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September 29, 2010

Local knowledge: New Orleans Saints

     Who better to ask about the Saints than the guys who cover them every day? We asked New Orleans Times-Picayune beat writer Mike Triplett five questions about the 2-1 Saints in advance of this week’s game with the 0-3 Panthers:

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    1. Have the Saints sobered up yet? Seems like the entire offseason was a well-deserved celebration. Any concern that the hangover, for lack of a better word, catches up to them?

    I think they’ve put any concerns about the idea of “over-celebrating” to rest, for the most part. Their offense hasn’t been firing on all cylinders yet, but they did start the year 2-0 with some tough wins against Minnesota and San Francisco. So they certainly haven’t come out flat and lifeless. Plus, they stayed relatively healthy throughout the summer, so we didn’t see any signs of a team that wasn’t ready to get back to work.

    I do believe in the general idea that it’s hard to be as motivated and driven in the year after you win a Super Bowl, though. That’s just basic human nature. And you have to believe that even someone as driven and hard-working as Drew Brees must have been affected somewhat by a jam-packed summer schedule of the field, which included a book tour. But I don’t think any of that will keep the Saints out of playoff contention. They’ve still got Brees playing the quarterback position as well as anyone in the league, and Sean Payton calling plays. Plus, they brought back almost the entire roster from last year.

  I don’t expect another 13-3 season or No. 1 seed. But they sure look like a team that can win in the double digits, and once they’re in the playoffs, they’re a veteran team that knows how to win.
 
       2. While he's out with a broken fibula, will the Saints miss Reggie Bush more for what he does himself, or for what he creates for others  (i.e. as a decoy, or a threat which other teams have to game-plan for,  opening things for others)?

0929reggiebush      It’s a little of both, obviously, but you do bring up a good point. For all the people who still consider Bush a “bust” or an underachiever, he has been a very valuable role player in a Saints offense that has ranked first in the NFL three of the last four years. Payton loves to create and exploit mismatches with all the offensive weapons at his disposal. Sometimes he’ll get Bush matched up against a linebacker and exploit that. Other times, Bush might be drawing away a top defender – like a Jon Beason – while Brees fired the ball downfield to Jeremy Shockey or a receiver.

  So without Bush, the Saints offense becomes a little more traditional and perhaps it’s easier to defend in that sense. But there’s no shortage of weapons on this team. Take a look at last week, when receiver Lance Moore stepped up with six catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Plus you’ve got Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Shockey, David Thomas, Jimmy Graham, Pierre Thomas (who will be questionable this week with an ankle injury) … it’s a long list.

    Atlanta coach Mike Smith said last week that it’s not necessarily easier to defend the Saints without Bush in the lineup, because now it’s the coaches’ job to figure out where those extra 10-12 touches will go.

       3. Has any of the first-year magic gone away from the Gregg Williams- led defense? Do you see the same spark there as last year?
   
    Not really. After forcing 39 takeaways in the regular season last year, they came out this year and forced four more in the first two games. The defense didn’t take the ball away against Atlanta, but ball security is one of the things the Falcons and Matt Ryan do best. I imagine the Saints will be looking to rattle Jimmy Clausen in this game.

  Williams loves to blitz, but that’s not his only method for rattling and confusing quarterbacks. He really loves to keep them off balance, and sometimes he does that by dropping back in coverage. The Saints have 28 different defensive packages, including several 3-4 packages, which they used heavily in Week 1. 

  Williams was a huge addition for the Saints last year, as was safety Darren Sharper (who is out with a knee injury for at least the first six weeks). But they aren’t the only ones. The emergence of cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter was just as important, and they make the whole defense better.

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       4. Have the Saints been fortunate in finding the right guys to play WR, or would Drew Brees be able to do this with any set of wideouts in the NFL?

0929brees     I’m sure that’s a little of both, but they do have some really talented guys in the mix. In fact, I’ve long said that I think Marques Colston would be a perennial Pro Bowler pushing 100 catches per year for most other teams, because he’s such a big target with great hands, that he’d be a security blanket for most quarterbacks.
    The other guys all add nice versatility to a deep offense. Lance Moore is a shifty receiver who catches everything and is reminiscent of a Miles Austin or Wes Welker type. Devery Henderson is primarily a deep threat, though he has become a reliable possession receiver as well over the years. And Robert Meachem, the only first-rounder in the bunch, has the biggest upside with his speed and size, but he’s been slowed a bit this year after offseason toe surgery.
    In turn, I also think Payton and Brees have made these guys better, because they all know the ball could come to them at any time. I’ve never seen a quarterback who’s more willing to throw to the open man, regardless of who he is.

