The below occurred via a conference call with the New Orleans media:
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
This game coming in you have a win streak. It’s early, but the Saints won a Super Bowl a couple years ago. Is this a barometer game?
“Yes, I think first off, every week in this league is a barometer game as you progress through. Each week when you’re doing good things it’s a tough test, but none bigger than this week for us. I think this is a big game for both teams. You go through each week and for each team it gets bigger and bigger, but to go on the road in the tough environment against a team that like you said were the champs a few years ago, it’s a great test for us and we’re excited about. It’s a team we know really well and they know us really well. I don’t think either team is going to shy away from that having played against each other in the preseason for a few years now and having practiced against each other for the past few years. We know each other real well.”
How much do you rely on the familiarity factor when you go up against a team, since typically you go up against an AFC team only once every four years?
“It’s hard to rely too much on it because obviously in the preseason you don’t show your whole playbook, you do your base stuff, play ball and I think that’s true for both teams. You rely on the fact that you know each other’s personnel. Obviously your base stuff and the things you like to do the most, you get to see that a little bit, but when you go into a gameplan in the regular season, both sides of the ball, you’re going to have things you put in there specifically for each game, so you have to be prepared to see scouted looks and be ready for them.”
How excited are you about your defense and what they’re doing?
“It’s been exciting to watch them. Once we got to the regular season to see them go out in live situations and get after it a little bit. We saw it all through camp. We knew they had the potential to be real good, to be great. So far they’ve been playing extremely well. At times where the offense hasn’t gotten it done, having to punt the ball or not converting on third down and putting them on the field, they go out there, get a third and out or get a turnover and get it right back to us. It’s been great to see them play and go cut it loose, because we knew what we had going into the season having gone against them in training camp.”
It seems like your team always has a running back you can rely on. How interchangeable are these guys?
“First off, it starts out up front for us. We have an offensive line that’s been together now for a few years. The continuity that they have goes a long way for what we do in the run game as well as in the passing game. In pass protections, those guys work really well together and understand the calls and being able to make adjustments on the fly, I think that translates. The running backs have the ability to succeed in the offense. They’re (Ben Tate and Arian Foster) both downhill runners, make one cut, get downhill and bring their shoulder pads and can run through guys and tacklers as well as make them miss. The fact that Arian’s been out for us, Ben Tate’s been forced to grow up pretty early. Obviously he missed all of last year with an injury. He’s played very well for us. You look at his eye in the huddle. When Derrick Ward went down in week one, he just stepped in there and was ready to go. We’re excited about what he’s doing. He just has to keep growing, keep getting better and keep doing it.”
How are you preparing for Will Smith’s return? Is that a guy you need to prepare for?
“I think so. He’s been a great player in this league. We’re well aware of him coming back. Those guys up front are preparing for him. They have a ton of talent on the defense with Will, their whole defense up front; Jonathan Vilma the middle linebacker is a great player with experience who understands how to make that go. The back end is very veteran and experienced and understands pass concepts.”
Last year you guys started out 2-0 and things didn’t go as planned. There are tons of expectations this year. How is this team different from last year’s team?
“We’re definitely excited about being 2-0, but it’s not our goal. It’s a steppingstone. This team has a very much businesslike approach. We won a game on the road last week, but it’s on to the next one. You can’t be satisfied or think you’ve arrived in this business, because the moment you do, you get knocked off, so you have to keep your head down, keep your blinders on and find the next win. That’s our approach. We just have to go get ready to go play on Sunday.”
The Saints had only 33 sacks a year ago, six on Sunday. What did you see in their defense?
“They brought a lot of stunts, blitzes and pressure. You need to understand where your issues are, where you can get rid of the football to, when the defenses bring more guys than you can block. I think that’s something we do fairly well. We need to be on top of things with our protections and where the blitzes can be potentially coming from and what they’re doing behind it. There’s definitely an issue there.”
When Will Smith’s suspension and the length was announced was there any part of you that thought “Great. I get his first game back”?
“No, we didn’t think anything like that. It’s unfortunate when anybody gets suspended. You want to go up against the best. You want to go up against teams when they have everyone out there.”
More NFL News
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by Ed Staton
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