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Pre-Game Recon: Five Questions With Canal Street Chronicles

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Way back during the halcyon days of August 2011, Dave Cariello was kind enough to answer some of my questions about his beloved Saints before the Texans welcomed New Orleans to Reliant. Now, a month later, your Houston Texans travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints in a real, live game that actually counts. Dave, stand-up guy that he is, has once again agreed to dispel the curiosity of the BRB staff; I answered Dave's questions as well, and they'll be up at Canal Street Chronicles later today. Dave's answers to the aforementioned questions are after the jump.

1. From UprootedTexan: The last time the Saints went up against Wade Phillips' defense, they gave up four sacks (2 to DeMarcus Ware, 1.5 to Anthony Spencer and 0.5 to Marcus Spears) and two fumbles (both by Ware). What do you expect to see from Sean Payton to keep the Texans' linebacking corps from doing similar damage on Sunday?

CSC: I remember that game against the Cowboys well. And I remember that after the game, Sean Payton admitted he didn't do a good job adjusting for Ware and bringing in help on the line when it was needed. I hope he's learned his lesson. If Houston's linebackers cause a lot of trouble, I would expect Payton to bring in help in the form of blocking tight ends and fullbacks. I also think his offensive game plan will involve more running up the gut than normal, which would hopefully diminish the role of those linebackers and keep them honest in passing situations.

2. From TexansDC: It should almost go without saying (since we start Shaun Friggin' Cody) that many a Texans fan watched with envy as the Saints picked up Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers in free agency. How have they adjusted to Gregg Williams' 4-3 defense? How is the interior line rotation working out in general?

CSC: Gregg Williams runs such a complex defense, I actually wouldn't pigeonhole them as strictly a 4-3. Very often they set up in a 3-4. Regardless of defensive front, however, the personnel is constantly changing depending on the situation. So everyone has certainly gotten their chance but to be honest, I haven't seen much from either Franklin or Rogers in particular. And for two highly touted defensive tackles such as them, I supposed I was expecting bigger things. In reality, I think Saints fans have been more excited by the play of relative unknown DT Mitch King.

3. From BFD: After seeing what Mark Ingram brings to the offense, do you believe he was the right pick for the Saints this past April (/no Reggie Bush)?

CSC: Ingramania! is in full effect in Who Dat Nation. I think almost everyone is still very psyched about the decision to move up and grab Mark Ingram in the first round. Ingram complements Drew Brees and the passing game well, making them much more dynamic and thus far successful. He hasn't put up gaudy numbers or found the end zone yet in the regular season but that day is quickly approaching. It may even be this Sunday against the Texans. The signs point to this NOT turning into another Reggie Bush situation.

4. Assume with me that the Texans have just paid you an insane amount of money to join their organization. Gary Kubiak calls you into his office and says, "Dave, you're a Saints fanatic. You know them. Tell me the top three (3) areas/players/scenarios/etc. we should attack on Sunday in New Orleans." Putting your fandom aside, because you want to do right by your new employer, how do you respond to Kubes' request?

CSC: 1) Bring the Pressure - First and foremost, Brees cannot be allowed time to do whatever he wishes. He must be pressured early and often.
2) Incorporate the Tight End - The Saints have shown weakness in covering opponents' tight ends. Make him a heavy part of your game plan and you should be able to move the ball.
3) Contain Sproles - Darren Sproles is quickly becoming one of Payton's favorite weapons, both as a running back and even more so as a pass catcher. The Saints love running the screen pass, so be quick to contain on the outside. And don't sleep on special teams either, because Sproles can kill you if the coverage is poor.

5. PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: The final score of Sunday's game will be Texans _____, Saints _____. At the end of the regular season, the Saints' record will be ___-___, and the Saints will appear in ____ playoff games.

CSC: The final score of Sunday's game will be Texans 24, Saints 27. At the end of the regular season, the Saints' record will be 11 - 5, and the Saints will appear in 2 playoff games.

Thanks to Dave for taking the time. Head on over to Canal Street Chronicles to see what Saints fans are saying about Sunday's game.

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