The Texans have played impressive defense under Wade Phillips at a time when teams have scored 1,502 points, produced 172 touchdowns and thrown for 15,771 yards, all records for the first two weeks of a season.
The Saints will be wearing throwback jerseys on Sunday against a team that ranks fifth in rushing despite missing Arian Foster (hamstring) for six of eight quarters. He is doubtful for Sunday and former Auburn star Ben Tate will be the featured back. The Texans passing offense ranks 22nd because of the emphasis on the run.
The Texans defense may be good enough to walk into the Superdome and get a win. But there's a reason Brees is on the verge of becoming the highest paid player in the NFL -- or at least one of the top two or three. He should be able to handle whatever Phillips throws at him.
Prediction: Saints cover the 4 and win 30-24.
Other NFL picks: Bills +8 over Patriots; Bengals -2 1/2 over 49ers; Giants +8 over Eagles; Browns -2 1/2 over Dolphins; Titans -6 1/2 over Broncos; Lions -3 1/2 over Vikings; Panthers -3 1/2 over Jaguars; Chargers by 14 1/2 over Chiefs; Raiders +3 1/2 over Jets; Ravens -4 over Rams: Bucs - 1 1/2 over Falcons; Cardinals -3 1/2 over Seahawks; Bears +3 1/2 over Packers; Steelers -10 1/2 over Colts; and Cowboys -6 1/2 over Redskins. Last week: 5-7. Season: 8-14.
SOME hither, others yon: Punter Thomas Morstead is the recipient of the Morton's The Steakhouse Community Player of the Week after the Saints-Bears game. Since his rookie year, he has participated in countless community events including weekly hospital visits and holiday events....
Bears quarterback Cutler said he doesn't know if he'll survive this season if he keeps getting sacked. He has been sacked 11 times in two games, including six by the Saints last Sunday. The Bears offensive line took the blame for allowing that many sacks by the Saints. However, offensive linemen can't keep defensive linemen off the quarterback 50 or 60 times during a game. Defensive linemen are larger, faster, stronger athletes. The only advantage offensive linemen have is the snap count and running plays...
Sean Payton talked about signing RB Joique Bell to the practice squad, injuries, throwback jerseys and pass rusher Junior Gallette in his briefing with the media on Thursday after practice.
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Thursday, September 22, 2011
“Here’s today’s injury report: K Garrett Hartley (right hip) did not practice, CB Tracy Porter (right calf) did not practice, LB Jonathan Vilma (left knee) did not practice, and WR Marques Colston (right shoulder) did not practice. LB Jonathan Casillas, S Roman Harper, DT Tom Johnson, and S Jonathon Amaya (left shoulder) were limited. One practice squad transaction: we signed RB Joique Bell and released RB Tristan Davis which put us at 53.”
What do you think of the throwback uniforms?
“I haven’t really seen them so I really don’t know.”
What led to the decision to wear them?
“I think probably just as a changeup. A lot of teams have done it and generally it’s a just a chance to recognize the old uniform and probably a chance to sell more jerseys as well. I think it’s a black throwback but I’m really not familiar with what they look like.”
Fans seem to always want to know what you’re wearing on Sunday.
“Most of the time during the Spring Chief will get a letter from the league and we’ll come up with a plan in regards to jerseys and just stick with it and mix it up, but we probably don’t give it as much thought as people would think.”
As far as with Tracy Porter and not knowing when he’ll come back, what are your thoughts on Leigh Torrence?
“He played last week and if Tracy can’t go then that means that he’ll get more snaps on defense than he would normally. He’s experienced and he’s smart and he knows what he’s doing. His versatility is important and he played much the same way a year ago at times during the course of the season with injury.”
Leigh Torrence is a guy you cut a lot and brought him back in previous years, but it seemed like last year he really started playing better and now he’s found a role.
“Starting with the most important aspect, I think the player knows who he is, I think he understands his value as someone who contributes on special teams and then has versatility within our defensive package. That’s generally a combination where a guy can play longer and it starts with understanding the role and understanding the importance of his contribution in the kicking game and then also being able to play in a nickel capacity or in the base. He’s played in a bunch of different roles, but it starts with the special teams.”