       5. Historically, this division has been unkind to attempts to repeat. Why do you think the Saints will or will not be able to buck the trend of the annual NFC South shakeup?

    This goes back to that idea of the Super Bowl hangover.

    Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta and New Orleans have all been good examples in this decade, missing the playoffs after Super Bowl or NFC Championship Game appearances. … Like I said before, it’s happened so many times to so many different teams, you can’t ignore the possibility that human nature will lead to a letdown.

There’s two things working in the Saints’ favor, though. One, the division is thinner than ever, with both Carolina and Tampa Bay rebuilding, so it will almost certainly be a two-way race between the Saints and Falcons. And two, Drew Brees is a Hall-of-Fame-caliber quarterback in his prime right now. He’s right up there with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who have their teams in the playoffs every year.

-- Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on September 29, 2010 at 09:55 AM | Permalink

Comments

Saints will let up on the kitty cats in the second half, or at least we hope so. If not, they could break 100 points on our joke ass team.

Saints-42
Panthers-12

Posted by: BernzSucks | Sep 29, 2010 10:14:07 AM

I miss Peppers, and I dont care what yall say or think.

The guy had like 2 tackles Monday but was the single most disruptive force in that game. I dont care if he turns on his switch when he wants to. Its better than having a defense where no body even has a switch to turn on!

20 mil is what he would have got from us this year. The bears are paying him 20 this year and next year. So what!!

No fire on this team anywhere.

Posted by: Chuck | Sep 29, 2010 11:22:41 AM

The Panthers are a joke from the owner to the coach. If they think we're gonna win with this bunch they're sadly mistaken. We had a chances to add some big names in the off season and did nothing a receiver would be nice or a mobile QB the panthers should've tried to get Vick and he wanted to come but this TOWN is not ready for a BLACK QB. So continue down that dead end road alone with the players YOU want.

Posted by: BENCAR | Sep 29, 2010 2:03:51 PM

Um, we had Rodney Peete in 2002 and I'm pretty sure he was a black QB. Just Sayin'.

Posted by: rusman21 | Sep 29, 2010 2:12:28 PM

We didn't get Vick because of his criminal past not the color of his skin and that argument doesn't make much sense considering that probably 90% of our team is african american. If we are not ready for a black qb then why are we fine with a black corner or reciever or linebacker (qb of the defense). I'm not saying some people aren't ready for a black qb but they are the minority not the majority.

Posted by: Clint | Sep 29, 2010 2:32:51 PM

Lol, so during the time when Vick wasn't playing much. He was worth a 2nd round pick to give up? Child Please.

He would have looked average at best with this offense. Due to the Eagles having better playmakers in using all of their weapons, instead of Smith, Williams, and Stewart.

$20 million for a DEnd is stupid to keep Peppers around. Especially what happends if the new CBA had came out? Would they even had enough money to resign Beason, Kalil, Williams and others? Probably not.

Posted by: adam carter | Sep 29, 2010 2:47:24 PM

Forget re-signing Kalil unless he starts playing better. We paid Jordan Gross his big bucks and he has disappeared (except he still manages to get holding penalties that nullify the few offensive plays we make).
I like Peppers but he's not worth $20M; he saw the writing on the wall here and left a sinking ship.
Vick would have been a great addition, but he was available last year, and we didn't have the ability to go after him then.
We could have had Brandon Marshall, but we let him slip to Miami. We could have gone after Vincent Jackson, but that's a lost cause too. We could have pursued one good DL guy or upgraded our lousy TE's, but Jerry is determined to starve the current coaching staff so he can boot them all to the curb. We do have an extra kicker though; I think he kicked off twice last week (once on the kick-off and we scored once). Now there's some bang for your buck. Three games in and it already feels like an eternity. We can go 0-16, but I don't think it will happen. My guess is 3-13 this year.

Posted by: SCPOAB | Sep 29, 2010 3:19:26 PM

I hope we go after Charlie Weiss, currently the OC for KC; reunite him with Clausen and let's see what happens. Weiss will find good wide receivers and he understands blocking schemes. Have you seen KC's offense this year? He's a pro-style coach that wasn't suited for the college game, especially at Notre Dame where it's hard to recruit due to very tough academics.
Jack Del Rio will also be fired this year in J-Ville; we could bring him back as the D-coordinator. We had tough defenses when he was here and we had a real pass rush because he had an eye for talent.
Of course we had Bill Polian in the front office and he left for the Colts. Hurney isn't bad at drafting; however, he's terrible at managing free agency.

Posted by: SCPOAB | Sep 29, 2010 3:25:43 PM

Wow lmao.

