With the Arizona Cardinals on the road to play the New Orleans Saints, it was naturally appropriate to hook up with Canal Street Chronicles. We already had done so once, as Dave Cariello joined me on the ROTB Radio podcast.
Here are my questions and his responses:
With Sean Payton back, what are the expectations for the Saints, especially in a division where the Falcons are the favorite in the division?
Considering the 2-0 start for the Saints, both wins against division opponents, I think the expectations now are to win the division. The Falcons may have been the favorite to start the season but now that the Saints defense has proven they're legit those predictions should probably be amended. Payton is definitely a difference-maker, and once the offense gets back on track and starts rolling like usual, the Saints are definitely going to prove a force to be reckoned with.
Who is your best pass rusher and do fans see the Cardinals game as a sack fest?
I'd say it's a toss up between Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette for the title of the team's best pass rusher. The Saints don't have any one player in particular who stands out above the rest in that department, but both of those guys are definitely at the top of the list. As far as viewing the Cardinals as an easy target, I don't think that's the case. I don't think that's ever been the case for the Saints defense against any opponent. Sacks are never expected, merely a pleasant surprise when they happen. But they've definitely done a better job getting pressure this season so I know fans are hoping for a little more.
Tell us about the running game and the different pieces there are. How much do the Saints rely on the running game?
There's not much to tell. The Saints running game has been pretty abysmal thus far, averaging 76 yards rushing per game despite a conscious effort to run the ball more and have a balanced offensive attack. Pierre Thomas has been fine and Darren Sproles has done well doing what he does. It's 2011 first round draft pick Mark Ingram that has been a huge disappointment thus far. He's got more carries than Thomas or Sproles yet significantly less yardage to show for it. He's actually averaging 1.8 yards per carry this season. It's a huge point of contention and a hot button issue among Saints fans. Some blame Ingram, some blame the offensive line, some blame both. Either way, the running game shouldn't frighten the Cardinals.
Who are some players that might be unknown to Cardinals fans that they should expect to see make plays?
I've got to go with the Kennys for this one. Two rookies. Two 2013 draft picks. Both named Kenny. Both contributing right out of the gate. First round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro has made an immediate impact on the Saints defense at safety. The first game of his career last week was exactly what Saints fans were hoping to see. And on offense there is wide receiver Kenny Stills, fifth round draft pick out of Oklahoma, who is quickly becoming a favorite target for Drew Brees. Stills is fast, athletic and can stretch the field. He's a playmaker. Look for him to be on the receiving end of an explosive play or two.
Which Cardinals player is it most important to neutralize or plan for?
How can the answer to this question not be Patrick Peterson? The man is an athletic freak of nature. And now that he's playing just about every damn position on the football field, he's even more dangerous. They will need to account for him in the secondary, of course, but also in the kick return game, where the Saints have shown weakness in the past. I'm not even an LSU homer and I still think Peterson is incredible. My other answers would probably be Larry Fitzgerald but considering his injury status, I expect him to be somewhat limited and not 100 percent.
We appreciate Dave answerhe acting these questions. I can't wait for the actual game on Sunday.
More from Revenge of the Birds:
- Cardinals vs Saints preview: New Orleans pleased with Rob Ryan's defense [podcast]
- Cardinals vs. Saints: 3 keys to an Arizona Week 3 win over New Orleans
- NFL picks, Week 3: Broncos, Vikings and Seahawks are unanimous selections
- NFL odds, Week 3: New Orleans open as more than touchdown favorites over Cardinals
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