this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; New Orleans Saints have four players from 2007 New England Patriots A few of the New Orleans Saints' players have been there before. They remember how hard it was, how the pressure was almost suffocating, how it was virtually impossible ...
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|11-27-2009, 12:18 PM||#1|
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New Orleans Saints have four players from 2007 New England Patriots
A few of the New Orleans Saints' players have been there before.
They remember how hard it was, how the pressure was almost suffocating, how it was virtually impossible to focus.
It hasn't gotten nearly to those levels yet for the Saints, 10-0 and one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL.
But just in case it does, the Saints' roster includes four members of the 2007 New England Patriots who went 16-0 in the regular season. And tight end David Thomas, cornerback Randall Gay and fullbacks Heath Evans and Kyle Eckel will be at the ready to offer advice.
Don't expect any speeches just yet, though.
The Saints contend that going 16-0 is just wishful thinking. Their true goal is simply winning Monday night against the Patriots at the Superdome and hopefully wrapping up the NFC South Division title.
"If anybody asks, then I have some experience with the situation, " Thomas said. "But I think the great thing about this locker room is everybody just focuses on what's important now. And that's the Patriots and winning this week."
With each passing victory, the Saints can expect the pressure to mount and the national media spotlight to grow brighter.
The Saints are the first NFC team to start the season 10-0 since the 1991 Washington Redskins opened 11-0.
And they've faced little resistance getting to this point.
Saints Coach Sean Payton said there is no added pressure on his team.
Throughout the Saints' franchise-record start, Payton has appeared to remain focused on the upcoming game. And his players typically have followed suit.
"I think there's pressure each week to play well and to improve, " Payton said. "But I don't think -- and you could ask the players because each one of them might answer it differently -- but I don't think any one of us feels a sense of mounting pressure because of winning football games.
"I think there's always that weight of wanting to be perfect, or that added charge of trying to play the best game or coach the best game, and I think that's urgency. I think we all coach and play with a sense of urgency, and that's a good thing, not a bad thing."
All of that could change with a few more wins.
During the 2007 season with the Patriots, everything was ordinary until the team reached the final few weeks of the season. That's when every move the Patriots made had to be a calculated step, every word they spoke had to be well-thought, and every play they ran had to be executed to perfection.
The Saints said they've noticed that they've been getting each of their opponents' best game. If they keep winning, that will continue.
Evans, who is on injured reserve and serves as a bit of a player/coach, remembers the Patriots facing similar circumstances.
"Those experiences might weigh more, and that's a big if, if we can get to that 15-game mark, " Evans said. "The last couple weeks of that '07 year were tough. (Former Patriots linebacker) Tedy Bruschi said it. (Former Patriots safety) Rodney Harrison said it the last couple of weeks. We are so far away from that point. People say 'it's only four or five wins.' But four or five wins in this league, there are teams that can't get that in two seasons."
If the Saints are going to get to that point, they are likely going to have to adopt a similar formula to the one the Patriots employed -- the clichéd and boring one-game-at-a-time mantra.
During the Patriots' 2007 run, Coach Bill Belichick frequently driilled his players about remaining focused. The players tried to refrain from talking about a perfect season.
The Saints already have had a couple of minor, human-natured slip-ups. Asked about the possibility of going 16-0, running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas -- on separate occasions -- said it was possible.
Obviously, Payton considers such talk premature.
"We're interested in how do we beat New England, " he said. "That's the challenge in front of us.
"Each week, it's preparing and trying to improve and trying to really look at a game and get better the next week. That's the approach we're taking right now."
Keeping that focus shouldn't be a problem, several of the former Patriots said.
Players point to the strong leadership in the Saints' locker room coming from quarterback Drew Brees, safety Darren Sharper, defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma as evidence this team won't crumble to outside pressure or lose its focus.
And just in case the Saints need a friendly reminder about what it takes, there's the crew of former Patriots.
"Everybody in here is working hard every day, " Thomas said. "The great thing about this team is how everybody focuses on every week, how everybody is taking it game by game. We've got a long way to go before we can start to looking at that team in '07 and comparing us to them."
"There was so much quality leadership on that (Patriots) team, as there is here, " Evans said. "The focal point was never to go undefeated in 2007. And our focal point for this season was, 'hey, let's dominate this division, let's find a way to get to 6-0 with all our division games.'
"People love to talk about the undefeated, but for us, each game is a battle. We all are prideful, arrogant men, otherwise we wouldn't be at this level. We want to win because it's this week and it's this team. So '07 was a fun year, it had its challenges. The undefeated didn't add or take anything away from that season. We had the typical pressure of trying to win an NFL game week in and week out."
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