NFC South: Super Bowl 44

Recommended: 'From Bags To Riches'

January, 26, 2011
Aside from going grocery shopping for the first time since August, the only other bright spot about the NFC South ending early this year is that I’ve had time to catch up on some reading.

I actually started reading “From Bags To Riches’’ on the plane ride to Washington for the playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. I read another big chunk of it on the ride back home. But I finally got around to finishing the book in the past few days.

It’s written by Jeff Duncan, the fine columnist for The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Let me be clear up front, Duncan is one of my best friends in the business. We got to know each other more than a decade ago when he was a beat writer covering the Saints and I was a beat writer covering the Carolina Panthers. When your teams are in the same division, you talk back and forth a lot and you hang out at league meetings, the scouting combine and the Super Bowl. Duncan and I even were able to find a taxi in a rural part of Maui after the “Fetzer Valve’’ went out on our rental car during a league meeting.

If Duncan had written a horrible book, I’d like to think I’m professional enough to tell you that. Or maybe I just wouldn’t even mention his book. But, the fact is, Duncan wrote an absolutely tremendous book, so I don’t feel like I’m being partial in singing its praises.

“Bags To Riches’’ isn’t the first book to tell you the basic story of how the Saints and the New Orleans region helped each other heal after Hurricane Katrina. But it is the most complete, honest and heart-felt book that’s been written on the topic.

That’s because there’s not a better qualified person on the planet to write this type of book. Duncan was covering the Saints when Katrina hit. He lived through the entire tragedy and the aftermath and he also had the inside view of what New Orleans and the Saints were like before the storm.

I remember calling Duncan’s cell phone when the reports started coming out about how serious things were in New Orleans. I couldn’t reach him for days because the 504 area code was basically out of commission. Besides, Duncan was too busy trying to survive.

He jumped back to his job and asked for a transfer to news side because he believed covering the aftermath of the storm was more important than football. He was right. That experience and later jumping back to Saints’ coverage gave Duncan a unique perspective.

That’s why he was able to write a book that reminds me a lot of “Friday Night Lights’’, my favorite sports book ever. Duncan wrote about a lot more than football. He wrote about humanity, politics and the dedication of a region to its football team. He also brings up a fact that a lot of people have tried to forget -- the Saints, at the very least, explored the option of leaving New Orleans forever and setting up permanent residence in San Antonio.

The book takes you through the storm, its immediate aftermath and some other dark times. But Duncan also chronicles one of the greatest sports stories ever. That starts with in-depth looks at how coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees came to town and how they faced what might have been the most daunting tasks any coach or quarterback have faced.

The book is loaded with details and is extremely well researched. You know how it ends -- with the Saints winning last year’s Super Bowl. But, even in that part of the book, Duncan reveals a lot of behind-the-scenes anecdotes that now will live forever in Saints’ lore.

What makes this book so special is that Duncan covers every angle. That’s the kind of work that doesn’t always come when someone writes a book on something they weren't all that involved in. In this case, you could feel every chapter, every sentence. That’s because Duncan lived every chapter and every sentence.

Saints could face tough road to repeat

December, 19, 2010
Drew BreesAP Photo/Rob CarrDrew Brees and the Saints will likely have chilly road stadiums in their postseason future next month.
BALTIMORE -- In a postgame locker room where there easily could have been talk of frustration, doom or even meetings to plan the return of the Lombardi Trophy, there simply wasn’t.

“If we are a wild-card, then obviously our trip to the Super Bowl is on the road,’’ New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said after a 30-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. “If that’s what we have to do, that’s what we’ll have to do.’’

Nobody summed up the situation the Saints (10-4) face any better than Brees. Nobody even took a different tack than Brees. From head coach Sean Payton on down, the Saints were taking the loss for precisely what it was.

“It’s a disappointing loss, a tough loss,’’ Payton said. “You credit Baltimore. It was a hard-fought game. I thought both teams played hard and, in the end, they made more plays than we did.’’

Ordinarily, the above quote would not have been transcribed off my tape recorder and it certainly wouldn't have been used. It’s the kind of meaningless stuff coaches spew every week. But, in this case, it is entirely accurate.

On a chilly day at M&T Stadium, two good teams played a good game and the Ravens (10-4) came out with a narrow win. There’s no real shame in any of that, but let’s keep the part about chilly days in distant stadiums and playing against very good teams in mind.

Last season’s dream of playoff games in the comfy Superdome are fading fast.

