Brees presents tough challenge for Eagles
If Kyle Orton threw for 358 yards against the Philadelphia
Eagles, Drew Brees could set a record.
The Eagles (10-6) are facing quite a challenge against Brees and
the New Orleans Saints (11-5) in their NFC wild-card playoff game
Saturday night. No team allowed more yards passing than
Philadelphia this season and only four quarterbacks in NFL history
have thrown for more yards than Brees.
It sets up for an air show.
”Drew Brees has excellent numbers, blitz, no blitz, coverage,
non-coverage,” Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis said
Tuesday. ”This offense is so efficient, and it is run on Drew
Brees and his decision-making and quick release, and he really
makes you defend the field both horizontally and vertically because
all five of his eligible receivers are up and active.”
Orton, filling in for an injured Tony Romo, nearly led the
Cowboys to an upset over the Eagles with the NFC East title on the
line Sunday night in Dallas. But his 46th pass of the game was
intercepted by Brandon Boykin to seal Philadelphia’s 24-22
Still, it was an impressive performance for a guy starting his
first game in two years. On the other hand, Brees was just selected
for his eighth Pro Bowl and threw for more than 5,000 yards for an
NFL-record fourth time. He makes it difficult for top defenses, so
the Eagles are going to need play their best to have a chance.
”He’s just so talented and has such a great command of what
they’re doing,” coach Chip Kelly said. ”He understands coverage
and he understands how you’re playing them and he’s very, very
difficult to fool. He’s been around for a long time. It’s a lot
like the matchup when you’re playing Peyton Manning. They are so
skilled in their offense and what they’re doing. You’ve got to
present a lot of different looks to him and he’s got a lot of
weapons to throw to, and I think that’s what makes them so diverse
is you just can’t hone in and say, `Hey, we take away this one guy,
we are going to be in pretty good shape.”’
Putting pressure on Brees will be vital to Philadelphia’s
success. Brees was sacked a career-high 37 times this season, but
he has a quick release and makes fast decisions so it’s tough to
bring him down.
The Eagles had 37 sacks this season, but didn’t get to Orton
once because he got rid of the ball quickly. Defensive linemen are
stressing the importance of trying to knock down Brees’ passes if
they don’t get to him.
”He’s a great quarterback, a Hall of Fame quarterback, but he’s
shorter than most guys so we have to get our hands up,” defensive
end Cedric Thornton said. ”We have our hands full. We definitely
are going to try to pass rush inside more because he stays in the
Brees, who is 6-feet tall, has a way of getting the ball over
taller linemen and perfectly on target to his receivers. Teams that
beat the Saints did a better job getting in his face. Brees was
sacked 14 times in five losses, and 23 times in the 11 wins.
He had only seven TD passes and seven interceptions along with a
completion percentage of 61.8 and a passer rating of 77.6 in those
losses. His numbers in the wins were 32 TDs, five picks, 72.2
completion percentage and a passer rating of 119.
”I think the key is to change up the type of coverage and it’s
more about the quarterback than the actual coverage and what he’s
looking at and what he sees and how quick he can read it,” Davis
said. ”He’s seen every coverage and he’s seen all kinds of
different tactics, and then so has Sean (Payton) and they have got
adjustments to everything. I think constantly kind of shifting it
on them is the best way to go about it.”
NOTES: Rookie safety Earl Wolff is optimistic he’ll play vs. the
Saints. Wolff missed four games with a knee injury, returned to
play briefly against Chicago and then sat out last week. The Eagles
will need Wolff against the Saints’ prolific passing attack. …
Brees is 1-2 in wild-card games, but he has a passer rating of
107.9 in those games.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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