This week the St. Louis Rams come off their bye week for a tough matchup against the 8-0 New Orleans Saints. The Rams are a 13.5 point underdog at home. These two teams have some notable recent history, but things are different right now. That's a good time to get to know the Saints, and for that I turned to Dave at SBN's Saints site, Canal Street Chronicles for some QnA. Let's jump right in.
The Saints haven't had more than 8 wins since 2006, but an 8-0 start has them among the league's elite. What's leading the turnaround in New Orleans?
A vastly improved defense. No doubt about it. During the period you mentioned the Saints always had an incredible offense but no defense to match. Now they've got the highest scoring defense to match their highest scoring offense. It's been fun this season to say the least.
The credit for that defensive turnaround can be attributed mostly to the acquisition of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams this off-season. He's completely changed the culture (that is so cliche but so true) of the defense and he has gotten so much more out of the players that were already on the team. He's also a great in-game coach who makes the right adjustments at the right time. The rest of the credit can go to smart free-agent acquisitions, particularly cornerback Jabari Greer and safety Darren Sharper.
Looking at the stats, one thing I notice is that the Saints now have one of the better passing defenses in the league. What's changed?
As I mentioned, the signings of Jabari Greer at cornerback and Darren Sharper at safety have made a world of difference. Sharper has been lights out the first half with seven interceptions, three for touchdowns, and Greer has two of his own with one game-changing pick six. In addition, the Saints got sophomore starting cornerback Tracy Porter back this season after going on IR early last season with a wrist injury. He's been a very good player and sort of a secret down here in New Orleans. Also, safety Roman Harper seems to be playing much better under new coordinator Williams.
Speaking of the pass, the Saints offense looks a lot like the Greatest Show on Turf, how do stop the Saints' offense?
From what we've seen this season from other teams, I honestly think the best way to stop the Saints is to make Drew Brees miserable. Bring a lot of pressure from many different angles, keep him guessing, make sure the linemen always have their hands in the air and cause general mayhem in the pocket. That's seems to be the only way to stop the Saints offense. But this is the most important part: Don't stop. A few teams have been successful shutting down the Saints...for a while. But then they wind up taking their foot off the pedal and the Saints are able to climb back. The defense must play all 60 minutes.
What happened to Reggie Bush? Victim of the hype? Injuries?
The nature of this question suggests to me that you think Reggie Bush is unsuccessful or, dare I say, a bust. There are definitely fans who feel that way. It's a very touchy subject in Who Dat Nation and it all revolves around personal expectations. I like him on the Saints because he has the potential to make game-changing plays but he's not your typical, every-down running back and I don't expect that. I think a lot of fans can't get passed that issue. But the one thing most people seem to agree on as it relates to Reggie is that he isn't worth what he's currently being paid.
Tim Layden from Sports Illustrated summed up fan sentiment regarding Bush better than anyone..."Bush, a Heisman winner and second overall pick, has a great knack for making an otherworldly play just when it seems appropriate to question his production in relation to his pedigree."
Desribe New Orleans' route to the Super Bowl. Is it possible?
It's never been more possible. I think they finish the season either 14-2 or 13-3. Hopefully that will be enough to get them a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Eagles, Cowboys and even Falcons are possible playoff foes. The popular thought right now is that the Saints and Vikings will face-off in the NFC Championship. My only hope is that the game would be in New Orleans. I'm a season ticket holder so simply from a fans perspective, that would be friggin' sweet.
Here's the link for my QnA with the Dave over at CSC.