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Carolina Panthers

Defense knows they have to be precise, and fast

Brian Burns, Tom Brady

CHARLOTTE — Teams have been trying to attack the Panthers defense in a particular way lately.

Now, they're about to see the guy who is among the best ever at it, and they're catching him at a bad time.

Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady is hard to defend anyway, but a week after the Saints shut him out, the Panthers know they're going to get an even more focused version of the league's most-accomplished passer.

"It's still going to be a tough challenge, because there's no way Brady's going to want to get shut out twice," Panthers defensive end Brian Burns said. "So they're definitely going to come up with something to get their offense going after the performance they just put out."

The Saints have a rare ability to torment the seven-time Super Bowl champion and three-time league MVP. Last week's 9-0 win followed a different script (the Saints beat them 36-27 in Week 8), and the Panthers have had to pay for that in the past. Last year, a week after the Saints held the Bucs to three points, Brady came to Charlotte and dropped 46 on the Panthers.

Panthers defensive coordinator Phil Snow said there are systemic things the Panthers can do to mirror the Saints' game plan. In general, he said, they try to be physical with the Bucs, and they have the kind of cover players and pressure that can make it work — in theory.

"New Orleans has their number; why I don't know," Snow said. "They do some things we do, and some things we don't do. What they do do is make plays. Match up well against them, and they really try to bully Tampa. And they get pressure up front. They make plays in the back row, and they pressure up front.

"You can try to copy that, but you have to make plays like they do. Got to rush as well as they do and cover as well as they do. Bottom line, it comes down to how you execute."

Veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore knows it well, from playing with Brady in New England for three years. And he knows that it requires precision from the secondary.

"I think it's not a one-person thing," Gilmore said. "It takes a full 11 guys doing their job and doing it a high level. We know what type of quarterback he is; we know what type of talent he has around him. So it's going to take all of us playing as a complete team."

Also, the Panthers know they're going to have to do it fast as well as perfectly.

Outside linebacker Haason Reddick said everyone's trying to quick-pass their way downfield against the Panthers to neutralize their pass rush, and Brady's better at it than most. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said watching Brady's film was like a "master class" because of how quickly he delivers.

"It's very hard," Burns said. "Really annoying, to be honest. He gets the ball out so fast. I can pretty much do my best move and the ball's out. I ain't going to say it's a waste of a rep, but it kind of sucks. But yeah, he's very good at what he does, but it's annoying."

Carolina is 25-19 all-time against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, posting a 13-10 record at home and 12-9 on the road.

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