By Phil Perry
It didn't take an expert's eye to see that Tom Brady was off his game against the Jets in the AFC semifinal.
On Tuesday, ESPN's Ron Jaworski confirmed the historically unflappable quarterback was rattled, saying Brady saw "ghosts" in the 28-21 loss.
Jaworski was on WEEI's Big Show to discuss what he saw when he analyzed the tape from the Patriots-Jets game. He spent the bulk of his time discussing Brady's surprisingly ineffective performance.
"I went to the tape, and there were some plays on the field that Tom Brady did not see," Jaworski said. "I think Tom began to play a little bit fast and -- the term I use -- he began to see 'ghosts.'
"I think there were some opportunities, particularly early in the game," Jaworski continued. "On a key third-and-3, you have Danny Woodhead coming out of the backfield in the flat and Tom doesn't throw him the football. It's a play Tom's probably seen 50 times this year and completed 50 times, and for some reason he didn't throw the football. I don't know if he got spooked by the interception (earlier in the game) or what, but he did leave some plays on the field."
Brady finished the game 29-for-45 for 299 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
Jaworski insinuated that the Jets defensive pressure made Brady uncomfortable to the point where the quarterback missed chances to complete longer passes down the field.
"I think Brady had a poor game," Jaworski said. "I've always said Tom is one of the mobile quarterbacks in the game. I'm not talking about runaround quarterbacks. . . He's always been really good at moving in the pocket, those subtle little movements in the pocket left or right to compress and allow those receivers to uncover. I just felt those times he had opportunities, he kind of flinched. There was a perception of pressure (from the Jets defense) and at times it wasn't there."
The Jets didn't do anything exotic on defense, Jaworski thought. In fact, the Jets disclosed their game plan in the week leading up to the game, and they were still effective in stopping Brady and company.
In the days leading up to the game, Jets linebacker Bart Scott told Michael Kay of ESPN Radio that their defense struggled during their regular season game in New England (a game the Patriots won, 45-3) because they didn't "funnel" the Pats' offense to the middle of the field.
Well, according to Jaworski, that's exactly what they did on Sunday.
"They seemed to funnel everything back to the inside," he said. "All the defensive backs were shading to the outside, they brought a safety down into the robber position, funneling things to the middle."
That created congestion for the Patriots' offense and seemed to perplex Brady.
Discussing when the Jets' Drew Coleman sacked Brady in the second quarter, Jaworski said, "It's a blitz Tom's seen 1,000 times in his career. You just have to see it, know it's coming, and get the ball out of your hand . . . He's gotta get the ball out of his hand and he didn't, which made it even more confusing for me."
Patriots fans know the feeling.