Are you pleasantly surprised Joique Bell made it back through waivers?
“I don’t know if surprised is right. The one thing is it’s hard to identify if someone has a certain grade on a player, but I would also say that when you make a decision to claim somebody and another team makes that decision then that means that the team was parting ways with a player that was good enough the day before to be on the roster. Generally it doesn’t happen as often as you think from a percentage standpoint. It’s good to have him back under the full work and practicing and getting ready.”
Can you talk about the growth of Junior Galette with him being in the top five in the NFL in sacks?
“He provides edge speed, especially when you’re playing at home and he can get a jump on the snap, that plays to his advantage. But he’s someone who’s focused in on his job and he’s worked hard to get the snaps that he’s getting right now within our system. Now in regards to top fives and rankings after week two, I think more than anything else you see improvement and you see speed and you see a guy that’s worked hard to get to where he’s at.”
Do you feel like he has matured since last season?
“I think like any young player who’s in his second year, there’s a learning curve that’s initially pretty steep and then they recognize the left tackle, for instance, is someone he’s rushing against that’s entirely different than the tackle he saw the year before when he was a senior in college. Coming up with and having a rush plan and understanding how tough it is to get to the quarterback in this league. We’ve seen his growth fundamentally and certainly we’ve seen his growth from a maturity standpoint and he’s handling it well.”
Passing attempts in the league are up and running attempts are down, is there a reason for that?
“I don’t think it’s lockout related. I feel like the way the game is, you have to have assembly of a passing game to score. Whether that’s early in the game and then the ability to finish with the run in four minutes or somewhat have more balance, but this year is one that we’ve seen a spike. I would also equate that to you’re probably getting as good of quarterback play as you’ve seen in a while from a number of teams, even some of the younger quarterbacks are playing at a high level. It’s probably a combination of that and offensive philosophies and what people are wanting to do. I think we have a lot of teams that are throwing the ball very efficiently and it’s a challenge for the defenses.”
It seems like the linebacker position has been very interchangeable, everyone is playing.
“You start with multiple packages and then much like an offense where Lance (Moore) is playing, Devery (Henderson) is playing, and (Robert) Meachem is playing and (Adrian) Arrington or (Marques) Colston, well the same thing is happening on defense when you’re in and out of different packages. Certainly we’ve seen (Scott) Shanle, we’ve seen (Jo-Lonn) Dunbar, we’ve seen (Jonathan) Casillas, and we’ve seen (Will) Herring, each week those guys are well-versed and they’re ready to go. They all have a role in each game regardless of whether they’re being introduced as the starter or not. I think 20 years ago you introduced your base defense and your base offense and now there are so many subgroupings that all those guys are playing.”
When you first got here, it seemed like there was a staple three and now it’s more versatile.
“I think there are more packages too. I think rather than just base and nickel and maybe a dime, you’re seeing a lot more packages and because of that there are specific roles.”
This Sunday will be the anniversary of the return to the Superdome. Did you have any idea of what a statement that was in that game against Atlanta?
“I think as we got closer to that game, all of us began to recognize the significance of it. I don’t think any of us were caught off guard. I think we understood just from the week leading up to the game in regards to media requests and the attention that was drawn to that game along with the fact that it was a Monday Night Football game. That all being said, there’s still that three hour experience that you, as best we could, try to prepare for but yet it was still something that was entirely different or even bigger than you imagined. For the players that are still on this team here and the coaches that were on the team at that time that are still here and anyone that really attended that game, I run into so many people that tell me that they were there at Tulane Stadium when (John) Gilliam returned the kickoff for a touchdown. I don’t know how many seats Tulane Stadium sat at that time, but I’m going to say 5,000 more people have told me than seats available, but I think this was that type of, or even of greater significance. That represented the start of the franchise. This represented the coming back and the return of not just a team, but more importantly a region and a city.”
You’re been in a lot of big games such as the Super Bowl, but what do remember most about that game to reopen the Superdome?
