Texans don't have to blitz to beat Brady

Patric Schneider/AP Photo

Wade Phillips could be well-served to come up with a less-aggressive approach vs Tom Brady

Remember how the Houston Texans approached Tom Brady when they faced the New England Patriots earlier this season?

The Texans, who have the most aggressive defense in the league, sent extra rushers on more than half of Brady’s dropbacks.

Tom Brady by Time Before Pass
This Season

That played right into Brady’s hands. No quarterback in the league has a quicker average release time than Brady (3.03 seconds, compared to the NFL average of 3.46).

And look at how well Brady does when he has limited time to throw, as noted in the chart on the right.

He finished 13-of-19 for 148 yards and three touchdowns in that Monday Night win, the highlight of a season in which he threw for 20 touchdowns and no interceptions against at least five pass rushers.

However, Texans fans (and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) can take heart in this:

There is precedent for a heavy-blitzing 3-4 defense playing aggressively in the regular season against Brady and losing, then meeting again in the postseason and winning.

The 2009 Baltimore Ravens and 2010 New York Jets both lost regular-season meetings to the Patriots but gained redemption in the playoffs after adjusting their strategy.

Here’s a quick flashback to those games:

2009 Ravens

Baltimore sent at least five rushers on 21-of-37 Brady dropbacks (57 percent) in a Week 4 loss. Brady finished 14-of-20 for 167 yards, threw for the game-winning touchdown against added pressure, and was sacked only once.

Tom Brady vs 5+ Rushers
vs 2009 Ravens/2010 Jets

But in their playoff rematch, the Ravens reversed course and sent extra rushers on only 10-of-45 Brady dropbacks (22 percent).

Brady finished 23-of-42, for 154 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions in Baltimore’s win. Brady also was sacked three times and fumbled on New England’s opening drive, setting up the Ravens at the Patriots 17.

2010 Jets

The Jets sent at least five rushers in their two regular season meetings on 30-of-69 Brady dropbacks (44 percent), with Brady finishing 18-of-28 for 335 yards and three touchdowns against the added pressure.

Though the Jets won their first meeting of the season in Week 2, New England won 45-3 in Week 13 on Monday Night Football, highlighted by Brady’s 8-of-13, 199-yard, 3-TD performance against five-or-more rushers.

But in the playoffs, Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine changed things up. The Jets sent extra pressure on only 6-of-50 dropbacks (12 percent), and Brady was sacked five times in New York’s win. He finished 29-of-45 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Jets upset win.