Hello Saints fans!
One of my favorite cities is New Orleans. I have been there a few times (including the Saturday night after your very first div. playoff victory. It felt like Mardi Gras... well almost).
So, this is one of those posts where you get to ask the fans of the upcoming opposing team any questions you have. Fans may be homerish or overly cynical (although after our 1st 3-0 start since 2002, the former is more likely than the latter), but we all know how little good analysis we can get from National Media. The fans are the best source, even if you need to take it with a grain of salt. So, with that, we are happy to take any questions. I love these conversations, when they are civil (I am fairly civil!), as I learn so much about the upcoming game that I enjoy it a lot more. Usually, you aren't stuck with my limited insights, although I will try and answer as best I can. Fortunately, we have very interesting and knowledgeable fans (some who have played and even coached) who can give different perspectives on the team.
Also, please send someone over to thephinsider.com to make a similar post so our members can ask you guys questions about the Saints this season.
To start you off:
1) Ryan Tannehill - The good: he guy has been playing very well in his second season by and large. I have seen him make a few passes that were just perfect. Something I did not see as much last season. He also has been clutch on 3rd down and in the 4th QTR. The bad: He holds onto the ball too long and, while his movement in the pocket isn't always bad, it is inconsistent. He needs better pocket awareness. He has taken 14 sacks this season, and a bunch are on him.
2) Injuries on D - Next man up! Our best player is obviously DE Cameron Wake. He is likely out Monday. The guy replacing him is Shelby, who has not been bad as a backup, but obviously cannot replace Wake's performance. Big man DT Paul Soliai is out as well, and was one of the reasons our run D was so bad on Sunday. The other problem is we lost one of our backup DTs for the season and picked up someone just yesterday. Fortunately, Odrick and Starks are not a bad DT combo, especially on passing downs (which is our normal look for passing downs anyway). Other important players on D are down as well, although I am not sure of their status for the game. Ellerbe and Misi both missed action on Sunday. CB Patterson has been out for a few games as well.
3) Cool stats: We lead the league in RZ offense (so far. I know it is still early). The reason I love that, apart from it being a nice stat, is that it is a shocking stat considering our recent history. We are also pretty good on 3rd % offensively. Defensively, we are good in the RZ as well. Statistically, on 3rd down defense, we look good, but considering our first game against the browns we held them to 7%, I am hesitant to make a big claim about it. If you only look at the last two games against offenses with solid QBs and solid weapons, we are allowing about 45%. Also, our D seems to clamp down in the 2nd half of games so far. The only TD we have allowed in the 2nd half came off an early turnover deep in our territory.
4) Random meaninglessness - I think our ST triumvirate of P Brandon Fields, K Caleb Sturgis, and LS John Denney are awesome and arguably the best at their positions. Ok, Sturgis is a rookie, so I can't make too grand a claim, but it's not just that he nails FGs from all over, but that they all seem to split the uprights down the middle. Denney not only snaps the ball well, he gets into the tackling and recovered a fumble on sunday, and it is not the first time (he did it in preseason too). Fields is just great. Led the league in punt avg., is accurate and can flip the field for us often. Ok, we haven't done much in a long time, so let me proud of at least one dominant part of our team :)
Is our 3-0 start indicative of our abilities to be a competitor this season? I am not sure yet, although I am more hopeful than I have been in a while. The media will hype us this week, since a big MNF matchup of unbeaten teams is a better sell then the Saints vs mediocre. I am more slow to buy hype than most, but I am not pessimistic by nature either. I think this will be a statement game for our team, although I won't predict the content of the statement.
Of course, we haven't played the Saints at the Superdome, and it is only week 4, so who knows what we will learn this week. I look forward to your questions and to learning from you and your perspective.