On pace once again to rank near the top of the league in all passing categories, the Redskins know Saints quarterback Drew Brees is the catalyst for a high-powered offense.
He's a future Hall of Famer who led the Saints to their first and only Super Bowl victory in franchise history, and, at 36 years old, continues to put up mind-boggling numbers.
The Redskins know full well that Drew Brees is the man for the Saints' offense. Without him, they simply wouldn't be able to put up the same numbers that they have over the last decade.
"Drew is the guy that stirs the drink – he really is – for them," Redskins defensive Joe Barry said on Thursday, "He's so good when you look at… Every week you start the week and look at their main targets, you look at their guys."
Through nine games, the Saints (4-5) have five different players with at least 30 receptions.
Second-year Oregon State product Brandin Cooks, a speedy 5-foot-10 wide receiver, leads the way for the weapons with 45 receptions for 603 yards and four touchdowns.
After getting off to a slow start, Cooks has come on as of late and has 10 receptions for 159 yards and three touchdowns over the Saints' last three games.
Tight end Benjamin Watson (43 receptions), wide receiver Willie Snead (41 receptions), running back Mark Ingram (37 receptions) and wide receiver Marques Colston (30 receptions) have also proven to be reliable targets for Brees.
That's what makes stopping the nine-time Pro Bowler so difficult. Defenses can't go heavy on one particular target.
"They don't let you get a bead on any one guy," Barry said. "He's going to spray the ball. 'You take this guy away, I'm going here. You take this guy and this guy away, I'm going here.' He does a wonderful job."
And if defenses decide to focus their efforts too much on stopping the wide receivers and tight ends in down the field, the Saints utilize the screen game to their advantage.
Brees is accurate in that facet, too.
"They're still a very good screen team," Barry said. "I think whether it's No. 22 [Mark Ingram] or No. 28 [C.J. Spiller], they're very good screen backs. They do a good job of mixing in the screens out on the perimeter even with No. 10 [Brandin Cooks]. Every offense evolves, no question. I don't think just because they've lost some great players over the years… They've replaced them with some really good players. I don't think Drew and Coach Payton are ever going to get away from their system."
Once Brees gets into a groove, it is difficult to stop him.
Nose tackle Terrance Knighton said that if the Redskins can be disruptive early, though, that could swing the advantage in the Redskins' favor.
"He's a guy you've got to keep out of rhythm," Knighton said. "Obviously for the past few weeks their offense has got into a rhythm. He's thrown for like 600 yards in one game. Last week he had a good game even though they didn't win the game. But we've got to eliminate the run game, we got to make them one-dimensional. He's seen every look there is on defense and you just got to do your best job up front, hitting him and making him uncomfortable. Going into the backfield, and not allowing him to step up and throw that deep ball."
And for the secondary, it's all about responding the face of adversity, one that is led by one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
"Week in and week out we've been facing some good quarterbacks, a good wide receiving core," safety Dashon Goldson said. "We've just got to step up to the plate and challenge these guys."