The New Orleans Saints are the final stop on our series of team-by-team mailbags.
Gin in New Orleans writes: I heard on the radio today that Drew Brees has a strained MCL and is practicing on a limited basis. Have you heard anything more?
Pat Yasinskas: I believe the report you heard was inaccurate. Yes, there is an issue with Brees’ knee, but it doesn’t appear to be anything more serious than a bit of soreness. That’s what Brees and the Saints both said. Brees was able to practice Wednesday, although he did wear a brace and may continue to do that. But the bottom line is, if Brees had a strained MCL, there is no way the Saints would have put him out on the practice field.
Gabrielle in New Orleans writes: I know that you are going to think I'm ridiculously superstitious but I knew the Saints were in trouble on Sunday as soon as they walked on the field ... they were wearing white jerseys with black pants. We never ever seem to win with that combo. Do you have access to the winning percentages based on game day attire in the Sean Payton era? I'd be interested to know if the equipment manager is really to blame for the loss to the Falcons (since we have to blame someone!).
Pat Yasinskas: Amazingly, you’re not the first to bring this up to me. Within moments after the game, I had a text from a friend who should know better than to text me after the game when I’m trying to do interviews, and she’s a Saints fan and had the exact same observation about the uniforms. I hadn’t really given it much thought, and those who know me will verify that I’m not the most fashion conscious guy. But maybe you’re on to something. We’ve got a tremendous crew at ESPN Stats & Information and they can dig up some amazing stats. This one might be beyond them, but I’ll run it by them and see if we can see if there’s a fashion trend.
Jay in Oxford, Miss., writes: Why is it that all the major press discussion about the Falcons/Saints game focuses on Garrett Hartley's missed kick rather than the quality of the game? It was one of the most well played and evenly matched games I've seen. The whole game was constant back-and-forth battling.
Pat Yasinskas: Excellent point. I’ve been doing this for a long time and am probably numb to a lot of things. But as John Clayton and I were walking out of the Superdome on Sunday night, I turned to him and said, “You know, that was a great game to watch. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a better football game.’’ Clayton didn’t disagree, although I think he still put the Saints at No. 28 on his Power Rankings ballot.
Alex in Kyiv, Ukraine, writes: Your regular reader in Ukraine. Keep up the great work! After looking over the stats from the Saints-Falcons game, I keep thinking that Sean Payton did not run the ball nearly enough. I realize this is the passing league and this is Drew Brees' team and he is one of the best in the biz, but don't you think having one of the best O-lines in the league the Saints can be more balanced particularly when leading or in close games? Bush is out for some time, but his absence should not have mattered when they have to run between the tackles.
Pat Yasinskas: Always a pleasure to hear from the Ukraine. Payton doesn’t get questioned a lot because he’s viewed as an offensive genius. But you raise a valid question about the balance in the New Orleans offense. I think the Saints may have been limited a bit in what they could do and who they could trust in the backfield. Pierre Thomas got banged up in the game and the Saints were giving Chris Ivory his first playing time of the season. That might have played a role.
Scott in Lafayette, La., writes: Do you believe that Reggie Bush being out of last Sundays game affected the Saints’ play. It seemed that Atlanta was weak on special teams, would having Bush back there made a difference? Also, there were crucial times where Bush could have made a difference in the tone and speed of the game.
Pat Yasinskas: Lance Moore did pretty well on punt returns and he also had some catches that might have gone to Bush if Reggie was playing. So Moore helped make up for the absence of Bush. But there is no doubt that Bush’s absence had a least some negative impact on the Saints. Putting him in motion and lining him up at different spots are things the Saints do to get other people open or clear the way for the running game. Without Bush, they can’t do some of those things. Plus, the mere fact that Bush is a threat to score every time he touches the ball makes life a little easier for the defense when he’s not on the field.