Brady leery of Mathis' potential

Brady leery of Mathis' potential
January 7, 2014, 7:00 pm
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FOXBORO – For years it was “Freeney and Mathis.” The bookend pass rushers of the Indianapolis Colts worked together for 10 years rolling up well over 100 sacks and being the key to their long-running success.

This year, for the first time since coming into the league in 2003, Mathis was without Freeney. Given lone billing in the Colts’ defense, he had one of the most impactful seasons of any defensive player in the league.

Tom Brady believes Mathis was as good as anyone in 2013. And he knows he has to keep a sixth-sense ready for Mathis’ presence.

“I can’t really run away from him, so that option’s out the door,” Brady acknowledged. “You have to understand where he’s at. He really has a sense of urgency. It’s one thing to sack the quarterback. It’s another thing to strip-sack him and the ball’s flying all over the place. You have eliminate those types of plays. They’ve had a lot of those types of plays this year which have been a big benefit to their team where he runs the edge, the quarterback’s standing back there, here he comes and strip-sacks him. We just really can’t let that happen. That’s why he’s one of the best players in the league – because he makes those types of plays happen. He makes them on a regular basis, it’s not a fluke when he does it.”

Brady lost three fumbles on strip sacks this year. The Colts switched from a 4-3 defense in which Mathis was over the right tackle when Chuck Pagano took over. Now Mathis is used on both sides and allowed to twist inside more frequently. He can come from anywhere.

A counter to the pass rush, of course, is an effective running game that blows past rushers who are en route to the quarterback.

Brady said Tuesday the effectiveness of the Patriots ground attack has been a godsend.

“Our running game has been really good all year,” he pointed out. “Truthfully it’s been really a great strength of our team – our ability to run and I think that’s our offensive line and how physical they are and how consistent they have been this year. That’s been a big strength of our team to take a lot of pressure off our passing game. The way the running backs have run – Stevan [Ridley] and LeGarrette [Blount] and Shane [Vereen] have been great. We have to keep that as a strength of ours. Guys that are able to go in there and really impose their physical style of play against the other team and the way we did it two weeks ago against Buffalo was awesome, the end of the Baltimore game was awesome. Hopefully we can go out and stay balanced this week and try to keep them off balance so they really don’t get a beat on what we’re trying to do. It’s going to take a lot of great efforts from a lot of guys so hopefully we’re in a position to do that.”