Good morning. We are preparing ourselves for a very good New Orleans team. They are 7-3 as you know and have done an outstanding job on offense with all kinds of statistics. Defensively, they play very, very hard and they are a pressure outfit. They have done well within their scheme and they are unique in many ways. Special teams, they do an outstanding job of that as well with their at home touchbacks at 71 percent. Morstead has done an outstanding job with that. They have the outstanding return game with Sproles. They are a talented team and have done an outstanding job at playing at their place and we look forward to the opportunity to get back together tomorrow and begin our serious preparation for this game.
Q: How much does their environment cause things to snowball and get out of hand?
A: I think what you have to do, no matter where you are on the road, you really have to play well in order to try to do as best you can with the crowd. Their crowd is a good crowd and they do rally when things are going their way, whether it is a sack, turnover or big play. Whatever it may be and they enjoy that aspect of football and they know that they make an impact on you. 'Poise the noise' is really important and what is more important is playing well consistently over four quarters and trying to do the best job you can to make the plays that will not necessarily key the crowd to be loud and difficult to deal with.
Q: When you looked at last week's game, did everyone on the offensive line just have a bad game or was it little problems that have lingered throughout the season?
A: I am not going to go into great detail about last week. Last week is last week and it is over. There were some issues that we were dealing with that I hope that the players can return to full strength. I know that there is a lot of pride in that unit and I know very well that we will. That one is behind us and this one is in front of us.
Q: Are these struggles natural when you have changes on the offensive line like you had coming into the season after several years of having the same group?
A: It is not natural, no. Actually, this line has gotten better in the previous games coming into this game and we continue to do that. We did not play well the other night and hopefully we will go right back to it. It is something that you would rather not happen but it did happen so we deal with it. We have to get back to work now so that we put ourselves in position so that we don't have that happen again.
Q: Do you expect to have Will Beatty at full strength this week?
A: I hope to. He has the extra day so hopefully that will help.
Q: Nothing came back from the test he had on his back?
A: No, and by nothing I am saying that hopefully it will be nothing that will keep him from participating.
Q: Are there things that you can do in the passing game that can help with the pressure that teams are putting on you?
A: You can always adjust. You can adjust protections. You can go to more three steps and you can move the quarterback. There are a number of things that you can do. As I have said before, when these types of things happen, it is important to have first downs and we didn't make many. Your rhythm is better served and your playcalling is better served and your tempo is much better. All those things are better if you can go ahead and make a first down and get some momentum going for your team. All the protection variables are there and again that is a little misleading in terms of being hit or miss sometimes when you are not making plays and there is no continuity so we deal with that as well.
Q: Does emotion and intensity really matter in football?
A: They matter very much. The spirit and the heart, those things are very important. You do have the element of preparation and the X's and O's, the grinding away and learning of the opponent and spending the extra time but as the week builds on and you get closer to the actual game, the emotions, esprit (de corps), and the recognition of what is at stake and the competitiveness of the individual and the team, all of those things become big factors. They are important in our game because our game is an emotional game.
Q: Do you expect Bradshaw and Boley to practice on Friday?
A: I don't know. I really don't. I will base that on what the doctors tell me. Again there is progress being made but how much and how soon, those are things that are going to have to be determined. I don't really have the answer to that one. I wish I did, but I don't.
Q: Is Chris Snee ok?
A: He had what amounted to food poisoning and he is fighting his way through that. I think he feels better but I don't know if he has completely eliminated the issue but his appetite has returned and that is a good thing.
Q: Is Thanksgiving at your house tomorrow?
A: You are not going to accuse me of being the culprit here, are you? I think it is at my house, thank you for asking.
Q: Can you talk about the difficulties in defending their passing game?
A: They have seven players, starters and nonstarters, included in the way the ball is distributed and they do a nice job of that. There isn't any doubt about it. They are a multiple formations and multiple personnel team. You have to recognize and try to simplify in terms of the personnel combinations. They are a team that utilizes different splits, their splits are not as wide as many teams are for the majority of the time. They do open up though, so don't get me wrong. You see different formations and different personnel, different splits and different alignments; you try to key into everything. On top of that, they certainly will block it up and have two receivers involved or they will bring multiple receivers out and get the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly. They are a good screen team. They have been very, very good in the seams over the years, as we know. They do distribute the ball around and with Sproles, they have added a guy out of the backfield that catches the ball very, very well. He is an excellent screen back who is very good at the route that he ran coming out of San Diego, the wide route. He has the option route where he is one-on-one with the defender so they have certainly helped themselves that way. With the development of Graham, a guy who has 60 catches, they have taken a big athletic receiving tight end and moved him to different spots and got him into positions where he can be one-on-one and they have gone to him a great deal. They spread the ball around well and they have a lot of people contribute.
Q: Are you worried about the history of past seasons and poor finishes creeping into the players' minds?
A: It is not going to be the history, believe me. I know that this is something fanatically involved with all of you but each team is a new team and each year is a new year. If it was a different answer, I would give you one. I was just asked by the people in New Orleans about our schedule or is there something we have done to our schedule to change our schedule and no. I analyzed the schedule based on the new CBA and I think it is the best and most productive it can be for the players with quality work, work on the field and film work. I think it is an excellent schedule. I think that, yes, there is no doubt that we lost the last two games. Yes, we had the ball on the five-yard line against San Francisco with a chance to tie it. Yes, we did have the ball (at the 21-) yard line and had a chance to tie that (last week). It didn't happen and we lost the games but we had many games prior to that where we did do that. Those are issues that we do have to be more consistent and play four quarters of football and not just the last quarter. We do have to remember that it is a team game and every part of the game has to play at the same level with the same degree of competence as the other facets in order for you to win. We played well in certain areas and not so well in other areas and there are outstanding people; yes, the opponent does have outstanding players. Those outstanding players will test you and in order to win, you have to come out on the plus side of those matchups as well. It will be a game to game situation. This week, we are in conference and not in the division so we really can't do anything about the divisional record right now but certainly as we move on with the six-game schedule, we will have that opportunity.
Q: Can you get something from the St. Louis game and their pass rush against New Orleans?
A: We study every team that plays New Orleans. We studied the teams, of course, that have had success more than others and we do look at the concepts utilized in all games. We will do that to determine what we think is the good and the bad as it applies to how our team performs and plays and go from there. Yes, we have studied and we have studied and taken note.
Q: Is there something unique that they do with Graham?
A: I think so. I think that he is being used well, I don't know if it is unique. He has been used in a lot of circumstances where he is either featured as the one or the two receiver in that particular down. He is being used well.
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