Tag:Drew Brees
Posted on: October 5, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 11:39 pm
 

Aaron Rodgers has NFL's most popular jersey

One more thing Rodgers is the best at: moving merchandise. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Well, this certainly won't make Brett Favre happy: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, in addition to having all of his good fortune gifted to him by his predecessor's hard work, is also leading NFL jersey sales.

The latest numbers were released Wednesday and it's just more evidence that Rodgers is at the top of his game. He's fresh off Super Bowl MVP honors and is currently in charge of the league's most efficient offense (highlighted by his performance last week against the Broncos: 29 of 38 for 408 yards, four touchdown passes, two touchdown runs and -- to steal our own material -- the inevitably awesome championship belt end-zone routine).

According to NFLShop.com (via CNBC's Darren Rovell), Tom Brady and Michael Vick were Nos. 2 and 3 on the list, followed by Troy Polamalu (who was first at the end of the 2010 regular season), Clay Matthews, Drew Brees, and three Cowboys -- Tony Romo, Miles Austin and Jason Witten -- rounding out the top 10.

Noticeably absent? Tim Tebow.

Rovell explains: "Lack of seeing playing time hurt two notable players. In the offseason, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was in the top 10 of jersey sales at No. 10. As Tebow hasn't played, he has slipped dramatically. He fell on Wednesday's list, based on sales from April 1 to Sept. 30, to No. 24. Peyton Manning, who hasn't taken a snap for the Colts this year, fell from 9th to 13th.

"Other players that saw a notable dropoff were Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace were in the Top 25 in the offseason, but didn't make the list this year. Hines Ward dropped from No. 8 to No. 25. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who was at No. 24 in the offseason, also dropped off the list."

The only rookie to make the top 25? Panthers savior Cam Newton, whose jersey outsold Philip Rivers'.

To recap: in addition to NFL quarterbackin', ironically awesome facial hair, keepin' it real, and selling insurance, Rodgers can also move merchandise like nobody's business.

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:17 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Film Room: Panthers vs. Saints preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



The Saints are 3-1 but it’s the 1-3 Panthers creating most of the chatter. Or, Cam Newton creating the chatter. Through a quarter of his rookie season, the No. 1 overall pick is, in a word, sensational. But obviously not perfect. The Panthers are still dwelling in the basement of the NFC South.

Here’s a comprehensive look at Newton and his club as they head into their first divisional showdown of the season.



1. How good is he, really?
Through four games, Newton has far exceeded all expectations. Remarkably, this includes expectations about his physical talents. We knew the 6’5”, 245-pound Auburn Tiger was an athletic monster, but rarely are quarterbacks still athletic monsters once they reach the NFL. Newton has been a productive runner, both with power and speed.

He’s a poor man’s Vick when it comes to eluding tacklers and a poor man’s Roethlisberger when it comes to shedding them. That’s a rich combination considering no other quarterback truly exhibits any of these traits (save for maybe Josh Freeman shedding defenders).

Most impressive, however, is that Newton has not leaned on his athleticism. Operating almost exclusively out of shotguns, he’s been a willing and poised statuesque passer who willingly works through his progressions from the pocket. His decisions are usually capped off by a bullet either downfield, outside the numbers (he has the uncanny arm strength to stretch the field both horizontally and vertically) or, if need be, underneath.

For the most part, Newton’s decisions have been good. He has faced an aggressive blitzing defense in Arizona, a classic 3-4 press defense in Green Bay (playing without Tramon Williams, the Packers kept Charles Woodson outside and blitzed far less often than usual that game) and, most recently, a classic Cover 2 defense in Chicago. He posted a legit 370-plus yards passing against all three of them.

The proof that it’s not all daisies and roses is that Newton also threw crucial interceptions in all three games and came away with a loss. He’s still a rookie and still prone to the occasional blunder. The blunders have been far less frequent than anyone expected, but they’ve been costly nevertheless.

2. Panthers dual tight ends
We assumed that with tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen, Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski would craft a dink-and-dunk, run-first system. Indeed, the Panthers have kept two tight ends on the field a majority of the time, but often, at least one of them (usually Olsen) has split out, serving essentially as a No. 3 receiver.

This poses serious personnel issues for defenses. Leave your base three-linebacker unit on the field and risk getting burned through the air (Shockey and Olsen have been superb downfield route runners the first four weeks). Use your nickel personnel and you risk getting run on by a team that always has a top-10 running back on the field.

