For tonight’s Monday night matchup between the unbeaten New Orleans Saints and the Patriots, we’re turning to Saints blog Canal Street Chronicles for a Bayou perspective. Dave Cariello from CSC was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, and we did the same for him.
The Saints offense has been unbelievable this season, they really look unstoppable at times. Are there any weaknesses? If you were the Patriots, what would you try to take away or attack?
I’ve been asked this question many times. My answer is always the same: Get to Brees early, often and always. Defenses need to bring constant pressure, from all angles and positions. Mixing it up keeps Brees guessing and gets him off his game. It’s also key to make sure that all rushers have their hands in the air and are attempting to bat down balls at the line. Brees is on the shorter side; with pressure in his face and hands in the air he’s been known to have bad days. Lastly, teams need to remember to play the entire sixty minutes of football. Never give up this plan of attack even with a lead. The Saints are fourth quarter kings, outscoring their opponents 105-24 in the final fifteen minutes.
The Saints defense is much improved this season…what has been the biggest difference? Darren Sharper? Gregg Williams? Something else?
Most of it really does have to do with Gregg Williams. He has completely changed the culture of this defense as a whole and has already gotten so much more out of mostly the same players from previous years. Williams’ defense emphasizes blitzing, turnovers and populating the ball; all in an aggressive manner. Former defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs ran a very plain scheme but Williams has proven these guys are capable of so much more.
That’s not to say the off-season acquisition of players like Darren Sharper and Jabari Greer haven’t proved to be genius. Those two alone have made a huge difference. But I still think the coaching and culture change is the more overriding factor.
Where would you attack that Saints defense?
The Saints are a little weak in the run defense department. With defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis injured, their ability to stop the run up the middle has declined a bit. And if a rusher can get around the edge, they might have the advantage against linebacker Scott Shanle. To be successful, however, the Patriots would really have to dedicate to it.
For this game, starting cornerback Tracy Porter is sidelined with an injury. If the Patriots could get a desirable mismatch against whoever will be substituting for Porter, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them exploit that.
Who is a player on defense that perhaps isn’t well known nationally, but who Patriots fans will know well after Monday night?
Well, if starting cornerback Tracy Porter wasn’t injured for this one he would be my definite answer. Since he doesn’t really qualify, I’m going to go with defensive tackle DeMario Pressley. He was called up from the practice squad after the team suffered a few injuries to their starters and has played pretty well in their place. He’s not mistake free but I doubt you’ve heard of him and he has the ability to make a name for himself in this league if he works hard.
Can the Saints run the table and go 16-0? Will they?
The Saints can do anything they want. I can tell you that I think I will have a better answer for you after this particular game. Saints fans are going to learn a lot about their team and the possibilities of this season when they face the Patriots on Monday night. This game is by far their biggest challenge this season. If they do manage to beat New England, the road still won’t be easy. Their remaining schedule is favorable but teams are only going to continue to play the Saints tougher and tougher in an effort to be the team to take down the Saints. Plus, three of the Saints remaining games are against division opponents. Those are always tough and hard-fought.
It’s gonna be a close one. I’m gonna go with 35-32 Saints.