Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Sunday, November 1, 2009
Mailbag: New Orleans Saints edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

Time to turn our attention to the undefeated New Orleans Saints as we continue our series of team-by-team mailbags.

Robin in Independence, Kansas writes: I need your input. Charles Grant.. how is he this year? I got a friend that tells me he is terrible this year and owes everything to Ellis... I look at his 4 sacks, and say he is doing great...What are you thoughts? I greatly appreciate your input.

Pat Yasinskas: Probably somewhere in between great and terrible would be a fair answer. I’d point the dial a bit closer to good. As a defensive end, Grant is judged largely by sacks and four is a pretty decent number through four games. Grant has also played the run all right. Yes, part of his success has been due to help on the line from Sedrick Ellis. But we’re about to find out what Grant can do without Ellis, who will be out with an injury for Monday night’s game. Bottom line: Grant’s been called an underachiever the last few years. I don’t think that tag fits what he’s done this season.


Graham in New York writes: Breakout game for Bush? When does he hit over a hundred rushing? There will be a game. I think it's this Monday.

Pat Yasinskas: I would never rule it out, but the Saints aren’t giving Bush a lot of carries this year as Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas have shared most of those duties. I don’t expect that to change. I still think Reggie Bush will make a difference in a couple of games, but you can’t measure him like a traditional running back. He’s a combination of a running back, return man and receiver and he’s capable of big plays in any of those roles.


Evan in Baton Rouge writes: Pat, I was talking to a buddy of mine and came up with this realization. The Saints have a ton of starters who were unwanted by other teams. There are 10 unrestricted free agent signed players, four undrafted free agents, and a 7th round pick of the 22 starters. Some notable names include: Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sharper, Jeremy Shockey, Jonathan Vilma, and Marques Colston, who are all having Pro Bowl-caliber seasons. Lance Moore, Mike Bell, Randall Gay, Jabari Greer, Scott Fujita, Scott Shanle, Jamar Nesbit, Kendrick Clancy, Jonathan Goodwin, and Kyle Eckel (who’s replacing free agent signee Heath Evans) were all waived by their former teams or looked over in the draft. This team is made up of players nobody wanted and now nobody wants to play us. WHO DAT!

Pat Yasinskas: Good point. Kudos to Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton for putting this group together.


Alan in New Orleans writes: Pat, just hit the wire that Saints have lost Heath Evans for the year and have added Kyle Eckel to the roster in his place. This could be a big blow for a running game that had finally found its rhythm. Do you know anything about Eckel? Should Saints fans expect a big downturn in rushing or pass protection?

Pat Yasinskas: I don’t know much about Eckel, but I do know Evans was playing a big role for the offense. There’s going to be a drop-off any time you have to start a guy who wasn’t even on the roster a week ago. But I think Payton’s such a good offensive coach that he can minimize the impact. I also think there’s a chance you could see some of Bell and Lynell Hamilton at fullback.


Jim in Ocean Springs, Miss. writes: When giving your NFC South pro bowl picks, you left out one obvious Saints-CB J. Greer.

Pat Yasinskas: All right, I’ll give you that one. Jabari Greer is having a very nice season and is a big part of the reason the Saints were able to turn around their defense. I’ll give you my permission to vote for Greer for the Pro Bowl. I’ll also give him the nod as the best cornerback in the NFC South, although the competition isn’t exactly stellar.


Jake in San Diego writes: I definitely think that Darren Sharper should be looked at for the Defensive Player of the Year. Through 6 games, he has 6 interceptions with 3 touchdowns. He has as many touchdowns as every offensive player on the roster with the exception of Marques Colston. And not to mention, without penalties involved he would actually have two more interceptions and one more TD on the stat sheet. He has made a case for himself, and without another tackle or interception, he has already reserved a seat on a flight to the pro bowl.

Pat Yasinskas: Yep, I’m with you. Sharper’s been outstanding and would get my vote as Defensive Player of the Year if I were voting today. And, yes, I think he’s a safe bet for the Pro Bowl, unless of course the Saints are in the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl’s being held the week before the Super Bowl this year and teams that are still playing will, obviously, be busy. Also, this season’s Pro Bowl is in Miami and not Honolulu.