The Bucs defensive linemen call New Orleans Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees a "trophy sack" because he is so hard to bring down due to his quick release and the array of receivers he has to throw the ball to.
In order for Tampa Bay to have a chance at the 2010 playoffs, the Buccaneers must get a win at New Orleans against the 11-4 Saints on Sunday and then hope for some help from Washington beating the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears beating the Green Bay Packers. Both the Giants and Packers have 9-5 records like the Bucs.
Of course Tampa Bay is also hoping that New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees either doesn’t play due to the fact that the Saints are virtually locked in to the No. 3 seed in the NFC, or just doesn’t play well. Brees, who was recognized as a Pro Bowler for the fifth time this week, threw for three touchdowns in the Saints’ 31-6 victory over the Bucs in Week 6 earlier this season.
So what makes Brees, who has completed 426-of-620 passes (68.7 percent) for 4,424 yards with 32 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 2010, so hard to stop? Consider that he has one of the quickest releases in the NFL, which makes sacking him incredibly difficult to do.
“Brees has got a real quick release,” said Bucs starting right defensive end Michael Bennett, who has one sack this season. “He’s one of the best in the NFL. You can’t get to him because he’s so smart and he’s so good at what he does. It’s going to take a lot to get to him this weekend. We have to get it started up front to help the DBs out with the receivers they have. He’s one of those guys like Peyton Manning that rarely gets sacked, so when you get him down it’s like it should count twice.”
Brees has been sacked just 22 times this year despite dropping back to throw 620 times. That’s an average of one sack per 28 attempts. Compare that to Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman, who has only been sacked 25 times this year but only has 448 passing attempts. That’s an average of one sack per 17 attempts.
“He’s very frustrating to sack,” said Bucs defensive end Tim Crowder. “Brees is definitely the wheels on that bus. He drives that offense and if you put another quarterback in there I assure you that you would see a difference. Not a lot of people get sacks on him. He gets the ball away. He’s great with his pocket presence and avoiding the rush. He feels you. He drops his shoulder. That’s why he’s a Pro Bowler and one of the best in the league.
“Brees is definitely a trophy sack. You know how hard it is to get a sack on him. That’s why you have to continue to rush because there be that one time where he holds it and that may be the only time you’ll get that game because everything else is gone quick.”
Bucs head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said that Brees is so difficult to sack because the Saints have so many weapons on offense.
“It’s amazing,” Morris said. “They want you to lock in on somebody and kill you with the other guy. I tell these guys that you have to go out and play fast, hard, smart and consistent. That means do your job every single play. He’s going to find the right place to put the ball – he being Drew Brees. That’s what he’s trained to do. That’s what he’s coached to do. They do an awesome job of taking you through those progressions. He does an awesome job of getting exactly what he wants on every single play. They do a great job of protection, and he does a great job of avoiding [pressure] when it does break down and really keeping plays alive and finding his check-down back and working the pocket. You can’t say enough positive things about what he does as a quarterback similar to what our guy is doing for us.”
Led by Marques Colston’s 84 catches for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns, the Saints have an amazing 10 different pass-catchers with at least 23 catches this season. Compare that to Tampa Bay, which only has five receivers with over 20 catches and one can see why Brees is so effective in spreading the ball around and so hard to get to.
“That’s what makes it so difficult because some teams have that one guy that they get the ball to,” Bennett said. “When you only have one guy, a QB will sometimes hang on to the ball an extra second. Brees doens't do that. New Orleans isn’t like that and that’s why they are so good. They don’t always throw to the same guy and whatever guy they put in the game, Brees will find a way to get him the ball. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are like that, too. The great ones don’t always look for just one guy.
“I was looking at his receiver chart the other day and it’s crazy. Jimmy Graham is a rookie tight end and he has 36 catches. Everybody gets the ball over there. They get everybody the ball.”
With Colston likely out with knee surgery earlier this week, the Saints will likely get the ball more to their rookie tight end, who has 29 catches for 341 yards and four touchdowns this season.
“The big tight end is really coming on and he’s going to be a special player,” Crowder said. “The reason why their offense is so dangerous is because they don’t have a go-to receiver. A lot of people don’t realize that any receiver they have can be a go-to receiver for anyone else. They are that good of players. You can’t double anybody. Everything is a quick throw with Brees at quarterback. He’s hard to stop.”
Aside from his quick release and the plethora of dangerous receivers he has to throw to, what makes Brees and the Saints offense so deadly is the play-calling of head coach Sean Payton, who scripts the first 15 plays of each game to help New Orleans get off to fast starts.
“Their first 15 [plays] are phenomenal,” Morris said. “I’m going to go do a study after this is done and see if I’ve ever stopped him on the first drive. I’m going to go try to find it. You can’t let it discourage you. [Payton] is pretty good at getting the ball and coming out and having a detailed plan and readying himself to try to beat you. I’ve tried different things. You try to trick them. That didn’t work the last time, obviously. You go out there and play simple and sometimes that didn’t work. Sometimes you just have to go out there and give it your best effort and call your game and let it flow to you and come natural. You can go out there and do different things because he’s going to give you a plethora of different personnel groups. He’s going to give you a bunch of different people. He’s going to give you the same stuff, the same thing he does every week out of different looks. They do a great job, man. I give a lot of credit to Coach Payton and his staff for what they were able to do.”
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.