In the Patriots' 16 regular season games and one postseason game, Brady takes an average of 2.34 seconds to throw, per profootballfocus.com. In wins, the number drops to 2.29 seconds and in New England's four losses, the number rises to 2.65 seconds.
It did so a week ago against the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs, who had won 11 consecutive games before walking onto the field at Gillette Stadium. With Pro Bowl outside linebacker Justin Houston unable to play more than eight snaps, the Chiefs' pass rush had little bite, registering just one quarterback hit and zero sacks. Brady needed just 2.19 seconds to throw, and he completed 28 of 42 passes for 302 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
To avoid a similar fate, the Broncos know they cannot allow Brady to have such comfort.
"You've got to try to get your hands up and get to him as fast as you can or run to the ball and make tackles," defensive end
Part of the danger of those targets is that it doesn't take long for them to get open. With his size, speed and athleticism, Gronkowski can be a tough cover at any point after the snap, and the other two receivers can break off their route trees for quick yardage that gets even more perilous after the catch.
Edelman is a particularly big key in this element of timing for Brady. In games with Edelman this season (Weeks 1-10 and the playoff game against Kansas City), Brady averages 2.21 seconds, but without him, Brady takes 2.55 seconds. All four of the Patriots' losses were without Edelman, and Brady was sacked 17 times over seven games.
Ultimately, what forcing Brady to hold onto the ball longer might not be the dependent on the quickness of the pass rush so much as the coverage.
And if that happens, then it's up to defensive linemen and outside linebackers to ensure that an opportunity for a sack or deflected pass doesn't elude them."We're just going to have be tight in the secondary and that little window that we get—me and DeMarcus, [DE Derek] Wolfe and Malik—we're just going to have to get there," OLB