Falcons’ Dean Pees warns the defense about Tom Brady

Credit: D. Orlando Lebdetter/AJC

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Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees comments on the defense's efficacy against Eagles and what needs addressed in Week 2 against Bucs.

Credit: D. Orlando Lebdetter/AJC

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees practiced against Tom Brady for six seasons (2004-09) when both were with New England.

Pees has a healthy dose of respect for Brady, who is in his second season with Tampa Bay. The Falcons are set to face the modern era’s most successful quarterback and the defending Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers at 4:05 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

“I’ve been around him a long time,” Pees said. “Went against him in practice every day for six years. Coached against him seven times while on another team as a coordinator. So, he’s going to know where people are going to be.”

The Falcons, who are transitioning to the 3-4 defense this season, had a shaky outing in the 32-6 loss to the Eagles.

Facing Brady in the second game of the season will be challenging.

“The way I’ve always looked at Tom Brady is that he’s got the chalk last,” Pees said. “Him and Peyton Manning and those guys, they’ve got the chalk last.”

That’s Pees way of saying that Brady will not be fooled by the Falcons’ multiple looks and disguises.

“I’m just going to assume they are going to see it,” Pees said. “They are going to know. It’s better to assume that they know what we are doing, than to assume that they don’t.”

Brady completed 32 of 50 passes for 379 yards and tossed four touchdown passes in the 31-29 victory over the Cowboys in Week 1.

“So, that’s how when we kind of structure our defense, pressures or whatever we’re doing, is we have to make sure that we are in the right position to get our job done,” Pees said. “Because if you don’t, you just have got to assume that he’s going to do it.”

The Falcons can’t freelance outside of the scheme.

“A couple of years ago, we were playing against him and our safety decided that he was going to fool him,” Pees said. “Kind of leaned one way and give him a look. It didn’t happen. He ran a seam route on the other side for about 40 (yards). He’s got the chalk last. So, don’t do those things.”

So, how do you stop Brady? Or, at least slow him down.

“Yeah, there are certain things,” Pees said. “We can give him a disguise, or something, but even though it’s a disguise this is where you have to be when that ball is snapped. So, I’ve just always assume with him that he’s got the chalk last.”

Brady led the Bucs to two victories over the Falcons last season.

He was 31-of-45 passing for 390 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-27 win Dec. 20. The Falcons held a 27-24 lead before Brady threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with 2:03 left.

In the regular-season finale, the Bucs pummeled the Falcons 44-27. Brady passed for 399 yards and four touchdowns.

“You just watch anybody that has played against him,” Pees said. “Watch Dallas, I don’t care who you are, it doesn’t have to be Dallas, it’s really anybody. If you’re not where you’re supposed to be, he will take advantage of it. The guy has tremendous vision and a tremendous feel for the game. If he’s not the greatest of all time, I don’t know who is.”

Pees will have a plan for Brady, who won his seventh Super Bowl title last season to tie former Cleveland Browns great Otto Graham (who played from 1946-55) in championships won.

“You can’t just play one coverage,” Pees said. “You can’t just say I’m going to man him up or play cover-2, or I’m just going to play cover-3. I think you’ve got to keep mixing the coverages on him.”

The Falcons may not be ready to mix coverages so frequently. Sometimes mixing the coverages can lead to missed assignments and wide-open receivers.

“The biggest challenge is to not let him have the deep ball,” Pees said. “Make him go the long, hard way. Maybe a ball will get tipped. A lot of things can happen, but don’t give him a 50-yard touchdown score, it’s just too easy.”

The problem is that Brady also is accurate when throwing the underneath routes. Pees seems to be selecting death by crossing routes.

“You’ve got to make him at least work, get down in the red zone and shrink the field and hopefully you can play good in the red zone and get off the field on third downs,” Pees said. “The biggest thing is just don’t give up easy plays, whether it is run or pass.”

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