What’s up, people? Who Dat Nation must be liking their Saints 4-0 start. This is definitely where we wanted to be one quarter of the way through the NFL season. So let’s talk about how Drew Brees does what he does so well and a play you may have witnessed on MNF, the Sluggo Seam.
On the sidelines as a defensive guy, when your offense gets to third down, you’re alerted to get ready, the punt team huddles up. But I don’t get too excited because nine out of ten times it seems like our offense converts on third down, even if it’s long.
But first I want to thank everyone who made Taste of New Orleans, my foundation’s second annual fundraiser, such a fun event. We had a huge turnout, 350 to 400 people. Marc Stone’s All-Star Band, which includes some of New Orleans hottest musicians, kept the beats flowing. The local food was outstanding, and the wine made it even better. I’d like to thank a number of folks: our title sponsor, Louisiana Healthcare Connections, the New Orleans Saints organization and all my teammates who turned out. I had limo service for the players, which allowed them to relax and have a good time.
We also raised something like $60,000, which all goes towards my Malcolm Jenkins Foundation for scholarships and programs we do here in the great city of New Orleans, and some camp stuff we do in New Jersey and maybe soon in Ohio.
How about that Monday Night Football game, a solid win over previously unbeaten Miami! It was our coach Sean Payton’s return to the national spotlight and it feels great to have his clear vision and leadership again. After the game, ESPN suggested we look like the team that won the Super Bowl in 2009. I was on that team, my rookie year. So far this season, we’re winning the turnover battles. We’re playing complimentary offense and defense, very aggressive on both sides of the ball. And our special teams are also playing well. That’s what made us successful in 2009, and we’re showing early signs of a team that can make a deep run in the playoffs.
Drew, who just put up his record ninth straight game with 300-plus passing yards, said it best: “We never let up. We spread the ball around. We ‘formation’ people to death. Our defense is playing phenomenal. We’re just playing good football but we’ve got to continue to get a little bit better each week.”
I love watching our offense. On the sidelines as a defensive guy, when your offense gets to third down, you’re alerted to get ready, the punt team huddles up. But I don’t get too excited because nine out of ten times it seems like our offense converts on third down, even if it’s long. Their success doesn’t surprise me. Drew is a huge part of that but you’ve also got guys like Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Pierre Thomas… so many playmakers, and you can’t double-team them all.
Cool in the pocket, always looking to make a play downfield. Taking notes, Blaine Gabbert?
Heard of the Sluggo Seam? In the second quarter, Drew looked off the Dolphins free safety to his left, then he hit Jimmy on the right-side seam for a 38-yard touchdown. Most NFL offenses have some version of this play, especially when they have a good slot receiver or a great tight end like Jimmy. The quarterback ‘looks off’ the free safety and tries to get him to bite on the ‘slant and go’ to one side. He’s trying to influence the safety that way, to open up the seam on the other side.
As a safety, how do I deal with this play? You’ve got to study the quarterback’s tendencies. Does he like to pump fake and stay with the same receiver, or does he like to pump fake and throw to the next receiver in the progression? Sometimes, if you can just hold where you’re at, you can make a play on his second look.
In practice when I first came up, Drew would get me with the Sluggo. Now I’ve learned to ignore his misdirection and play him a little better. But he’s too good—he’ll still somehow thread something in there, throw the ball away or just pull it down.
People ask about Drew, who’s not a really tall quarterback, how he makes such brilliant plays over towering defenders. It’s really just his practice habits. On passing plays, you can see that he manipulates the pocket so he can see between and over lineman. It’s almost like he’s on his tippy-toes trying to look over them. Every rep in practice, when he drops back and when he throws the ball, he stays in his throwing position and goes through his other reads as well. So when you see him in a game, if his first look’s not there, he’s quickly onto his second read. That’s how he makes those accurate throws at the drop of a dime—so much practice that when he gets to the game, it’s probably all slow motion for him.
We’ve now got a stretch coming up with two straight road dogfights versus the Bears and Pats. To win on the road is hard to do in the NFL. So every day we’ve gotta come to work focused and find a way to win.
—As told to Ashley Jude Collie