“I think we’re a very good road team,’’ Brees said. “We just ran into a very good opponent.’’

Well, if the Saints really are going to repeat as champions, losing close games on the road isn’t going to be good enough. There is the Dec. 27 road game at Atlanta, the team that has the lead in the NFC South. After that, there’s a regular-season-ending home game with Tampa Bay, but that might be the last time the Saints see the Superdome until next season.

Heck, unless they’re lucky enough to draw the NFC West champion in a playoff game, they probably have faced their last easy opponent until next season. Sunday’s temperature at kickoff was 34 degrees. There was no snow and the sun even came out a few times, but the Saints potentially could face road trips in the playoffs where the setting could be far worse than Baltimore.

They could end up in places like Philadelphia, New York or Chicago in January.

“The fact is, we still had a chance to win at the end,’’ Brees said. “That’s all you can ask for.’’

That’s all true. The Saints were in it all the way until Brees had a pass intercepted with one minute, 47 seconds left.

If nothing else, though, Sunday showed that things aren’t going to get any easier for the Saints. In fact, in a lot of ways, it showed some pretty major flaws that can be exploited.

Let’s start with the run defense, because the Ravens started and finished with their run offense. Baltimore’s Ray Rice carried 31 times for 153 yards and a touchdown. Factor in a few carries by Willis McGahee, highlighted by a 28-yard run, and quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens gained 208 yards on the ground.

“Our game plan was to stop [Rice],’’ New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins said.

Chalk up that game plan -- or at least the execution of that game plan -- as pretty much a total failure.

“We didn’t stop the run at all,’’ veteran safety Darren Sharper said. “It just comes down to tackling the guy with the football. We know we can play with this team or any team. It was just more about the fundamentals, more about not tackling.’’

Well, guess what? The Saints probably are going to face a few more good running backs before all is said and done. There’s Atlanta’s Michael Turner next week (and maybe later in the playoffs) and Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount in two weeks. And if you look at the other running backs the Saints potentially could face in the playoffs, you’ll see some pretty good ones. If the Saints keep going the way they are, you could even end up seeing some running backs play a lot better than they really are.

“Our defense is about creating turnovers,’’ Jenkins said. “When they put the ball on the ground for 150 yards, that makes it tough to get turnovers.’’

If you really want to knock this point home, you might want to factor in what Rice did as a receiver out of the backfield. He caught five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown on a day when Flacco was completing only 10 of his 20 passes for 172 yards.

Were the Saints too focused on stripping the ball from Rice and forgot about tackling him?

“We were doing the same thing we’ve been doing,’’ Payton said. “Obviously, they rushed the ball pretty well, so we’ll look to clean some of that up.’’

It might be a good idea to clean up all of that. It clearly isn’t panic time for the defending champions. But it’s approaching. The Saints must figure out how to stop the run and win games played in distant, cold-weather stadiums.

“Everything is ahead of us,’’ Sharper said. “If we win our next two games, we are in a good position. We need to come back from today. This was a tough loss to a tough team.’’

Maybe that’s all this was -- or maybe it was a sign of what’s starting to look like a tough road for the Saints.
Drew BreesAP Photo/Ross D. FranklinDrew Brees and the Saints are struggling, but believe they have time to turn their season around.
When the New Orleans Saints walk into the Superdome on Sunday night, they’ll be playing their most important game since Super Bowl XLIV.

They’ll play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers right off Poydras Street and not far from Bourbon Street. But the GPS says the Saints are at a different crossroads. By the end of the night, their season could be securely on the road to recovery or past the point of no return.

It’s that simple, really. Eight games into the season, we’re going to know if the Saints have any chance of repeating as Super Bowl champions.

“We knew that this journey was not going to be easy going through this season, and we knew that we would have peaks and valleys,’’ Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “We just happen to be in one of those valleys. It feels like we’ve been in it for a while and we all want to get out of it.’’

It has to happen right now, because if the Saints don’t get out of the valley, it’s going to turn into a big hole. They’re 4-3 and coming off an embarrassing home loss to the Cleveland Browns. A .500 record at the midway point would mean the Saints would spend the second half of the season trying to catch up to the Atlanta Falcons, and maybe even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in the NFC South standings.

A .500 record and a two-game losing streak would make a second-half schedule that doesn’t look that difficult suddenly appear very tough. It wouldn’t be fair or accurate to say the season and talk of “Two Dat’’ would end with a loss. But it wouldn’t be all that far off.

