New Orleans -- Height is typically an important quality for quarterbacks, but Lions safety Glover Quin explained last week a way Saints quarterback Drew Brees uses his relative shortness to his advantage.
The 6-foot Brees has been one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL for much of his 15-year career, and Quin said his ability to deceive defenders with his eyes makes it incredibly difficult to play against — and prepare for — him.
Most quarterbacks poke their head up a bit before throwing a deep ball, but because he’s significantly shorter than all of his linemen, Brees lifts his head for a variety of passes.
“You don’t know what he’s looking at,” Quin said while impersonating the head bob. “You don’t know if he’s doing this to check it down or if he’s trying to throw it deep.”
The Lions (4-9) will try to guess right Monday night (8:30 p.m., ESPN) when they play the Saints (5-8) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Although it’s hardly been his best season, Brees is in the midst of another strong campaign in 2015 as the Saints have the second-ranked passing offense in the league.
“There’s really no simple way to stop Drew,” Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “I think what we have to do is try to limit and make sure when he does throw the ball and they catch it that we limit the yards after catch and that we don’t let the ball go over our head.
“We know we’re not going to stop him.”
One key to limiting Brees is forcing turnovers. Sure, that’s the case with any quarterback, but three of the Saints’ five wins this season were games where Brees did not throw an interception.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Brees has “probably seen every defense there is known to mankind,” so it won’t be easy to fool him. But, Quin managed to trick him a bit last season on a fourth-quarter interception that helped the Lions complete a miraculous comeback at Ford Field.
Quin baited Brees into throwing a pass over the middle, but Austin said the Lions’ pass rush on the play probably forced the throw more so than the defense fooled Brees.
On that play, Quin knew where the ball was going, but for the most part, he said it’s hard to know where Brees is going, in part due to his height.
“You can’t see him,” Quin said. “It’s hard to get a jump on the ball if you can’t see him.”
Quin also said Brees is one of the hardest quarterbacks to prepare for. While most quarterbacks have some tells on plays or certain tendencies on others, Brees mixes his play up and spreads the ball around to make it hard to predict where he’s throwing.
The Lions will try to figure that out Monday night before he burns them again. Including a 2011 postseason game, the Saints are 4-1 against the Lions with Brees, and he’s had at least two touchdowns and 342 yards in each game.
And Brees, along with Seattle’s 5-11 Russell Wilson, continues to show that height isn’t the most important thing for a quarterback.
“He’s made it work,” Quin said. “Fifteen years, you can’t knock him.”
Lions vs. Saints
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. Monday, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
TV / radio: ESPN / 97.1 FM
Records: Lions 4-9, Saints 5-8
Line: Saints by 3