Kalil is a top 5 center, so it would be stupid to not resing him. Every player has up and down games, but I guess he is suppose to be great in every game?

The Chargers wanted a 2nd and 3rd rounder for Vincent J. As I recall, Carolina traded next year 2nd rounder for AE.

Also if JR didn't extend Beason, Kalil, Williams, and many others. Why should VJ get a pay raise over them? Also suspended for the 1st 6 games, but I guess he is worth $10 million a year?

Now Brandon M is another story, I wish we had gotten him. But he would still complain by JR not extending anyone contracts. If thats the case, their was a chance VJ and Marshall could walk into FA. Since JR has gone cheap.


How many hodling penalites has Gross have? Don't make shit up, when you don't know how many he had.

It wouldn't what TEnds the Panthers would have acquire, they are barley used in the passing game anyway.

Posted by: adam carter | Sep 29, 2010 3:33:44 PM

I dont recall Vick being offered any trades. I read an article from a Pa. newspaper that said according to sources that know, he would be traded before the season last year. But obviously those people didnt know because he is still there. I think trading him was pure speculation & wishful thinking for some fans. Peppers is in no way worth 20 million dollars, if you think he is you dont knwo football. He has never been the #1 de in the nfl, ever. Every year there are a few that are better than him. He has potential that he never reaches. Do i want him on the Panthers team? Sure i do but im not the 1 that would have to fork out 20 mil, & i wouldnt if i was the 1. I think the new defensive players are doing a great job without Peppers, considering all the turnovers the offense has handed them. They have kept the games within 2 scores & thats not bad.I think(hope) this week is the week the offense starts flowing & the defense gets a break. GOOOOOOO PANTHERS!!!!!!!

Posted by: MrBernz | Sep 29, 2010 3:58:55 PM

Adam,
JG had a big holding penalty in the Tampa game that nullified a 3rd and long first down conversion and basically shut down the drive; I'm not making stuff up. It's not a question of quantity but quality; don't get a holding penalty on 3rd down in the other teams territory to kill a drive. Doesn't JG protect the QB's left side (the one we've been getting pasted on)? More penalties to follow, trust me. He had two back to back in one of the preseason games (yes it was preseason, but it was a sign of what's coming).
Then give away the 2012 2nd rounder; VJ is a proven player instead of playing draft roulette for WR's.
I didn't talk about Beason or others, just JG and Kalil; I'm disappointed in our line play period. The pass blocking is terrible, absolutely terrible, and isn't JG making between $6-8M per?
As far as making "stuff" up, you're making up that Kalil is a top 5 center; where you are drafted and your level of play are two different things. We don't have anyone on the offensive line playing at the top 5 position level right now.
Good TE's are supposed to be able to block and catch; Jeff King is decent at both but not stellar in either. Rosario has great hands but he doesn't block worth crap. Barnidge is supposed to have great hands but his blocking was supposed to be suspect; so far, neither is working will for him.

Posted by: SCPOAB | Sep 29, 2010 3:59:20 PM

I ready to see JR. and management disappear... and coaches!!! They have made a mess of this team worst than the Hornets..........

Posted by: boydsgrigg | Sep 29, 2010 4:12:44 PM

So 2 ticky tack holding calls on Gross against the Ravens during the pre-season had indicated the Oline would be this bad? Even the announcers were complaining how dumb of a call it was.

Name your top 5 centers? I would like to really know.

Do you think the Chargers will want a 2nd round pick in 2012? 2 years from now? I don't think so.

As far as the TEnds goes, it still wouldn't matter who's the TEnd is or are. John F barley uses them in the passing game anyway.

Posted by: adam carter | Sep 29, 2010 4:15:18 PM

@boydsgrigg

Yeah I hope so when JR, management and the coaches does dissapears. The new owner comes in, he will move the team out of Charlotte to LA,lmao.

Posted by: adam carter | Sep 29, 2010 4:18:23 PM

Really BENCAR? Yeah, its definitely cause he's black. . . nevermind that he played very poorly last year.

Posted by: Brooks | Sep 29, 2010 4:42:23 PM

carolina will win this game 21 to 17 this time we will beat them as they did to us at our house last year dispite all the turnover over the past 3 weeks they worked it out sit with clausen and kail worked there problem out and got smith in pratice so him an clausen can work on timing last week they didnt get to smith had a leg injury and we signed an vet ol chris morris to help out think we will prove these was just a really slow start for us if you think last two out of weeks we beat ourself


we need heart to get to the top

Posted by: nicholas | Sep 29, 2010 10:43:33 PM

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