Ask Mike - December 26, 2006 (1 Viewer)

Dan in Lafayette

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Name: Bart Guidry

From: Biloxi, MS

Comments:


Mike, Love your work and I want to thank you for everything you and Bobby Hebert did for us overseas. There are a host of Saints fans and SaintsReport lovers out in the Middle East. I am glad to be back home though and looking forward to getting your draft book.

Just a few questions:

1. Are you happy with the Pro Bowl voting, as for as Saints picks are concerned?

2. For the final Saints regular season game do we take this like the 4th pre-season game or do you just play this like you need this game?

3. Do you think Deuce and Reggie can co-exist well in the future?

4. What do you think about Ole Miss OLB Rory Johnson who declared early?

Thanks.

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Bart, glad to hear you are back home. Everyone feels a bit different about Iraq and if we should have gone there to begin with, but everyone supports you and everyone else that served and hopefully you know what it means to all of us. We certainly are grateful for what you did for our country. Again, glad you are back home.

1. Drew Brees, Will Smith and Jammal Brown were deserving nominees and we would have all been surprised if the three weren't in the Pro-Bowl, but I really feel as though FB Mike Karney got "robbed" of a Pro-Bowl berth.

Mack Strong was a good fullback for the Seattle, but he did not have his best year in 2006 and he lost time due to injuries. Karney had a much better season than he did and to be honest it wasn't close. Strong got in on reputation this year.

I think the world of Scott Fujita, but Lance Briggs, Julian Peterson and Demarcus Ware played excellent also in 2006 and deserved the Pro Bowl berths. Scott has played super this season and he exceeded everyone's expectations of him. He has been the glue that has held this defense together and other than Karney should have gotten more Pro-Bowl talk.

2. Bart, the big difference is that you only have a 53-man roster and you can only dress 46 on game day in the regular season, so you have to look at it in a different manner than when you had 60 or 65 guys available to play in the pre-season.

I certainly expect the Saints to not play the regulars all game long, but roster size will dictate just how much you can juggle the players in and out of the lineup. I think we will see Jamie Martin doing extensive work at QB against Carolina. There is always a risk of injury due to the physical nature of the sport, but roster limitations limit you to a certain extent to sit most of your starters for the entire game. Expect the starters to see limited action against Carolina, but who is available and at what position will dictate to what extent.

3. Yes, I certainly expect that they can co-exist together. This is a high contact sport and running backs take a real beating, so the ability to alternate backs are a necessity.

Also the colleges are producing a host of "smaller" type backs that are ideal to be inserted with other "big" backs in offenses. The "wear down" approach really works in the running game. Deuce is the thunder, where Reggie is the lightning portion of the backfield. There are very few backs like Deuce that have the combination of power and speed that he did when he came out of Ole Miss. In today's college game you see a host of smaller type backs that are alternated quite a bit at the college level and ideal for duo-usage in the pros.

As long as egos don't get in the way, this duo is a great combination to have when you attack defenses. With Deuce coming off a major knee injury and Bush not a real huge back, this certainly seems to be the right spot where they can co-exist.

Remember both shared time in college with other backs also and this certainly helped both players approach to doing what is best for the team and at times it will be to share the running spotlight.

4. Rory Johnson gambled by coming out early, but he is a very good athlete who can run the field extremely well and he is like a wrecking-ball when he meets up with the ball carrier. He has excellent instincts toward the football and he is pretty quick to diagnose plays, but he needs work on his pass drops and playing more under control.

He also has had some character question marks about him and he must convince scouts and teams that his youthful actions are done with. If he tests out well Johnson could go as high as the 4th round, but expect him to be selected in the 5th round of the draft. He was a player that could have really upgraded his draft stock with a big senior season. He is a real aggressive player and he could really turn out to be a stud special teams performer in the pros.

I really like the talents of Rory Johnson and he has great natural ability, but he will need some developmental time in the pros to really shine. There isn&#8217;t a host of top senior LB's in this group so he does have an opportunity to enhance his draft stock with a strong off-season.

Take care, Bart.

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Name: Scott Balot

From: Mandeville

Comments:


Mike,

Great season so far, and we appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions. I am of the opinion that you always draft "best player available" instead of reaching for a need. With that said, can you answer the following questions about the following players:

If the following guys are on the board when the Saints draft, which ones would the Saints be hard pressed to pass on? Also, who do these players compare to in the NFL?

LeRon Landry-S
DeWayne Bowe-WR
DeMarcus Tyler-DT
Daymelon Hughes-CB
Paul Poluszny-LB
Zach Miller-TE

Thanks!!!!

<hr color="#A29B4F"><br />

LaRon Landry is the highest player available on the players you have listed, Scott. Landry won't be available when the Saints pick in Round 1

I agree with you totally that you go with the best talent available, with some moderations. If the best talent available would be a RB, then a QB and then a DT, you would pass the halfback and quarterback to select the defensive tackle. But overall, I agree with your observations on picking the best player, especially with the early choices.

