The last time the NFC championship game happened in the Superdome, a quarterback on the wrong side of 40 found himself battered, bruised, and nearly broken in two. This time, the same thing could be on the agenda — absent an allegedly extra $10,000 inducement.
Though Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald said nothing about a specific intent to force Saints quarterback Drew Brees to the sideline, Donald admitted that he and his teammates plan to aggressively pursue the future Hall of Famer on Sunday.
“We got a gameplan, we’re going to stick to it and we’re going to get after him,” Donald told reporters on Thursday.
Donald vowed to “get after” Brees no fewer than three times.
“Anytime you play against a great quarterback like that, he’s going to do things a normal quarterback ain’t going to do,” Donald said. “So we know what to expect. We try to do what we got to do to try our best to make him uncomfortable and get after him and, you know, but we got to stop the run first before we think about rushing the passer. They got two great backs we got to slow down and try to find ways to stop. After we do that, we’ll get after the quarterback and try and put some pressure on him.”
There’s nothing wrong with vowing to “get after” a quarterback. Implicit in the message is a goal that always has been part of high-level, high-stakes football: If the defense can successfully “get after” the quarterback over and over and over again, the accumulation of occasions on which the quarterback was gotten after could get him out of the game.
That continues to be the biggest flaw in the league’s pearl-clutching over the bounty scandal that came to a head during the 2009 NFC title game. As Saints coach Sean Payton demonstrated last week when wheeling a case containing more than $200,000, a Super Bowl ring, and a Super Bowl trophy into a meeting room, there’s already a clear incentive to do whatever is necessary — within the rules — to win. And it’s a given that it’s always easier to win when facing backups than when facing starters.
Especially when the starter is one of the five or so greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
Does that make it wrong to “get after” said quarterback? Hardly. Whether the end result is making him uncomfortable or making him incapable of continuing, the Rams have every reason to “get after” a guy who just turned 40 three days ago.