Thursday, January 28, 2010

Payton vs. Peyton

Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, was able to apply dangerous pressure on Brett Favre and Kurt Warner, but he won't have the same success against Peyton Manning...he never has...

     Saints vs. Colts. The clash of the titans. Is that too corny? Either way, I can't think of a better phrase for next Sunday's Super Bowl. This will be the first time the two number one seeds face off in the championship game since the Cowboys and Bills in '92. Even more exciting is the fact that these two teams were undefeated for about 90% of the season. This is the game that no one thought would happen because it seemed too unlikely; too good to come true. I'm also happy as a Patriots fan. If any team has a chance to keep Peyton Manning from putting on another ring, it's the Saints. Still, it's no easy task. Drew Brees was great this season but no quarterback played better than Peyton Manning. If the Saints are going to beat the Colts it's going to have to be through offense.
     Manning possesses the seemingly unbeatable ability to quickly dissect defenses and tear them apart. When blitzed he gets rid of the ball quickly. When given time he hurts you for a big gain. Even the number one blitz happy defense of the Jets couldn't stop Manning, allowing him to pass for 377 yards and three touchdowns. This fact hasn't deterred New Orleans defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, who made no secret this week about his defensive strategy. The plan is simple - get to Manning and hurt him. Williams told 104.5 in Nashville, "...we’re going to have to do a good job of finding ways to get to him and when we do get to him we’re going to have to make sure he gets a couple ‘remember me’ shots when we get there.... And the only thing you’d like for me to say is that if it happens you hope he doesn’t get back up and play again." Strong words but not surprising. This game plan shouldn't be alarming to anyone who watched the Saints play the Cardinals and Vikings. New Orleans hit these quarterbacks so hard that in both games we saw the QBs limp off the field, leaving us to assume their backups would take over. After the Saints aggressive beat down on Warner and Favre, both are now seriously considering retirement. Forget about knocking them out of the game, the Saints knocked them out of the sport.
     However, anyone who thinks the Saints defense has a chance to get to Manning doesn't know Gregg Williams well enough. This won't be the first time Peyton Manning has faced a Williams coached defense. In the 7 times the two have met, Manning has been mostly dominant. The Colts' quarterback's high against Williams was throwing for 421 yards and 4 TDs in '01 when Williams was head coach of the Bills. In seven meetings, Manning has thrown for a combined 1,998 yards and 14 touchdowns of which the Saints' coordinator holds a paltry 2-5 record. There may be some skepticism added to those two wins as well. The first one was in 1999 when Williams was the defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl bound Titans and Manning was only in his second season. Williams' second victory came nearly ten years later in '08 as defensive coordinator for the Jaguars. However, this was early last year when Manning was recovering from an injury and didn't look sharp against anyone. Later that season, when Manning was feeling better, he decimated Williams' defense - throwing for 364 yards and 3 touchdowns.
    It should be obvious that Manning holds the edge over the Saints' aggressive defense. In order to win the game, New Orleans will have to rely on their explosive offense to keep up with the Colts. With Manning undoubtedly putting up tons of points it will be up to the offensive mind of Sean Payton to keep his team in the game. Because Manning is so good against any defense, the matchup to watch isn't Williams vs. Peyton but Payton vs. Peyton.


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