Lamar Jackson’s day a nightmare in their Wild Card win over the Ravens. They sacked him seven times, tying the team mark for the most single-game postseason sacks in team history.
Well, repeating that effort this Sunday against Tom Brady will be no easy task.
In fact, it might be the Bolts’ toughest assignment thus far this season.
The Patriots surrendered the third fewest sacks on the season as Brady was sacked only 21 times. That averages out to a meager 1.3 sacks per game.
And, as we all know, if you give Brady time in the pocket, he’ll make you pay as much as any quarterback who’s ever suited up.
“I think every week that's the job -- to try to affect the quarterback somehow,” Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley explained. “(Brady’s) so good at reading coverages (and) extending plays in his own way. The way he handles the offense, he's been in that style of offense for many years, so they're on the same page. I think when you look at it, I mentioned this before as a defense, what we strive to be is a precision (defense). Well, their offense operates with precision, and they're all on the same page. As you watch it, you can see it all come together for them.”
Part of what makes it so hard is that Brady is so good at identifying what you’re trying to do pre-snap. At the same time, he’s so good at delivering the ball quickly that it’s near impossible to get close to him.
“He knows what he's looking at,” said Head Coach Anthony Lynn. “He can make changes at the line of scrimmage and he can get that offense in the right plays so they're not fighting uphill all day. He gets rid of the ball quicker than any quarterback in the league. So, in fact, that can negate a pass rush right there.”
Still, it’s imperative the Chargers manufacture a pass rush, which is what the Bolts did last year when they sacked Brady three times.
While it’s hard to confuse the future Hall of Famer, Bradley explained one way to try is by moving pieces around at different times.
It’s something the Chargers have had success doing in the past.
“That's another situation that we talk about every week,” he said. “Is it left and right? How do we position those guys, even on first and second down? It's a conversation that we have. And then obviously on third down as well. So, you know, hopefully across the course of the year, they've been in different places. I think we try to do that just so teams can't book where they're going to be. But again, that's (on a) game by game basis; how we're going to position them.”
All that being said, the Bolts aren’t afraid of matching up against one of the game’s true legends.
They know it’ll be as hard as it gets, but they’re eager and excited for the challenge.
"He’s the GOAT,” said Jahleel Addae. “We all know that. He’s going to be prepared, and they’re going to be prepared, so it will be a showdown. But we’re not fazed at all. We’re grown men now. We’re confident."
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