FLOWERY BRANCH – Got to check out the guys on Inside the NFL last night on Showtime and Cris Collinsworth, Warren Sapp and Phil Simms were making their picks.
Sapp and Simms picked the Falcons to beat the Saints. Collinsworth picked the Saints to win.
Earlier, a few members of the media chatted with Saints coach Sean Payton on the conference call. We didn’t ask him to pick a winner.
But here’s what he had to say on a few subjects leading up to the 82nd regular-season meeting between the Saints and the Falcons.
ON THE SAINTS JAGGED SCHEDULE TO START TO SEASON: “I think part of that comes with winning. When we came here in ‘06 I think every game was at 12 noon and we had one Monday night game. That was the result of losing. When you do start having success I think you find yourself playing on some of those time slots. Sunday evening, Monday nights, Thursday to open the season, Thanksgiving; there are about five of them this year. It can be challenging, but I think it’s really what your goal was in the beginning; is to put yourself in that position.”
ON HIS PLANS TO REPLACE REGGIE BUSH: “I don’t know if you replace him. Your packages change. Probably, similarly in Atlanta with them (losing) Norwood. There are certain things you do and maybe certain things you stay away from with the player out.”
ON DREW BREES INSTINCTS AND DISTRIBUTION OF HIS PASSES: “I do think he has good instincts. He spends a lot of time studying film and defenses. It’s not often that he’s surprised with something he sees. I think half of the battle with protections at that position is at least knowing when you are protected or when you might be short (of protection). He is certainly one of those players that understands that. I think he has a quick release and he’s able to key and diagnose, make decisions fast. All of those things serve him well.”
ON THE FALCONS REVAMPED DEFENSE: “Certainly, when you watch them, they’ve got exceptional team speed. They run to the ball. They are very aggressive. They give you a lot of looks. . . We saw a lot of pressure last year in both of our games. Certainly when you watch the early part of this season, you see the same thing again.”
ON THE FALCONS RUNNING GAME: “Atlanta has always had an outstanding running game. When you go back to since Coach Mike has been there. It’s certainly been big part of what they want to do. They have great balance. They do a great job with their play action and can pass off of that. The numbers the other day were certainly staggering when you consider the amount of yards they rushed for.”
ON MALCOLM JENKINS AT SAFETY: “He’s playing well. He is someone that is very intelligent. He’s a quick study. I think he’s got good football instincts. We are pleased from the first two weeks with the way he’s play.”
ON PENCHANT FOR SAINTS CREATING TURNOVERS: “The one thing we’ve seen in our league the last 8 to 10 years is the emphasis placed on tackling the ball and ball disruptions. I had this conversion recently with a coach. Teams do such a good job now of emphasising that now that ball carriers, the receivers, the tight end and the running back, all of those players that have the ball in their hands, are certainly mindful of it. We were able to come away with four turnovers Monday night and that was big in our win. One thing that hasn’t changed is that statistic still wins and loses game.”
ON RODDY WHITE’S START TO THE SEASON: “He’s got great speed off the line of scrimmage. He’s an extremely talented receiver. He can hurt you down the field. Certainly you see Matt’s confidence with him. He’s a special player.”