Time to hit the panic button?

“I think human nature might be to get down and be negative, point fingers, to feel like you need to press, put added pressure on yourself and I think we’re a lot more experienced than that,’’ Brees said. “We’ve been down this road before back in 2007. I think we have a pretty experienced team, so everybody’s encountered situations like this where you’re working your tails off and it doesn’t seem to be happening, but you just have to keep grinding. I think we’ll look back at this time as the season progresses.’’

One way or another, Brees is right. How the Saints respond to the Cleveland loss probably is going to determine what happens to them the rest of the season.

“We’ll look back at this seven-game stretch to start the season as a defining moment for our team,’’ Brees said. “You can only worry about the things that you can control, and obviously the past is past. But what we can control is how we react to what has happened, how we change the things we need to change to get back on track, how we respond and obviously how we carry ourselves to be very positive and very encouraging, and I feel like everybody’s on the same page there. Adversity equals opportunity. This is an opportunity for us to come back stronger, to come back better, to bring us together as a team. Maybe we’re going through things now earlier than expected in order to strengthen us for what we’re going to have to do at the end of the season.”

That all makes lots of sense. There are turning points in every season, and this game could be one for the Saints. They’re in a hole, in part because of a series of injuries at running back and cornerback. But the hole might not be all that deep. Players such as Reggie Bush, Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer appear to be close to getting healthy.

Throw them back into the lineup, clean up a few problem spots and it’s not impossible to imagine the Saints climbing out of the hole and heading straight for one of those peaks Brees talked about.

Sean Payton
AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyCoach Sean Payton's Saints haven't looked anything like last season's Super Bowl team.
“We’re 4-3 and that’s the bad news,’’ coach Sean Payton said. “Yet, to some degree, what’s encouraging is that we haven’t played our best football and we’re a game off our division lead and a game off the NFC’s best record.”

Yes, with Brees looking nothing like he did a year ago, the offense not putting up anywhere near the points it did last season and the defense not nearly as opportunistic as it was a year ago, the Saints still are very much in the playoff picture.

As long as they’re in the playoff picture, there remains the possibility that they could get hot and roll to a Super Bowl repeat. With Brees and a talented roster, that’s not all that difficult to imagine. Everything could click at any time.

But that time almost has to be now, and there haven't been a lot of recent indications that the Saints are anything close to the team that won its first 13 games last season. At midseason, this game with the Steelers is Super Bowl XLIV1/2 for the Saints. They have to win this one to have any shot at Super Bowl XLV.

“I guess they don’t get any bigger than this, where the Pittsburgh Steelers, arguably one of the best teams in the NFL, are coming into our place on 'Sunday Night Football,' Halloween night, all the reasons why this game is a huge game,’’ Brees said. “We’ve played in a lot of these prime-time games where America’s watching. There’s no better time for us to go out and play great as a team and get back on track with a win.”

It’s now or never for the Saints.

Tomlin knows what Saints are facing

October, 27, 2010
With the New Orleans Saints at 4-3, there has been a lot of talk about how hard it is to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

For some perspective on that, the New Orleans media asked Mike Tomlin about that challenge in a conference call Wednesday. The Pittsburgh coach has a little experience there because he won the Super Bowl the year before the Saints and wasn’t able to repeat last year. Tomlin brings his team into the Superdome to play the Saints on Sunday night and he has a pretty interesting take on what New Orleans is going through.

“Repeating is not what’s difficult; just winning is difficult. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve done it the year before or not,’’ Tomlin said. “There are 32 teams vying for the world championship and it’s a difficult journey. You kind of start anew. I think the level of expectations kind of change, but my experience was that we were simply trying to walk the journey to win a world championship and become world champions. I’m sure New Orleans is and it’s tough doing it. The fact that you’re defending champs, probably is an issue from those on the outside, but just walking the journey itself is a difficult one.”

Flags aren't flying in NFC South

October, 5, 2010
I’ve just started to scan through the packet of numbers that ESPN’s Stats & Information sends out each week. I’ll share plenty of that with you as the week goes on, but let’s start it now.

The first thing that jumped out at me -- and this is positive news for every NFC South team -- is how the four division teams stack up in being called for penalties. In fact, the division is shining in this area.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have played only three games because of their bye, are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the fewest penalties (14) around the league. The New Orleans Saints rank third with 16 penalties.

