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The Saints can't be compared to other teams

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; New Orleans Saints mailbag: The Saints can't be compared to other teams Here's today's edition of the New Orleans Saints Mailbag. I'll have one more file tomorrow and another on Sunday before the kickoff against the St. Louis Rams at ...

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Old 11-13-2009, 04:28 PM   #1
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The Saints can't be compared to other teams

New Orleans Saints mailbag: The Saints can't be compared to other teams

Here's today's edition of the New Orleans Saints Mailbag. I'll have one more file tomorrow and another on Sunday before the kickoff against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.
Enjoy today's Q&A:
Q: I know the Saints are winning, so why mess with a good thing, but getting Reggie Bush established in the beginning of the game can open up more options in the second half. The Pats use Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk in screens and I see the parallel here with Reggie and Lance yet the Saints almost never run plays like that. Teams with "hybrid" backs often employ screen passes to get them involved but it seems this year the Saints have gone away from it. What do you think about Reggie's role and do you see it increasing anytime soon? Varun Soni, New Delhi, India.

A: Varun, you can't compare the New Orleans Saints to other teams. Other teams don't have the number of weapons the Saints have. If Bush played for the Cleveland Browns, he'd probably have twice the number of carries and catches he has with the Saints. Ditto for Colston or Shockey, etc. The Saints have found the perfect formula on offense and they are much more of a downfield passing team than anyone else in the league. They're leading the NFL in total offense and are on pace to break the 2007 Patriots' season record for scoring in a season. I don't see any reason to change anything. The Saints did try to get Bush more involved last week, running him twice and throwing to him nine times. He responded with some key third-down conversions. The Saints have throw screens and swing passes to Bush often this year. Those patterns are part of their repertoire. And to Bush's credit, he has accepted his role and not complained. Face it, we're eight games into the season now. I don't think Payton is going to adjust a successful formula just because fantasy owners can win a few more games on Sunday.
Q: Why don't we use Reggie like we did in 2006 with Deuce? We could use Pierre/Mike as the power and use Reggie on the edges. We need his playmaking ability. What is it with his limited play? Sgt E. Charles, USAF/San Antonio, Texas.
A: Sgt. Charles, this is the same question I had the other day. The Saints are trying to win games not feature an individual player. They are 8-0 running their offense the way they are so why would they want to change it. The 2006 Saints did not average as many yards a carry or as many rushing yards a game as this year's unit so why would they want to go back to it? This offense is more prolific. The Saints have gotten the ball to Bush plenty of times on the fringes this season but I'm starting to wonder if his home-run hitting days are over. His longest run from scrimmage is 19 yards. His longest pass reception is 29 yards. And his longest punt return is 22 yards. He's had the ball in the open field a number of times but has yet to break one for a touchdown. It's just speculation, but he seems to have lost a half-step since his offseason surgery. That's not uncommon. But for a player like Bush, who relies on his burst and elusiveness, it can be critical. And remember, Bush's small frame is a consideration, as well. I'm not sure it can hold up over the course of a 16-game season with more touches. He was injured the previous two seasons when his role was larger.
Q: With the injury to Fujita, I was hoping to see Jonathon Casillas get some playing time on defense. I have not noticed him on any plays other than special teams. Are Evans and Dunbar playing that much better than Casillas in practice, or is Casillas just not showing the coaching staff that he is ready for anything more than special teams play? Daniel, Nashville.
A: The coaching staff is very high on Casillas but he's not as experienced as Dunbar or Evans. It's asking a lot for him to usurp both guys for playing time at this stage of his career. Casillas made a big play on special teams last week. That will be his role this season, which is typical of young linebackers in the NFL. But he's one of the reasons the coaching staff is high on the depth of their linebacking corps. I don't think Gregg Williams would have any reservations about putting Dunbar, Casillas or Marvin Mitchell in the game at any time. He likes their potential.
Q: What can Kyle Eckel do for this team, and why did we not go out and try to find another triple threat back like Heath Evans? Wes Wilson, Cleveland, Miss.
A: Wes, triple-threat fullbacks like Evans don't just grow on trees. It's very difficult to find a player with Evans' skill set at fullback. Eckel is a strong lead blocker and is athletic enough to run a pass route and get open. Plus, he's smart, which is vital for any midseason addition in New Orleans, because the offense is so complex. If there was a fullback as athletic and versatile as Evans out there, he wouldn't be on the street. Still, Eckel and H-back David Thomas have done a good job
