The Steelers take on the New Orleans Saints Sunday afternoon at the Superdome in a game that has playoff implications for both teams.
The Steelers are looking to clinch a playoff berth, while needing help along the way to do it, while the Saints are trying to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Before the two teams meet, the Saints gave their take on what they see from the Steelers, which included an interesting exchange between defensive end Cam Jordan and a reporter in a video that appeared on neworleanssaints.com (where the full exchange can be seen) regarding Roethlisberger as a potential future Hall of Famer and his credentials.
The reporter was asking Jordan about the Steelers offense, and said, ‘they’ve got a quarterback who might be going to the Hall of Fame.’ Jordan questioned him, ‘Is that true…really,’ regarding Ben Roethlisberger as a potential Hall of Famer. Jordan asked the reporter if he would put Roethlisberger in the Top 3 of this era, and he the reporter replied he would put him in the Top 5 of this era. Jordan went on to name quarterbacks he would put ahead of Roethlisberger, including Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning.
“I would put Eli before I would put Ben. Agree to disagree.” said Jordan, who did go on to say positive things about Roethlisberger’s play after the exchange.
The Saints also talked about JuJu Smith-Schuster, Antonio Brown, the interior line and more.
What the Saints said:
Coach Sean Payton on JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown:
“They’re explosive players, they run well, they have great ball skills. It’s challenging with two, relative to how you cover them. I think they transition very well. They can get to top end speed, but they can also stop. That allows them separation and you partner that with a quarterback like Ben (Roethlisberger) and that makes for a challenging day.”
Quarterback Drew Brees on the Steelers defense:
“Very aggressive. They play fast. Big, strong, physical. Especially the front. That’s how three-four defenses are built. Especially this one. You feel like you turn on the Steelers defensive tape over the last 20 years and it’s the same defense. Maybe different players and different numbers, but they play the same. Tough, physical. Typically a lot of pressure, a lot of variations. A lot of stuff we have to be prepared for.”
Payton on the longevity of the combination of Mike Tomlin and Roethlisberger:
“First off with Mike, and I have known him for a long time, his teams have always been physical, tough, they are battle tested and they played in a ton of postseason games, won a Super Bowl Championship, played in another. I think a veteran quarterback like Ben understands how to win. Their record reflects that.”
Payton on Roethlisberger having to adapt to change and transition:
“If you charted all of the receivers Ben has worked with, and tight ends and running backs. Even different coordinators. There is transition when you have played as long as he has and stayed healthy as long as he has.”
Cam Jordan on the Steelers offense:
“Big Ben is a monster of a quarterback in the backfield. He is able to extend plays. He has one of the top duo wide receivers in the league. James Conner is running extremely well. When I turn on the film he is a hard runner. Is he playing or not? If we have to prepare for the other running back he appears a little more scattered but when he gets in the open field he makes people miss.”
Jordan on Roethlisberger getting rid of the ball quicker:
“He is still taking hits and delivering passes. He is still clearly at the top of his game and winning games.”
Payton on the Steelers five-wide package:
“They carry that package. They will throw tight end screens from it. It’s pretty challenging. They spread the field well. Ben sees it well. I think those guys, Ben and Mike and that staff have always done a good job of spreading you out. I have seen a lot of the tight end and four receivers. That gives Ben a little clear picture of what is going on. We’ve seen tight end slow screens from that set. You get a handful of things. I think it’s something they have been real efficient with.”
Payton on how to account for the difference with Jaylen Samuels in the game vs. James Conner:
“It’s a different skill set I am sure, but it’s not like you are getting an entirely different offense when the running back changes. You are getting the same offense.”
Payton on the Steelers offensive line, in particular the interior line:
“It’s a strong group. It’s a credit to those guys. We just read the report Tuesday. Those guys are playing well relative to protection. All of them as a unit. They have been together now. They have settled in. You can see not only the run numbers, but the pass numbers.”