Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
The Oakland Raiders are gearing up to take on the New Orleans Saints this Sunday, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This should be a good test for both teams, and on Wednesday Saints Head Coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees took the time to share their thoughts, via conference call.
Let's take a look at what they had to say:
Head Coach Sean Payton:
He opened up about his impressions of the Raiders and the expectations surrounding the team.
"I think Jack [Del Rio], Reggie [McKenzie] and those guys have done a great job because you see size, you see speed, and they've got some really, really good playmakers on offense. I think the quarterback is playing awfully well. Defensively, they've added some real key pieces to what they're wanting to do. Part of the challenge in Week 1 is quickly getting acclimated to the style of play."
Payton discussed what former Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen has brought to the Saints defense.
"He obviously went on to become the head coach there in Oakland. I think the focus is really more… When you're putting together a plan during the regular season, your opening week, there are so many things that go through your mind as far as attention to detail. He's very organized. There are a lot of things that you have to be prepared for, defensively."
He acknowledged the Raiders pass rushers, specifically defensive end Khalil Mack and linebacker Bruce Irvin.
"Those are real good pass rushers, obviously. There's a whole body of work with Khalil in Oakland and Bruce in Seattle. We played the Seahawks a handful of times in the last four or five years. Both present issues and challenges. Both do a good job on the edge of the defense. There's no set place that you can account for, one or the other."
Outside of the pass rush, Payton acknowledged that cornerback Sean Smith can create problems on the outside.
"Well, he's long. He's physical. Both of those corners, watching the tape now, are guys that really fit what they're trying to do by scheme. They've got length. There's a confidence that they have. The ball skills, all those traits that you're looking for at that corner position. They do a good job up in press coverage and challenge the receivers right off the line of scrimmage."
Quarterback Drew Brees:
The veteran signal-caller shared his thoughts on the Raiders defense and the issues they can present.
"Obviously, [defensive coordinator] Ken Norton, Jr., coming over and having his stamp on the defensive scheme and then [Head Coach] Jack Del Rio's been in the league for a long time as a defensive coach, so I think they bring a lot of expertise and having played the game as well, have a certain level of toughness. You can see that in the way the Raiders' defense plays. They've got some standout players as well. Obviously, Khalil Mack is one of the best in the business at what he does."
Brees elaborated more on Mack's talent and physicality upfront on the defensive line.
"He's disruptive, you know? Like, every team has to plan for him, and yet he still kind of finds ways to be around the quarterback, be around the ball. He looks like a tremendous athlete who's got great instincts and great power, just great athleticism. So, he seems to be the total package."
He also provided some high praise for third-year quarterback Derek Carr.
"I think he's, no doubt, he's as they come. He can make all the throws. He seems like a guy who loves football and loves to compete. He's played very well in some high-pressure situations. I think he's one of those guys that I look at and say, of all the young quarterbacks, he probably has the opportunity to be one of the best."
In conclusion, Brees commented on the presence safety Reggie Nelson provides in the Raiders' secondary.
"He's played at a high level for a long time. I think he had, what nine interceptions last year? Honestly, he's played a lot of football. He's played at a high level for a long time. He led the league in interceptions last year. He's kind of a ball hawk. Just one of these guys that has great instincts and good feel for the game. So, he makes a lot of plays."
Wide Receiver Brandin Cooks:
"They've got a strong defense, you've got guys that are coming off the edge that are pretty special, and in their back end."
Defensive Tackle Tyeler Davidson:
**Davidson played with Carr in college at Fresno State and shared his thoughts on trying to stop him.
"DC is a good quarterback, I played with him in college. He's a good quarterback, he's accurate, makes good decisions, and so we're going to have to put the pressure on him. Try and force him to do some other things, I think it'll be a good game it's a good test for us the first week."
He spoke about how to create problems for Carr in the pocket, and how they'll try to attack him.
"It's important, we don't want to give him space to step up or escape the pocket. It's important for us to get a good push, a good rush up inside, and help our edge rushers get to him."
Cornerback Delvin Breaux:
Breaux discussed how the secondary would face a tough matchup against the Raiders receiving core this week.
"Their offense is very effective in vertical shots, they have [Amari] Cooper and [Michael] Crabtree, and they also have Andre Holmes and Seth Roberts. Those guys are vertical threats and that's something we have to keep contained this week."