“There are a number of things. Logistically, it was our first home game. In other words, we didn’t have any preseason games in 2006 there. We played the preseason games in Jackson and one in Shreveport and then we went on the road for two weeks while they were getting everything ready and having the Superdome ready for a regular season game. Just the logistics of coaches and players getting there for the first time for the game, this was a game where there was a lot of traffic. (Drew) Brees got stuck in traffic and he was barely there on time. I remember us going early on Friday to try to work through or at least be in the building and get used to the lighting and the turf the Friday before and trying to, the concern I guess as a coach was, knowing the significance of this game, of making sure that we were in a position to play well and win and not press if you will or try to be or do anything other than play good football. The message we talked about leading up that whole week was it’s going to be a significant night regardless, but it’s only going to be a special night if we win. I think 10, 15, 20, 30 years from now, as those memories fade, I don’t think we’ll ever lose track or not remember Steve Gleason blocking a punt. That won’t be the trivia question. It might be who recovered it for a touchdown: Curtis Deloatch. But if there was one moment, it would be the first punt of the game and Gleason hitting it just right and coming up with it. That was a significant play in that game and probably the loudest I’ve ever heard any stadium, ever. There would be a distant second, there would be a big gap between the next crowd noise that you would be able to remember. The Super Bowl would be second as far as the crowd noise, and I’ve said this before, I think, and many would argue, but the significance of that season certainly was equal to the significance of eventually winning the Super Bowl. The significance of that season and us playing well in 2006 mattered a lot. 2009 was important because you won a Championship but ’06 for many was just as important, if not more.”
Can you talk about your offense going against the Texans defense?
“The one thing you see with Houston is they’re doing a very good job in their 3-4 package of playing man coverage, pressuring the quarterback, and getting off the field on third downs. Statistically, and I know it’s only two weeks in, but it’s an entirely different defense than in years past. Wade (Phillips) has done a really good job, really in a short period of time considering we didn’t have an offseason, of installing this package and the players understanding the nuances of it. You have a team that can rush the passer. Mario Williams is always a guy that you have to account for as a defensive end. You have experienced players at linebacker. DeMeco Ryans is a guy that’s been playing at a very high level for a while, (Brian) Cushing is playing extremely well, and you have really for the most part an entirely new secondary. They’re playing with a lot of confidence and they’ve played well now for two weeks in a row.”
You’ve talked about the importance of having depth at running back. Is Houston an example of that?
“I think that’s a good example. I would agree. You have the next guy up and there’s production and it’s not prohibiting the team from being successful. We try to all the time remind all of our players on this roster that you might go two weeks without getting snaps with the first unit and in two weeks be starting in a game. That just happens because of the roster size and the limitations in our league. Two years ago, we signed Mike McKenzie on a Tuesday and he was playing in the nickel on Monday night against the Patriots. I think the depth is critical, especially at that position at running back.”
What are your thoughts on Brian Cushing’s start to this year?
“I think when he’s been playing, he’s been playing at a high level. He was someone that we had real high grades on. He was someone that, honestly had Malcolm (Jenkins) not been available, there was strong consideration, in fact a real good chance that we would have drafted Brian. We had worked all those linebackers out at USC. He stays on the field, he plays in their base, he plays in their nickel, he plays in their dime, he’s physical, he’s smart, he’s a good tackler, and he’s powerful as a linebacker. There’s not a lot of leaky yardage with him. He loves playing and that’s something that you can see on tape.”
Sean Payton will sign autographs at Aucoin Hart Jewelers in Metairie on Saturday from 1 p.m. through 3 p.m. The coach will pull the winning tickets for a raffle benefiting the Payton Play It Forward Foundation. Saints fans will be able to get one item signed as he and the Aucoin family raffle several Saints-themed prizes,including a dazzling, one-of-a-kind, custom-designed, Fleur-de-Lis black and gold diamond ring. The ring features 186 diamonds set on a band of 18-karat yellow and white gold. The diamonds weigh a total of 3.3 karats and the price is valued at $15,000. Raffle tickets are $20 each or $100 for six and can be purchased at the Metairie Road store or on the phone at (504) 834-9999. The public is invited to stop by the store at 1525 Metairie Road to view the prizes on display now until the drawing on Saturday....
by Ed Staton
(Visit Louisiana Sports Talk.com to order your LSU and Saints shirts and treasures.)
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