The Atlanta Falcons are tied for seventh place with 19 penalties and the Carolina Panthers are tied for No. 9 with 21 penalties.

Tennessee and Detroit are tied for the most penalties in the league with 37.

Perfection wasn't required for Saints

September, 10, 2010
Drew BreesDerick E. Hingle/US PresswireDrew Brees completed 27 of 36 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings.
NEW ORLEANS -- They unfurled a Super Bowl championship banner in the Superdome on Thursday night. But did the New Orleans Saints roll out a Super Bowl team?

Well, it sure didn't look like it on first glance, but that might be a bit misleading when you give it a second and third look.

Carve it up however you want, because aside from one impressive opening drive, this wasn’t last year’s formula of Drew Brees throwing darts all day or Gregg Williams’ opportunistic defense scoring points or helping create them or the special teams pulling off miracle plays.

This wasn’t pretty and it sure wasn’t perfect. But this was a win and that really is all that matters. The Saints defeated the Minnesota Vikings 14-9 in an NFC Championship Game rematch that looked absolutely nothing like January’s NFC Championship Game, a 31-28 Saints win.

This wasn’t a thrilling shootout between Brees and Brett Favre. Fourteen points would have been a good quarter for Brees most of last season. It simply was good enough this time around.

“At the end of the day, our objective is to win ball games,’’ offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb said. “We’ll watch the tape and I’m sure we’ll make a ton of corrections. But to go out against a great opponent like the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 and come away with a win, I think that’s a great night.’’

A great night that will always be remembered because the Saints hung a championship banner from the rafters, hosted a parade before the game and rolled out a giant replica of the Lombardi Trophy on a parade float on the field. Schools let kids out early, fans who weren’t even going to the game clustered near the Superdome for hours before the game and it was a night for the ages in New Orleans.

The Saints celebrated their Super Bowl XLIV victory one last time, and now it’s time to focus on Super Bowl XLV. Believe it or not, at 1-0 and in first place in the NFC South, the Saints still have a shot. Correct?

All those who are ready to write off the Saints because they weren’t anywhere near dominant against the Vikings are missing the point by half a mile. Winning may be new in these parts and that’s led to a sudden expectation that the Saints should be perfect every time they play.

Guess what? It simply doesn’t work that way.

“People want us to be perfect all the time and we want to be perfect all the time,’’ cornerback Tracy Porter said. “But this is real life. You can’t be perfect every week. But when you go out there and weather the storm like we did and come away with a win, that’s only going to make you stronger. It’s Week 1 and nobody’s going to be perfect in Week 1. You get better as the season goes on and you win championships by playing your best football in December and January.’’

[+] EnlargeNew Orleans Saints banner
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesThe Saints unveiled their championship banner before the start of Thursday's game.
September is the time to grow and it’s fair to say the Saints of Thursday night were not playing at the same level they were the last time they saw the Vikings or when they defeated the Colts in the Super Bowl. It’s probably also fair to say that no NFL team is going to come out this weekend and play better than the Saints were at the end of last season. They were pretty much flawless back in those days -- or were they? Heck, Favre put up a ton of yards on the Saints in the NFC Championship Game and it took some big plays on special teams for the Saints to get by the Colts.

Maybe what has gotten lost in all the celebration since February is that the Saints weren’t perfect all last season. They were just very good and they got better at the right time.

Yeah, Adrian Peterson made the run defense look bad at times Thursday and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe exposed some problems at outside linebacker, where the Saints still are trying to figure out what they’ve got after losing apparent starter Jonathan Casillas with a foot injury in the preseason finale.

Maybe this defense didn’t beat up Favre the way it did in the NFC Championship Game. But the bottom line is Favre completed 15 of 27 passes for 171 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Those aren’t the type of numbers that are going to shred a defense, and Favre may be one of the best quarterbacks the Saints see all year.

“Brett Favre is Brett Favre,’’ Porter said. “He’s a high-caliber quarterback and they’re a good team. But there’s been a lot of hype about this game for months because of Brett Favre and the whole NFC Championship rematch. There also was a lot of talk about how we really didn’t beat them the last time, that they more or less lost it and we just got lucky. Well, this time, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we won.’’

A very valid point and speaking of points, let’s remember that the Saints allowed only nine points to what’s supposed to be a good offense. Speaking a little more about points, let’s remember that the 14 points scored by the Saints is the fewest they’ve scored in a win since Sean Payton has been the coach.

