“That’s sweet, man. That’s fun,” the Washington Redskins cornerback said.
He was serious. It returned him to his first season in Green Bay, when he’d face either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers in practice. And Blackmon enjoyed that time.
“It was bullets flying all day,” Blackmon said. “So it was an advantage of ours; if you weren’t better than our two quarterbacks then you had issues.”
So after Sunday's visit from the New Orleans Saints, the Redskins can know they might not face a better quarterback the rest of the season. Not after facing future Hall of Famers in consecutive weeks. And what the Redskins know is that there are aspects of the games of Brady and Brees that are similar and some that are not.
Here’s a look at the styles of both quarterbacks through the Redskins' eyes:
Familiarity with the system
Brady has operated in the same offensive system under coach Bill Belichick for 16 years, one of the most beneficial streaks in the NFL. But Brees isn’t far behind, having played 10 seasons in the same offense under coach Sean Payton.
“They’ve been in their offense for a lot of years and know it like the back of their hand,” Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall said. “There isn’t much you can throw at them from a defensive standpoint that’s going to get them off their game. They know where the ball is supposed to go in every situation.”
Style of passing game
It could be more about personnel, but Brees is more apt to throw downfield than Brady. In eight games this season, Brees has attempted 42 passes of 20 yards or more -- 14 more than Brady, according to ESPN Stats & Information. And Brady has yet to throw a touchdown pass that has traveled that distance (Brees has three).
“Drew can stretch the field,” Redskins defensive end Ricky Jean Francois said. “You’ve got Brady who has his guys running every damn route tree in the book they can get. And I’m not saying the Patriots don’t have those roadrunners, but the Saints have that. So if Brees needs to get the ball down the field, he has the arm strength with the speed to do it.”
Hall sees a difference in this area, too. However, it’s not as if Brees only looks downfield: He has attempted 181 passes of five yards or less -- one more than Brady.
“Tom is more systematic with it,” Hall said. “His offense is a bam, bam, dink-and-dunk style. But I’ve seen Drew go out two or three series and hit all checkdowns. Even though shots are built in, he’s patient enough to take what the defense gives you. As soon as he finds that one guy open and it’s a bomb, he’ll let it fly.”
Blackmon said the signal-callers just run different styles that suit their strengths.
“With Brees, it’s more I’m going to drop back and dice you guys up,” Blackmon said. “I remember playing against him and no matter how tight the coverage is, he’ll throw it to a perfect spot where the receiver will catch it. With Brady, it’s more, ‘I’ll take advantage of my matchups and every time I line up I’ll get us into a perfect play.’ Brees just scans the entire field and he’ll find the open man.”
Moving in the pocket
Neither player is going to try to win with his legs -- they’ve combined to run the ball 33 times this season. But both can move well in the pocket, though they do so differently.
“Drew will get outside the pocket,” Hall said. “Tom seems to step up in the pocket and go left or right, but he won’t try to get outside the pocket. Drew will really move around.”
Some of that stems from Brady being 6-foot-4 and Brees standing 6-foot. Brady can see over the offensive line; Brees needs to create more passing lanes.
“Brady knows how to maneuver through his line if the pressure is coming and he’ll get the ball where he needs to,” Jean Francois said. “With Brees, you just have to get your hands up. You have to do something for him not to look over that line of scrimmage.”
Brady can move defensive backs with his eyes, getting them to cheat to one side before hitting them back the other way. Brees will do that as well, but he has a strong shoulder fake that burns corners. Brees used that shoulder fake to burn Tennessee for a touchdown last week.
“It’s definitely something that’s taken years to perfect, but he can move you off the spot with his shoulder,” Hall said. “It’s amazing how he’s moving guys out of the way and opening a window for someone else.”
Regardless, the Redskins know Sunday will be another challenge.
“For us it’s about going out there and competing,” Hall said. “You won’t see two better quarterbacks than we’ve faced in back-to-back weeks.”