With the Ravens' matchup against the New Orleans Saints this weekend, Head Coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees met with the Baltimore media.
In a conference call, topics such as the Saints' focus on the passing game, where it can attack the Ravens defense and how the weather could really affect an explosive New Orleans offense.
Here are a few highlights:
Head Coach Sean Payton
- How much could the cold weather affect your passing game?
Sean Payton: "Well, I think the wind can definitely affect the passing game. I think the wind is probably more of a factor than possibly rain and/or cold temperatures. You know, I was asked that question earlier today by our local media, in regards to playing on the road or playing in inclement weather, and typically, if a team plays well on the road, they're playing well, period. So, if you went and found teams that have had success, like Baltimore or Pittsburgh, New England, you know those teams that have played well away from their home venues are probably playing well, period. And that's been the case with us. When our team has been better, we've been better on the road, and probably better at home, because of it. But you know that the elements are always something you have to pay attention to, and we had to in Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, and I'm certain that we'll have to again Sunday in Baltimore." * *
- Because of injuries to the Saints' running backs, how much of the offensive burden has been placed on Drew Brees' shoulders?SP: "I think by nature, the quarterback has a lot of the offensive burden because he touches the ball on almost every snap. But, that being said, other players in the absence of certain starters, other players… Lance Moore has stepped in and given us a lot of production. Jimmy Graham is a young tight end who has gotten more playing time. And whether it's [Jeremy] Shockey or [Marques] Colston, I think by and large, that burden doesn't just shift to the quarterback. I think it shifts to the group in general in regards to touches and receptions or rushing attempts."
- What is your assessment of the Ravens defense?SP:"I see a defense that certainly has great tradition. They're very physical; you see that immediately on tape. You start inside, with guys like [Haloti] Ngata and [Terrell] Suggs and [Kelly] Gregg, and then the experience they have at the linebacker position with Ray [Lewis] being there and really being a mainstay of what they've done. Their production in regards to turnovers is almost double since Ed Reed has been back. They've played at a high level for a long period of time, and it's really hard to point to any other organization that's had that kind of staying power. I was a part of the 2000 [Giants] team that played against them in the Super Bowl and saw firsthand a defense that year that played at an extremely high level. This is a group that's very physical. I think they run very well, they've got good ball skills on the backend and they present a lot of challenges for us – especially us."
- Do you think you can attack the Ravens defense through the air like the Texans did?SP:"I think that became a product of the score, to some degree. As you guys watched, which I'm sure you did, it was almost two entirely different halves. Houston got in that comeback mode where they were behind more than a score and became very one-dimensional. I think that to go in with that idea can be real challenging. I think one of the things that has been important for us is to establish and be able to run the football and have that – not only time of possession – but have that efficiency on first and second down. Our play-action passing game is a part of what we do. I think as we've gotten better and found our stride offensively this year, I would say a lot of that has to do with our improvement in the running game. In Houston's case, I think you really look at that as a position where they were behind by more than a score, and all of a sudden they had to go to the air to move the ball quickly."
- How much do the Ravens' offensive line change affect what you expected from the offense?SP:"We do the same thing in that there are certain plays where we want to bring in an additional tackle to play in that tight end position just to help have a little bit bigger body on those defensive ends. And so, it's what Baltimore did. Typically, you package some plays where you're going to have a handful of runs and then some play-action passes off of it. Zach Strief has kind of fit that role for us, and I think with the injury that the Ravens had with Todd Heap, I think this allowed them an opportunity to still have some of their core stuff that they want to do in place."
QB Drew Brees
- Do you think opposing teams gear up for the Saints because you are the defending Super Bowl champions?
Drew Brees:"Yeah, I think they do. I think that's just human nature. I know that in the past when I've been on a team and the defending Super Bowl champ was coming to town, I think there's probably a little bit extra motivation. Especially when you look at the situation that we're in now, both us and the Ravens are fighting for playoff spots, fighting within our division, and you know, there's just a lot at stake. So, you just want to be able to play your best game."
- What did you make of the Ravens' defensive struggles at Houston last Monday?
DB:"You know what? I don't buy too much into that just because they had a 28-7 lead, and so it seemed like it's a lot of prevent [defense], pretty conservative. And the Texans have a great offense and they were able to kind move the ball in two-minute situations and stuff at the end of the game. But, I have a lot of respect for that defense, always have, and so I just kind of see that as a little bit of an aberration."
- Is being second in the league in passing attempts putting pressure on your throwing arm?
DB:"I don't mind it. I'm going to do whatever it takes to win, so if I'm called upon to throw it 40 times a game or 50 times a game, I'll do it. I think in a perfect world, we always talk about being balanced and being able to mix and match the run and the pass. But, [there will be] games in the future where we might run it 40 times, and then there are games where we might throw it 50 times. You just never know, but you're always prepared to have to execute very well in the passing game in order to win."
- Do you prefer to play in warm climates?DB:"I think everybody prefers a warm climate. *(laughter) *It is what it is. Obviously, we know it's going to be cold and probably windy and maybe snowy up there [in Baltimore] on Sunday. Whatever the conditions are, we'll just have to adapt and adjust."
- Is your goal as an offense to keep a defense on the field and wear it out?DB:"I think that's every offense's goal. You love big plays, you love opportunities to make big plays, but you've got to be ready to march the ball down the field, convert third downs and score on a 15-play drive, 18-play drive. In the process, you do wear a defense out, and it gets harder and harder for them the longer you keep them out there."