Q: With the way Charles Grant has been playing, what is the possible ability of him maybe moving to defensive tackle, and putting someone else at end with more speed? Also, will he stay a Saint after the year or be moved through free agency, trade, etc.? David Cromwell, Hattiesburg, Miss.
A: You're timing is good, David. The Saints used Grant at tackle in their nickel personnel packages against Carolina. Williams said they will continue to employ this line in passing situations the rest of the year because it allows them to get their four best pass rushers - Grant, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Bobby McCray - on the field at the same time. Grant will still play end in base sets because he's simply not strong or powerful enough to play inside on a consistent basis. Teams would run right at him. His contract situation is not ideal -- $5.4 million cap figure this year --but the Saints can live with it another year. But after 2010, I think the Saints will have a decision to make on his future because his cap figure balloons from $7.6 million to $13.3 million. Given his limited production and compensation, I'm not sure what kind of trade value he'd have around the league.
Q: Many of the TV commentators are rightly singing Darren Sharper's praises. But they're also calling him the quarterback of the defense. I thought that role actually falls on Jonathan Vilma's broad shoulders. Can you clear this up for us and who on the Saint's defensive side of the ball has their helmet wired up for sound? Don Perkins, Yorktown, Va.
A: Don, Vilma receives the play calls from the sideline into his helmet and calls the initial play in the defensive huddle. However, both he and Sharper are responsible for pre-snap checks and audibles. Vilma helps line up the defensive line and linebackers, basically the first two levels of the defense. Sharper makes checks from the secondary to align the defensive backfield. Williams gives both players a lot of lee way to make pre-snap changes. He relies on their intelligence and experience to read the offensive alignment and personnel and switch the unit into the proper defensive alignment and coverage. To answer your question, both players share in "quarterback" duties on defense.
Q: With the emergence of Robert Meachem and the injury to Lance Moore, what do you think the Saints will do with Lance's contract after this season? Jeffery Austin Texas.
A: I don't think Meachem's emergence has anything to do with Moore's future, just as Moore's emergence last season did not prevent the Saints from making an offer to Henderson last offseason. Moore has a completely different skill set than Meachem. He's a regular in the team's three-receiver packages and is one of Brees' favorite targets on third down because of his ability to get open on underneath routes and crossing patterns. Just because he's had a hard-luck season because of injuries doesn't mean he's any less of a player than he was a year ago when he led the team with 79 catches and 10 touchdowns. Plus, he's a favorite of Brees and that can't be underestimated in this organization.
Q: Do you think that maybe the Saints should lose at least one game to keep their focus? It seems they haven't been focused the last few games. Henry, Houston.
A: I don't think focus is a problem for the Saints. With the possible exception of Miami, they have been ready to play every game this season. But they are going to continue to get the best shot from opponents because of their record. Plus, teams have more game film on them at this point of the season so they are able to put together better game plans for them on both sides of the ball. The main goal for the Saints right now should be to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs. That could make a huge difference in their chances of advancing in the postseason. If that means they need to go 16-0 to do it then that should be their goal.
Q: I know it may be sacrilege to point out any problems with Breesus, but I've noticed that he's been putting the ball on the ground an alarming number of times (eight fumbles this year). It's particularly alarming because he doesn't get sacked very often. Just wondering if this is something that can be corrected, perhaps by tucking the ball and taking a sack rather than attempting to throw despite the pressure? M.J., Houston.
A: Brees talked about his ball security issues this week so you can rest assured he's going to work diligently to correct them. Part of it, Brees said is happenstance. He's been hit by a defender - usually from the blind side - at just the right instant where the ball is vulnerable to being knocked loose. Instead, I attribute his fumbling problems to protection breakdowns. The Saints already have allowed 12 sacks in 265 pass attempts this season. They allowed only 13 in 635 attempts last season. They clearly are missing the experience and talent of Jammal Brown, Deuce McAllister and Mark Campbell in pass protection. It's one area of the club that is noticeably weaker than a year ago. But that shouldn't surprise anyone given the talent level of the players lost.

