Does the Ravens' defense own Brady?

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Does the Ravens' defense own Brady?

For all the back and forth on what it will take for the Patriots to beat the Ravens on Sunday, many including myself believe that it will come down to one thing:

Protecting Tom Brady.

If Brady consistently has time to work, the Patriots will win. If he spends more time bumping uglies with T-Sizzle than head butting Gronk in the end zone, it's going to be a long, painful winter.

But even if you don't entirely buy the simplicity of that break down, you have to admit that Brady needs a big game to send the Pats to the Big Game. Right?

Well, maybe not.

Looking back on Brady's career, his team has, for the most part, performed well against the Ravens. He's 4-0 in the regular season against Baltimore (the most wins he has against any team, without a loss). Of course, he's also 0-1 in the playoffs, but all things considered, you can do a lot worse than a 4-1.

But in consistent victory, it's interesting to note that Brady's never had much statistical success against Baltimore. Here's a look at his numbers in five career starts:

November 28, 2004: Pats win, 24-3

15-30 for 172 yards with 0 TD, 0 INT and a QB rating of 67.6

December 3, 2007: Pats win, 27-24

18-38 for 257 yards with 2 TD, 1 INT and a QB rating of 76.3

October 4, 2009: Pats win, 27-21

21-32 for 258 yards, 1 TD (one rushing), 0 INT and QB rating 100.8

January 10, 2010: Ravens win, 33-14

23-42 for 154 yards with 2 TD, 3 INT and QB rating of 49.1

October 17, 2010: Pats win, 23-20 (OT)
Brady 27-44 for 292 yards with 1 TD, 2 INT and a QB rating of 69.5

I don't need to expand on that awful playoff loss. But even if we just look at those four regular season wins, Brady's inconsistencies are obvious. (Albeit, understandable considering the quality of defense Baltimore throws out every year.)

His 56.3 career completion percentage against the Ravens is worse than it is against all but one other team (Carolina, 56.2), and the same goes for his 77.9 career QB rating. In the five total games, he's thrown only six touchdowns, but also six interceptions.

Yet again, the Pats are 4-1.

I believe it was the great Rod Rust who once said, "Stats are for losers," and that never appears to be more true than when looking at Tom Brady's history with the Baltimore Ravens. So maybe I should revise my statement from earlier in this post.

Maybe the Pats don't need a big game from Brady to make it to the Big Game. If they can find a way to hog tie Ray Rice, push Fu-Man Flacco into a few precarious positions, force a few turnovers, and hold onto the ball themselves, maybe the Pats can grind out an old fashioned, smash mouth win.

But I'll stand by this: If they do protect Brady, and he does have time to work. The Pats will win. And it's on to Indy.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Patriots hatch latest backup plan at QB

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Patriots hatch latest backup plan at QB

Tom Brady needs a Hail Mary at this point to get himself on the field for the first four games of 2016. The Patriots are more aware of that than anyone, so Friday night they grabbed a little security, using a third-round pick on North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

The 6-4, 235-pound Brissett was a two-year starter for the Wolfpack and had 23 touchdowns and five picks in his senior season. He’s lauded for his leadership, has outstanding physical skills and is a tireless worker.

All that said, he’s not going to beat out Jimmy Garoppolo. Brissett isn’t in Foxboro to be the long-term No. 2 in 2016. But if he shows a high level of competency between now and the end of August, the Patriots will likely go into the four-game Brady-less stretch with Garoppolo as the temp starter and Brissett as the temp backup.

When Brady returns, everybody moves back down the ladder again.

But a look at the contracts of Garoppolo and Brady shows that, after 2016, Garoppolo may become expendable. Brady is signed through 2019 and isn’t going anywhere. Garoppolo is up after 2017 and will be a free agent. If Garoppolo plays well enough to impress the rest of the league in his four-game audition, the Patriots could look to deal him prior to the 2017 season.

The return on the former second-rounder isn’t relevant right now. What is relevant is that the Patriots are going to have to carry three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster in 2016: Brady, Garoppolo and Brissett. For a team that’s always churning the end of its roster to get the best players ready for every week’s matchup, the team will have one less roster spot to deal with than it’s had in past seasons.

The only way around carrying Brissett all year on the 53 would be to release him, hope he passes unclaimed through waivers and then sign him to the practice squad. It’s likely someone would claim him. So the Patriots will be working with three quarterbacks on their 53 for 2016. Forecasting, it’s not likely they’d do that two years in a row.

The addition of Brissett is a signal that the team isn’t preparing for life after Brady, but life after Jimmy G. 

Faulk sports Brady jersey during Patriots pick as Vincent looks on

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Faulk sports Brady jersey during Patriots pick as Vincent looks on

FOXBORO -- For a moment, retired Patriots running back Kevin Faulk stole the show as he announced one of New England's third-round picks. 

Given an opportunity at the spotlight, even just for an instant, Faulk opted to make a statement in support of his former quarterback, proudly wearing Tom Brady's No. 12 jersey under his suit jacket. 

"The New England Patriots and Tom Brady," Faulk said, "select Joe Thuney!"

While the news that the Patriots had drafted an athletic and versatile offensive lineman from North Carolina State was certainly noteworthy for fans, the enthusiasm with which Faulk delivered his message resonated with folks all the way back at One Patriot Place. 

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio smiled at his press conference Friday when he was asked what he thought of Faulk's gesture.

"That's why Kevin Faulk is a potential member of the Patriots Hall of Fame," Caserio said. "We all love Kevin Faulk. One of the best Patriots on a multitude of levels and I'd say he certainly showed that tonight."

Before the pick was made, Faulk was introduced to the crowd attending Day 2 of the NFL Draft by NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent. For Patriots fans, Vincent's name is a familiar one because he played a primary role in doling out Brady's punishment as a result of Deflategate. 

Faulk was named one of three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame earlier this month along with corner Raymond Clayborn and linebacker Mike Vrabel. Fans can vote for the winner online here