THE MASTER PLAN: Slowing down Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) rallies teammates in a huddle before taking on the Atlanta Falcons in an NFL football game in Atlanta, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009. (Associated Press Photo/John Amis)

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) rallies teammates in a huddle before taking on the Atlanta Falcons in an NFL football game in Atlanta, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009. (Associated Press Photo/John Amis)

FLOWERY BRANCH – New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is still pretty dangerous, but his play has dipped some this season.

His passer rating of 93.5 is well below the 109.5 he had last season while guiding the Saints to the Super Bowl.

His touchdown percentage of 5.4 is below the 6.6 mark he had last season.

Safety Thomas DeCoud "congradtulating" Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Monday Night Football on Nov. 2. The hit led to a Falcons touchdown.

Safety Thomas DeCoud "congradtulating" Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Monday Night Football on Nov. 2. The hit led to a Falcons touchdown.

Brees has also thrown a career-high 19 interceptions and has been sacked 21 times. He was sacked just 20 times last season.

While there are signs that  Brees is not invincible this season, the Falcons are still high on him and consider the reigning Super Bowl MVP in the top echelon of quarterbacks.

“His completion percentage and his ability to distribute the ball has just been unbelievable,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He’s a great fit for head coach Sean Payton’s offensive scheme and what they want to do. He’s almost completing 70 percent of his passes and last year I believe he was over 70 percent if I’m not mistaken.”

(Coach Smith is always on top of his stats. Brees is completing 68.5 percent of his passes after completing 70.6 last season.)

In basketball, when playing a team with a high scorer sometimes you try to take away the high scorer. But if he’s too good, then you have to take away the lesser players and see if the high scorer can beat you by himself.

Against the Saints, the Falcons have to decide if they want to take away Brees, who controls everything or try to eliminated some of his weapons. He has so many weapons that it’s nearly impossible to take all of them away.

Here’s how the Falcons can take away some of Brees’ vast weaponry.

Reggie Bush breaking loose against Arizona. (Associated Press)

Reggie Bush breaking loose against Arizona. (Associated Press)

ATTACK BREES: The defensive line must get to Brees and take him out of his game. They call it moving him off his spot.

The Falcons got two sacks and four quarterback back hits in the previous matchup.  The defensive line has eight sacks over the last three games.

They need to get more than two sacks and many more than four hits on Brees to knock him off his game.

“We’ve been effective recently in our pass rush and better in pressure,” defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said. “Our speed and pressure has been better the last couple of games. It’s still an area where we are constantly talking about and working on and emphasizing. But I thought last week out in Seattle it was outstanding especially in the third quarter when we

Rams wide receiver Laurent Robinson (19. right) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons safety William Moore (25) during the first quarter. AP

Rams wide receiver Laurent Robinson (19. right) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons safety William Moore (25) during the first quarter. AP

came out and affected the quarterback and had three straight takeaways. All of that was a big result of pressure to the quarterback.”

STOP BUSH & THE RUN GAME: Rookie LB Sean Weatherspoon needs to shut down Reggie Bush on the screens and swing passes out of the backfield. He’ll have to be a sure tackler and not go for Bush’s smooth fakes and stutter steps.

The Falcons held the Saints to 43 yards rushing in the last matchup.

“If you’ve played them as much as we have, we’ve had a number of games where they’ve been very effective running the football against us,” VanGorder said. “We always start our defense there. Let’s concern ourselves with stopping the run and we certainly have had a number of games where we haven’t played very well against the run with New Orleans. That’s where we start our day.”

TAKE AWAY SHOCKEY: Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey caught eight passes for 78 yards and one touchdown in the last meeting.

Second-year safety William Moore was making his second start against the Saints on Sept. 27.

Let’s just be kind and write that he was taught a few things about covering tight ends in the league in that game.

Brian Williams had an impact in his first game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

Brian Williams had an impact in his first game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

“We play them a little different each time we line up with them,” VanGorder said. “Every game has been a learning experience with them. They are a handful. . .  they are always a great, great challenge for everybody in the NFL.”

Moore has been coming along nicely.

