This question was the number one issue on the minds of the New Orleans media as it peppered
Tampa Bay coach Raheen Morris and quarterback Josh Freeman about the upcoming game. Morris said the Saints were awesome, called Jimmy Graham unbelievable and said Mark Ingram is playing well as expected when he was drafted in the first round. Also, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman talked about the upcoming game with the Saints and why he felt more confident in facing the division opponent:
What does a loss do like that? Does it just make you hungry? For some teams could it shake confidence and obviously you hope that isn’t the case with your team?
“No, it’s always lessons learned. For us it’s details, information, correction, being together and all doing the same thing. We’re not a finished product by any means. The thing about it is it gives me a chance to teach great lessons. There are lessons learned when you go out and get your face beaten in.”
Does it help to follow up that game with a game against a division opponent?
“I wouldn’t say it helps to play the Saints anytime, but to certainly get out there and play. Certainly it’s a great challenge and a great team to play based on how they do and always prepare. Its’ great for us to just get out there again.”
How has your team been able to have success against the Saints despite being a relatively young team?
“We’ve done a nice job of preparing well. The Saints are an awesome team to watch. They’re an awesome team to play against. The competition is very high. They’re a division rival. It’s all those things that are going to be a part of this game that make it a great game and we can’t wait to get out there and play these guys again.”
Even though the Saints are an opponent are they a team you like to watch because of how impressive they are on offense?
“It’s always like that. There’s no doubt about it. Me and Marques Colston go way back. I have to watch my guys. I’ve gone back and watched him for the last couple years and watch what Drew (Brees) does with the ball and what they do with the people and how he uses everybody. There’s not a person on that offense that you don’t’ know. From Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore to Devery Henderson with (Robert) Meachem to Marques Colston and now you add Darren Sproles to that mix. You mention Mark Ingram, we haven’t gotten to everybody. They have people coming off PUP that are explosive, Chris Ivory. It’s an unbelievable offense to watch. They have a great front. The guys play hard. They’re well-coached by Aaron Kromer. It’s a fun team, a really good opponent for us to try to compare ourselves to in order to compete to be the best in the NFC South.”
You left out Pierre Thomas who’s fifth in receptions on the team?
“No disrespect to Pierre. There are so many names. There are so many people that make that offense explosive to consistently worry about. They do so many different things because they have a great coaching staff. David Thomas, they do some different things and move people around as far as fullbacks. They just have so many things they can do with everybody. Everybody’s so well-attuned.”
What do you think it says about their offense where Marques Colston has been limited this year by injury and not heavily involved? If you look at the top five receivers on the team you have one second-year tight end, a new running back in (Darren) Sproles, Pierre, only two receivers in that top five group in receptions. What does that say about how (Drew) Brees gets the ball around?
“I can’t say enough about Drew Brees. What Jimmy Graham’s been able to do this year has been unbelievable. He’s physical, fast, and violent. It will open it up for the receivers down the stretch here. Eventually people are going to demand more attention for Jimmy Graham. That’s going to open it up for Devery (Henderson), Marques (Colston), Robert Meachem, not that it has already. It’s hard to say that Robert Meachem has not has as much success as everybody. You watch them as an explosive team with the things he’s been able to do down the middle of the field. It’s just an explosive offense that gets the ball around to everybody and uses their talents well.”
How’s your quarterback doing this year? I know the interception numbers are up from what he did last year. In general are you seeing growth I assume?
“Everything is about the growth and development of Josh Freeman. We want our guy to be like your guy one day. We want him to be aggressive, spread the ball around and have a grasp of the offense. He’s got better mental capacity. He’s gotten better as far as what we do and our offense. He’s gotten better at recognizing defenses and what they do. Now it’s just about going out there and executing the correct way all the time. He’s only 23. We always forget that in the NFL about that these young guys are 23 years old.”
How do you guys feel about Kansas State?
“Coach Snyder has them going. I have a lot of close ties there, a lot of friends and family there. We look at those guys. I know me and my assistant Jay Kaiser have an ability to sneak a peek at them on Saturdays.”
Any thoughts on how Mark Ingram’s looking in his rookie season?
“He’s exactly what everybody thought he was in the draft. He’s an in between the tackles runner. Every once in a while he can get away from you. He has great balance. He’s a hard—nosed kid. Him and Sproles have been an outstanding combination. He’s Kansas State as well. It’s explosion with him and Pierre (Thomas). I forget Pierre Thomas in the first part of it.”
Do you think it’s timing and reading blocks that are tough for a young running back to learn?
“He’s done a great job. He’s gone to a similar system where he knows the zone scheme. Mark Ingram’s a very smart, intelligent player. I’m sure he can pick that up real quickly. I’m sure he picked up the timing of the game, how fast it’s being played, how much faster it was than in the SEC. Now he’s picking those things up. He has the game, heart, courage. He’s running between the tackles.”
If Gerald McCoy can’t go, who backs him up and steps up?
“We have to go through this week and see if he can do anything, but if he can’t do anything we have Frank Okam, who has gone out and played three technique at that spot. He played against you guys last year actually. We have to go out there and put some people out there to spell him, some of those people who have gone in there in the past to try to help us out.”
Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman
What’s your mindset after last week’s game?
