Former New Orleans Saints cornerback Jabari Greer is still keeping close tabs on the team, and he has agreed to join me on occasion this season to share his thoughts. I broke down Greer's first installment into two parts this week. Click here for his thoughts on the Saints' secondary.
Here are Greer's thoughts on Sunday's familiar opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, and their potent passing game:
On the Falcons: "Atlanta has a lot to prove. They have promise, and they're gonna be hungry after last year. And it's always a tough, tough game when you play the Atlanta Falcons. It usually comes down to the last possession. So I think emotionally it's going to be one of the toughest games the Saints play, because the Falcons aren't afraid of the Saints, and the Saints are definitely not afraid of the Falcons. With Atlanta's weapons coming back, Julio Jones and Roddy White being healthy, the Saints are gonna see a different receiver corps than they saw last year. This team is a pass-first team. They want to be able to create those open lanes to get Matt Ryan going. And then, when the opportunity comes, they want to be able to throw it over your head."
On White, a 10-year veteran: "He is growing as a NFL receiver, understanding that his speed is not what it was coming out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He's slowed just a step, but he has gotten much, much smarter with his zone recognition and with his route-running. He reminds me a lot of [former Saints receiver] Lance Moore, where every route he runs looks exactly the same. As a corner, if you don't have a good guess of the route he's going to run, every route on the route tree is an option. So with Roddy White, you have to be able to press, put your hands on him, disrupt his route. Then keep your eyes on his hips, being ready to break down on those intermediate routes, those 15-yard digs, the 20-yard comebacks, the 10-yard hitches. If you play off and play Roddy White's eyes, you are basically playing basketball on his court. That's exactly what he wants you to do. So you have to get into Roddy White's face and get your eyes on his hips. Then basically he becomes a less productive receiver."
On Jones: "This guy is the definition of explosive. Early in his career, he has relied a lot on his physical ability, and he has the physical tools to be dominant. It starts on the line, just like it does with Roddy. As strong and as powerful as he is, he has the ability to be disrupted at the line. Then as long as you can play on top and outside of Julio Jones, pinning him to the sideline on those deep balls, deep fades, you have a better chance of defending him than you would if you were playing off and trying to cushion him. I think what a lot of players try to do, they try to respect Julio Jones so much -- which he's due -- that they play off of him. And then once you play off of him, you're basically in a footrace with one of the fastest guys in the league. You don't want to do that. The best route-runner on the team is Roddy White, but if you give Julio Jones any space, he's gonna separate from you."
On whether Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis would likely be used to shadow Jones, rather than stay on one side of the field: "Oh, yeah, he would shadow Julio. Keenan, impressively, is one of the best-deep ball defenders in the league. That's one thing that really impressed me about Keenan Lewis. He defends the deep ball incredibly. So he would be the best option for Julio Jones."