March 20, 2018

Behind Enemy Lines: With the Saints Nation

Once again in our installment of Behind the Enemy Lines we caught up the the Saints Nation, and go over key points for Sunday’s game with the Saints.  We cover Sproles vs. Bush, Shaun Rogers (NT Lust), Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Mario Williams, Matt Schaub’s place in QBs in the league and much more.

Questions from SOTT to Saints Nation


What does the return of Will Smith mean for the Saints defense?

It’s huge. He is by far the best defensive end on the team. He’s a complete d-end that’s a solid pass rusher and solid rush stopper. I wouldn’t say he’s top 5 at either but he’s so good and solid and both it makes him a great all around end. The Saints have a lot of role players behind him that are good at different things, but having him in there is a huge stabilizing force.

Has Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin taken to their new surroundings?

Not yet. Rogers hasn’t shown much of anything and Franklin is still rebounding from a knee sprain in preseason. We saw a little glimpse of ability last week and they’re starting to come around but they haven’t hit their stride yet. Honestly, I’m a little skeptical of Rogers and how he’ll pan out but I’m very hopeful with Franklin.

With the loss of Marques Colston has the offense taken a step back?

Not in the slightest. They are so deep at receiver it’s the one position they can really absorb injuries at. This offense is and will continue to be all about Drew Brees. If he’s healthy the offense remains one of the best out there.

Does Mark Ingram give the Saints a new dimension on offense?

Yes, he’s assumed Chris Ivory’s role since Ivory is currently out. He’s the power back in between the tackles and the short yardage guy. He’s promising and has done pretty well so far. He definitely brings a physical element to the offense which is needed.

Besides Ingram are there any Saints rookies to watch out for on Sunday?

Cameron Jordan the defensive end will get lots of reps. That’s about it.

Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush, and why?

Sproles. At worst he’s a lateral move on the field and at best he understands and plays within his role a little better. And there isn’t the Hollywood side stuff to deal with.

Drew Brees seems like he is off to another great start what does he mean to the New Orleans Saints and the community?

He transcends sports in New Orleans, honestly. He could run for governor tomorrow and he’d win. He is loved universally. Many associate the city and team’s miraculous rebound from devastation with him. He is the face of New Orleans.

Are there any glaring weaknesses in the Saints that could be seen on Sunday?

I’d say the linebacker play is spotty on defense. On offense, the Saints have the best guard combo in the NFL (Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans) but their tackles are weak. You can get edge pressure on Brees but he’s incredibly good at sensing pressure and stepping up in the pocket. The linebackers are slow to the play sometimes, tackle average, get off blocks poorly and they aren’t great in coverage. You can expose them.

Do you think the preseason game between the Saints and Texans has a chance of carrying over?

No chance. At least, I surely hope not! It’s in New Orleans, it’s a regular season game, the Saints are playing their best players for a full game, and they’ll be fully ready for the Texans. The Saints know and respect the Texans as a great team and I’ll be shocked if they get caught sleeping on that fact.

Who are your key players for the game on Sunday that is not named Brees?

Pierre Thomas, Malcolm Jenkins, Will Smith and Jimmy Graham. I think all of these guys can do things to hurt the Texans badly and help the Saints win the game.

Questions from Saints Nation to SOTT

Rank Matt Schaub for me as a QB in this league.

To be safe I would put Matt Schuab in the top 10 quarterbacks in the league. He is not in the top 5 of the league, but he is a perfect fit for the Texans offense. He has been a good addition to the Texans since being traded for in 2007, and has found a home in Houston for a while.

Do you think he’s underrated?

I think he is, just because of all of the negative publicity that always surrounds the team. His accuracy is a quality that many people don’t realize which he completes over 64% of his career passes, and this year he leads the NFL with 71.7% completion percentage. He does lack real arm strength, which he constantly seems to under throw the deep ball. What else can’t be overlooked is how him and Andre Johnson have made themselves into a quarterback- wide receiver combination. When you see them work you can see how they are always on the same page, and it is amazing to see in person. Schaub’s safety net is Johnson, and you can bet when he is in trouble he looks for #80 whenever possible.

What are your expectations as a fan for this team? Are they ready to compete for a title with this roster?

Coming into the season the fan base was pretty beat up like usual, especially the disaster that took place in 2010, with all of the last second losses and horrid defensive unit. As a fan you knew what was going to happen, Texans get behind early, fight back and take the lead and find some way to give the game away, it was groundhog day over and over. When the Texans brought in Wade Phillips to run the defense, buzz started that owner Bob McNair just hired head coahes Gary Kubika’s replacment, but apparently that is not the reason for his hire. Then news trickled out that the Texans were going to be big players in free agency duing the lockout, and during the NFL draft they concentrated on defense and put together what looks like a solid draft class. Then when the Texans signed Danieal Manning and Johnathan Joseph it was something the Texans have never done before, address immediate team needs and the impression it is time to win. With all of the moves Texans fans started slowly developing hope for the upcoming season and right now the Texans are slowly putting confidence back in the fan base.

