It's hate week as the Falcons prepare to do battle with their divisional rival New Orleans Saints in the season opener. We exchanged Q&As with The Saints Nation and neither of us pulled any punches. Here are our questions for The Saints Nation and their answers. Also, head over to the Saints Nation site and read my answers to their questions. As a primer, don't forget to read Matt's "Hate Week" post.
Grits Blitz: I've heard rumors that the Saints are going to celebrate the return of Sean Payton by dropping Vicodin from the rafters of the Super Dome. Any confirmation on this?
Grits Blitz: The Saints gave up the most yards and second most points in the NFL last year. What changes should we expect to see from Rob Ryan?
The Saints Nation: Most people refer to how bad the D was last year compared to the rest of the 2012 league and I'm always pleasantly surprised the fact it was THE WORST IN NFL HISTORY IN YARDS ALLOWED often gets a pass. Historically bad somehow slides under the radar compared to the "worst last year". I'll take it. As far as Ryan, I mean, it can't be any worse right? They can break their own record I guess… But the hope is a scheme change that better fits the personnel (maybe?) and good coaching (maybe?) will help things. Spagnuolo was a dumpster fire in every way so addition by subtraction at the very least will yield a little benefit. But if I'm being honest the defense will struggle again. Hopefully get more pressure and be better at stopping the run, though.
Grits Blitz: The Saints have sustained multiple injuries on defense and the season hasn't even started. How big of a concern is this and who needs to step up on defense?
The Saints Nation: Will Smith's move to OLB was one I despised, and the Saints traded for Parys Haralson who is better at that spot than Smith. So that loss is fine. Kenyon Coleman is 34, so the Saints have gotten younger with these injuries. I'm fine with it, it's time to play young guys. The Victor Butler injury hurts worse. OLB is very thin so that's the spot the Saints can't afford a single injury.
Grits Blitz: Which Saints DB drew the short straw and will have to face Julio Jones and how big of a mis-match do you think that will be?
The Saints Nation: The starters are Jabari Greer and Keenan Lewis. Lewis is the high ticket free agent from the Steelers. Greer tends to line up against Roddy and struggle. That means Keenan will face Julio. Based on how he fared against Andre Johnson in preseason, I'm worried.
Grits Blitz: What kind of an impact will the poor tipping Drew Brees displayed this off-season have on the Saints offense?
The Saints Nation: It was a TO GO order!! Actually, while I think what he did was fine, I personally would've tipped more. But there's gray area socially on take out. But anyway, don't count if 5 INTs again. Maybe 5 TDs.
Grits Blitz: If you could pick one One Direction song to be the new theme of the Saints, what would it be (and why)?
Grits Blitz: Does Sean Payton being back cure all ills for the Saints? How confident are you that this Saints team will make it back to the playoffs?
Grits Blitz: When the dust settles in week one, what do you expect the final score to be in this game?
The Saints Nation: Remember when dreads were cool? Roddy White and Asante Samuel set that hair style back significantly. I think the male pattern baldness off between those two, while sporting dreads, will be the "game within the game" to watch. Riveting stuff. Saints 31 Falcons 20. Remember the Saints were at their worst last year, Falcons at their best, and we still beat you in this building a season ago. I'm glad this opener is in Nola.