“I like where he is in terms of his study habits right now and his attention to detail,” VanGorder said. “I’ll be quite frank with you, he’s done a better job than even I had anticipated early on as he entered our lineup and that’s a credit to him. . . he’s going to make mistakes, but we look forward to him really playing through some of those mistakes.”

Also, safety Erik Coleman, who lost his job to Moore, has been a professional about the move after being the team’s second-leading tackler over the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

“Erik is tremendous,” VanGorder said. “He’s very knowledgeable. He’s a good solid man that has been extremely helpful to William through this process.”

(Feel free to come up with your own ways to slow down  Drew Brees and the Saints’ sixth ranked offense. Nickel back Brian Williams should do a better job on Lance Moore. He didn’t play in the first game, either.)

–D. Orlando Ledbetter

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179 comments Add your comment

Chris

December 27th, 2010
7:05 am

Take care of business tonight.

HowBoutDemBirds!

December 27th, 2010
7:19 am

I’m early, but who cares?

*in my Sam Jackson voice*

WHAT DO FALCONS DO?!?!?!

G. Gallman

December 27th, 2010
7:23 am

Ive got a feeling…we bout to kick some Saint’s butt….

G. Gallman

December 27th, 2010
7:24 am

RISE UP!!!!!

gabeaux

December 27th, 2010
7:31 am

The Saints are going down.

Hardy Falcon

December 27th, 2010
7:40 am

Tonight is a HUGE Statement night, We need to win and make a ststement to the entire NFL that we are back and heRe to stay for a long-long TIME!

Charming Harmon

December 27th, 2010
7:40 am

Enter your comments here

SeenHimHateB4

December 27th, 2010
7:45 am

ITS GOING DOWN TONIGHT WE WILL SHOW EVERYONE WHY ATLANTA IS AN ELITE TEAM AND FAVORITE TO GO TO THE BOWL. WE WILL CONTROL THE CLOCK WITH BALL CONTROL AND KEEP BREES OFF THE FIELD FALCONS WIN 24-14.

Charming Harmon

December 27th, 2010
7:45 am

#1 – The ICE HOUSE needs to be rocking from the very start.
#2 – Make it as physcial as possible.
#3 – Play our game.

I’ve been following this team since 66′ and I hope this team only gets better!

GO FALCONS!

David

December 27th, 2010
7:48 am

I am afraid our DBs are in for a long day.
GO FALCONS! RISE UP!

HowBoutDemBirds

December 27th, 2010
7:51 am

Although our defense is awesome with big plays, it needs to step up more. That being said, it should be a good game. On side of me want a challenging game for entertainment, but the other side of me want a blowout. I’m hoping the birds embarrass them tonight. I hope this game turn into the Packers vs Giants game from yesterday. Hopefully Brees turn into E. Manning.

kaminari

December 27th, 2010
7:57 am

I can’t tell you how much smack I’ve seen the Saints fans talking up these past few days. They say the Falcons are frauds, that we’re lucky to have the record he do. And it doesn’t stop there. The media which precipitated Roddy’s tweets. Everybody out there (not a Falcons fan) is saying that we don’t want this game as much as the Saints, that we don’t need it, that we’re gonna go down and will end up exposed as the weaker team. But none of it adds up.

The key will be coaching. Will the Falcons remain confident that they can win the game without getting too creative in trying to stop Brees. The guys a winner, but so is Matt Ryan.

I say we get aggressive, stay aggressive. This game is more of a statement for the Falcons defense than anything else. Can we shut down a high-powered offense. The Saints aren’t the team they were last year, but they’ve still got some flash in their pan. I hope we beat these guys big. Go Falcons!!

DON

December 27th, 2010
8:00 am

Falcons 27 Saints 24 GO FALCONS !!!!!

Rise Up!

December 27th, 2010
8:10 am

Seems like for the past 30 years (Big Ben, baby!), no matter what type of season either team is having … these 2 teams play each other hard, the games are quite entertaining and the outcomes are usually tight. Looking forward to more of the same tonight!

Charleston Jacket

December 27th, 2010
8:19 am

Need to play smart, physical and agressive. If we get conservative as CMS is prone to do we could end up on the short end. My team since ‘66! Go Falcons!

