I had a chance to chat with Dave, the lead editor of the Saints' SB Nation site, Canal Street Chronicles. Below is our transcript, which covers: the Saints ability to adjust to cold weather for the first time this year, the short week, how to stop Drew Brees, and Mark Brunell. I copied/pasted pretty much as is so if there's a few typos in there, keep in mind it was a back/forth IM:
Hogs Haven: Still partying from Monday night?
Canal St Chronicles: Haha. I think I've finally come down. I did buy my NFC Championship Game tix today. Pretty exciting.
Canal St Chronicles: Ha! Funny.
Hogs Haven: So, I think the Skins can cover (with a chance for an upset)...one of my points is that the forecast for Sunday is a HIGH of 43 degrees....last time the Saints played in cold weather they lost to the Bears week 15 last year....you think cold weather will be an issue?
Canal St Chronicles: It's definitely a concern. The Saints are a Dome team and they don't do too well in poor conditions. This years team is different, however, and one reason I think it will affect the Saints less this Sunday is the presence of a great running game they can rely on. In years past, the offense has mostly centered around Drew Brees and cold weather doesn't lend itself to the aerial attack. Now the Saints have a cold-weather run game. Besides, mentally I think this team is incredibly focused right now and Sean Payton can get them all to believe they're really playing in Palm Springs if need be.
Hogs Haven: That's my next question, they certainly have been focused, but now the win over the Pats, plus the short week, plus travelling..only means 2 days of on-field practice...can they be 100% focused?
Canal St Chronicles: Yeah. That's not something I'm really worried about. The Saints are in uncharted territory here and I don't think anyone wants to be the guy responsible for screwing it up. The players are having fun out there but they are extremely focused. Payton comes from the Parcells/Belichick school of coaching. He's also focused heavily on keeping only players with good character.
Hogs Haven: So does that mean Payton told Reggie Bush to break up with kim Kardashian?
Canal St Chronicles: They're back together. Don't you read Perez Hilton. Geez.
Hogs Haven: which is why I guess reggie bush doesn't play anymore.
Canal St Chronicles: Oh man, you're gonna make me talk about Reggie, huh?
Hogs Haven: The question of the hour...how do we stop Drew Brees?
Canal St Chronicles: I would try to gameplan an incredibly aggressive pass rush.I tell this to bloggers every week:
Bring pressure early, often and always. Teams have got to bring constant pressure on Drew Brees. From all different angles. Confuse the hell out of him and always keep your hands up at the line. And lastly, do it for the full sixty minutes. Don't quit. That was exactly what wound up being the downfall of the 2007 Patriots but it took a while for teams to figure it out. Sooner or later some coach is actually going to listen to me and it's going to work. You watch.
Hogs Haven: Seriously, is anyone worried that Brunell is your only backup?
Canal St Chronicles: Nobody is really worried. And honestly, during his pre-season work Brunell has looked surprisingly competent.
Hogs Haven: Oh man, Hogs Haven is gonna love that quote. He couldn't throw the ball over 25 yards by the time he left...but he will forever be a hero for his miracle in Dallas on MNF.
Hogs Haven: Anything the Skins can exploit in your defense?
Canal St Chronicles: I think offenses can exploit the inside running game as you said earlier. The Saints did get back their starting defensive tackle, Sedrick Ellis, so they should play better from here on out. But the Skins will need to continue to attack the inside, which becomes tough if the team is playing from behind. You definitely don't want to get behind the Saints.
Hogs Haven: I haven't talked to a Lousiania native in awhile, how is the Katrina recovery? Is it in a "best it will ever get stage" or are things still progressing?
Canal St Chronicles: It's pretty good. I think the city will be better off in the long run. Of course there are still little reminders or issues that people are still dealing with but for the most part, it's now in the past.
What do you think? The best way to keep the Saints from running up the score is by keeping the offense on the field. Running Rock and Gainther up the middle will be very important.
One thing is clear, when I watch the game Sunday, the Redskins D-line better have their hands in the air every passing play. Drew Brees is not a tall guy, so Phillip Daniels, Hanyesworth, and Andre Carter have a lot of opportunities to tip some balls.