The old NFL adage is that to get a quarterback out of rhythm, you hit him. Hit him hard, and hit him repeatedly. I actually heard Kurt Warner say this just yesterday.
Clearly, Saints coach Sean Payton knows this bit of truth as well. Saints beat man Jeff Duncan revealed in a piece on Thursday that the focus of Payton’s Saturday evening speech prior to last season’s NFC Championship game was on Brett Favre.
“When you get older in life, you tend to get very careful, and a little more fearful,” Payton said, according to players and staffers who were there. “You start thinking about your own mortality. If it rains outside you might not go to the store, especially at night. You figure you’ll just wait it out. You might have somewhere to go and you tell yourself I don’t want to go there. You don’t want to get in a wreck.
“If you keep hitting him (on Sunday) he’ll make a mistake. If we keep putting pressure on him (Sunday night) he’ll start being careful, he’ll start doing anything he can to avoid getting hit and he’ll make a mistake. I promise you, if we hit him for four quarters, he’ll turn into that old man who’s scared of the rain.”
The Saints went out and did just that, battering Favre until the three-time MVP eventually made mistakes, to the tune of three second-half interceptions.
Former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita told Duncan it was “a great speech,” and the players he talked to all reiterated the point. Duncan also notes how Payton sought out Favre following the game, and the Saints all marveled at his courage.
If we’re to believe what we hear, the ankle that Favre injured in that game — and subsequently had surgery on — was the major reason for his waffling on whether to return. If we’re to continue believing what we hear, that ankle was bothering Favre right up until the time he re-joined the Vikings.
This should be interesting. It all serves as a great prelude to tonight’s 2010 season opener.