The Chicago Bears defense has already stopped one 40-something quarterback.
After getting trashed by the Los Angeles Rams, the Bears defense gets a chance at 41-year-old New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. There are no signs he's forgetting what down it is like Tom Brady did, but there are some in the NFL who have suggested he's not throwing downfield as well as earlier in his career.
"I mean, you're talking about a Hall of Famer, you know, a future Hall of Famer," said Bears nose tackle John Jenkins, who played with Brees 3 1/2 seasons. "Drew, I mean, he finds ways. That's exactly how you put it. He finds ways to try to produce and he's very hands-on with his guys so he tells guys exactly where he want them to be, what to expect, what he's expecting to happen.
"You try to anticipate his passes, you try to get the ball to them in the spot. That's how he was when I was there. So, I mean, Drew, hes a quarterback. He quarterbacks his team."
Brees still averages a healthy 7.6 yards per pass attempt with a passer rating of 105.8.
"Guy's unbelievable," Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. "He's so efficient and so smart, he gets the ball out, goes through his progressions, he knows before the ball's snapped what he's going to do, where he wants to go, based on how you match their 10,000 formations and personnel groups, you know?
"He’s going to get them in the right play pretty much 100% of the time. He's going to go to the right guy pretty much 100% of the time. So it's a huge challenge and he's an accurate, anticipatory quarterback. If you look up that definition, that's him, because he can be looking one way and boom, he knows exactly where he’s going throwing the other way. Long before the guys are out of their breaks, the ball's in the air, especially down on the low red (zone)."
The Bears never got to face Brees last year due to a thumb injury so whether he's the same quarterback who beat their defense in New Orleans in 2017 is yet to be determined.
"It's definitely exciting just because how great he is and how great he's been throughout his career," Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said. "I haven't dug too much into him individually but I know with his track record what he has been able to do. And that offense is a very efficient offense, as well, so I mean just being able to dive into the offense as a whole I know they have their strengths but we just have to zone in and do what we've got to do."
The Bears could be facing Brees without his favorite target because wide receiver Michael Thomas has a hamstring injury which could prevent his first action since Week 1. He'd been out with an ankle injury earlier.
They will have to face running back Alvin Kamara, who had an ankle injury last year and didn't play in the 3x-25 win by Saints at Soldier Field.
"He's a game-wrecker, nightmare, whatever you want to call him, run game, pass game," Pagano said. "He's as good as any receiver in the league. He can run the whole route tree. From the backfield, split out, in motion, whatever it is."
The target numbers leave the Bears some leeway.
"You know, you're not going to completely shut him down, but you've just got to control his production, if you will, and keep it, if you can hold this guy under 100 yards, scrimmage yards, you're probably going to have a good day," Pagano said.
So if the Bears came into this game off a strong performance it would still be a strong challenge, but last week was a slap in the face for their defense. They got trampled for 161 yards by the Rams' running game and have dropped to 15th against the run.
"I take that very personal because I'm not the typical third down--Aaron Donalds and Khalil Macks and whatnot," Jenkins said. "So when a team is running like that, man, I take that extremely personal.
"And like I said, we just gotta work and myself, I just got to work and perfect my craft and pretty much try to find ways to not allow that to happen next game."
After giving up touchdowns on consecutive drives last week for the first time since the opener, allowing a season-high 160 rushing yards and being generally mauled there's plenty of work for the entire defense to do.