Monday’s edition of Pro Football Talk at the Super Bowl included a visit from Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who knows a thing or two about the Super Bowl — and a thing or two about beating Peyton Manning in a Super Bowl.
So what did Vilma and the Saint do to pull off a victory over Manning’s Colts in Super Bowl XLIV?
“In my opinion, you have to study him,” Vilma said from the 30 Rock set of Pro Football Talk at the Super Bowl. “Don’t just study the offense. You’ve gotta study him. His mannerism, his throws, who he likes to throw to. . . . I would say I was blessed that I had those two weeks to prepare for him, because the first week I couldn’t really get it all. Then there was the second week I finally started to get a bead on [him], this is literally after practice, hours of watching film on just him.”
So what did Vilma learn?
“I learned, back then, I learned that he didn’t like the back shoulder,” Vilma said. “He didn’t like the back shoulder throw. Especially down the seam, it was always lobbing it over. I learned some of his signals, I learned at the time, that he gives signals, if he’s really audibling or not, and this is back then, I don’t know what he’s doing now. There were a lot of things I was able to pick up. Then once you go into the game, it started to just come to me, it became second nature, and I was fortunate enough to have [defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams, so on Peyton they gave me that freedom to make the checks. If you see it call it, if you don’t, don’t, and if you’re wrong so be it, we’ll live for another day but it was great for that.”
Which means that, four years ago, Peyton had a tendency or a tell. The challenge for the Seahawks is to find whatever hints and clues reside in Manning’s game now.
The only way to get there is to study, study, and study some more.