Tom Brady didn't think he'd see the day he'd be throwing to players with single-digit numbers in the NFL. He certainly didn't think he would be going against defensive players wearing single-digit numbers, which he hasn't seen since playing for the University of Michigan -- last century.
"The number rule is crazy," Brady said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. "Literally, guys changed their numbers today. I'm playing two guys who had different numbers in the preseason. So, yeah you've got to watch film and know who you're studying but so do running backs. They've got to know who to block. So does the offensive line. So do the receivers who are adjusting their routes based on blitzes."
Per the NFL's new jersey number rule, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends can wear 1-49 -- while wide receivers and tight ends can wear 80-89. Defensive backs can now wear 1-49 and linebackers can wear 1-59 and 90-99. In facing the Dallas Cowboys, Brady will be trying to avoid Jaylon Smith (who switched from No. 54 to No. 9) and Micah Parsons (who's making his NFL debut wearing his college No. 11).
The different jersey numbers will help out the defense, according to Brady, one year after the league saw the most scoring in its history.
"So one guy has got a 6, one guy has 11, one guy has got a 9," Brady said of the Cowboys defense. "And they change every play when you break your routes and get to your spot. It's going to be a very challenging thing. It's a good advantage for the defense, which that's what it is.
"It would be like saying, 'What if I let the offensive linemen wear 82 and No. 9?' They wouldn't know who was eligible. Well that's not fair. You'll get your tail kicked. At least identify who the D-line, the linebackers and the safeties are. You're going to have a lot of matchups where guys are blocking the wrong guys. I don't know why that should be."
Even at 44, this is just another obstacle Brady has to figure out in his 22nd season.
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