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Mailbag: New Orleans Saints edition

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

It’s time for the New Orleans Saints in our tour of team-by-team mailbags.

Marty in Shakopee, Minn. writes: Hi Pat - Thanks for all the great NFC South info. Being a Saints fan, living in Vikings territory & married to a Purple fan has made this season interesting. I try to take it one game at a time, but it's tough not to look ahead, especially since the Saints schedule is very favorable going forward. Where can the Saints improve? At times our LB's are exposed to the short passing game, but GW has given this defense the freedom to make plays and it has been successful. There is balance in the offense now; Sean seems to be pushing all the right buttons.

Pat Yasinskas: Yep, there’s no question Sean Payton and Gregg Williams are doing tremendous jobs. Where can the Saints improve? Hmm, there really aren’t many weaknesses at all. They just have to stay healthy and they’re on course for the playoffs, maybe a run deep into the playoffs.


Adrien in Miss. writes: Pat, with Fujita out for a while, do you think that Troy Evans will be able to fill in for Scott well enough or struggle? And if he does struggle, do you see the Saints signing another linebacker such as...I dunno...Derrick Brooks?

Pat Yasinskas: Payton and Williams seem ready to go with Evans until Scott Fujita comes back. I’ve only seen a little bit of Evans as a linebacker, but I’ve seen a lot of him on special teams and been impressed. He’s a good athlete. Payton and Williams know a lot more than I do and they seem comfortable going with Evans. If they were going to sign Derrick Brooks, I think it would have happened months ago.


Jeff in Charleston, S.C. writes: Hey Pat. My question is, who have the Saints beaten this year, really? Detroit with a Rookie QB, a rapidly declining Jets team with Rookie QB, a horribly-coached (I'm sorry, Reid is clueless at times) Philly team with practically a Rookie QB, a horribly bad Buffalo team, and a NYG team that is plagued with injuries all over the field at critical positions and in my mind is way overrated. No question the Saints have made major strides since last year, especially on Defense and I know that its all about getting W's, but honestly, who have they REALLY beaten? Just take a look at the current status of all those afore mentioned teams, would you say they are in good shape, with the exception of the NYG, who have some serious questions to answer and major injuries to deal with.

Pat Yasinskas: I’ve got to disagree with you. First off, the Jets were undefeated at the time they played the Saints. I’d argue strongly that you’re wrong in calling Andy Reid clueless. He’s one of the best coaches in the league. And going into Philadelphia, which is always one of the toughest places to play, and winning is a major accomplishment. Even the Buffalo game was a nice win because it was on the road and any road win is a good win. The victory against the Giants speaks for itself. Now, I will give you the Detroit game. But other than that, I don’t think you can take any of the shine off what the Saints have done by talking about who they’ve played.


Matt in Miami writes: Why do the Saints not use Lance Moore on trick plays? He is the team's emergency third QB on game day, so why not use him on a reverse play and let him throw the ball? I know they don't want to take the ball out of Brees' hands, and I understand that, but once or twice a game could work. And it would give opposing defenses so much more to prepare for, and make our offense that much more potent. Thanks.

Pat Yasinskas: No question Lance Moore is a great athlete. In general, I’d say the Saints don’t need trick plays and they don’t need to take the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a couple of trick plays in the playbook and Payton may pull them out as time goes on, especially now that Moore seems healthy.


Morris in Colorado Springs writes: Pat let’s not forget how great Jermon Bushrod played against one of the top pass rushers in the game in Osi Umenyiora. He’s played great with replacing Jamaal Brown and i really think if he keeps this up we may have just replaced a Pro Bowl LT with another Pro Bowl LT what do you think Pat?

Pat Yasinskas: Kudos to Bushrod, who I think has played very well in stepping in for the injured Brown. He’s been more than adequate. But I wouldn’t go calling Bushrod a Pro Bowler just yet. He’s got to keep proving himself every week.


John in Oak Harbor, Wash. writes: I am a die-hard Saints fan, and I appreciate everything Drew Brees has done for the team and the city, but I wanted to point out that even though he is the corner stone of the offense, the Saints are better off when he passes less. THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID IT!!! He led the team to an 8-8 record last year while leading the league in attempts (635.) In 2009, the Saints are 5-0, and he is ranked 20th in the league in attempts (159.) I know that his ridiculous amount of passing didn't lead to the eight losses, but it seems that his passer rating is soaring because he no longer has to shoulder the burden. Also, I just wanted to say thanks for the good work. Even when you had the Saints ranked third in your pre-season rankings, you had a way of making it not sound that bad.

Pat Yasinskas: Well, I had the Saints third, but I did mention they could be better if their defense got better. The defense is markedly better and the Saints have answered all my questions. As for your theory on Brees, I tend to agree. When you’re passing for 5,000 yards, that’s probably a sign that your team is behind a lot. The Saints recognized a need to improve the running game to balance out the offense and they went out and made it happen and it’s working out nicely.