Archive

ShareThis Page
Steelers realize that Brees-led Saints are always dangerous | TribLIVE.com
Steelers/NFL

Steelers realize that Brees-led Saints are always dangerous

Tribune-Review
| Tuesday, November 25, 2014 12:01 a.m
ptrdrewbrees112414
Getty Images
Saints quarterback Drew Brees participates in warmups prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Steelers safety Mike Mitchell saw enough of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees last season to understand what it takes to minimize his effectiveness. Still, he watched Monday night’s game to see how Baltimore game-planned one of the league’s most prolific passers.

“He’s one of those guys when you’re watching on tape you try to figure out what he’s doing, and you appreciate how good he is,” Mitchell said after Monday’s practice. “From the neck up, he’s one of the best three quarterbacks in the league.

“He knows how to manipulate (defensive backs) in the post and linebackers in the red zone. He moves them with his eyes, and he knows exactly what he wants to do with the football.”

Last season, Brees had a field day in the Saints’ first meeting against Mitchell’s former team, eventual NFC South champion Carolina. Brees passed for 313 yards and four touchdowns as the Saints rolled 31-13.

Mitchell and the Panthers countered with a narrow 17-13 victory in a rematch, partly because they took Brees out of his comfort zone with a relentless pass rush that led to six sacks and two interceptions.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison said that will be the game plan when the Steelers (7-4) face the Saints on Sunday at Heinz Field in a game with playoff implications for both.

“We have to pressure him constantly,” said Harrison, who has a team-high four sacks and 12 quarterback pressures. “They are struggling in terms of wins and losses, but the offense isn’t struggling.”

The Saints are second in total offense behind Indianapolis.

Brees completed 290 of 417 passes for 3,071 yards and 19 touchdowns entering Monday night’s game.

However, the Saints barely are keeping pace with the Atlanta Falcons (4-7) because they are 27th with a minus-9 turnover ratio.

“The turnovers have set them back, but their offense is up there,” Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said. “We can’t overlook the fact they have great stats. They’re waiting on a team to give them a chance, and we can’t be that team.”

The Saints offense isn’t as balanced as in previous seasons. Yet running backs Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram have run effectively enough that New Orleans is seventh in rushing to complement a passing attack that’s third in net yards.

Brees has reliable targets in Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham (59 receptions) and receiver Marques Colston (53). He’ll be without rookie standout Brandin Cooks, who was placed on injured reserve with a broken thumb.

The offense has clicked despite the losses of running back Darren Sproles (Philadelphia) and Steelers receiver Lance Moore.

“You don’t see the crazy Sproles plays where a running back gets the check-down pass and goes 40 yards,” Mitchell said. “They still throw to the backs a lot, and he gets the ball out fast. They’re still doing the same things with Graham and Colston. The receivers are good in the seams and they all are vertical threats in the red zone.”

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rpaulk@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.