Fleur-de-Links - NFL Wildcard Week: No Jenkins, No Graham, No Problem

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 21: Matt Hasselbeck converses with Drew Brees after the Saints 34-19 win at the Louisiana Superdome on November 21 2010.

It should come as no surprise that Malcolm Jenkins, Jimmy Graham, Anthony Hargrove, and Danny Clark have been ruled out for tomorrow's Wildcard matchup in Seattle. They're all nursing injuries that kept them out of practice this week. At TE, we have both Jeremy Shockey and Dave Thomas returning to the lineup after missing time with injuries of their own, so the loss of Top Jimmy for this game shouldn't sting too much. In the defensive backfield, future Hall of Famer Darren Sharper will be getting extra reps in place of the Jankmaster. I'm not worried.

Game day weather conditions may not be that bad tomorrow. Weather.com is forecasting a temperature around 43 degrees, 40% chance of rain, and light wind from the south. We've won games in far worse conditions. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow should stop the Saints tomorrow. No excuses for not advancing to the next round. Come on 1-0!

TWEETS:

RT @ Absolutely loved Inception. What reality are you in? On another note safely landed in Seattle..it's raining naturally AYUP
Me & my bro @ already found a cheesecake factory!
be sure to follow @. They will have behind-the-scenes coverage of & !
Heath Evans
The Heath Evans Foundation has Two Great Events set for 2011 -
Chase Daniel
Amazed with how much better coffee taste here! Sorta like Dr. Pepper in DFW and Coke in ATL!
Good morning peeps. Preparing for very a productive day of practice and meetings. Who Dat!
New Orleans Saints
Wishing safe travels to all of our fans traveling to Seattle for the game. Thank you for the tremendous support - see ya tomorrow!
just had a fan tell me theyll be watching from the czech republic tomm...that is one diehard fan right there!
Jonathan Vilma
Ok we got mexico, uk, scotland, russia, and uganda...i think its safe to say the saints have gone global now
Reggie Bush
Now playing: Jamie Foxx feat. Drake-Fall for Your Type........True Story!
Alex James Brown
Headed over to the field to get these final touch ups done... Who Dat!!
New Orleans Saints
Saints Final Injury Report: LB Clark, TE Graham, DL Hargrove & S Jenkins have been ruled out for Saturday.
New Orleans Saints
DE Brown, WR Colston, TEs Shockey & Thomas & LB Waters are all PROBABLE for Saturday.
Jason La Canfora
Our @ reports Jim Harbaugh has accepted the 49ers offer to become head coach.
Reggie Bush
Is it weird that there's a guy cleaning hotel windows outside the hotel and it's pouring rain? Random...
In Seattle grubbin wit the D, can't wait til Saturday
@ @: Word on the street is, don't play @ in Words with Friends... He's a cheater. ...

 

INJURY REPORTS:

New Orleans Saints rule out Malcolm Jenkins, Jimmy Graham, Anthony Hargrove, Danny Clark | NOLA.com
All four will miss Saturday's playoff game against Seattle Seahawks

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton encouraged by recovery of injured tight end Jimmy Graham, safety Malcolm Jenkins | NOLA.com
The plan is for both players to make the trip to Seattle, according to Coach Sean Payton

 

NEWS ORLEANS SAINTS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS:

New Orleans Saints prepared to weather the noise in Seattle: First and 10 column | NOLA.com
Remember last season when the Minnesota Vikings wore specialized earplugs in the NFC Championship Game to combat the noise at the Superdome? Now it's the Saints turn to deal with potential communication problems.

Where do Saints turn for running game? - NFC South Blog - ESPN
If you go by record or reputation, you can look at Saturday’s playoff game and say the New Orleans Saints should be able to win with one arm tied behind their back. That might be exactly what the Saints have to do.

Final Word: NFC South - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Pat says the Saints win 31-14, despite all their injuries.

Sharper ready for full-time role again for Saints in postseason
"I’m ready to go,’’ Sharper said several hours before the team boarded a chartered flight at 6 p.m. Thursday bound for the Pacific Northwest. "This is why I came back this season, to have a chance to be in the playoffs and try and win another championship.