It depends what title we are talking about, the AFC South, yes as for a Super Bowl not yet. The Texans have put together a roster that is more athletic that previous years and the coaches brought in defensively and made the hold over defensive players play to another level. So coaching, in my opinion, has made the real difference and that has been a nice change, too. The perrfect storm has hit in the AFC South for the Texans to win the division, but if they can play consistently enough over the rest of the season is yet to be seen.

Will Arian Foster play? How do you see the back rotation playing out?

As of right now it looks like Arian Foster will not play, as a Texans fan we are tired of hearing about his hamstring, we just want him healthy. The Texans are better on the field with him 100% and that was evident in preseason. The severity of his hamstring issue is the real question, Foster doesn’t act like it is an issue, but him not playing speaks volumes so we will see. The rotation for Sunday looks like Ben Tate and Steve Slaton backing him up, even if Foster can go for the game expect Tate to get the bulk of the carries with Foster doing the backup role.

Tell me about the Texans’ weaknesses. If you’re a Saints coach, what are you attacking to help you win?

The same thing they did during preseason game, run it right up the middle until the Texans stop it. During the preseason contest the Texans have no answer for Mark Ingram right up the middle and it gave all Texans fans flashbacks of a 2010 defense on the field. Also, I think the Texans have to prove they can stay with the receivers of the Saints, and this will be the first “true” test if this defense is ready for the big time. Drew Brees is going to put pressure on the Texans with their pass game and we will see if the revamped secondary of the Texans are ready for a real offense.The last thing would have to be putting pressure on the Texans offensive line and running backs with the blitz packages the Saints run, and attack the offensive right side of the Texans, which in my opinion has been a weak spot in the first two games of the season.

Do you respect the Saints as a legit franchise based on the winning of the last 5 years, or do you still have residual hang ups about their pathetic history that makes them, in your mind, less legit than the Eagles/Cowboys etc… teams like that.

When is comes to sports in general when you win a championship all the bad history goes out the door, but the key is to sustain success after that particular moment. The Saints have done that and made themselves a NFC and NFL power, and yes, in my opinion, it has become a legit franchise. If it wasn’t big profile players like Shaun Rogers wouldn’t have gone or Aubrayo Franklin wouldn’t have taken less money to go there. With where the Saints are as a franchise it leaves hope for the Texans that things can be turned around and winning can be achieved.

What scares you the most going into this game?

If the Texans can handle success after going 2-0. The new rallying cry for the Texans locker room is that they want to go 1-0 this week, and they are more focused on the current week at hand than what happened last week or what is upcoming on their schedule. The Texans no doubt have talent, but their ability to put that on the field against a real opponent will be the real question. Will they come out and play a solid game or when they get hit in the mouth by the Saints, how are the Texans going to respond as a team. The past Texans teams have shown when they give up a big play they team seemed to fall apart, but the Texans so far this season has shown they can overcome mistakes and still get the win. It will be an intense atmosphere and the Texans have a chance to put their stamp on the 2011 NFL season if they can get a win from the Saints at the Superdome.

 Is Andre Johnson the best receiver in the NFL?

It’s hard to knock that he isn’t and the players of the NFL voted that he was, Johnson is a special player and is the real leader of the Texans. He is closing in on 10,000 career receiving yards and is starting this season with two solid games. Teams have tried to double him or man press him, but Johnson still finds a way to make things happen. He has played through injury and still produced some great numbers, and he plays like he is the best. At training camp you will never see Johnson run routes half speed, everything he does is for a reason and it translates on why he is the best receiver in the game.

At this point in the game, do you think drafting Mario Williams 1st overall was a fantastic decision?

The best way to look at this is to see the best player of that draft looks to be have taken #12, Haloti Ngata by the Ravens. With what the Texans were looking at with Williams, Vince Young and Reggie Bush it is pretty obvious who made the right pick. With what has come to play 6 years later, it was a fantastic decision because out of all these players, Williams has provided the most consistency out of the three and the other two are not even with their original teams. Even though Bush has a Super Bowl ring he is still in Miami fighting for playing time and Young is a lost soul as the backup for the Eagles. The worst part has to be all of the pressure the state of Texas wanted Young to come to Houston was crazy, but credit goes to the Texans for staying true to their draft board and not falling into bringing the hometown boy, Young, back to town.

Give me your key players Sunday.

There are three that will play big parts for Sunday game starting with right tackle Eric Winston. He has been very inconsistent at the position having holding penalties, false starts and giving up sacks, and he has to step up his game after a average 2010 season. His struggles are evident with quarteback Matt Schuab not being comfotable with drop back passing. I will lump these two together but Nose Tackles Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell will be put to the test against a good interior of the Saints offensive line. They are playing against one of the best centers in the league in Olin Kreutz and guards Carl Nick and Jahri Evans who can create some space. The need, in the fans eyes, is the need for some big bodies to handle these type of matchups, it is a scary thought of what might happen on Sunday. The last guy to watch is Antonio Smith, he has had two sacks and a forced fumble and had played some solid 5 technique since the preseason. He looks like a new player from his previous years, and has made some big plays in his first two games of the season, and his ability to create pressure could help the Texans control Drew Brees and the Saints.


A special thanks goes out to Saints Nation and you can follow them on Twitter or Facebook.


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