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Interview with the Enemy, Hate Week Edition: 5 Questions with Canal Street Chronicles

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We talked to Canal Street Chronicles’ who refused to answer why the Saints are the worst team in sports history.

Jerry Holt jgholt@startribune.com New Orleans, LA –Jan,24,2010 New Orleans Saints host the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship at the Louisiana Superdome. IN THIS PHOTO: ] Brett Favre was not happy after Adrain Peterson fumbled was recovere Photo by Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

As part of our ongoing series to better inform you on the Falcons’ upcoming opponent, we stooped so low as to talk with a member of (Boooooooooooooooooooooo -Ed.) Canal Street Chronicles. If you are unfamiliar with the New Orleans Saints, here are some team highlights:

  • Team was established in 1966.
  • First fan was made in 2006 after signing Drew Brees.
  • Saints won the Super Bowl 2010, due to a team-wide cheating scandal that injured multiple opposing quarterbacks including Brett Favre and Kurt Warner, resulting in mass suspensions, fines, and punishments.
  • This
  • This
  • This
  • Whatever this is supposed to be other than a full assault on all your senses

If you need more information, we have five questions with CSC’s Chris Dunnells.

Do you think Michael Thomas doesn’t get enough respect around the league just because of his tight end-esque yards per catch?

He definitely doesn’t get enough respect around the league, and it’s probably a lot of things that contribute to it. For one, he was originally drafted halfway through the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft as the sixth wide receiver off the board that year. If you think about the household names at wide receiver, most had some hype and fanfare from being selected in the first round (Julio Jones 6th overall, DeAndre Hopkins 27th overall, Mike Evans 7th overall, Odell Beckham Jr 12th overall, etc.).

The yards per reception could be an issue, but that’s such a nuanced stat that I’m not sure how many people put enough stock into it to where they drop Thomas down in their mental rankings. If they look into the numbers to see Thomas’s yards per reception, then they’ll have to see his elite catch rate also. For instance, let’s compare Thomas and Hopkins (largely considered one of the top WRs in the NFL) for a second. Thomas’s yards per reception is “only” 11.8 for his career, compared to Hopkins’s 13.6. But then you look at the insane catch rate of Thomas – 77.9% for his career – and compare that to Hopkins’s 60.2%. Hopkins’s yards per reception rate might be 13% better than Thomas’s, but Thomas’s catch rate is 23% better than Hopkins’s.

Hopefully the NFL world is starting to realize just how good Thomas is, though. He’s shown he can still put up elite numbers without needing Drew Brees as his quarterback (going for over 75 yards in four of the five games with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback) and without any other quality wide receiver to also draw attention from the opposing defense. When the entire defense knows that Thomas is the only wide receiver the Saints have and Thomas is still able to find the ball, he’s showing you really “can’t guard Mike.”

Are Saints fans optimistic with Drew Brees returning, or is there fear with his advanced age the season ends on an avoidable interception?

I see what you did there.

Drew’s counting stats and efficiency rates took a bit of a hit as the season progressed last year. That was largely due to a depleted offensive line and injuries to his wide receivers. Even still, it’s hard to ignore that Drew’s throws just seemed a little less crisp late last year. There’s definitely a bit of optimism surrounding the success the Saints found in Drew’s absence with Teddy Bridgewater. It could ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise if Drew sitting out five games means we will end up with a healthier and stronger Drew later into the season.

The Saints signed Jared Cook in the offseason. Why?

Remember what I said about Michael Thomas being the only wide receiver the Saints have? That’s why. The Saints needed another pass catcher, and they decided to add one at tight end in the form of Jared Cook. Unfortunately for the Saints, Cook and Drew haven’t really been healthy at the same time this year, so we’ve yet to see what Cook can do in a Brees-lead passing attack.

And that fact should scare opposing defenses. The Saints have an elite running back who is exceptional in both the passing game and running the back, an elite wide receiver, a Hall of Fame quarterback, and a tight end who is historically above average as a pass-catcher… and they’ve played together for all of five quarters of football in 2019. Everyone is starting to get healthy, and this offense will likely only get better.

Part of The Saints’ success this season is due to a surprisingly stout defense. Has safety Marcus Williams finally gotten over the Miracle in Minnesota?

Mentally? Who knows? It definitely hasn’t helped him learn from his mistakes as he still closes his eyes and ducks his shoulder for tackles, and it drives me absolutely insane.

Honestly, the success of the defense can be attributed to three things. First, the Saints have been great at containing the run game. I think we’re up to 37 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, but it’s not even individual rushers they’ve contained – it’s entire teams. The Cardinals rushed for only 40 yards as a team two weeks ago. The Bears rushed for 17 yards as a team the week before. Even the Dallas Cowboys, with their talented offensive line and running backs, rushed for only 45 yards as a team against the Saints.

The Saints’ success in defending the run has forced teams to pass the ball. And that brings up the second big improvement for the Saints this year: they can rush the passer without having to blitz. The Saints can bring their normal four rushers and still put pressure on the quarterback, due in no small part to the fact that the Saints can put four first round picks on the defensive line (Cam Jordan, Malcom Brown, Sheldon Rankins, and Marcus Davenport).

And finally, the secondary is starting to up their play as well. Marshon Lattimore has blanketed opposing wide receivers of late. Lattimore has held players like Amari Cooper to only 48 yards and zero’ed out Mike Evans from the box score completely.

So the Saints defense stops first down runs, forces you into passing situations, forces opposing quarterbacks to get rid of the ball quickly to avoid sacks, and then can cover opposing wide receivers enough to where complicated routes don’t have enough time to develop.

Why is the Saints defense better? That’ll do it.

What’s your score prediction for the game? I think if the Saints win by more than 30, Dan Quinn gets fired. The Falcons could make some pretty simple fixes and start winning some games, but it’d also tank their draft position. More or less, I’m split on if I want that to happen.

I picked the Saints to lose on the road to Seattle in Week 3 and they ended up winning the game. I’ve obviously then had to pick the Saints to lose each of the weeks since to not ruin my person influence on the outcome of the game. With that being said, I’ll say Falcons 28, Saints 3.

But now that I have that one out of the way, I’ll say Saints 31 Falcons 17.

That interview really had everything. And the most important thing? I’ve really learned something. Such as all 28-3 jokes are just references and some people still believe in Jared Cook. Check out Canal Street Chronicles for all your Saints-Falcons coverage before Sunday’s kickoff.