Saints-Seahawks Wildcard Preview: Time to step up for defending champs

2theadvocate.com | Saints | MICKLES: Saints must take to road for repeat — Baton Rouge, LA
To return to the Super Bowl and have a chance at claiming a second straight Vince Lombardi Trophy, the New Orleans Saints are going to have to follow quite a different path than they did last January.

2theadvocate.com | Saints | Doing their part — Baton Rouge, LA
"We’ve put more responsibility on our shoulders," linebacker Scott Shanle said. "We thought, why can’t we be the reason why we’re winning games? Why does the offense have to carry us week in and week out? We kind of took that approach."

Matt Hasselbeck is healthy, that's why he'll start at quarterback for Seattle against the New Orleans Saints | NOLA.com
That's the story he and Seahawks Pete Carroll are telling

New Orleans Saints react to Seattle Seahawks' announcement that Matt Hasselbeck will start at quarterback Saturday | NOLA.com
"That's who we thought we were going to get," Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. "I think he is good. I really do. I think he has the experience. He is one of the guys who from a pre-snap standpoint, there is not a lot of disguising that we can do to confuse him. We have to go out there and perform and win."

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Seattle mayor wager seafood, music on Saturday's New Orleans Saints playoff game | NOLA.com
New Orleans stands to also receive Top Pot maple bars, Seattle's version of a doughnut

Seattle defensive end Raheem Brock might be tired of seeing the New Orleans Saints | NOLA.com
He was with the Colts last season

On cliches and football and rain in Seattle | NOLA.com
Saints will meet Seahawks at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday

New Orleans Saints have a Sharp Plan B at safety | NOLA.com
Darren Sharper ready to solidify secondary if Malcolm Jenkins is out

Reggie Bush ideal motivational tool for Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks | NOLA.com
Coach poised to see if RB still can elicit great praise for play

New Orleans Saints CB Jabari Greer vs. Seattle Seahawks WR Mike Williams | NOLA.com
Key matchups in Saturday's game

New Orleans Saints postseason history | NOLA.com
Team 4-1 in postseason under Sean Payton

 

LAGNIAPPE:

Drew Brees, Harvey Williams selected for Texas High School Football Hall of Fame

New Orleans Saints defense has turned up the heat on opposing tight ends | NOLA.com
They got off to a slow start, but have gone to great lengths to correct it

Illustrated look at how the New Orleans Saints offense performed last week | NOLA.com
Feelin' the Brees graphic

New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams says no contact has been made with Denver Broncos about head coaching vacancy | NOLA.com
Williams isn't eligible to interview before next week but says he's not eager to leave Saints

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Gregg Williams Thursday presser

Opening Statement: "We had a good week. We are really pleased with how our players have responded. You work and play hard in 2010 to get a chance to play in 2011. There have been a lot of things that have taken place throughout this year from expectations of a hangover and things like that. You guys that are around here a lot remember me saying back in OTA’s and Training Camp is that I saw these guys come back on April 19th, not satisfied, wanting to have an opportunity to be in this thing again, and now we are here. We battled through a lot of different things throughout the season starting with guys at certain positions being injured. I think that Mickey Loomis, Ryan Pace, and Rick Reiprish have done a good job here. I have been places where sometimes you are lacking in personnel sometimes, contract situations, whatever. They give us the opportunity to get where we need to be. I really like the culture, the room that I’m in every single day. We have to go on the road on a little bit of a different path then last year. We have to be on the road and we have to go up there and take care of business. I think they are a good football team. I think it is a very well coached football team. I have a lot respect for Pete (Carroll). One of my former assistants is on that staff. I coached him when he was a really good player and he was with me for 12 years as a player and a coach, Jerry Gray. Sherman Smith, he and I were together for a long time at Tennessee as a running backs coach. Pat Ruel was one of my line coaches at Buffalo. I think they are well coached. I know how those guys are being coached on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. We have to go up there and play our best. Defensively, our best is in front of us. I said that in 2009 and I still believe that our best is in front of us. We have made a lot of improvements since I have been here, but I still think we can make a lot more improvements and we do need to make those improvements to play in this playoff tournament this year."

