When the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, they established a purported blueprint on how to stifle the NFL’s best quarterback. Teams can stop Tom Brady, this conventional wisdom suggests, so long as they’re able to pressure him by rushing just four players. The tactic is amusingly obvious—in chess, the equivalent strategy would be: “Take most of your opponent’s pieces while keeping all of yours.” It requires generational defensive talent and, as the Seattle Seahawks can attest, even then it’s not a given.
There is a simpler method to defeat Brady and the Patriots, though, and it has been proven in three separate Super Bowls. While those Giants had a ferocious front four, they also had Eli Manning—as did New York’s Championship team in 2012. Last year’s Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, were led by Nick Foles. In every Super Bowl that Brady has lost, his opponents all had one thing in common: a charmingly goofy quarterback.
Take a look at the men who stalk Brady’s nightmares.
As a dopey goof myself, I take pride in celebrating these heroes. I also look to the Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff with cautious optimism, because the man standing between Brady and his sixth Super Bowl ring might be the heir to Manning and Foles’ throne. Goff is only in the third year of his NFL career, but he already possesses the gait of a champion.
It’ll take more than a marionette-like physique to beat the Patriots, though. A hallmark of Foles and Manning’s genius is their ability to sprinkle baffling, bone-headed plays amongst moments of athletic majesty. Goff checks this box, and his excellent season was not without some beautiful madness, like this interception against the Eagles in December.
That’s an interception during the regular season but, come Super Bowl time, this same stumbling confidence could turn into Goff’s version of the helmet catch.
Being a goof on the field is one thing, but Goff has shown he can be an affable dork off it, too. The Rams were the subject of HBO’s Hard Knocks documentary series during Goff’s rookie season, and he made headlines for not knowing the direction in which the sun rises. “Apparently it’s well known,” he told teammate Pharoh Cooper. (Note: Goff was born and raised in Marin County, which is close to the helpful sunset guidepost that is the Pacific Ocean.)
Later in the series, Goff boasts of his Ping Pong skills to Cooper, only to lose to the wide receiver in decisive and flailing fashion.
Show that video to Brady before kickoff on Sunday and watch the belief drain from his eyes.
If there are any doubts as to Goff’s goofy bona fides, allow his roommate, Patrick, to dispel them. Patrick works sales for iHeartRadio and has been a guest on Ryan Seacrest’s syndicated drive time Top-40 program. In his first appearance, Patrick said the reason that Goff—a star quarterback who signed an $18 million signing bonus—wanted a roommate was because “he’s lonely.”
Not since that photo went viral of Eli Manning observing his flooded lobby during Hurricane Sandy have we been given such an intimate glimpse into the simple home life of an NFL quarterback. If history is any indication, Jared and Patrick may soon be welcoming a new roommate into their shared living space: the Super Bowl MVP Trophy.