Bell

December 27th, 2010
8:28 am

Let’s keep our eye on the big picture here. We have to win one of the next 2 games to get what we want. Odds are that we will see the Saints again in 3 weeks. Let’s not go for broke tonight and save it for then. Who cares about statement games, that’s for people who don’t have their eye on the big picture. Let’s hope the Bears win Sunday and make the Eagles have to play an extra game and then go to Soldier field before possibly coming to Atlanta. Statement games mean nothing. The playoffs are where you care about that. Go Falcons.

gadome

December 27th, 2010
8:29 am

The Falcons defensive ends should rush Brees from an angle rather than up field so that he doesn’t have a chance to duck underneath the rush. When he gets underneath the rush is where he has an open field to find reciecers plus we need to bring a safety to help colapse the pocket around him.

D. Bell

December 27th, 2010
8:33 am

The Saints are posers; they’ve been beat by two bad teams and needed last minute miracles to pull out several of their wins. They’ll lose tonight and again Sunday against the Bucs.

SimpleDawg

December 27th, 2010
8:35 am

It’s no secret….put him on his ass. Every time he drops back to pass, hit him. Get people in his face and he can’t see down field. The front 4 must control the line of scrimmage, leaving the linebackers to make plays within the first down yardage area.

Simple.

gadome

December 27th, 2010
8:36 am

Our corner backs will have to step it up because the Aints recievers will be all over the place and we can;t give Brees time to find them. Then we get a chance on the running backs we’ve got to tackle them on the first onset not six or seven yards down field.

Michael the idea man

December 27th, 2010
8:39 am

Hit Brees every chance you get…hit him hard….then outscore ‘em, ’cause the game is going to be high scoring…31-30 Falcons

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Mike

December 27th, 2010
8:49 am

I think that the biggest thing we can do is to win the T.O.P., the longer the Matty Ice and company on the field, the longer it will take for Saints to get their off. on the field. In other words, our greatest defense is our off.

SickandTired

December 27th, 2010
8:49 am

Let’s Geaux get it on with dem Saints. Knock Breesy out for the season and stomp a mud hole in their arse.

gadome

December 27th, 2010
8:49 am

Brees isn’t that tall so if we can presuure him he will throw interceptions but we need to hit or sack him to make him uncomfortable in the pockett.

Saints R.E.A.M.

December 27th, 2010
8:49 am

This game will be fun to watch. However, expect to see the Saints running game on display….especially when Pierre T & Chris Ivory are in. That will be the x-factor…because then the play-action opens up the Big plays against the weak Falcon Safeties. Also, Shockey & rookie Jimmy Graham at TE can also cause problems. Saints win this one by 10 or more points….Media will scream the Falcons are Frauds (which is untrue).

Juice

December 27th, 2010
8:52 am

To the Who Dat Nation: We Dat! We Dat! We Dat said we gonna beat them Saints! Go Falcons.

gadome

December 27th, 2010
9:04 am

Naw the way theses Falcons are playing I don’t see them losing another game which would include the Super Bowl. Only then we will gain respect but it wont be needed cause we will have fulfilled our goal which is to win it all.

Pkkokin1

December 27th, 2010
9:07 am

Respect to the superbowl champs. Saints are coming and they are going to take care of business.
Saints – Falcons
45 – 20

gadome

December 27th, 2010
9:14 am

It’s funny the Aints will get home to N. O. before their fans and it will be a long trip back for both of them.

steverino

December 27th, 2010
9:16 am

My feeling is that the only way we beat the saints is to outscore them. We MUST put points on the board every possession. We will stop them occasionally, but they will score and score alot. Obviously, we must score more. This game will be decided by the most efficient offense, not the defense.

Falcons Josh

December 27th, 2010
9:19 am

Time to beat DAT @ss and RISE UP!!!!!!

Samuel

December 27th, 2010
9:19 am

I think Biermann has to have a solid game where he can generate at least two sacks. I think abe will be competitive through out the game. Some blitzing from our linebackers can be very helpful. We must slow down the run.

mountain_jim

December 27th, 2010
9:26 am

I disagree with Bell – we need to put everything on the table in this game to dismantle the Saints, so demoralize them that Tampa Bay beats them next week and we don’t see them again this season.

