With the end of the so called all-star game the countdown to Super Bowl XLIV begins! The teams are getting settled into Miami, the fans are restless, and the media is chomping at the bit for any kind of sound bite they can find. Ahh….Super Bowl week….
Saint fans think they may have dodged a bullet with the annoncement of a ligament tear in the ankle of pass rush specialist Dwight Freeney. Think again Saint fans.
Yes, Dwight is a force when it comes to the pass rush.To not be aware of where he is lining up is a huge mistake; even when you do it is still no easy task to slow this man down when he feels like smacking a QB around. His 13.5 sacks (in 14 games) led the team on the season and tied for third in the NFL behind Jared Allen and Elvis Dumervil. However, there is so much more to playing good defense then just a player’s sack count.
Sacks get the most attention since they are the more dramatic plays and are harder to come by, but to give one player so much credit for the success of a team’s defense due to one statistic is ridiculous. Eighteen other Colt defenders tallied more tackles on the season than Freeney; seventeen had more solo tackles than Freeney’s 19 and 18 more assists than his 5. Now its not to say that that stat makes him a non-factor either. If a defensive linemen is doing his job right he will not be making too many tackles, but his linebackers will. Sure enough the top two tacklers for the Colts were Clint Session and Gary Brackett.
Now the defense will suffer withouth the serivces of Freeney, but the defense does not revolve around one man. Sessions and Brackett may have to battle off a few more blockers than normal if Freeney does not play. The other leading tacklers for the team may have to get more active in defending the run game (Bethea, Lacey, Bullit, and Powers- aka the secondary), something which the Saints have done well with this season.
Officially listed as questionable, Freeney will likely come down to a game time decision. Knowing how intense a competitor he is it is unlikely that one of the most feared pass rushers will miss out on playing on the biggest stage in professional football.
Beware Saints fans because Freeney or no Freeney, the Colts are coming!