The Saints are one of the few defenses that have an answer for this: strong safety Roman Harper. He is their second best run defender (behind Jonathan Vilma) and a demon in the box. He’s versatile enough to play press man coverage (he’s not particularly good at it, but Gregg Williams feels comfortable using him sporadically in this capacity) or blitz (3.5 sacks on the season).
 
Expect the Panthers in Week 5 to continue to be pass-first with their tight ends. And expect the Saints to not simply react to this, but rather, to attack by changing up what they do with Harper throughout the game in order to get Newton thinking.

3. Running Impact
Newton is the first quarterback since Vick to pose a veritable threat as a runner (Vince Young can’t be counted as a running threat quarterback because he was such a limited passer that defenses could get away with putting nine in the box against him; not a chance that happens against Newton). Having a running threat under center does wonders for your rushing attack.

The Panthers have all the resources to pound teams on the ground – DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are an excellent duo, center Ryan Kalil can lock defenders at both the first and second level, left tackle Jordan Gross is a Pro Bowler and right tackle Jeff Otah flashed his old power against Chicago last week. But for whatever reason, Chudzinski has not gone in that direction. Carolina is averaging 25.5 rushing attempts per game, tied for 18th in the NFL.

Chudzinski would be wise to change this. The threat that Newton poses really opens things up. We saw this on the third play of the game against Chicago last week:


4. What Newton will see from Saints D
The Saints have one of the most aggressive defenses in football – both in terms of execution and presnap disguise. That has a lot to do with the trust Gregg Williams has in his secondary. Jabari Greer is one of the best ball-man corners in the game. Patrick Robinson had a rough Week 1 at Green Bay but has come on the last few outings (he was phenomenal at Jacksonville).

Playmaker Tracy Porter was eased back into action last week – he missed two games with a calf injury – and should see more snaps Sunday. When you factor in free safety Malcom Jenkins’ range, the Saints clearly have the resources to handle a Panthers’ wide receiving corps that is underwhelming outside of Steve Smith.

Dealing with the tight ends might be an issue, but Roman Harper’s versatility could cause Newton to question that matchup at times. How will Newton react when he sees Harper leave Olsen or Shockey and blitz? The simple answer would be, “He’ll throw to Olsen or Shockey”. But if you and I can predict this, so can Gregg Williams.

The Saints are one of the best green dog blitzing defenses in the league. (A green dog blitz is when a linebacker has a running back man-to-man, sees that the running back is staying in to pass protect and so he goes after the quarterback in response.) These blitzes can be hard to recognize because they come unexpectedly and late in the action.
 
When blitzing is not involved, Carolina’s offensive line can contain a Saints pass-rush that has been hit-or-miss early this season (the return of end Will Smith certainly helps). Thus, expect Gregg Williams to go after Newton and get him guessing before the snap. Many of Williams’ blitzes come out of nickel personnel packages. The Saints used their nickel later in the game against the Texans to counter the receiving impact of Houston’s two tight ends (Owen Daniels and James Casey). Don’t be surprised if they refer to their nickel early against the Panthers’ two-tight end offense.

5. The other side of the ball
The Saints have remade their offense this season. It now runs through Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham. Sproles has been better for the Saints than Reggie Bush ever was (much better, in fact). That could be in part because Sproles doesn’t yet draw the attention that Bush drew. But more than anything, it’s because he has lightning quick feet and an understanding for how to create and exploit spacing in both the run and pass game.

Graham is the dynamic athlete we all knew he’d be after his 2010 debut. It just so happens that the ex-power forward is developing much quicker than expected. He’s a mismatch for any linebacker, has the size to out-position defensive backs and has better hands than Robert Meachem (who is now the fourth option in this pass offense, behind Sproles, Graham and, when healthy, Marques Colston).

Panthers strong safety Charles Godfrey has been stellar in coverage this season and can compete with Graham, but the Panther linebackers (who are really missing Jon Beason) will have trouble with Sproles. Carolina’s best hope is to get pressure on Brees early in the down.

Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are capable of embarrassing New Orleans’ athletic but grossly unreliable tackles Jermon Bushrod and Charles Brown. But Brees knows this and is also capable of adjusting.

So who will win? Check our Week 5 NFL expert picks for all the games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 9:57 am
 

Packers vs. Saints, Week 1 Preview Podcast

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

We're want your questions! Got something you want answered on the podcast or feel like telling us how dumb smart we are? Email us here.

