Since he entered the league in 2001, very few players have had as profound an impact on the NFL as Drew Brees.
The Washington Redskins' defense will be assigned with a task that has proven difficult for many NFL defenses over the last 15-plus years: keeping Drew Brees at bay.
The 38-year-old gunslinger, whose name is littered across NFL all-time leaderboards, enters Sunday's matchup riding another productive season for the New Orleans Saints. The former Purdue Boilermaker ranks first in completion percentage, fourth in passer rating and seventh in passing yards so far this season.
Brees' continued production this year, particularly in terms of completion rate, has not come as a surprise to Redskins players like Josh Norman.
"The thing is about Drew is just he knows you better than you know yourself at times. It's crazy how he's been manipulating defenses just by looking off and pump faking and coming back to knowing the spot he wants to hit," Norman said this week. "He's spot on. His percentage has been top of the NFL since he got in."
However, for a Redskins defense that has already shut down the likes of Derek Carr and Russell Wilson this season, members of the unit remain confident that they can do the same against Brees.
"As a secondary, this is the best challenge we can have coming off the week we just had," safety D.J. Swearinger said. "To go up against a legend this week and have a great performance, it's the mindset and the goal that we can all focus, pay attention to details and prepare, we can make that happen."
Historically speaking, if there was a team to cut down Brees' production, it would be the Redskins. The future Hall of Famer is just 2-4 in his career against Washington and his 58.6 percent completion rate is the worst mark he holds against any opponent.
Brees again sees a challenge in facing this Redskins defense, a unit that has been inconsistent this season, but looks nearly unstoppable when playing at its best. Redskins' defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, who Brees knows from his days in San Diego, has been able to draw up effective game plans against him in the past.
Check out these shots of the Washington Redskins players and coaches boarding the plane as they travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints Nov. 18, 2017. Presented by Dulles International Airport.
"I've got a lot of respect for him and the defense that he runs," the quarterback said of Manusky this week. "The times that I've played against him, I think they're very talented, think they get good pressure with their pass rush, I think they're very active in the secondary, lot of guys that have good ball skills, very opportunistic."
Aside from his prior relationship with Manusky, Brees also knows a thing or two about facing Norman, a former NFC South foe. After several years of divisional clashes in Carolina and New Orleans, the two have formed somewhat of a respectful rivalry with each other.
"I think he's a very instinctive player. He's very talented," Brees said of the star cornerback. "You see him punching the ball out a lot and obviously he's got great ball skills and instincts. Played against him in Carolina for a long time. I've always had a lot of respect for him."
"He's definitely a comrade that I call a friend, but when we get out there on the field, he's a different type of friend. He's more of a foe," Norman said. "We're looking forward to going after him and seeing what we can come up with."