“Yesterday was a day off, and a lot of guys were in yesterday. We understand this is a big divisional opponent. The Saints are playing at a very high level right now. Our guys couldn’t wait to get in here, watch the film, see the game plan come together, and we’re just real excited about the opportunity.”
How do you chalk up a loss like that?
“Really it came down to execution. Before the week started, we kind of downplayed the whole Monday night thing and the West Coast trip. Ultimately, we just weren’t ready to come out and play. We didn’t execute like we needed to and the 49ers were on their game. The big thing is in the NFL a loss is a loss. There really are no style points whether it’s a win or a loss at the end of the day. We’re kind of past that. We’re still 3-2 and have an opportunity to play a good football team against New Orleans this week.”
Last year you guys did a nice job with bouncing back after losses. Do you see the same makeup with this team?
“Yes. It’s a thing where each game is its own separate game. It’s not really a deal where we lose a game and then we’re in a funk. It’s a deal where next week you start over with a clean slate of preparation. It doesn’t matter if you won the previous game or lost the previous game. You have to get prepared. You have a new team coming in and a new challenge. That’s the approach we take. It’s kind of our standard operating procedure. Otherwise it’s tough to be successful. If you have a tough game or a great win, we don’t get too high or too low. It’s just on to the next one.”
Why have you guys had so much success against the Saints in the past couple years?
“We split 2-2. It’s hard to say. They’re a divisional opponent. We feel like we know them very well and understand what they do defensively. We just have to go out and execute and that’s what we were able to do the two times we went into the Superdome and came out with wins. It’s a matter of execution. We know we have enough talent. We have the guys in the positions we need them in and if we go out and execute and play our game, we feel pretty good.”
How much has the way LeGarrette Blount helped you with the way he runs the ball?
“If you ask any quarterback, having a running back like LeGarrette and an offensive line like we have getting things rolling in the running game kind of changes the makeup of the game. All of a sudden the defense has to start packing the box more, they start to account for the run and that might leave some stuff on the back end in the secondary open.”
If Blount can’t play this weekend, how much do you lose?
“We have Earnest Graham. I feel real confident with Earnest Graham, so if LeGarrette’s unable to play I know Earnest is going to step up and do great for us. He has all kinds of history in the NFL being the featured back and has had some great seasons. I was watching tape in the offseason on Earnest tearing it up just a few years ago. Obviously LeGarrette’s a big physical presence that he brings, but at the same time we have to keep it moving. You can’t sit back and say we don’t have LeGarrette, we don’t have a chance. Whether he goes or not, we’re going to have a good game plan and it’s going to come down to execution.”
Have you studied other quarterbacks, Drew Brees in particular, with working on your own game?
“Yes. We watch a lot of veteran quarterbacks, especially the guys that are not fresh right in the league. You’re talking about guys like Peyton Manning, guys like Tom Brady, Drew’s close to home because he’s in our division and has some history with our Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson. We watch Drew. He runs a very similar offense and he’s a fun quarterback to watch.”
Is it surprising that three of Drew Brees’ three top five receivers are a tight end and two running backs and the offense is ranked second in the league in passing?
“Not at all. That offense is designed to spread the ball around. Whatever the defense takes away, it’s on to the next guy whether it’s a checkdown or a tight end. It’s not surprising at all.”
After watching the Panthers game, did you see anything that Cam Newton did that you think you’ll be able to replicate?
“We haven’t really gotten in depth on the Panthers game. We watched a little bit of their plays in their cut-ups but really he just found a way to make plays. He got the ball to Steve Smith, who’s explosive as ever making plays and scoring touchdowns. He did a good job of keeping them in it.”
Could you do that reverse pitch that Cam Newton did with DeAngelo Williams?
“I didn’t see it. Was it an option? We’ve tried that. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m built for the option but if we had it in I could probably run it.”
What’s your review of how you’ve played so far this season?
“As far as preparation and feeling good, I feel great. I understand the defenses. I understand our offense as well as I ever have. We’re 3-2 right now, but looking back we could easily be 4-1 at this point. Looking back, there’s obviously some stuff that we could execute better on and we just have to get better, continue with preparation, and find a way to win.”
Your interceptions are up from last year. Is that something you’ve been working on?
“I think part of it’s the confidence. You have confidence to push the ball downfield and when you throw the ball downfield, there’s a lower percentage of having a completion and a higher percentage of being intercepted. There have been a few plays that it’s gotten away from me a little bit, but it’s not something that I anticipate happening.”
The Saints are second in the SI.com Power Poll behind Green Bay. Writes SI.com: "The good news for the Saints is that after this week's trip to Tampa Bay -- the third leg of an already successful three-game road swing -- half of the season's away schedule is done and in the books. The even better news? If New Orleans can get past the Bucs and improve to 5-1, a 7-1 mark at midseason looks like a virtual cinch with Indianapolis at home and St. Louis on the road to close out October."...
The Bucs have two weeks to place S Tenard Jackson on their active roster, but it's already looking like they'll bring him back much sooner than that. He has so impressed in meetings and his play on the practice field, the team is considering bring him back to play against the Saints on Sunday (he was suspended for a year for substance abuse). "He's a tremendous player," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "He's smart of the field, he's got good instincts and he's physical. He's someone we feel like is a highly graded player."...
by Ed Staton
VIDEO OF SAINTS-HOUSTON
Bayoubuzz Newsletter - Sign Up Below
For Email Newsletters you can trust