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So I promised Dan and Andrus that I would do a Q&A here. I'm extremely late on delivering on my end, but better late than never. Post your questions and I'll answer some tonight and as many as I can throughout the day tomorrow.
 
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Underhill

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Can this defense be successful with it's current personnel?
That's pretty much the key to the season. Losing Breaux hurts a lot. Seasons evolve and change, but I think they need to something like 3-1 to start. That Carolina-Carolina stretch on the schedule is going to be tough.

Whether it's through talent or scheme, they need to generate a pass rush one way or another. You saw some glimmers of Dennis Allen's creativity in Week 1, especially behind those three-man lines (I wrote about that today). That's even more imperative with the injury to Breaux.

Now they need to find a way to protect the cornerbacks. That might mean more two-high safety looks. These next six weeks without Breaux are going to be challenging.
 
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Underhill

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Should anthony be starting over James ?
In the middle? I don't think so. JL is very good at communicating and getting these guys lined up. I think there's a lot of value in the things that might not be showing up directly in his stats.
 

mc4saints

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Any ideas on why Spiller was cut? Seems he looked better in preseason than he ever has in a Saints uniform? Seems he would have at least been a better choice for punt and kick returns over Murphy.

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Underhill

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Who had the most underrated performance of the last game?

Who had the opposite?
I'll go line on both. And I don't know how the public viewed Strief's performance, but he's dogged so much that I'll go with him. He did some pretty impressive things against Khalil Mack. I don't have my notes in front of me, but I think Mack was on his side for all but two plays in the second half. By that point Josh Hill was injured and they weren't doing much chipping. It was just Mack on Strief, and Strief really held his own.

Opposite -- Maybe Peat. I thought he was pretty solid but there were some issues in his run blocking. He whiffed when pulled one time. Ended up on the ground on a couple other plays.
 

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What was your opinion of Byrd over the top? I thought he blew it on that long run (I know it wasn't all his fault). Is it realistic to say Harris or even Bell could get more playing time at FS sooner than later?
 
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Underhill

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Any ideas on why Spiller was cut? Seems he looked better in preseason than he ever has in a Saints uniform? Seems he would have at least been a better choice for punt and kick returns over Murphy.

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I'm not sure. I think Murphy is pretty good as a punt returner, and it's hard to carry two return specialists. I'm not sure why he was cut. The whole thing confuses me. No one was more bullish on the possibilities than me. I was obviously wrong. But look at this way: If Spiller wasn't going to be part of the plan next year, eat the $4.5 million hit this year when you have the space and there aren't a lot of ways to spend the cash.
 

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Yeah. Saw from another fellow on Twitter that when Peat has to go straight ahead, he mauls. When he's going side to side or pulling, he's not nearly as good.
 
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What was your opinion of Byrd over the top? I thought he blew it on that long run (I know it wasn't all his fault). Is it realistic to say Harris or even Bell could get more playing time at FS sooner than later?
I'll be honest, I struggle with evaluating deep safeties -- especially single high. There's a lot that goes on back there that is difficult to judge. I don't know how he's being asked to play. One might look at the big Amari Cooper play against zone early in the game and question why Byrd is shaded over so far when the receiver looks to be running a slant, but maybe that's what he's being told to do. It would make sense since Breaux was on the other side and can be left alone.
 

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Thanks for doing this Nick. You do great work!

From your film review, how did the coverage change once Breaux went down? To me (without the all 22 view), it appeared that they were rolling the safety (Byrd) to the other side when Breaux was in (thus, with no help over the top). Did Byrd play more straight away once Breaux left? I'm not sure he can cover that much ground.
 

sykobob671

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-Thank you for doing this.
First, favorite restaurant in New Orleans (so far)

Your overall evaluation of the coaches on the Defensive side of the ball and do you think letting Carmichael call the Offensive plays has shown any noticeable improvement in the O performance.
 

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Nick,

Enjoy your work, you are by far the best of the beat writers down there IMO.

Obviously, you've been around the Patriots a ton, I'm wondering how you feel the Saints compare when it comes to the day-to-day work: practice routines, classroom/learning type stuff, and just the overall feel/vibe of the locker room? If there are major differences, do you see any that are telling in terms of what makes the Patriots so successful vs. the Saints just being mediocre.
 

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