December 21, 2014

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Patriots’ Brady setting the standard for quarterbacks

BEREA — New England quarterback Tom Brady has built a career out of making defensive players look silly.
The three-time Super Bowl champion is adept at picking apart secondaries, rendering schemes useless and frustrating many of the sport’s great strategists.
Brady’s greatness, though, is also why many defenders love to line up against him. The Browns get their opportunity Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s unquestionable that he’s one of the top players in the NFL,’’ Cleveland linebacker Kamerion Wimbley said. “He’s a great quarterback, a great team player, a great leader, and he’s smart. He’s got it all.’’
Brady not only has it all, he’s doing it all this season for the undefeated Patriots.
The Hollywood Red Carpet regular set an NFL record by completing 79 of his first 100 passes and leads the league in completion percentage (.792), touchdowns (13) and passer rating (134.6).
Brady also has upped his career record to 86-26 while extending his streak of starts to 112 … and counting.
“(Completing almost 80 percent) is phenomenal, almost unheard of,’’ Wimbley said. “He’s going to get the ball to receivers when they’re open. He’s not going to sit there and hold the ball too long. You definitely have to get to him as fast as you can.’’
Trying to hit Brady in the pocket and actually doing it, however, are two very different things.
New England’s pass protection has been strong throughout his eight-year career, as has Brady’s grasp of what his foes are attempting to do against him.
Brady made it clear this week that he knows what Browns coach (and ex-Patriots defensive coordinator) Romeo Crennel has in store for the Patriots.
“The first play of the game, Wimbley comes screaming off the edge and kills the quarterback,’’ he said, laughing. “That happens quite a bit.
“It’s pretty much our defense, but there are a few different twists to it. Any time you can rush the passer the way they do, it creates problems offensively.’’
Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson, who has won two of his three starts this year, says Brady has become the standard for all young players to follow.
At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, the former Michigan star has classic QB size, smarts and skills. In short, everything about Brady points straight to Canton, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“The way he plays the game is how it’s supposed to be done,’’ Anderson said. “I watch his games in the offseason for his mechanics and footwork. He’s smart and uses his checkdowns wisely. We’re going to try and get that myself.’’
Though matching  Brady’s accomplishments seems highly unlikely for Anderson, he does have one thing in common with him.
Both players were sixth-round draft choices who were regarded as marginal NFL prospects coming out of college — only to defy long odds and become first-stringers at football’s highest level.
“It’s pretty cool, especially the way he came in and ran with (the disrespect) and took them to Super Bowls,’’ Anderson said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re drafted once you get here. It’s a pretty level playing field in the NFL. You just have to take advantage of your opportunities.’’
Contact Brian Dulik at sports@ohio.net.