This will be Tom Brady’s 19th road game against the Jets.
Brady is 14-4 in his previous 18 road trips against the Jets and he’s played more regular season games in MetLife (12) than the majority of the Jets starting defense. Only Quinnen Williams, Bryce Hall, Ashtyn Davis, John Franklin-Myers and Folorunso Fatukasi have played more games there.
That speaks to Brady’s longevity. It seems almost impossible, but his playing career is old enough to legally drink.
Preparing against him is as hard as ever.
Brady has played in the NFL for 22 years. The Jets starting defense has 29 years of NFL experience combined. Brady is the same age as Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich (44) and both were selected in the same draft. Brady is also two years older than Robert Saleh (42).
Brady is aging better than anyone could have imagined and has defied logic as the anticipated decline hasn’t happened.
“Yeah, it’s extremely frustrating, you know,” Ulbrich said with a chuckle. “Every time I throw on the tape when I have to plan, I’m anticipating and hoping that there’s going to be some sort of, you know, he’s falling off and his skill is declining and it’s not at all. Which, it’s astounding.”
Brady has witnessed everything a defense could throw at him which is why Saleh views Brady as a coach on the field.
“If you ever wanted to see what a coach would look like if he still had the ability to play, there he is,” Saleh said. “I mean he’s playing better than he’s ever played, I mean he looks phenomenal. His decision making, all of it, he’s so precise, he gets rid of the ball and he knows what’s happening… I promise you, he’s going to pick one of 11 that’s going to tell him the snap and he’ll find it very quickly and he knows exactly where he needs to get in progression before the ball is even snapped.”
In Brady’s 22nd year, the legendary QB has thrown for 4,579 yards and 37 touchdowns, most in the NFL.
That’s what the Jets’ 32nd-ranked defense is up against.
And they’ve struggled against passing attacks all season. They’ve allowed 4,018 yards passing in 2021, sixth most, and a passer rating of 104.7, highest in the NFL.
Gang Green may catch a break against the pass because Pro Bowl receivers Antonio Brown (ankle) and Mike Evans (hamstring) might not play on Sunday. Chris Godwin is out for the season with a torn ACL.
But Brady usually elevates the talent around him. So expect Tyler Johnson, who has 42 catches and 288 yards, and former Jets receiver Breshad Perriman to fill some of the void.
Also expect the tight ends O.J. Howard, Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate to be heavily involved.
However, with the injuries at receiver and the Jets’ porous run defense, the Buccaneers could be inclined to run the ball. They’ve rushed for over 110 yards in four of their last five and averaged 122 yards on the ground in that span.
The Jets have struggled all year against the run by allowing 27 rushing touchdowns, most in the NFL and 2,115 yards, third most.
If Gang Green has any chance of upsetting the Buccaneers, it starts with limiting the rushing attack and making the Buccaneers one-dimensional.
Because if you don’t, Brady will obliterate the defense with play action. He has 11 touchdowns off play action, fourth most among QBs.
“You get big Gronk running over to the middle of the field on play-action pass becomes a big problem because of all the different things and all the different weapons he has,” Saleh said. “Any offense is humming when the run game’s going and obviously with a guy like Tom Brady, makes it even that much more lethal.”
INJURY AND COVID UPDATE
Saleh labeled Jamison Crowder (calf) doubtful to play this Sunday. C.J. Mosley and Sheldon Rankins missed some practice this week but are good to go this Sunday.
Elijah Moore won’t be activated off injured reserve this weekend as Moore is still recovering from his quad injury.
The Jets are still in wait and see mode in regard to Williams, Tyler Kroft, Bryce Hall, and LaRoy Reynolds availability as they’re currently on the COVID-19 list.