Give them Nothing! But take from them Everything!

(see Supes incredible poster art for the game at Falcons Forum:)

http://life.atlantafalcons.com/topic/3911620-falco-addresses-his-troops-give-them-nothing/

truth

December 27th, 2010
9:44 am

The team with the most points at the end of the game will be the winner. And that’s the truth. :)
For real, this game will be a tough battle and it really could go either way. To say the Falcons want it more or the aints want it more is not logical. Both teams want this game in a bad way. Gonna be fun to watch.

GEAUX FALCONS!!!

falconfanriseup

December 27th, 2010
9:49 am

Rise up FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

falconfanriseup

December 27th, 2010
9:52 am

The way our Dline, Dbacks, LB are playing we wont give up no more than 14 points and we win 31-10 Rise up Falcons

GregKennesaw

December 27th, 2010
9:54 am

Pkkokin1

Really? the last 3 games between these 2 teams have been close, this year look at the points for and against for both teams, These teams are evenly matched and you’re predicting a blow-out?

Sandy

December 27th, 2010
9:54 am

Hi,
I just wanted to say that after reading the article & all the comments that the Saints are a great team. I am a Saints fan and if the Saints want it badly enough I believe they can win tonight’s game. [no disrespect towards any falcon's fans] I believe that tonight’s game will be fought out on both sides. I know some1 posted & said the saints fans are talking a lot of crap. that’s not entirely true. there might be some out there who are but not ALL saints fans are and im sure there are a ton of Falcon Fan’s who are talking crap abt the Saints. So why not just every1 be respectful to each other? I dont see any point in rude comments from any one.
Go Saints!

Chop Buster

December 27th, 2010
9:55 am

To disrupt Brees we have to:
1. Play tight coverage on the WRs
2. Have our safeties account for their TEs
3. Have our LBs shadow the RBs
4. Get to Brees with just our front four (get him out of rhythm, knock him to the ground every chance we get, make him turnover the ball with fumbles or poor pass decisions, and for God sake DL bat the ball down when you can’t get to him).

Our Falcons must “Rise Up” and prove to the world on MNF that when we beat them earlier this year, it wasn’t a fluke. Our boys are on a mission. GO FALCONS!!!

GregKennesaw

December 27th, 2010
9:56 am

I think if Falcons don’t get behind early, can stay in their game, which means no turnovers, Turner gets a 100+ yards then the falcons win a lcose one. I would have preferred that white keep his #$#$%^ mouth shut. what is it about WR’s?

Show me state

December 27th, 2010
9:56 am

Let’s get it done on monday night football ATL…Go Falcons!!!!

GregKennesaw

December 27th, 2010
9:57 am

should be close not lcose

GregKennesaw

December 27th, 2010
9:59 am

Need some Grimes magic tonight, also remember the hit DeCoud put on Brees last year?

norman

December 27th, 2010
10:00 am

The key is the Falcons offensive line. I have a feeling that they are going to be a nasty group, and the Saints defensive line are going to get bruised tonight.

SawThat1nce

December 27th, 2010
10:00 am

Falcons 31—–saints 0

Chop Buster

December 27th, 2010
10:01 am

One more thing, don’t show Brees where the pressure is coming from when he comes to the line. He’s looking for us to show our hand so he can audible out of the call. Let’s be creative BVG and show him something he has not seen all year.

SawThat1nce

December 27th, 2010
10:02 am

What would the saints be, without Drew Brees?

DAMION SIMS

December 27th, 2010
10:04 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPqx6nRYnpU

RISE UP FALCONS…..THE BEST HAS YET TO COME! CHECK OUT THE HOTTEST SONG IN THE CITY!!

FALCON FEVER

December 27th, 2010
10:05 am

THIS IS THE BEST TEAM IN THE NFL THAT’S FLYING UNDER THE RADAR…CHECK OUT MY VIDEO ‘RISE UP’ A TRIBUTE TO THIS GREAT TEAM! PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT OR TWO!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPqx6nRYnpU