FOXBOROUGH — Heading into Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ primary concern happens to be another athletic defensive rush that will provide some challenges.
The Redskins feature another 3-4 defense that throws a mixture of looks schematically. Leading the pass rush for the ‘Skins are linebackers Brian Orakpo and rookie Ryan Kerrigan who have tallied a combined 12.5 sacks this season.
“They’re good, very good,” Brady said. “They can rush. They’re good in coverage too. I think that’s the thing that surprises a lot of people because they’re 260, 265 pound guys.
“I feel like every week we’re talking about their pass rushers and we’ve played quite a few good pass rushers this year,” Brady continued. “I think these two guys are right up there in terms of their ability to set the edge in the running game, to collapse a pocket, to strip sack the quarterback. Even if they’re not sacking the quarterback they’re forcing the ball out quickly. They’re good players. I think they’re the key to the whole defense.”
With a win against the Redskins, and a New York Jets loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots will clinch a spot in the playoffs.
“I think it’s important for us to play the best game this weekend,” Brady said. “What’s in our control is how we’re able to go out there and see how we match up against a team on the road that has some very good players, very good schemes, very well coached. It’s going to be a challenging game. I’m excited to see if we can go out there and finally play for 60 minutes and see what that looks like.”
Of course, in playing the Redskins, the Patriots will see old teammate Jabar Gaffney, the team’s pivotal third wide receiver in the 2007 season. Brady talked about how he was “bummed” when Gaffney left for Denver in 2009.
“From the day that we got him here he was so reliable, dependable because he knew what to do and he did it well,” Brady said. “You gain a lot of trust from the quarterback when all those things really match up. I was bummed when he went to Denver. I was bummed when he went to Washington and now here we are playing them.”