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Know Your Enemy: Q&A with Saints Gab lead Writer Bill Stephens

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The lead writer for Saints Gab took time to do a Q&A session with us about the New Orleans Saints and their upcoming game against the Patriots.

1. Can you talk about the impact Rob Ryan has made on the Saints defense?

The biggest impact that Ryan has had is that he has restored defensive players confidence in themselves by putting them in situations where they can have success. He’s done a masterful job at game planning so that opponents don’t know where the pressure is going to come from. 

2. The Saints defense has 15 sacks on the season, after the Patriots struggled with a good pass rushing team like the Bengals, do you see the Pats having the same kind of trouble blocking the Saints pass rushers?

The trouble the Pats will have depends on where Ryan will bring the pass rush from. In the first 4 games the rush was primarily from the front, but in the Bears game the Saints blitzed with the safeties as well as linebackers. 

3. Darren Sproles is a hard guy to contain for any defense to contain especially in the passing attack, how do you grade his season so far, and what does he add to the team?

Sproles definitely grades out with an “A” at this point in the season. Besides his effectiveness in the return game, his speed and quickness in the short passing game makes him a player that the opposition has to account for. With most teams trying to key on Graham Sproles, that opens up the game for the other threats that the Saints have.

4. The Saints offense has been rolling, are there any weakness on that offense?

The most glaring weakness for the Saints offense has been the running game. Currently the Saints rank 26th in the league, Payton is committed to the running game though and if defenses ignore it totally it could come back and hurt them. 

5. What area of the defense is the Saints biggest weakness that New England may be able to exploit?

For the most point the biggest weakness the Saints defense has is that they get off to slow starts, if New England can come out and score quickly it might put more pressure on the Saints offense. But beware the slow start doesn’t last long once the defense realizes how the opposition is trying to attack them. 

6. What is the state of the Saints wide receivers?

For the most part good. Colston has been having a good season, at this point he is not the focus of other teams defenses, but with Graham and Sproles demanding attention Colston is more than capable of having a monster game. Lance Moore has been out with a wrist injury which has given Saints the chance to give Toons and Stills the chance to gain experience. 

7. Who will be the Saints X – Factor Sunday?

I don’t think it will be an individual player but the Saints running game, with the injuries to the Patriots defensive line. I think Payton will try and get the Saints running game kick started. Let’s face it more you keep Brady on the sideline the better your chances for victory are.

8. Can you talk about how much it means to have Sean Payton back this year?

Payton’s return has meant everything to the Saints this year. The most notable ways have been in the attention to detail and his ability to game plan  and then make in game adjustments almost immediately. 

9. Is the Saints team this year finesse or physical?

When you think of the Saints offense, since they are a pass first team, the first thought is to think finesse, but after you watch them play the answer you will give is physical. On the defensive side of the ball, there is only one answer, that is physical. 

10. Care to give prediction?

It’s going to be a competitive close game that comes down to the wire, I’m going with the Saints, 27 – 24.

 


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