FOXBORO - Dean Pees knows a thing or two about Tom Brady.
Pees was the linebackers coach for the Patriots for two seasons (2004, 2005) before being promoted to defensive coordinator when Eric Mangini left for the Jets after the 2005 season. He remained at that post until after the 2009 season, when he left to join the Baltimore Ravens.
Still with Baltimore as a defensive coordinator, Pees has had to do what he used to do in practice: figure out a way to stop Tom Brady.
But stopping Brady is impossible -- check the stats. What about simply making life uncomfortable?
Pees was asked how to do just that on Thursday.
Hire Tonya Harding," he said jokingly, getting laughs from reporters. "If they were getting off the bus, Id spray water outside the bus and hope it freezes. (laughing) He is who he is. I went against him up there in practice for six years. Hes as competitive of a person as Ive ever been around. He can give you this little boyish look on TV, but he is a very, very, very competitive guy.
"He didnt even like losing in practice. The more we rode him on defense because I had a couple trash-talkers the harder he played. He is who he is. Hes going to play well. You expect him to play. We have to do the best job we can, fundamentally, to disrupt him and do some things to him. I have a lot of respect for him. He is a Hall of Fame quarterback.
And he's coached by a Hall of Fame coach, all of which Pees knows too well. By coaching with Bill Belichick, Pees is expected to know a bit more about his approach to games, his style, and tendencies.
"I think the thing that you know about Bill, if youve ever worked for him, is the fact that when he looks at another team, whatever youve done in the past, if there has been a weakness, you better shore that one up, because thats what hes going to go after," Pees said. "There are some guys that are going to go out there and theyre going to run Power O no matter who the heck lines up, no matter what your front is. Well, Bill might not run a certain play against us at all that he has shown for the last three weeks, but he is going to run a play or a pass or whatever based on something that they have seen on film that they think is a weakness for us. Hes going to try to exploit either a person or whatever, a scheme that we have on defense, and he is going to do the same thing on offense on both sides of the ball.
So just how extreme will Belichick go in looking to exploit the opposing team? All the way into the Super Bowl.
"There were games that we played 4-3 and then there are games we never played 4-3 and played 3-4," Pees said. "The 2004 Super Bowl, we played a defense with five linebackers on the field that we hadnt played, ever. So, it was a matter because of Eagles QB Donovan McNabb and how we were going to take him and Brian Westbrook out of the game. So, it was more specific to things like that. Thats what Belichick does and is phenomenal about.