(On the players not being satisfied after losing five games this season in comparison to their level of satisfaction on April 19th) "On April 19th, they came back with an eagerness to get better. You guys that are around here a bunch know that I am pretty hard on them. All these guys have done is ask for more. We are at the point now where they’re a callused, thick skinned group of guys. All I do is talk loud and try to provide external distraction and put stress on them during the week so that the stress on gameday is routine.  This is a players game. Players win the game. Good players have to play above and beyond coaching. We can only do some much. All of you have joked with me before, my son is at Virginia Tech and I think he has a shot to play in this league at some time. He can only do so much with what mom and dad gave him in the gene pool. These guys have a really good camaraderie. They have a really good culture and a bond among one another. They buy in to how you have to play team defense. You can’t play individual defense. You can’t play individual offense, this is a team sport. When they came back on April 19th to see how hard they worked, from when we started the offseason program, there was nobody just going through the motions. Their goals were set higher in the weight room. Their goals were set higher in conditioning. Their goals were set higher in performance and production. You needed to do that because you know that you are going to get everybody’s best. People had no idea how good we would be last year. They really didn’t know anything about me either. Our own players and our division. It had been a while since I had coached in the NFC South. This year, we knew we were going to get the best. You are going to get everybody’s best punch every single week and I think they have handled it pretty well to tell you the truth."

(On filling in for Malcolm Jenkins if he is held out of Saturday’s matchup)
"We have enough guys to play throughout the course of the year. I have no problem with Patrick (Robinson). He has come a long way. I have no problem with

Leigh Torrence. We have won games with him. I have no problems with playing Pierson Prioleau. We play a different style when we have to play Prioleau. We could play Roman Harper down there. You have seen us put Roman Harper there. When I got here, we had 21 packages of defense and now we have 32 packages of defense. We have 32 ways to add up to 11, and we are going to go out there and play."

(On being considered for a coaching position in Denver) "I know you guys have to report on that. I have had no contact and they have not made contact with me. That’s part of the rules in this league. I am very happy being here. I don’t know how many times I can say that. I have been a lot of places. Before I left Tennessee to go to Buffalo, I had a lot of opportunities to leave. When I was at the Redskins, I had eight opportunities to leave there. Eight different opportunities and didn’t. Same thing here. I really believe this with all my heart, the four W’s will always control where I coach from now on. Blake kind of screwed that up. He is making me coach longer because he is on my staff now, my son. What am I doing, where is it at, who is it with, and the ability to win. I really like it here. My only focus is on this week. You can’t look down the road on the remaining playoffs because we may be doing exit interviews on Sunday. That’s how hard this game is. When you have been in as many playoff games as I have and had a chance to coach in, the finality of every play, the finality of every preparation, the finality of every meeting and practice, that’s the fun part of it. That’s the electric part of playing in the playoffs. It’s also the part of the business to know that you have to be focused. Any team can win on any given Sunday and you have to play. If it was just predictions, we wouldn’t go up there this weekend, we would just advance. It’s not that way. We have to go up there and be the best team on that afternoon or otherwise the other team advances."

(On improvements this season) "Our space tackling has improved. We believe that our toughness has improved. This has been a pretty tough team but every single year you have to improve your mental toughness as well as your physical toughness. All of us have a cap on that. It’s my job to make sure that they are bouncing their heads up against that cap of that potential. The thing that gives me the most pleasure is that players take a toolbox in to every game. Players play the game. I am over on the sideline guessing. Some pretty calculated and some pretty good guesses most of the time. When you, as a coach, and I am one of the few that does it this way, I put the game in our player’s hands. I am not afraid to teach them how to make the calls within the structure of the defense so they have tools in their tool box. That’s where we have grown. They understand the system, they understand the call structure. Good coaches hide weakness and highlight strength. With all of our different packages for everything we do, (Jonathan) Vilma, Will Smith, Darren Sharper, Malcolm Jenkins, those kinds of guys, Scott Shanle, Roman Harper has grown so much also. They understand the one, two, or three audible calls that they make within the structure of the defense to give them an advantage. They are not going to make a mistake on purpose. There are some ego-driven coaches in this league that would say ‘how dare you, how do you let them make the calls, that’s what you are hired to do.’ No, I am hired to make them play the best they have ever played before. When you empower them to have say and then teach them the say and how to choose the right thing, you have a chance with lesser people to beat better people. We have had some guys who have really played the best of their careers here. The various scouting agencies say that they have made big improvements. Why have they? Because they have say. It’s amazing how they have grown in that way. Just this morning, I gave a 30 question test off of my PowerPoint. Everybody in the room.  It’s pretty brutal with the pressure and the testosterone in the room anyway. I had an inward smile listening to how far we have come from when I would have asked about an opponent a year ago, they didn’t even know that was part of the game. Now, they are fighting like little kids in a classroom to see who gets to answer. They are all that way. They are all bought in. When you know what the opponent is going to do before they do, you have a chance to make a good play. We have got to go up there and see it through."

