METAIRIE, La. -- In their first meeting with the Seattle Seahawks last month, the New Orleans Saints essentially decided to take away Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch and force quarterback Russell Wilson to beat them.
And he did.
Wilson had one of the best games of his young NFL career in Seattle's 34-7 rout, throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns and running for 47 yards. The Saints talked a lot before that matchup about how dangerous Wilson is outside of the pocket -- both running the ball and throwing the ball after he starts scrambling. But they've since admitted that he was even better than they expected at doing that against them.
This time around, containing Lynch and Wilson will be priorities 1A and 1B.
Here's what the Saints have been saying this week about Wilson:
S Malcolm Jenkins: “I would call him an elite quarterback. And the reason I say that is because he's not just -- him being mobile is not the only dimension. He actually goes through his reads. He changes protections. He can scramble. And then when he does scramble he's not just trying to run, he's trying to buy time to throw down the field. And that progression is unique. Most people who scramble usually read one or two receivers, then they're trying to get out of the pocket.
“He's reading, scrambling, and then going back to reading down the field. And that presents a huge problem for a secondary guy when you've got to cover him for four or five seconds. My grandmother can get open under that time. And I think that's what makes him elite. He's really the only person that has that whole package, I think, in the NFL. I think he does it better than anybody.”
OLB Junior Galette: “I think that was the first time we really played a quarterback like Russell. I personally didn't know that he was that small and really that elusive. ... You can get to him, but it's finishing the job. So right now, we're more concerned about just keeping him in that little pocket and making him play like he's 5-9 or however tall he is (actually 5-11).”
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan: "He was exceptional. My previous experience against him was the second week he ever started (when Ryan was with Dallas in 2012). So obviously he's come a long way from there. I see him as a premier quarterback in this league. We all see it. And we have to be excellent and at the top of our game to slow this guy down.”
DE Cameron Jordan: “Of course, you have to be aware of Russell Wilson and his ability to make plays longer and really get out of the pocket and not even scramble for more yards, but make plays down the field. He's a great quarterback and we have to be aware of that. ... That's going to primarily be our job, not only keep pressure on him but keep him in the pocket.”
Ryan: “I think we have to get pressure on him. We've got to attack the pocket. And we have to do a better job of keeping him contained. A lot of that was on me, how we went through some three-man rush, and he definitely exploited that. And then when we came with all-out pressure, he made the throws, and we didn't quite execute the coverage. So it made for an awfully long evening out there. And we're looking to do better than that, and we will.”
Galette: “I feel like playing him the week before Carolina helped us, knowing that Cam (Newton) was just as explosive and elite (with his) running style, and we did a good job on him. So that boosts our confidence.”