For two full seasons now, Drew Brees has been showing up for games with a kid brother in tow.
We’re talking about the New Orleans Saints’ defense. It’s just good enough to go out there and stand on the field while Brees is on the sideline. But it’s not nearly good enough to win games on its own.
Brees and the offense have done the heavy lifting last season and this season, and the Saints have won a lot of games. But, if the Saints are going to get back to being Super Bowl champions like they were in the 2009 season, the little brother is going to have to grow up in a hurry and carry his weight.
Maybe it comes in Saturday’s divisional-round playoff game at San Francisco. Maybe it comes in the NFC Championship Game, or maybe it comes in the Super Bowl.
But, at some point this postseason, the New Orleans defense is going to have to stand on its own two feet if the team is going to win a championship. I’m not saying the Saints need to go out and totally shut down an offense. That’s not the style of defense they used in their championship season, and it’s not what’s in their defensive playbook.
I’m simply saying there will come a point in time when the New Orleans defense has a chance to step up and make a play or two. If it happens, the Saints can win a championship. If it doesn’t, they’ll have another premature exit like last year, when they went to Seattle and couldn’t tackle Marshawn Lynch.
San Francisco’s Frank Gore can run the ball and quarterback Alex Smith has figured out how to be efficient. The 49ers are quickly becoming famous for their defense, a unit that ranked fourth in the NFL this season.
If that San Francisco defense can just slow Brees a little bit, this may be one game where New Orleans’ offense isn’t enough. You can go 13-3 in the regular season with no defense, but you’re bound to need some stops or some turnovers in the postseason.
If the Saints don’t realize that, they’re going to get burned. It seems everybody’s talking about the matchup between Brees and the San Francisco defense. Brees re-wrote the passing record books and the 49ers’ defense gets compared to teams like the 1985 Chicago Bears. Once in a while, there’s even a bit of talk about the San Francisco offense, but there really hasn’t been much said about the New Orleans defense.
That’s something the New Orleans defense has noticed.
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