(On Darren Sharper)
"I will say this; I wish I would have been able to have coached Darren Sharper his whole career. Some coaches don’t. Some coaches probably say no because he is head strong. I am head strong. That is the fun part of coaching somebody. He has instincts that I can’t coach. He decision making and ball skills that I can’t coach, but I can help him make better decisions. I can put him and help him help other people play better around him. I think we have done a really good job managing his health and managing him on our football team to be right where we are right now. We had kind of a complimentary part of the staff meeting yesterday afternoon. Sometimes, I don’t pat guys on the back enough. I drive and I drive and whip and whip. Yesterday, I kind of caught the staff off-guard by praising them a little bit on how we have handled Darren Sharper’s health and Jimmy Wilkerson’s health. Do you realize that kid (Wilkerson) is not quite 13 months ago had an ACL reconstruction? Some people don’t even let you start playing before 12 months. This kid has been playing and was in training camp. I have seen him in the last two weeks of practice start firing some muscle groups and start moving better just because he is in the 13th month of that recovery. Usually, that doesn’t happen until 18 to 20 months. I think we have managed that well. Sean Payton gets it now. You guys that cover here all the time, I tell my players to be proud and to be happy to be a part of one of a few functional organizations in this league, to be happy to be playing for a head coach that gets it. He has a thumb on the pulse of that team. I believe that Sean Payton and Jeff Fisher are the two best guys I have worked for on that type of understanding of the players and having a feel for what the players need. Darren Sharper is a classic example of that and Jimmy Wilkerson is too. I have been at places that wouldn’t allow you to milk them through the season and to have them sitting there at this time of the year is pretty special. It’s a good place there. "

(On facing Matt Hasselbeck)" He has been hiding all week long. That’s who we thought we were going to get. I think he is good. I really do. I think he has the experience. He is one of the guys who from a pre-snap standpoint, there is not a lot of disguise that we can do to confuse him. We have to go out there and perform and win. He is going to put them in the best position that they can be in offensively against whatever we are playing defensively. The best players, the best team of players, will win. I think he did a good job in creating the space plays that spread us out a little bit when they played down here before. We have our work cut out for us. It’s not going to be an easy game. That’s not an easy place to play. The last two times I have been up there in the playoffs, I came home a loser. The year they went to the Super Bowl in 2005 and again in 2007. It’s a tough place to play. They really do have a 12th man. It’s loud. It can be overwhelming to the offense. It was overwhelming to our Redskins offense. It was overwhelming with the noise, the false starts and the penalties. Sean has done a really good job all week long. It has been deafening for the defense at times even in our walkthroughs. Our offense has been practicing with noise even in the walkthrough part of practices so that they understand the communication disadvantage that we are going to have. This is what we work so hard for all year long. This is why coaches work so long in offseason and once we get into the regular season, this is why players lift all of those weights, run all of those sprints; listen to all of those dog-cussing coaches riding their ass every day. This is why. You get a chance to be in this tournament. You just want a chance to be in the tournament. To be reigning world champions, it’s not easy to get back there either. You have seen how many years this has been going on with returning champs not being able to come back in here. We are fortunate and we understand how fortunate we are. I know that Sean has done a great job with the message to this team all week long. Even if that is going up tonight to get some rest. You have to get those guys some rest on a short week."

 

VIDEO:

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