One short quarterback down -- the Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray -- and another one to go this week when the Lions square off with the New Orleans Saints' future Hall of Fame passer Drew Brees.
Before the days of Brees throwing for 4,000-plus yards a season and setting NFL records, short quarterbacks -- quarterbacks standing in at 6-feet tall or shorter -- weren't typically allowed entry into the "exclusive club" of NFL passers.
But, Brees, usually said to be a 6-foot-tall man, has opened up that door for other quarterbacks deemed to be short in stature based on NFL standards, such as Murray, believed to be 5-foot-10, and the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl-winning passer Russell Wilson, believed to be 5-foot-11.
Brees, a fellow Super Bowl-winning QB, can't escape from the pocket and make big plays on the ground like either Murray or Wilson.
But, he still spells trouble for the Lions due to the accuracy with which he throws -- an attribute that separates him from Murray and nearly every other passer in the league.
Detroit defensive coordinator Cory Undlin spoke via a video conference Tuesday about Brees' game and why he doesn't believe Brees will be as bothered as Murray -- who threw three picks this past Sunday -- by the Lions' length on the defensive line.
"Generally, if you got guys that are shorter in the pocket and you've got a big offensive line and a tall defensive front, then, you're going to remind your players to get their hands up in situations," Undlin said. "But, I don't know what the numbers are totally on his tipped balls, talking about Drew this week. This guy's played a lot of football, and we're going to have to be at our best. If we happen to get our hands up and knock one down, that'll be a bonus. We've got to do a good job this week (in) all three levels. This is a team game on defense, with the front, getting pressure on him and then being able to hold up in coverage."
This season, the 41-year-old has thrown for six touchdowns and has completed 70.2 percent of his passes through New Orleans' first three games.
"You guys already know, this guy (Brees) does not hold onto the ball, makes it very, very challenging. So, you've got to pick your spots, if you want to pressure the guy," Undlin added. "And then, hopefully, you can hold up and make him hold it for a little bit. This guy is at the top of the list here. We've got our hands full. He's not going to let you depict the game. He's going to depict it for you."
Jeff Okudah 'trending in right direction'
Okudah, Detroit's 2020 first-round pick, had a very rough NFL debut in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers.
He allowed seven catches on 10 balls thrown his way for 121 yards, to go along with zero pass deflections.
For his performance, he earned a subpar coverage grade of 27.2 and an overall grade of just 28.6 via Pro Football Focus.
He rebounded with a decent performance in Week 3 against the Cardinals.
Sure, he was still beat on occassion by DeAndre Hopkins and other Arizona receivers in man coverage.
However, he also managed to record his first career NFL interception, and finished the contest with six total tackles, including two tackles for loss, and one pass defensed.
Undlin believes it's a sign of Okudah "trending in the right direction."
"I think he's trending in the right direction, just like everybody is on this defense right now," Undlin said. "With every rep he gets -- I think I've said this before -- I'm a strong believer in this, especially for rookies, there's no substitute for experience. The more you play, the more it slows down for you. When you're a rookie, it's your first time a lot. Until you've played another divisional game, it's all new for those guys. So, for him running out there this week, it was just another new experience for him. He had done it one time. Now, he's got another game under his belt. And there were some good things in there. Obviously, excited for the interception, for the whole team. Definitely helped us there on that drive as they were moving. Great play by him. Love to see him step in there and help the team."
As Undlin expressed, the former Ohio State Buckeyes defensive back is far from a finished product, however.
"I like where he's going. But, is he there yet? No, not even close. I would tell him the same thing," Undlin commented. "So, a lot of work to still be done. But, if he's trending in the right direction, I would say yes."
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