Yes sir, ladies and gentlemen. This coming Monday, we have one heck of a matchup. The undefeated New Orleans Saints host our very own New England Patriots in the Big Easy, Nawlins', home of gumbo, Dixieland, and Drew Brees. However, there's more to this team than the incredibly talented quarterback who seems to have firmly planted himself in any discussion about top quarterbacks in the NFL.
The New Orleans Saints are loaded with talent, the type of talent us Patriots fans are used to having on our own team. Very few are tops at their position, but they excel at playing as a team, a formula Coach Sean Payton is not shy about crediting the Patriots for:
"You look to duplicate, or try to duplicate," Payton said. "You spend more time talking about doing all the right things and trying to pay close attention to what New England has done as an organization. Certainly, they have been at the forefront of our league. If you were in business, it would be silly not to pay attention to how they’ve been successful, their formula and their recipe.
Leading up to what purports to be an awesome matchup, the Canal Street Chronicles "head coach" Saintsational and I exchanged questions with each other. Without further delay, our Q & A after the jump.
Do you feel like the 10-0 Saints aren't getting the respect they deserve for an undefeated team? If so, is it the media driving this lack of respect?
Well, first I think we should define the term "respect" in this situation. If we're talking about respect from the general football fan, I think the Saints get plenty. Everything I've read on Canal Street Chronicles from other teams fans proves they acknowledge the talent. Furthermore, I've had a lot of people tell me the Saints are their second favorite team behind their own and that they're rooting for us.
But if we're discussing respect in terms of media coverage, I don't think they get as equal a share as other teams like the Cowboys, Patriots and Colts, even when they're playing just as good or better football. But I understand the reasoning behind it. The Saints have shown brilliance before but never been able to sustain it. That just doesn't compare to ten solid years of success like the Colts and Pats have had. I think there is a hesitance by most people to start heaping praise for fear that the Saints are just a flash in the pan. I think much of the media still needs a little more proof. I'm hoping the Saints have it in them.
Educate us Patriots fans. We know all about Drew Brees, but who are the "other guys" you would consider at the top of their game, the guys making Drew (and the Saints) successful?
The offensive line is first and foremost. Without them doing an excellent job of protecting Drew and keeping him clean, he wouldn't be able to do the amazing things he does. Guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks are having superb seasons and Jermon Bushrod has stepped up big time protecting Drew's blind side, filling in for starting left tackle Jammal Brown.
Give credit also the the gaggle of talented receivers the Saints have collected like trophies over the past couple of years. Each and every one is a threat and with so many, game planning is a headache. Probably most at the top of his game right now is third year receiver Robert Meachem out of Tennessee. Sean Payton said himself that good things just happen when Meachem gets the ball.
Finally, the emergence of a running attack and a more balanced offense has a lot to do with the success of Drew and the Saints. With a trio of running backs to hand the ball off to, the Saints just haven't had to rely on Brees and the passing game as much this year. That's very important.
Talk a bit about the Saints' cornerback situation. Veteran Mike McKenzie was brought back after being released in March, a move that makes the Saints look a little thin at corner. Is that your perception? Is that a spot you worry about or do you feel NO is capable of compensating?
The Saints are definitely a little banged up at the cornerback position. Before signing Mike McKenzie this week, the Saints also signed former Ravens Pro-Bowler Chris McAlister. With starting cornerback Tracy Porter out a few more weeks and backup Leigh Torrence placed on IR, these signings were necessary from a depth standpoint. I don't expect either McKenzie or McAlister to start on Monday but I do believe they will be called in to help cover Randy Moss, Wes Welker and company as part of the Saints game plan.
Most importantly will be the status of starting cornerback Jabari Greer. If he's healthy enough to return on Monday night, then the cause for concern is significantly reduced.
Where do you think the Saints will have the most trouble with the Patriots? Conversely, in what area do you think New Orleans has a clear advantage?
First and foremost, I think both of these teams are very talented, very well coached and match up well.
I'm definitely worried about the Patriots passing attack. Brady is obviously a supremely talented quarterback and he's got quite a few weapons at his disposal, all of whom can spread the field. With a banged up secondary, I'm afraid the Saints will need to play conservative defense for fear of giving up the big play, which won't allow for an aggressive pass rush on Brady and will allow him to take all day with his throws.
I think the Saints have an advantage on offense because of their balance. We all know Drew Brees and the passing attack is extremely potent but so is the Saints running game. They have the ability to keep defenses guessing, wear them down and go with whatever's working.
I also think Sean Payton is at the top of his coaching game right now.
Which Patriots player(s) do you feel are the most dangerous, the players Sean Payton will key on the most? What will be the matchups to watch?
Randy Moss is the obvious answer which is why the status of starting cornerback Jabari Greer is important. Having played for Buffalo and against the Patriots twice every year, he's the Saints best option to cover Moss. I also expect the Saints to bring in extra help for him.
Because of the attention Moss will demand and his ability to stretch the field vertically, I think Wes Welker becomes equally dangerous. He's a great receiver with great hands and a knack for finding open field. Brady and Welker have a certain chemistry and I worry about a lot of short, quick strikes that eat up clock and wear down the Saints defense.
A big shoutout to Saintsational for answering my questions. Don't forget to checkout Canal Street Chronicles for my answers to his questions.