Wow. What a way to kick off the NFL season, huh? The Saints and Packers soaked the house in fire and set it on fire Thursday night and yes indeed football is back.

We break down Sean Payton's late-game and fourth-down playcalling, talk about how to defend Aaron Rodgers, wonder whether or not there should be some concern with the New Orleans and Green Bay defenses and Will admits that he was absolutely dead wrong on not giving the Packers receivers top-five status.

The guys also break down the Steelers-Ravens game, the Bears-Falcons game and the Cowboys-Jets game.

Then Paul Bessire of PredictionMachine.com joins Will to chat about the statistical outlook for the season, what the best over/unders are for the NFL season, who the best survivor picks for Week 1 are, and much much, more.

Hit the play button below to listen (and did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:11 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 5:43 am
 

So much for a Packers Super Bowl hangover

Posted by Will Brinson

As we mentioned in the preview, Super Bowl winners were a whopping 37-7-1 in their opening weekend the following year.

The Green Bay Packers made it 38 wins for former Super Bowl winners on Thursday with a 42-34 statement win over the Saints in Green Bay.

The over/under of 48 turned out to be a joke, nearly getting smashed in the first half. Also a joke? The Packers needing to get together in the offseason.

"We didn't have offseason workouts," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said glibly after the game. "So I was surprised I was able to read [Randall Cobb's] body language."

Rodgers did just that on a catch-and-run by Cobb that resulted in a diving touchdown, his first score of the game. Rodgers also pointed out Cobb ran the wrong route. Another thing Cobb did "wrong?"

He took a kickoff out of the end zone without coach Mike McCarthy's permission. It's cool, though, because 108 yards later the rookie out of Kentucky was in the end zone, tying the NFL record for the longest kickoff return in history.

The single biggest takeaway from the game was that Rodgers and the Packers offense seemed to pick off like the Super Bowl never ended, scoring four touchdowns on their first five drives and dominating on offense all day. Rodgers finished 27-35 for 312 yards and three touchdowns, James Starks looks poised to take the starting role from Ryan Grant, and Jermichael Finley looks prepped for the breakout year everyone expected before his injury in 2009.

But the Packers weren't the only ones with some firepower. Drew Brees nearly led the Saints on a pretty epic comeback, only New Orleans own rookie, Mark Ingram, was stuffed on an untimed down after A.J. Hawk drew a pass interference call while leaping over Darren Sproles on the final play.

It was an odd call by Sean Payton, particularly considering a run up the middle would have been more effective when he eschewed a shot at three points late in the third quarter and had Brees roll out, only to lose the play and possession.

But fourth-down debates aside, the biggest problem New Orleans -- and the rest of the league -- will have if they see the Packers again is stopping Rodgers and this offense.

The defense will be good again in 2011 (very good, in fact) but this offense is somehow more loaded than it was when the Packers stormed the playoffs. There's little reason to think that the NFC North is even remotely up for grabs if Rodgers and crew can continue playing like this.

And there's even less reason to think they should have been worried about what they did this offseason given they way they showed up on Thursday.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:34 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 5:09 pm
 

7-Point Preview: Packers vs. Saints

Posted by Will Brinson



Eye on Football's patented 7-Point Preview will get you prepped for some of the biggest games of the 2011 NFL season. Don't forget to check out our podcast preview below and Subscribe to the Pick-Six Podcast on iTunes.


1. Green Bay Packers (0-0) vs. New Orleans Saints (0-0)
The NFL is back. (!) And what a way to kick things off, huh? The last two Super Bowl winners square off at one of the sport's greatest venues, Lambeau Field, in primetime on a Thursday following a turmoil-filled lockout that eventually led to one of the craziest offseasons and most anticipated regular seasons in recent NFL history.

It's also the first time that two Super Bowl MVPs -- Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers -- will face off against each other on the NFL's opening weekend since 1993 -- when Troy Aikman and Mark Rypien, of the Cowboys and Redskins, respectively -- went head-to-head.

And presumably the first time that Kid Rock has been within 100 yards of whoever the people are that form Maroon 5. Of course, these bands apparently impressed Packers wideout Greg Jennings, who referred to this game as a "mini-Super Bowl." Mr. Rodgers would like to disagree, sir.

