Tom Brady is the opponent for the Giants, as they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football this week. And that is always a daunting challenge for any team -- head coach Joe Judge knows it all too well during his time with the New England Patriots.
But what Brady has in Tampa is a multitude of weapons to use on offense, something he hasn’t really had in New England for quite some time. Chris Godwin won’t be playing after breaking his finger in the win over the Las Vegas Raiders, but there are many others to worry about.
Take Mike Evans, for example. A 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver that has speed and the ability to beat you to the deep ball at any time. He’s quickly become a favorite of Brady in the red zone, scoring six touchdowns already on the season over six games.
Evans is a threat that Giants top cornerback James Bradberry knows all too well. During his time with the Carolina Panthers, he had to cover Evans, who was a divisional opponent with the Bucs. So, while that might be an advantage for Bradberry, he still knows how well he needs to play to limit that production.
“I have to prepare for that by watching film,” Bradberry said, adding that Bruce Arians’ offensive scheme is different with the Bucs now. “But I feel like Mike Evans, he’s the same guy that he was a year ago, two years ago. Big, physical guy, plays well through press coverage because he’s a strong, physical guy. He’s 6-5, 230, I think, 220, long arms.
“I think his best attribute is he’s able to go up there and attack the ball at the highest point. Just an elite receiver overall. A lot of it is just mental recall from the past experiences when I played him when it comes to pressing him, when he gives his release off the line, stuff like that.”
Bradberry has been a solid addition to the Giants, as he’s tied second in the league in pass breakups and just recorded his third interception of the season last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I think I’m playing pretty good,” he said. “I feel like I could play better. I left some plays out there against Philly, I’m sure I left some plays out there in the past games that we lost as well. I look at the plays that I missed out on more so than the plays that I made.”
As the team’s top corner, he has been matching up with the best pass options for opponents in each game, which is why he will likely see Evans on the other side of the line of scrimmage on Monday night.
It’s a position he loves to be in.
“As a corner and as a competitor, you definitely look and you relish those matchups where you’re asked to go against a certain guy you know is an elite receiver. But any time you go into a game and you have the opportunity to play against a great quarterback like Tom Brady, you also relish that opportunity. Just try to make the most out of your opportunities. You try to get an interception, you try to get pass defenses, you try to get forced fumbles. Whatever you can do, just try to make a game-changing play throughout the game.”
The Giants are going to need some of what Bradberry is talking about if they wish to upset the favorited Bucs. Brady was on a roll last week, throwing to nine different receivers that includes Rob Gronkowski, Scotty Miller, Leonard Fournette, Tanner Hudson, Cameron Brate and more. He has everything around him to be successful, including a sturdy offensive line.
While the pass rush will be crucial as well, coverage in the secondary needs to be tight because of the multiple options Brady will exploit if given the time to do so. It will take more than just Bradberry playing his best game to halt this potent offense.
“You have to be on your Ps and Qs when any of those guys step on the field,” Bradberry said.