Q: Another high powered offense that you will be facing Sunday. I guess it probably starts with Drew Brees. In your opinion, what makes him such a challenging guy to go up against?
MP: Yeah, I mean obviously this is an excellent offense. I think it really starts with Drew Brees, starts with Sean Payton and [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Pete] Carmichael, obviously, also at the helm. So, this offense has a wide variety of weapons that they do a great job of distributing the ball to in both the run and passing game. They do a great job from the standpoint of mixing personnel groups, formations, different looks that you see every week. They do a great job of running their concepts week-in, week-out, putting different people in excellent positions to make plays. I think Drew Brees does a great job of spreading the ball around and really finding the open receiver in the passing game or trying to get the right running play or right particular play called or audibled at the line of scrimmage, so I mean there is some of that in the offense also. I just think they do a phenomenal job of the system. They are a very fast-tempo offense from the standpoint they get the play in quickly; they are out of the huddle and at the line of scrimmage.
Q: Bill Belichick said yesterday that one of the things about Sean Payton as a play caller is that he makes you defend every inch of the field and looking at their pass receiving numbers, Jimmy Graham is followed by two running backs, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles and Thomas had nine catches against Chicago. Can you speak to the challenge of defending that offense and the way they incorporate their backs in particular in the passing game as well?
MP: Sure. I think Coach Belichick hit it right on the head. I mean they are obviously going to try to use every aspect of the field available to them to get the ball displaced and dispersed. The running backs do a great job in the passing game of getting out into space both with Sproles and Thomas. You know, out quickly into routes, they'll line them up in different formations, remove them from the backfield and really allow them to take advantage of the particular matchup or the amount of area that they will have out in the field to work a particular route combination that they have established for them. They do a great job with that. Obviously, the tight ends, the running backs, Graham and [Ben] Watson, obviously the wide receivers, I mean [Marques] Colston, [Lance] Moore, [Nick] Toon, [Kenny] Stills, [Robert] Meachem, all of them play, all of them get on the field and all are a crucial and critical part to the offense, so you really have to defend all of it and that's what makes it so difficult.
Q: As a follow-up, I know you haven't seen Drew Brees firsthand a lot in past years, but does he seem more patient as he's willing to take the yards underneath and the short yardage plays more this year? Last year, he had a pretty high interception number, just curious about his approach as a quarterback.
MP: Yeah, I think Drew, obviously, like I said before, does a great job of really trying to analyze a defense, see what you're in, try to get to the proper read and progression, find the open receiver and distribute the ball very well to everyone. I think he is definitely doing a great job of that this year and really finding the particular weakness of the defense where he knows he can exploit it and get a real positive play or an explosive play out of it.
Q: Brees does have so many targets that he can look to but a lot of the time, I mean you know he wants to throw to Jimmy Graham. You know that that's a dangerous option, what about him in particular makes him so hard to defend?
MP: Sure, I mean obviously, Jimmy Graham and Drew [Brees] have a real timing and relationship there where he does a great job of finding open areas, whether it is in zone coverage or working away from leverage in man coverage, he is a big target for Brees to throw the ball to. He has a big catch radius and is just a big-bodied person that gives you a difficult matchup when you are trying to put a defender on him or try to close a zone off where he can find that open space. So, I think they just do a good job, the two of them, of being on the same page in those particular situations where you know that's where the ball is going and that's the read for Drew [Brees] on that particular play, I think Jimmy [Graham] does a great job of finding the open zone or working away from leverage, whatever it is. There is obviously a good trust relationship there that they are going to be in the right spot and be on the same page.
Q:** I was just wondering if you could comment, it seems like Brandon Spikes had a pretty active game on Sunday, and just comment on his play, maybe what you expect from him going forward?
MP: Well, I think, obviously coming out of Sunday and trying to take a look at the game moving forward into New Orleans, we are just trying to improve on our performance. Obviously, we need to do better than that [performance against Cincinnati]. I obviously need to coach them better and we have to go execute better than that, but I think Brandon really tried to go out and play hard and played aggressive and did the things that we asked him to do. But, obviously, it's a situation where we all just have to do a better job and obviously try to do everything we can to come away with a victory. Obviously, we are pretty focused on New Orleans right now and moving forward to getting ready for the challenge that this offense really presents for us.
Q: With a weapon like Jimmy Graham, is he somebody you game plan around or game plan for specifically?
MP: Well, obviously I think the difficult thing that New Orleans presents from our perspective, and a positive for them on their perspective, is there's multiple ways that they can and do attack a defense. Like I said, Coach [Sean] Payton will be quick to try and find out and see exactly how you are playing everyone in their offense and really try to work the ball around to their appropriate targets. Jimmy Graham being one obviously, but [Marques] Colston and all of them, the running backs, [Pierre] Thomas, you know, [Darren] Sproles, [Lance] Moore. I think they do a great job, again, of getting the ball distributed to the open receivers. I think you just really have to try to defend a lot in all areas of what they are trying to do. I think if you focus attention on just one particular spot then they have plenty of weapons to go elsewhere.
Q: You mentioned earlier some of the precision passing game and once you get the ball out quick in New Orleans, is this a week where maybe being physical at the line of scrimmage takes on an increased emphasis for you guys?
MP: Well, certainly, I think you know, again, this offense is a very balanced offense with both the drop-back passing game along with the play-action game and plays where they move the quarterback around along with the run game. I think you really have to try and be able to defend all of those situations and make sure you are not in a particular situation where you are just trying to handle one aspect of the offense and get caught in a bad play with something else that they are doing. Certainly, we want to make sure we have all of our bases covered there and can't really let anybody free through the defense otherwise you are going to be in trouble. Drew [Brees] is going to be able to find them pretty quick, so, obviously, it is a big challenge for us to make sure we get all the skill players covered.
Q: There's been a lot of focus so far this year about the rookie wide receivers, but you've got more than your share of rookies on the defensive side, especially on the line with Joe Vellano and Chris Jones and Michael Buchanan. Just wondering, if you could talk to how they are coming along, what you see from them now that you didn't see from them earlier in the year?
MP: Well, I think obviously, we are well into the season here, so we have expectations for everybody on defense to continually get better and to work hard to improve. Obviously, those guys would fall into that category. I think they are trying to study and learn the game of football and have a better understanding of how the NFL works and operates. I think in general, again, we are just trying to get better and obviously, we've got to improve from last week as a defense as a whole and just try to do a better job than what we did. This week is going to be a big challenge for us. It will be a big challenge for the guys across the board, both up front and the back end, to be able to handle everything that New Orleans does. Certainly, their offensive line does a great job in both the run and pass protection, so that will be a big test for us up front to be able to see if we can hold up against what they are doing.