"It's a similar feel to a big game, a playoff game," Rodgers said. "I don't want to say the Super Bowl. There's a big atmosphere outside the stadium. But the only thing that matters is taking care of business on the field."

Winners of Super Bowl XLV last season, the Packers have pretty good historical odds on their side in terms of this opening game. The previous 45 Super Bowl winners are 37-7-1 in their season opener the following year, and 10-0 in the last decade when it comes to showing up early and often the next year.

But then again, the last ten Super Bowl winners probably weren't chugging beer cheese in the offseason, and everyone knows how nasty a hangover that creates.

Of course, that's all the past. We're talking about the future now, and both these teams should be wearing shades. Thanks to the roster-building skils of Ted Thompson, the Packers are arguably the biggest favorite to win the Super Bowl again in 2011 and, honestly, look like team with dynasty stamped all over it.

The Saints had a "down" year in 2010, but are clearly motivated by their embarrassing wild-card loss to Seattle last year and certainly have the personnel and the talent to get back to February.

2. What the Nerds and Degenerate Gamblers Say:
Well, Vegas unsurprisingly has this game as a high-scoring affair, as the over/under is set at 47.5. That's the highest point total of the entire first weekend, which is interesting because it just occurred to me that the lockout will probably cause suppressed over/unders to start the season. And 47.5 is unsurprising because the lockout has people so jacked for football that their willing to throw piles of money on touchdowns.

The Packers are a (relatively) heavy favorite at -4.5. None of our NFL experts picks went towards New Orleans straight-up, and only Clark Judge and I selected the Saints against the spread. I don't want to say that Clark and I came out firing last year and you should bet on the Saints, but Clark and I came out firing last year. You should bet on the Saints.

Unfortunately, there are no stats on-hand to say "hey, the Packers and Saints can really throw the ball well" just quite yet. At least not for this season anyway. But, it's quite interesting that the Saints and Packers are very close in Football Outsiders' projections for the 2011 season. Green Bay's defensive DVOA is nearly elite (like, almost top-six) and a very stout good offense (like, almost top-10).

New Orleans doesn't project to having a particularly impressive defense, but their offensive DVOA is elite, ranking in the top-five.

3. Key Matchup to Watch
With that nerdiness in mind, perhaps the best matchup to pick is Aaron Rodgers vs. Greg Williams. Look, Rodgers may not like fancy GQ photospreads, but he's a very talented quarterback who, as Ryan and I mentioned above, has gotten very good at moving quickly through his progressions. Add in his athleticism and unbelievable arm and, yeah, he's very good at football and very difficult to contain.

That's where Williams -- a fiery fella in his own right -- comes in. If you want to beat Rodgers, you have to put him on the ground. And if you want to put Rodgers on the ground, you have to blitz him, unless you can generate enough pass rush from your defensive line to get through Green Bay's offensive front. (Good luck with that.)

"The one thing about Aaron Rodgers that’s most impressive is that he was the best quarterback last year against the blitz and the pressure," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "He gets the ball out of his hand quick, so we've got to find ways to create some things."

Given that defensive end Will Smith is suspended for this game, there's an even bigger onus on Williams to generate pressure on Rodgers from somewhere other than straight-up defensive fronts.

If he can put Rodgers on his butt early, the Saints will be able to scale this thing back from a full-on shoot-out. If not, we could see a lot of Packers players doing their best Michael Jackson impersonations into the end zone.

4. Potentially Relevant YouTube
This is the first time in Thursday night Kickoff Weekend history that the past two defending Super Bowl winners are playing to open up the season and, frankly, I love it. Of course it doesn't really hurt that it's the Saints and Packers, which should provide fireworks on both sides of the ball. To honor their recent success, as well as Freddie Mercury's recent would-have-been birthday, why don't we bring back some Queen to our previews?



5. The Packers will win if ...
Rodgers can stay on his feet. The lasting reminder of Rodgers, for anyone who watched the 2010 playoffs, is that he's untouchable. And his mobility does make it hard to bring him down. But if you'll recall, Rodgers and the Packers looked like they were going to miss the playoffs when the quarterback had to sit out against New England -- a game Green Bay nearly won with Matt Flynn under center -- last year, so it's not unheard of for Rodgers to get knocked around a bit.

If he can stay on his feet and remain untouched during most of Thursday night's game, though, he'll end up finding Jennings, Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver and James Jones and Jordy Nelson plenty of times, and probably end up giving Williams a new highlight reel to show his defense.