Comparison:

LaRon Landry - A bigger version of Ed Reed (Baltimore Ravens)

Dwayne Bowe - A younger version of Muhsin Muhammad (Chicago Bears)

DeMarcus Tyler - Pat Williams-DT. (Minnesota Vikings)

Daymeien Hughes - Nnamdi Asomugha-CB. Oakland Raiders (This guy should have made the Pro-Bowl this season.)

Paul Posluszny - Not as athletic, but he has similar talents and is versatile like Atlanta Falcons LB Keith Brooking.

Zach Miller - Dallas Cowboy TE. Jason Witten

I certainly believe that the larger junior class of players that will come out early will influence who the Saints picks, especially with such a late first round choice.

Keep an eye on three players, DE/DT Victor Abiamiri (Notre Dame), MLB Patrick Willis (Ole Miss) and CB Tanard Jackson (Syracuse).

Take care, Scott
.
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Name: Ron Alberstadt

From: St. Francisville, La

Comments:


Hello. I have talked with you in the past about my nephew Matt Maddox out of U. of Illinois. I was wondering if there was any interest in him professionally? He was awarded MVP on offense as guard this yr. Last year, he was MVP on offense at center. He has been invited to play in Magnolia Bowl later in the month. I would appreciate any comments you have. I do realize the U. Of Illinois has had a lousy season!

Thanks for your input.

Ron

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Hi Ron, nice to hear from you again.

I certainly believe that Matt will get selected in the 2007 draft. He has started and played well at both center and guard and while he has average size (6-2 1/2, 310) for an offensive guard/center, he is strong in the lower-body and he does a nice job in pass protection. For a lineman he is athletic and he has good foot quickness and slide ability. He also comes from a football family and understands what it takes to play this game.

Look for Matt to get selected in either the 6th or 7th round of the draft. His versatility, football intelligence and 1st rate pass-blocking skills will get him selected.

Take care, Ron.

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Name: Randall, Dave

Handle: Black Knight

From: Afton, Virginia

Comments:


WhoDat, Mike?

I listened to you the other night (yes we get WWL along the Blue Ridge Mountains) and you guys were talking about our Saints chances in the playoffs. I am, and have been, a Saints fan for a very long time, but this is the best overall team I have seen in New Orleans. How far do you think they can go? Do we dream or should I say it, Super Bowl? With a great QB, RB&#8217;s, WR&#8217;s, and a good offensive line do you think the defense is strong enough for us to go deep into the playoffs?

We finally have a coach and a team that gets it. Work hard and play as a team and just seems to put up wins. I hope the focus stays better than against the Skins this past weekend and more like the pace of the Cowboy game. You take care, God Bless, and have a very Merry Christmas!

Black Knight

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WhoDat, Black Knight. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family also.

If this team can stay healthy they really could make it to the Super Bowl. You are right they have just an above average defense (personnel-wise), but they are well coached and they have good "fit" players in Gary Gibbs' scheme. DE's Will Smith and Charles Grant have to play big at playoff time for this team to get to the Super Bowl. They are the key defensive players at playoff time. Nothing wins games late in the season like a constant pass rush.

Offensively this team is talented and they give opposing defenses fits with their looks and their ability to hit the right pressure points on other defenses.

Just remember that the Saints are just one week away from getting DT Hollis Thomas and WR Joe Horn back. Just one more week.

I wrote this a month or so back, but this team has many of the same sort of makeup traits that the 2001 New England Patriots had. The Saints really have a better offense than that team, but they aren't as good on defense.

The thing that is the same is the chemistry and the focus on a team-oriented goal. Give credit to Sean Payton for that trait.

The Chicago Bears look like the favorites to make it to the Big Show in the NFC due to their defense and an outstanding special teams unit, but if they don't get more consistency at QB, they could flame out early and on defense they haven't been nearly as dominant since they lost DT Tommie Harris and S. Mike Brown.

I would love to see how this Bears' defense would go head-up against the Saints offense. I know the Saints defense would square off well against the Bears offense, but it would be strength against strength when the Saints offense would go up against the Bears defense.

If you are looking for a dark horse, watch for the Philadelphia Eagles. This is a veteran team on defense, they have finally started to run the ball well, they are well coached, and QB Jeff Garcia is playing well.

Hey, the way I look at it, the Saints have as good a shot as anyone with no dominant team in the NFC to defeat. Down the stretch, it will be all about good health, great play at quarterback, solid run defense and making big-plays on special teams.

Keep the faith baby, it has been a great ride and with more to come.

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Name: Martinez, Robbie

From: Frisco, TX

Comments:


Mike,

I'm overseas and didn't get to watch the Washington game, but I did listen to it online. A few questions about game:

1. Coach Payton, in his Monday press conference, said that Washington really didn't do anything that surprised the Saints. They were just sluggish. In watching the game, do you agree with that? Were they really just sluggish and not hustling? Or do you think they were fooled by the way they were defended?

2. No one really asked him specifically about the interception. As in, was it simply a bad decision/throw ... or was it a bad route? Could you tell by looking at the tape?

