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How Bill Belichick can scheme an upset of Tom Brady’s Buccaneers on Sunday – Boston

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To deflate the Tom Brady versus Bill Belichick narrative soaking up all the oxygen around Foxboro this week, Patriots defenders will remind everyone they’re playing the Buccaneers on Sunday, not just Brady.

And they’re right.

Their task, and by extension Belichick’s, is to defend the entire Bucs offense, one of the NFL’s deepest and most dangerous. Before Belichick can confront Brady, he first must plan for Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, old friend Rob Gronkowski and potentially Antonio Brown. Next comes Tampa’s top 10 offensive line.

Once all that’s settled, comes Brady. Because quarterback is both the most glorified and dependent position in sports.

Case in point: Brady’s final games in New England were losses at the hands of former Patriots who understood how to isolate him from his help. In 2019, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores blitzed frequently on early downs to stymie Brady’s run game and double-teamed Julian Edelman in passing situations to clinch a regular-season upset. Next, Titans coach Mike Vrabel flooded the field with coverage to blanket the Pats’ middling receivers and frustrate Brady, blitzing on only 8% of his dropbacks during a Wild Card win.

Blitz or no blitz, man or zone, there is no magical game plan for a great quarterback, let alone the greatest. The answers on any given Sunday hinge on how the available talent matches with the opposing talent. Because of that disparity, the Patriots are decided home underdogs against the Bucs.

So how can Belichick beat Brady? Here’s a start:

1. Shadow Mike Evans with J.C. Jackson

Before every passing snap Sunday, Brady will survey the field searching for the best 1-on-1 matchup to exploit. Then, he will ruthlessly pick on that matchup over and over.

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