Richard Sherman, Seattle’s talented and gregarious All-Pro cornerback, recently placed Drew Brees on his list of the five smartest NFL quarterbacks, a testament to Brees’ ability to adjust mid-game and dominate.
Then Sherman’s assessment in honesty included a not-so-favorable look at Brees’ work against the league’s top defense heading into Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff at CenturyLink Field. While Sherman used “incredible” to quantify Brees’ heroics, he added the most important factor of his 2013 rematch.
“He’s never done that to us,” Sherman wrote in an article this week for Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback.
In other words, Brees is a great quarterback, but he’s proved to not be good enough to beat the Seahawks. Certainly not during a 34-7 road loss on Dec. 2.
As you can imagine, Sherman is rarely short on opinions. The rest of Sherman’s top five: Denver’s Peyton Manning, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Seattle’s own Russell Wilson. New England’s Tom Brady was given “honorable mention” as the toughest quarterback to intercept.
Sherman was unsure why Brees’ future Hall of Fame credentials haven’t been enough to combat the Seahawks.
“Well, I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you, truthfully,” Sherman said Tuesday afternoon in a conference call with reporters. “We don’t run the most complex scheme. We don’t do anything too exotic. I don’t really have the answer to that.”
Brees disagreed with Sherman’s take, saying the Saints were able to make adjustments during their Week 13 game against Seattle (13-3).
“I did feel like we made adjustments,” Brees said. “We were just down 34-7 mid-third quarter.”
Sherman did see the Saints’ offensive improvements at Philadelphia after a two-interception first-half start.
“I’m sure he wanted them back,” Sherman said of the interceptions. “But in the second half, they made the adjustments and they scored at will, pretty much, and won the ball game. Those are the kinds of things you expect from Drew Brees.”
Except against Seattle.
Except against Sherman’s secondary.
Sherman earned national recognition for his play on the field with the NFL’s best defense in 2013. Seattle, which had a bye last week, held regular-season opponents to 273.6 yards per game, including a league-best 172 passing yards. The Saints ranked fourth (305.7) overall in defense, and second against the pass (194.1).
“We study concepts, we study plays, we study tendencies, quarterbacks, their movements,” Sherman said. “We’re really a very disciplined, film-watching football team. I think when you work that hard, when you study that hard, when you’re not out partying and you’re spending that time watching film, and getting ready for your opponents, it benefits you.”
He’s also earned popularity for his outspoken personality, which included a public game beef with Brady, which included a now-famous “You Mad Bro?” picture circulated on social media following a 24-23 Seahawks victory against Brady’s Patriots.
At Seattle, Brees completed 23 of 38 passes for 147 yards, his lowest output since joining the Saints from San Diego before the 2006 season. His early mistakes included a first-quarter sack and fumble, which Michael Bennett returned for a 22-yard touchdown.
It’s the type of early-game mistakes Brees has tried to avoid, but have followed him from St. Louis (interception) to Philadelphia (two first-half interceptions).
“We got down in the red zone two times in the fourth quarter and didn’t make it (drive halted at Seattle 32, 22) on fourth down. We had some errors on our part in terms of getting lined up and running the plays as we had game planned and practice. Some of that stuff was on us.”
Brees also said the Saints win against the Eagles marked the latest example of a franchise without a panic button.
“Historic numbers and accomplishments,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Brees. “There’s nothing the guy can’t do.”
But can be beat the Seahawks?