3. Back to Payton's comments on how sluggish the team was ... if indeed that was the case, do you think that he wore them down throughout the week? I know they practiced in full pads on Wednesday, and its pretty late in the season and guys are probably already pretty worn down. Could they have just been tired from an overly intense week of practice? I know Payton sort of alluded to that in the press conference, saying they need to re-evaluate how they go about preparing for a game, but he didn't come out and say it, nor was he asked. Your thoughts?

4. Is Hollis Thomas able to do anything with the team during his 4-game suspension? I wonder if he may lose some conditioning in these 4 weeks that may hinder his play in the first round of the playoffs (should the Saints not get a first round bye).

5. Going back to Payton's press conference ... though he's compared a lot to Bill Parcelsl, I notice one thing in his style that's completely different from Parcells. Living in the Dallas area, I get to hear a lot of the Tuna, who has a daily press conference. Payton seems very quick to take responsibility for his shortcomings. Tuna, when its obvious he has failed, is very reluctant to do that. He frequently throws players and his assistant coaches under the bus and rarely takes blames for poor decisions that he has made. Even worse, he has a gag order on all of his assistants ... they cannot talk to the media to defend themselves. It's funny how much better I feel after watching the press conference, and how much confidence I have that Payton will quickly turn this thing around. Your thoughts?

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OK, Robbie, here are the answers.

1. They looked emotionally drained and a heavy-legged football team against Washington. They just played bad, but look how they bounced back against the N.Y. Giants. It was just not a well-oiled offensive show against the Redskins and despite everything that went wrong, they still had a chance to win late in the game. It was typical Joe Gibbs' style offense and Gregg Williams had an answer to everything that Drew Brees threw at his defense.

2. The interception was just a bad pass by Brees. Hey, we haven't see a lot of those this year.

3. Listen, sometimes you make mistakes on how you press your team and certainly that is something Coach Payton even second-guesses himself about, but he lighten-up the work load this week against the New York Giants and they responded very well. Remember also that this is Sean's first head coaching job and he is going to make some judgment mistakes on how to keep this team's focus in line and pushing a team late in the season.

He has made very few mistakes, but last week's real hard push may have well been one of them. It's a catch-22 to be honest.. If you didn't push them hard after the Dallas win people would say you should have pushed them harder and now with a lackluster effort against the Redskins he gets criticized for working them too hard.

4. Thomas Hollis is on his own to work out. Hopefully he can keep his weight in check and be ready to roll for the playoffs, but we won't know that until the suspension is lifted.

Conditioning during the season has never been a problem with him; it has been after the season that he gets real heavy. Getting him back in shape and playing at the same high level will be a key come playoff time. Just remember that at playoff time your team weaknesses getting magnified threefold and the Saints run defense has not been stellar this season. Getting Hollis back will certainly help out.

5. Bill is what he is. His personality is to always put the pressure on the players to perform. Privately Sean Payton does the same thing. If you don't practice and perform out on the field well, you don't play.

Parcells puts a lot of pressure on himself and his coaches to succeed. But it is his style to constantly try to push that "hot" button on players to perform at a high level.

Sean has a similar "hot" button style, but he does it in a different
manner.

While the manner of the press conferences are different, Sean has a
lot of "Bill Parcells-type" traits in his approach to the game. The personalities are different, but the approach and discipline to the game are the same.
Take care.

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Name: Mike in Chama

Handle: kooldak

From: Chama, NM

Comments:


Hi, Mike. Always enjoy your "Ask Mike" responses and your articles in the Houma Courier. Thanks for bringing a solid perspective to our New Orleans Saints.

What are your thoughts on why the Saints have problems winning at home? Even with the enormous crowd support, we have lost 3 of 7 with the Panthers game still to go. This was an issue under the Haslett regime as well. I'm at a loss to figure it out. Your thoughts?

Thanks, Mike.

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Mike, it's a great question and I do feel as though sometimes this team presses to play so well in front of the home folks. When they play on the road it is a business trip and they have full concentration on a kind of an &#8220;us against the world&#8221; type philosophy.

Don't take away the fact that the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens came to town with big, physical teams and they had playmakers on both sides of the ball. They both took it to the Saints.

Against the Redskins, the team lost the battle in the trenches, pure and simple, and they really looked like a tired and slow football team.

I am certainly not going to take anything away from what both those AFC clubs did against the Saints, but this team does have a tendency to "press" a bit when they play at home. Many pro coaches tell me that in today's game of pro football playing at home and winning is really getting tougher unless you have full focus and not let distractions get to your team.

It's a great question, and to tell you the truth, I think this team wants to play so well for the home crowd that they don't just go out relaxed and just play football.

Take care. I appreciate the nice comments.
 

SharonT

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4. Thomas Hollis is on his own to work out. Hopefully he can keep his weight in check and be ready to roll for the playoffs, but we won't know that until the suspension is lifted.
Well, that answers that. I guess we'll see! Thanks, Mike!
 

mvtrucking

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Excellent read as always, good questions by everyone too. Thanks Mike D!
 

CHEF

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Maybe the Saints fans at the dome should dress up as opposing fans and treat the saints as the visiting team. Guarantees a win.
 

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