The Experts Say ... Colts vs. Saints
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Post-Gazette sports writer Gerry Dulac asked two 2009 playoff coaches -- Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals and Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals -- to break down today's Super Bowl XLIV matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints.
• Marvin Lewis on when the Colts have the ball:
I think the Colts will try to hit some vertical passes down the field. Peyton [Manning] will use play-action and hit throws down the seams as much as he can. But they're able to do that because they're probably as good as anyone in the league at blocking different pressures and enabling Peyton to throw the ball down the field. When he doesn't have time to throw down the field, he's patient enough to not make mistakes. He's not going to try to force those throws into situations where it shouldn't go. And he's controlling it all from the line of scrimmage. He's very well-schooled and has a good feel for the different looks and all the protections he wants to get the Colts into. He does a good job of changing up the cadence and the snap count. He's not always going on the same rhythm.
Time: 6:25 p.m. kickoff.
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
TV: KDKA. Radio: WEAE-AM (1250).
• Ken Whisenhunt on when the Saints have the ball:
Indy's defense is good enough that it will stop New Orleans at times, especially after what Minnesota did to them in the NFC championship game, holding them to 250 yards. The loss of Dwight Freeney will be a huge blow if he doesn't play because, not only is he a good pass rusher, he gets quick pressure on the ball. And that's one of Drew Brees' strong points -- getting the ball out quick. Obviously, the Saints will try to attack vertically and they'll max-protect at times to give them shots down the field. But they will need to use draws and screens to Reggie Bush and quick throws to other players because Indy's defense plays up the field. And the way to counter that is with quick throws and screens to backs in the flat.
For the Colts, receivers Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, who combined for 18 catches, 274 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC championship game victory against the Jets. "Those receivers do a solid job in one-on-one situations," Lewis said. For the Saints, running back Reggie Bush who helped eliminate the Cardinals from the NFC postseason with a 46-yard touchdown run and an 83-yard punt return for touchdown in a divisional playoff game. "He's got to be a factor in this game," Whisenhunt said.
Lewis said it is the ability of offensive coordinator Tom Moore and offensive line coach Howard Mudd to adjust to defensive schemes and handle pressure. Whisenhunt said it will be the crowd noise, or lack thereof, for the Saints, who won't be able to generate the same pressure on Manning that they would if they were playing in the Superdome, where offenses can't hear the snap count.
To win, Marvin Lewis says the Colts have to ...
1. Protect the ball. They cannot have turnovers and do what Minnesota did in the NFC championship game.
2. Have protection on the quarterback. The Saints generally have one more guy coming than the offense can block.
3. Keep the Saints from scoring TDs. This is the best offense they will face all year.
To win, Ken Whisenhunt says the Saints have to ...
1. Score points. I don't think the Saints defense can keep Indy's offense from scoring a lot of points, so they'll have to match it.
2. Disrupt the continuity of Indy's offense. In particular, No. 18. That's the biggest dilemma or obstacle for them in this game.
3. Be efficient. The Saints can't turn the ball over and give the Colts even more opportunities.
First Published February 7, 2010 12:00 am