The Saints Are No Longer Invincible

December 22, 2009 – 9:00 am by timgunter

Drew Brees and the Saints are in uncharted territory. They are coming off of their first loss of the season after the Cowboys defeated them on Saturday night. Their plan of going undefeated may have been derailed but this may be a blessing in disguise. I remember when the 1998 Denver Broncos were 13-0 heading into their final three games of the regular season and they lost the next two games to end up at 14-2. As we all know that was John Elway’s last season and he retired after beating my Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. I am not saying that Brees will retire but he has a great chance of learning from this loss and using it as motivation to take his team to the Super Bowl. After all, they are one game away from clinching their franchise’s first ever number one NFC playoff seed.

We all know how hard it is to play down in New Orleans with the loud noise from all of their obliterated fans and to have “Dome-field “ advantage should indeed help their push to the Super Bowl. The Saints’ last two games are against division rivals in the Buccaneers and Panthers. I expect them to beat the Buccaneers handily and clinch home-field advantage this weekend and then rest their players the final week against the Panthers so that the starters will have a solid two weeks rest before their first playoff game.

Saints Head Coach Sean Payton joined WWL in New Orleans to talk about the team playing well in the fourth quarter to keep them in the ball game, the Cowboys doing a great job at stopping them on third down, the injuries to the secondary and the amount of playing Tracey Porter received, and the play of Miles Austin late in the game and why Mike McKenzie gave so much cushion.

On the team playing well in the fourth quarter to keep them in the ball game:

“Well we were fortunate to have a few opportunities late to have a chance to tie it in the end because we didn’t play as well as we would have liked. It is disappointing I think for the players as much as anything. You just haven’t seen but a few of them the last day and a half and going through the tape with them yesterday… You had really gone all season long without having tasted a defeat and not really having felt the pain of it and when you do have a loss it reminds you at how much better winning is. We have got a lot to look at and clean up. We were able to do that with the players yesterday to get these guys rested like Bobby was talking about earlier. Everything is in front of us now. We have got a chance to secure the one seed and force teams to come here to play. The other thing this past game helps us coaches to remind our players is that playing at home in front of our fans is certainly an advantage for us and yet you still had to come out and play well but we weren’t able to do that this past weekend.”

On the Cowboys doing a great job at stopping them on third down:

“Well I think that has been a big reason for our success. When you are able to get off the field or are able to sustain your drives you have that many more stats and scoring opportunities. It was one telling stat when the game was over that you definitely felt played a part in that game. We have to be obviously better than that offensively and the same way defensively and I think that is something that we were able to point out yesterday. You say that and want to make sure that you don’t take credit away from Dallas. They came in and executed and did some of the things necessary and yet there are certain things that we look back on and clean up and correct this week in practice.”

On what has happened for the team to get off to a slow start in the first quarter:

“Well that is a good question Bobby and that is something that we pointed to in the meetings. It is something that we will talk about all week long and in our league really a pro football game is not as long as you think. It is three hours long and before you know it you are into the second quarter and if you keep putting yourself into those holes they are tough to dig out of so I think collectively offensively, defensively and in the kicking game it is just really looking into detail with your assignments and stay on the field. Those are the things that you start with.”

Whether there was something that he could have changed with the pass protection:

“Well the two things that were most difficult and number one you hit on it. I regret early on and not more often giving ourselves some chip help on the weakside especially later in that game but it became one-dimensional and that is something that we could have done as coaches to help in our protections. Early in the game we had a few mental errors and missed assignments and that is something that is unusual and hadn’t really come up that much. One snap it was the fullback, one snap we didn’t really get the communication for sliding the line. When you play a defense that is in the odd front, a guy like Spencer and a guy like Ware you really treat as defensive ends. I know there positions are listed as outside linebackers but those are the guys that have big body types that rush the passer and they just do it from a two-point stance. There was a combination of things that hurt us and it becomes really difficult to play quarterback when you are getting hit like Drew was. That is something that we have got to be better at. We will learn from it and certainly from a coaching standpoint we will be a lot better from that.”

Deke and Bobby Hebert invite Saints Head Coach Sean Payton into the radio huddle (the interview starts at 7:00)

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