Add it all up and it comes out to a win for the Saints. Same as last year at this time. The Saints started off with one win, ran the streak to 13 straight before coming down to earth a bit, then got their act together for the postseason.

Not all of last year’s wins were flawless and the fact the Saints didn’t just blow the Vikings out of the Superdome isn’t a sign that this team is suddenly crumbling. It’s a sign that the Saints are where they need to be.

“We just worry about the wins at the end,’’ Payton said. “It’s a good defense and credit them. I’ve been saying all week that this is a different game by two different teams. We can’t draw comparisons, although we’d like to, to that type of game a year ago. So, regardless of how you win them, we are at a spot right now where I think our players expect to win and that’s what is most important.’’

What’s most important from here on out is that the Saints stop looking back at the Super Bowl. They need to look back at what they didn’t do well Thursday night and start fixing it. If they can do that, they might have another Super Bowl to look forward to.

Saints pass $1 million in ring raffle

September, 4, 2010
The New Orleans Saints still haven’t made any official announcement on their roster moves. But they did send out one press release Saturday that I think is worth mentioning.

Owner Tom Benson announced the team’s Super Bowl Ring Raffle now has raised more than $1 million that will be used to help people directly impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tickets are available for $2 each and remain available at Details of how the drawing for a winner of an authentic Super Bowl ring will be announced next week.
Sean PaytonSteve Mitchell/US PresswireThe usually guarded Sean Payton pulls back the curtain on the Saints' 2009 season in a new book.
You know the story already. Now, Sean Payton’s filling in the details.

The coach of the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints has written a book that is scheduled to hit stores Tuesday. It is called “Home Team." The subtitle is “Coaching the Saints and New Orleans back to life."

That last line sums up the book in one sentence. But I recommend you read the book even if you’re a Saints fan and think you already know all about the Super Bowl season and the three seasons that preceded that. If you do, you’ll find out a lot of things you didn’t know.

We’re not talking any headline-grabbing revelations here, because there aren’t any. The big picture has played out very publicly. What Payton is doing with co-author Ellis Henican is coloring in the outline that already was sketched.

Like just about all football coaches, Payton runs a tight ship. When addressing the media, he’s generally guarded with what he shares, especially about the inner-workings of his team. That’s why this book is a rare opportunity to see what really has gone on with the Saints since Payton first interviewed for the job in 2006.

Payton’s playing by different rules in this book and, in a lot of ways, opening the locker room doors and his mind for fans to really see how the Saints went from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to the top of the football world. Written entirely in Payton’s voice, the book chronicles just about everything, from Payton’s first flight into New Orleans right up through the post-Super Bowl celebration.

Like I said, there’s nothing that’s going to grab a headline or really shock you. But there are a few significant confessions that haven’t been public knowledge.

Start with the daring onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl. That decision has brought Payton acclaim for making one of the boldest moves in Super Bowl history. Well, truth be told, Payton reveals the onside kick was not initially the surprise play Payton wanted to run.

Greg McMahon
AP Photo/Bill HaberPayton's new book reveals it was special-teams coach Greg McMahon who suggested the Saints use an onside kick in the Super Bowl.
In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, Payton said he wanted to steal a possession from Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts and his first thought was to run a fake punt. He floated the idea by his coaching staff for several days and word trickled down to the players. Veteran long-snapper Jason Kyle finally went to Payton and delicately suggested the fake punt might not be a great idea.

“They didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear," Payton said. “They told me what I needed to hear."

Payton backed off the idea and special-teams coach Greg McMahon offered a counterproposal. That was the onside kick. Payton grabbed onto that and it worked masterfully.

There’s also a little revelation about why the Saints were so late in showing up for media day on Tuesday of Super Bowl week. Payton said that five players -- Tracy Porter, Bobby McCray, Roman Harper, Usama Young and Jermon Bushrod -- missed the team bus that morning. After each of the players made it to the locker room on their own, Payton shut the door and began blistering his team.

“I can smell a team that looks like they’re just happy to be in the Super Bowl," Payton said he told his team. “You guys reek of that team."

The Saints quickly stopped reeking and you already know how they went out and won the Super Bowl. Payton shares the details of the postgame joy and how he virtually had to be dragged to the morning-after news conference.

(Read full post)

Saints up for six ESPY awards

June, 24, 2010
Just got word about the ESPY nominees and wanted to quickly let you know because you can vote for some NFC South people -- well, pretty much the New Orleans Saints. Here’s where you can go to vote.