6. The Saints will win if ...
They can establish the run and keep Green Bay's talented linebackers from attacking too much. It's something that's doable -- the Packers ranked just 24th in the NFL in rush defense in 2010. But despite the stereotype that the Saints are a passing team, they truly found success (and a Super Bowl victory) in 2009 by running the ball extremely well, as they finished sixth in the NFL with 131.6 yards per game on the ground.

That dipped off tremendously last year, which is precisely why they jumped up in the draft to grab Mark Ingram. If he, starter Pierre Thomas and the speedy Darren Sproles can generate a substantial ground attack, the Saints have a very good shot at prevailing.

"There’ll be plenty of touches not only for Pierre, but for Mark and Darren," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "And it’s our job to mix those up and also to let the running back get comfortable and get in a rhythm when he's in the game."

That (those?) comfort zone(s) will be key for a potential Saints win.

7. Prediction: Packers 24, Saints 21

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Posted on: September 5, 2011 12:12 pm
 

Sean Payton, Saints reach extension through 2015

Posted by Will Brinson

Sean Payton has very quickly risen up the ranks to become one of the elite head coaches in the NFL, and within just a few years of his first head-coaching gig, applied a Super Bowl victory to his resume.

Which is why it makes perfect sense that the Saints signed him to a contract extension, which the team announced on Monday.

"I am very pleased to announce this contract extension today for Sean that will run through the 2015 season," Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement released by the team. "Our goal is to continue to build a TRADITION of winning here in New Orleans and Sean represents that tradition."

Payton, along with quarterback Drew Brees, represent a very different era for New Orleans football. Not only did they win the Super Bowl in 2009, but they revived a moribund franchise in the middle of the most devastating of times for the city, immediately following Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

Though they couldn't follow up that success with a repeat in 2010 and though the Saints did lose in crushing style to the Seahawks in the playoffs last year, there's little question that Payton's success in New Orleans is something that will continue throughout his tenure there, primarily thanks to his incredible offensive mind.

Which is why the Saints wisely locked him in for the next half decade.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 12:50 pm
 

Brees: Contract talks with Saints are 'ongoing'

Posted by Will Brinson

Drew Brees might not be the most popular guy with retired players, but he's certainly well-liked in New Orleans, thanks to his leading the Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2009 and generally making them awesome ever since they signed him.

Brees contract is up after the 2011 season, so there's some concern about making sure he doesn't bounce from the bayou. Fortunately, the quarterback recently said that the Saints and his agent Tom Condon are in the process of working out the details.

"They've been in discussions," Brees said, per Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "That's been ongoing."

The scrutiny around Brees' deal heated up primarily because of the recent six-year, $100 million deal that Philadelphia handed quarterback Michael Vick. Brees is, naturally, aware of that deal.

"I did see it," Brees said of Vick's deal. "It looks like a nice contract. Obviously I don't know any of the details other than the six years and $100 million."

And that's all we really need to know (although Vick may be making less than that). Peyton Manning got a five-year, $90 million deal from the Colts and Tom Brady also received $18 million a year with $78 million in total money for the life of the contract.

Brees, then, seems like a good bet to get something around and/or in between the $16-ish million a year Vick gets and the $18-ish million that Brady and Manning are scheduled to receive over the life of their extensions.

It doesn't hurt, of course, that Condon also represents Manning -- pretty clearly he's an agent who understands the relative market value of Brees more so than anyone else right now.

The Saints know that, which is it shouldn't take them all that long to lock down the 32-year-old for the remainder of his career.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 10:34 am
 

Podcast: Top-10 QBs, Power Rankings, Frank Gore

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Podcast time, kids! And it's the last one before we go full-on with our heavy schedule of talking on the Internet radios during the regular season. So I suggest you get your subscribe on right here.

New season, new name (CBSSports.com's Pick-6 Podcast) and snazzy new art. Yeah, that's how we're rolling.

In the meantime, we debate our top-10 quarterback list if the season started right now (read: Peyton Manning doesn't make it unless you think he's faking), wonder whether Tony Romo can make the jump to an "elite" quarterback, why Will thinks Philip Rivers is better than Drew Brees and what on earth Ryan's doing with Ben Roethlisberger in his top three.

We also debate Pete Prisco's power rankings and then wonder why the 49ers gave Frank Gore so much money.

Conversatin' starts … now (and while we have you, remember to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com