Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens QB Tom Brady (Patriots): The Value of a Great Pump Fake

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines one of the best pump fakes you’ll ever see from one of the best quarterbacks who has ever played, Patriot Tom Brady.

When I scout the pump fakes of NFL quarterback prospects, I’m judging the quality of the fake by its range of motion, violence, and appropriate usage for the scenario. A quarterback who can deliver a full-motion pump fake with violence at the appropriate moment can wreck the coverage.

Tom Brady does exactly that on a red zone play towards the trips side of the formation, setting up a touchdown pass to running back Dion Lewis. While some of you will be irritated with seeing this pump fake multiple times before seeing the payoff, try to refocus your expectation to the detail, the range of motion, and the violence of the fake.

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Brady not only follows all the way through with his throwing arm, but note how his back foot also comes off the ground and swings forward like a real follow-through. It’s a risky maneuver with edge pressure pushing the right tackle but it’s clear that Brady has practiced this move. He pivots off that right foot after it comes around and throws form a parallel foot position.

Normally, this isn’t a great position to deliver the ball, but it’s a stable stance and one that works because the pump fake compels the backside zone defender in the flat to slide inside and give Brady time to deliver the ball without ideal velocity. The timing of the ploy is also a terrific, contrarian play in a compressed area of the field where time is so essential that players are trained to be hyper-vigilant about reacting quickly in the red zone.  Brady’s fake plays on that and buys him a lot more time and space than usual.

The fake also causes the defender to lose his position on Lewis’ flat route and wind up a step behind everything Lewis does with his break, catch, and run. This is as good of a pump fake that you will ever see and it comes down to the details and good judgment of when to use it.

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