METAIRIE, La. ― Jonathan Goodwin sat at his locker in the back left corner of the Saints’ locker room recently and was more than happy to talk about Michigan’s resurgence in the college football ranks.
But when the conversations turned to the Saints’ starting center, the affable but quiet 31-year-old clammed up, deflecting any compliments to his fellow offensive linemen.
His teammates and coaches aren’t so hushed.
Head Coach Sean Payton described Goodwin as the type of player who always shows up on film doing the right things but rarely gets recognized for it by anyone other than teammates and coaches.
“He’s kind of the Scott Shanle of our offense,” Head Coach Sean Payton said, comparing Goodwin to the Saints’ unheralded linebacker who consistently finishes as one of the team’s leaders in tackles.
“He’s consistent. He’s steady. He’s very intelligent. … He’s in concert with Drew (Brees) and he’s a very smart player. That’s a good trait to have when you’re a center.”
Added Saints right guard Jahri Evans, the NFL’s highest-paid guard, “We know how big he is to us. It starts with him. He gets us going. He points us in the right direction, him and Drew. A lot of times, people don’t notice this, but he saves me and Carl (Nicks’) ass a lot. So, he’s definitely a value to us and we appreciate it.”
Goodwin earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2009 and has started the last 29 games.
A fifth-round pick for the New York Jets in 2002, he hadn’t started at center until 2008, when he took over the Jeff Faine, who signed with Tampa Bay.
And while it’s visible that Drew Brees is pointing out where possible blitzes will come from or where certain defenders are lined up, Goodwin does the same thing for the offensive line.
The Saints’ line has given up 34 sacks in the past 33 regular season games and that starts with Goodwin.
Left guard Carl Nicks said Brees and Goodwin have a symbiotic relationship and work off of each other. They’re a dynamic duo, he said.
Even more, he echoed Evans in saying that Goodwin saves him more times than not.
“Occasionally? I think half the reason I’m getting any of the recognition I’m getting is because of Goody, if not 79.9 percent of it,” Nicks said.
He added, “I told Goody, ‘Without you man, if you ever got hurt, I don’t know what I’d do.’ … I’m lost without him.”
Lest you think only those on the offense are noticing Goodwin’s contributions, they’re not.
Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove has battled Goodwin the past two seasons during training camp. He sees – and feels – what most people miss from the stands and press box.
He thinks Goodwin should be recognized more along with Evans and Nicks.
“Call me biased or whatever, but that guard to guard for us is pretty talented,” Hargrove. “And he’s the captain. He’s the guy that leads those guys. Maybe he should be mentioned more.”