It's been easy for the New Orleans Saints offensive players to take notice of what is happening defensively for the Chicago Bears, Sunday's opponent in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Chicago is on a two-game winning streak primarily because of its defense; rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has 12 completions and one touchdown pass in the last two games (both victories), and the defense has scored three times, including twice (a fumble return and an interception return by free safety Eddie Jackson) against Carolina.
"They're doing a great job of getting pressure on the quarterback and just being in the right place at the right time," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "Some guys in the secondary are making some great plays. The safety (Jackson) who had two touchdowns last week, picking up a scoop-and-score on a fumble and a nice job by the corner batting the ball up in the air and then (Jackson) running underneath it to make the play down the sideline. Those are game-changers.
"The week before against Baltimore, the other safety made a similar play off of a deflected ball where it looks like a punt returner, returning that thing about 90 yards for a touchdown. Those are game-changing plays; not only are you putting points on the board for your own team, but those offenses were in scoring position at the time.
"They're playing with high energy, what they do, they do very well. They mix their fronts, they've got some big guys inside that can wreak havoc if you allow that and they've done a great job with that. We've got our work cut out for us to go out and execute efficiently with what we're doing and find ways to attack these guys."
CLOSING TIME:The Saints finished in style offensively against Green Bay on Sunday. First, they constructed an eight-play, 55-yard touchdown drive that lasted 3:30 for the final points in the 26-17 victory. Then, after safety Kenny Vaccaro's interception ended Green Bay's drive with 4:20 left, New Orleans ran out the clock on four runs by Mark Ingram, a neutral zone infraction on the Packers, and three kneel-downs by Brees.
"It was good, especially since we didn't start the game the way we wanted to – two turnovers, them getting a big play for a touchdown," Brees said. "And yet we stuck with the plan. We knew that if we were able to execute and possess the ball and do all the things that we preach offensively, that we could wear the defense down and turn that into points.
"I felt like we did a great job, had great balance throughout the whole game run-to-pass, offensive line did a tremendous job in every phase, both running backs did a tremendous job as receivers not only catching the ball but blocking, and then defense came up with some big stops. It was just a great team win. To go into halftime down at Lambeau Field and having not played very well, I think to come back in the second half and put forth that type of an effort says a lot about the team."
STONE COLE(MAN):Receiver Brandon Coleman has a team-high and career-high tying three touchdown catches in the first six games and continues to show why Brees considers him a trusted teammate. His 22-yard touchdown catch pulled the Saints to within 14-13 against Green Bay.
"He's one of my favorite teammates," Brees said. "Whatever you ask him to do, he's ready to do to help the team and from week to week, that changes. Some weeks it's, 'Hey, B. Cole, we're going to need you to block this guy like 40 times this game. Can you do that for us?' 'Yeah.' 'Hey, we need you to step in and run this series of routes or do this in the red zone or do this on third down.' The guy can do anything you ask him to do and he does it willingly.
"He's tough and he's smart, he knows every receiver position. We've had a lot of experience together; this is going on four years. So I think that any guy that's been around that long – go back to the (Marques) Colstons, and Deverys (Henderson), Lance Moores and (Robert) Meachems – when you have that much time together, that's when you really begin to develop a rapport. There's things that we can reference together from years past that might help us with a certain route or a certain concept that we're installing from week to week. I've got a ton of confidence in him."
THE BEST IS YET TO COME:Four straight victories have the Saints encouraged, but not ready to make declarations of greatness. "I'm not going to label anything yet," Brees said. "We're only six games into a long season, we've got a lot of work ahead of us. But I like the direction we're going.
"To start off 0-2 and to overcome all that speculation and that slow start, I think says a lot. And now to rattle off four in a row, trying to make it five in a row, winning feels good. But the main thing is, you have to ask yourself, 'Are we playing our best football?' No, I don't think we're playing our best football yet. We're doing enough things well to win, but we're not playing our best football. I'm anxious to see what our best football looks like."