Although Super Bowl 44 is looked at as a grade-A matchup between top quarterbacks in the game, the top headline leading up to the game is about the ankle of a defensive end. Even though it is true that Dwight Freeney is only a huge topic because of his injury, I am now starting to see the game from a different angle; the defensive angle.
When you look at the upcoming Super Bowl from the quarterback’s perspective, or even from the casual fan’s perspective, it’s all about scoring points, big plays, and excitement on offense. However, if you look at it from a defensive standpoint, this game appears totally differently.
Defensive players from each team are probably losing many hours of sleep this week, as they prepare to face their toughest tests of the season. The Colts have to worry about Drew Brees and his highwire passing attack. And the Saints have to worry about the surgeon that is Peyton Manning, who can pick defenses apart with his mind and his arm.
That’s where the problem may be; in the worrying. You know, as well as I know, that if you play scared, you can’t perform at your best. This is why the defenses need to be mentally tough, and they need to take a confident approach when it comes to defending these quarterbacks and their offenses. The defense that does that better will probably help their respective team to victory.
For the Saints, the key guy on their defense is Darren Sharper. He will be the player that needs to set the tone for New Orleans, and if he approaches the game with the proper attitude, that will trickle down to his teammates. For the Colts, usually their defensive leader would be Bob Sanders, but he is injured. Next in line would be Dwight Freeney, but as most of you know, he is not going to be 100%. That leaves Gary Brackett, in my opinion, as the defensive leader for Indy. Brackett is surely no slouch, and he has made his share of big plays in big games. He is also a guy that the defensive players look up to and respect. However, he is not the Colts’ top option as a defensive leader.
Because he is filling a void, I think that this game will rely heavily on the way that Gary Brackett plays. If he lets the pressure get to him, then the rest of the Colts defense will crumble around him. On the other hand, if Brackett comes out fired up and has a great game, that will be the spark that the rest of the defense needs to be successful.
So yes, you can say that the game falls on the shoulders of Manning and Brees, but if you look at the game from a different perspective, Gary Brackett may truly be the guy who needs the powerful shoulders.