In his weekly conference call Tuesday, New England Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees acknowledged that his unit will have its hands full on Monday night with the high-octane Saints attack.
“It’s a very prolific offense,” Pees said. “They have so many weapons. The guys catch the ball, they’ve got good tight ends, they have a number of backs besides [Reggie] Bush. It’s just a very, very balanced offense.”
Pees lauded quarterback Drew Brees in leading the undefeated Saints and admitted that he presents challenges for a defensive coordinator.
“I don’t see a lot of teams pressuring him,” Pees said. “He’s a very, very smart and intelligent quarterback. He knows where to go with the ball. He does a really good job with the cadence and command of the offense. He does all those things.”
It helps, Pees said, that Brees is surrounded by other talented players and backed by a knowledgeable coaching staff.
“They do a good job with the whole scheme,” he said. “[Saints head coach Sean Payton] does a good job of calling the plays and doing formations and keeping everybody off balance.
“It’s the scheme, it’s Drew putting people in the right spot, getting rid of the ball on time, receivers getting open. It’s never one thing. It’s not just all the offensive line nor is it all just the skill players. They’ve coordinated the whole thing together and that’s why they’re playing so well on offense.”
But when asked how this New Orleans offense stacks up against that of the 10-0 Indianapolis Colts, Pees was reluctant to draw comparisons.
“I think they have their own identity,” Pees said of the Saints. “I think they’re both very, very excellent offenses. One is a multiple-formation, shift, move-around team and the other one barely moves and it’s just as effective. So I don’t think you can compare them. But I think they’re both just very, very good offenses and both able to move the ball. Both have very, very smart quarterbacks that know where to take the ball.”
Ultimately, Pees said that the Patriots must look forward if they want to stop the Saints, and can’t expect to repeat last week’s five-turnover performance against Mark Sanchez and the Jets.
“Last week was last week,” Pees said. “The Jets are just an entirely different type of team than the Saints and we’ll just have to see what direction we need to go in to try to be successful.”
Nick Caserio, New England’s director of player personnel, held his weekly conference call after Pees. Here are a few highlights:
On the work ethic of linebacker Tully Banta-Cain: “Going back to February or March, he had a real strong offseason and he continued to work on his pass rush and developed some of those skills and I think it’s really translated over into the season. So I think it’s really a credit to Tully and what he’s done. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do and he’s responded favorably to the coaching, whether that’s on the field or off the field.”
On the versatility of offensive tackle Mark LeVoir: “When we looked at Mark last preseason, he had played both right and left tackle for the Rams. I think the thing with Mark is having that versatility. There’s value to your club so that, in the event that the left tackle goes down you can plug him in there or [vice versa]. He gives us flexibility; we’ve even used him offensively at tight end. Whatever he’s been called upon to do, he’s gone in there and performed.”
On dealing with injuries late in the season: “From our perspective, what you try to do is just to manage the team as best as you possibly can under the constraints that you’re given. Look at the Saints. They’ve had a few injuries come up at the cornerback position, what with Leigh Torrence being placed on IR, they signed [Chris] McAlister last week, then went ahead and signed [Mike] McKenzie again. I think you just have to manage the club and manage the team as best you can and deal with the injuries as they happen.”