Q: Is Drew OK? Over the last 3-4 games I've noticed he seems to have happy feet in the first quarter. He appears a little skittish. Of course he settles down and plays brilliantly, especially in the second half, but I'm curious if his non-throwing arm injury earlier in the season isn't causing him some mental consternation right out of the gate. Chris, Hammond, La.
A: Brees is fine, Chris. I think some of the skittishness is attributed to the heat he's been getting lately from Joey Porter, John Abraham and Julius Peppers. Those guys make most quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket. It has nothing to do with his old arm injury. Brees said the bye weak allowed his shoulder to heal so that's a non-issue. Any lingering concerns about his left shoulder should have disappeared in the Miami game, when he threw it into a block on defensive end Randy Starks on the reverse to Reggie Bush.
Q: It was said many times that Bobby McCray would flourish in Gregg Williams' system, but that hasn't happened. I was hoping you could provide some insight into this. Lance, Sylva, N.C.
A: McCray has struggled with a back injury this season that's limited his effectiveness. If you've ever had back issues you'd understand how debilitating they can be, especially for an NFL defensive end who relies on leverage and body torque to rush the passer. Consequently, McCray has endured a relatively slow start. That said, I thought he was much more active against Carolina on Sunday and I expect him to start making more plays now that his health has improved. Even though he has just one sack he is second on the team with nine quarter hurries so he's getting pressure on the quarterback even if he isn't sacking him. I wouldn't give up on McCray yet.
Q: Do you think the combination of playing two teams having a combined two wins between them and Jabari Greer being a little banged up will lead to some more defensive playing time for Malcom Jenkins? His special teams play has been exciting to watch. It seems like these next two weeks will be good opportunities for him to get some much needed game experience. Daniel, Nashville.
A: The staff is very high on Jenkins, Daniel. He's just been slowed by that ankle injury for most of the year. Now that he's healthy I expect them to work him back into the defensive rotation. Here's what Williams said about the subject this week: "He's practicing more, and I said this last week, not only is it important for us to see physically that he's ready to go with that injury, which was minor, but it's more important for me to see sustained practice reps with as much pace as we can in practice so his teammates get used to predicting how he'll play. You know, we play team defense. We don't play individual defense. And they've got to trust that he can hold his technique or play his leverage or take care of his responsibility. And that only comes through reps, through full-speed reps that we take in practice. And it gets even better when you get a chance to have more full-speed reps in a game. And he's coming along very well."
Q: Is it possible to have Hargrove in our starting lineup when Ellis returns along with Smith and Grant? To me, this just makes more sense, more so then having Hargrove second to Ellis, and have Ayodele start on the right side? My next question is what do you think about next years draft? What will it look like, more defense, or more offensive line? Andrew Hantman, Pasadena, Calif.
A: Remi Ayodele is the best run stuffer of the current crop of defense linemen. He's got the bulk and power needed to anchor the interior. It might not grab a lot of headlines but it's essential to the Saints' scheme and run fits. Hargrove is a former end and is not big enough to hold down the fort against the run at nose tackle on an every-down basis. Ellis is the most complete tackle on the roster. I guess the Saints could opt to move him to the nose but that would take away a lot of his playmaking ability at the three-technique. I'm not sure the Saints want to do that at this stage of his career. Regarding the draft, the Saints look like they are going to be picking very low in next year's first round. It's still way too early to talk about prospects. Too much can change between now and next April. As always, much will be determined by what happens in free agency. Nevertheless, knowing the Saints' history and their potential low-round position, I would venture to guess they'll continue to subscribe to the "best player available" strategy.


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Old 11-13-2009, 09:17 PM   #2
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Re: The Saints can't be compared to other teams

Really the Saints can't be compared to any other team in the NFL right now. The Saints are a complete package with a dynamic QB, an outstanding running game and a stingy defense that loves to create turnovers. No other team has the same components that Sean Payton has to play with. There was a lot of new info. that I hadn't read anywhere else. Good stuff.
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Old 11-13-2009, 10:35 PM   #3
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Re: The Saints can't be compared to other teams

The Colts are good, but there not the team SAINTS are. Is there anyone else.
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Old 11-14-2009, 12:21 AM   #4
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Re: The Saints can't be compared to other teams

I thought he asked a stupid question... then I noticed he was from India so I'll give him a pass.

I don't know why we'd even want to be compared to anyone. The fact that we have weapons and great game planning coaches who know how to use their players... putting players in position to make plays. Its how modern football is evolving to and we are the front runners.

I'll tell you what you can do with that WILDCAT alright.
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Old 11-14-2009, 08:17 AM   #5
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Re: The Saints can't be compared to other teams

And conversely, no team can compare to the Saints!

If we can get healthy in the next couple of weeks and eliminate the turnovers, it'll bode well for HFA.
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Old 11-14-2009, 08:23 AM   #6
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Re: The Saints can't be compared to other teams

Have I mentioned I hate fantasy football?

That's where these stupid questions come from.
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