Beating the Blitz
There is no better answer for the blitz than a quarterback who knows what he’s doing, and more importantly, knows what the defense is doing.
That knowledge base comes from experience, for which there is no substitute. This is one reason why teams will often throw their rookie quarterbacks to the wolves immediately and let them learn on the fly. The more snaps a quarterback can see from the field, the more answers he’ll have for various situations in the future. This is especially true against blitzes.
It’s probably the most extreme case to use Tom Brady as an example, but I’m going to do it here anyway. The man has seen some things on the football field in his 20+ years in the NFL. Believe it or not, this doesn’t mean he won’t ever get fooled by a defensive look. It does mean, however, that he won’t get fooled by the same look twice.
Below, you can see a great example of how Brady got beat by a blitz, filed it away in the catalogue of defenses he’s seen in his head, and then successfully countered when he saw the same look during a critical situation later in the same game.
This first play was a 3rd-and-9 in the 2nd quarter of a 2020 game against the Falcons. The Buccaneers were aligned in a 3×1 closed formation. The Falcons were showing a cover-0 blitz (threatening pressure on the line of scrimmage, man coverage across the board, no deep-middle safety):
At the snap, Atlanta brought the slot DB over the #3 inside receiver (Chris Godwin) on a blitz. Safety Keanu Neal then raced to the deep middle. Linebacker Deion Jones, initially showing blitz, dropped out into coverage to take away any quick routes inside. And that was exactly the type of route that Brady was looking for from Godwin:
With Godwin taken away by Jones, the slot blitz (which was unaccounted for by the protection) had time to hit home before Brady could look elsewhere: