About a month-and-a-half after the Saints signed quarterback Drew Brees, the club selected wide receiver Marques Colston with its final pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Both moves, of course, have worked out splendidly for New Orleans. Brees has been one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks throughout his nine-season tenure, and Colston has been one of his prime targets throughout that span, hauling 607 regular season passes.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Brees noted the “huge trust and confidence factor” he has with the 31-year-old Colston, with the quarterback indicating the receiver’s experience in the Saints’ scheme allows him to adjust routes as needed.
“There’s a way a route is drawn up on the blackboard and then there’s a way you actually execute it on the field depending on the type of coverage and the technique and what you’re seeing,” Brees said Wednesday, according to the club.
By contrast, the Saints’ younger receivers are asked to play it more by the book, Brees said.
“We just tell those guys, you’re a rules guy and not a guidelines guy,” Brees said. “There’s guys that are rules guys — in other words, this is the rule, this is the way it is on paper, this is the way you do it — and there’s other guys that are guidelines guys, like here’s kind of what’s in the framework of these guidelines as to how this route is to be run, but if you feel something or see something and you’re on the same page as the quarterback, then you, by all means, do it.
“Marques is a guidelines guy.”
Brees’ remarks are a reminder that it takes time to build chemistry. Organized team activities, minicamps and training camp are part of the process, but the trial and error of successfully solving opposing defenses during actual games can’t be replicated. Such skill and experience is valuable, for it cannot be easily acquired.