Be sure to check out all the categories because the Saints are represented in a bunch of places after winning their first Super Bowl. The ESPYs will air July 14. Here’s the list of categories involving the Saints.

  • Best Male Athlete: Drew Brees
  • Best Championship Performance: Brees, Super Bowl XLIV
  • Best Moment: New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV
  • Best Team: New Orleans Saints
  • Best Coach/Manager: Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
  • Best NFL Player: Brees

One last look back at the Super Bowl

February, 11, 2010
I had to decline several talk-radio interviews Monday and Tuesday, simply because I had almost no voice due to the cold I’ve been battling since the NFC Championship Game.

I finally got a little bit of a voice Wednesday and agreed to do an interview with my friend Dan Dakich of ESPN 1070 (AM) in Indianapolis. Dan and I recapped the Super Bowl.

As many of you know, Dan is a former Indiana University basketball player and assistant coach. Like many of you, Dan asked about the reported basketball game between AFC bloggers Paul Kuharsky and Tim Graham against Kevin Seifert and me from the NFC.

Sad to say the game didn’t go down, mainly because of my cold and conflicts with our busy work schedules. But Dan said he wants to play next year, and Kevin and I have already claimed him as our ringer. We’ll take Dan (and Steve Alford) and we gladly will take on all of the AFC bloggers. We'll even let them have James Walker and Matt Mosley.

Video: New Orleans celebrates Saints' title

February, 9, 2010
The city of New Orleans celebrates their Super Bowl champion Saints with a parade.

Saints should consider Peppers

February, 9, 2010
So Julius Peppers wants out of Carolina -- again? This time, I think he’s going to get his wish.

Peppers said the Panthers have been silent about their plans. He can become an unrestricted free agent unless the Panthers use the franchise tag on him for a second straight season. That’s going to cost more than $20 million.

I still think there’s a chance the Panthers may use the tag on Peppers, but trade him before they have to pay him. Where does Peppers end up? There’s been speculation about New England and Philadelphia and there were rumblings about Dallas last year.

But I’ve got a suggestion. Actually it comes from television colleague Ed Werder. As we rode down in the elevator at our hotel yesterday, Ed suggested the Saints should sign Peppers because they could use an elite pass rusher to go with Will Smith.

Not saying it will happen or that the Saints are interested in Peppers. But I think they should at least ponder Werder’s idea and I think New Orleans would be a good spot for Peppers. First, the Saints are the champions, so he’d be going to a very good team. More importantly, Peppers could finally maximize his potential.

Peppers is a guy who a lot of people say takes plays off. New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is a guy who doesn’t let players take plays off. He lit a fire under Smith and Charles Grant this season. Imagine what he could do with Peppers?

Video: Brees on Super Bowl performance

February, 8, 2010

Drew Brees breaks down the key plays from the Super Bowl.

Podcasts: More Super Bowl review

February, 8, 2010
  • Saints kicker Garrett Hartley talks about his three big field goals in the win over the Colts. Hartley talks about having the confidence to make the kicks.
  • Saints center Jonathan Goodwin talks about how it feels to win the Super Bowl, saying it's one of the most amazing moments in his life. Goodwin talks about the great success the Saints' offensive line had protecting QB Drew Brees.
  • NFL on FOX analyst Brian Billick talks about how the Saints dominated the second quarter and then made the huge call to start the second half with an onside kick. Billick also address the different looks the Saints defense showed Colts QB Peyton Manning.
  • ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter talks about the new defensive wrinkles the Saints kept putting into the game in the second half and how that affected Colts QB Peyton Manning. Carter breaks down the key interception that sealed the win for the Saints.
  • ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth talks about the great job the Saints' offensive line did protecting QB Drew Brees. Schlereth says it was a courageous effort by Colts DE Dwight Freeney but he wasn't as good in the second half.
  • ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski breaks down the performances of Saints QB Drew Brees. Plus, Jaworski says Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had a great game plan and his team executed it to perfection.
  • Hall of Famer and ESPN NFL analyst Mike Ditka says the hero for the Saints is head coach Sean Payton, who had the complete vision and who took less money to bring in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
  • ESPN NFL analyst Herman Edwards talks about the adjustments the Saints were able to make and the great job they did all game tackling. Edwards says a turning point in the game was the Colts' three and out after stopping the Saints at the goal line.

Podcasts: Reviewing Super Bowl XLIV

February, 8, 2010