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Kristian Garic

Talk sports and more with Kristian and T-Bob Hebert on "Double Coverage!" 

Weeknights 8pm-Midnight

Twitter: @kristiangaric
Email: kristian@wwl.com


Kristian: Stafford can beat you with his arm and his legs

Lions Quarterback Mathew Stafford made his NFL debut in 2009 as the number one draft pick that year.

You remember that game right? The Saints dominated the young signal caller out of Georgia. The Black and Gold D forced a couple of turnovers in a route of the Lions 45-27. Stafford is a different quarterback in his 8th season.

"He's a former number one pick, with a lot of experience and great talent. He can make all the throws, but this year he's done a little more with his feet. We can't let him beat us that way," explained defensive end Cameron Jordan.

Several of the Saints defenders I talked to this week were quick to point out; Stafford is not afraid to put the football in extremely tight windows.

"You can tell he believes in his arm strength there is no doubt about it" Jordan added.

He has also showed his maturity with seven come from behind wins in the fourth quarter this season.

​This weekend the NFL is allowing players across the league to wear cleats supporting their foundations or charity of their choice.

Twenty Saints players will be rocking unique cleats that will likely be auctioned off to the public at some point to help support their charity. This is a part of 18 months of collaboration between the NFL and the players.

Wow this is welcome news, the NFL is allowing the players to finally show some personality. Aside from the great cause, this is needed more in the NFL. The league has gotten a tad to corporate in my opinion.
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Brees: Lions are playing complimentary football

Saints Quarterback Drew Brees stopped by Sportstalk with Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia ahead of Sunday's clash with the Lions. Brees said Detroit is a complimentary team, and talked about the Lions match up.

"This is the third year in row we've played these guys," Brees said. "They're a really physical team, they have guys in the secondary with real good ball skills. They mix it up, they have the ability to pressure you. It's pretty mixed as far as what they do. The defense has been opportunistic, they've played complimentary football, and done a nice job finishing out games. Defensively they have some stuff we have to plan for." The Saints have lost two straight to Detroit and could ill-afford to drop a third in a row on Sunday.

The Saints rushing attack is quietly becoming a big part of their offensive success, so Brees explained what the rushing attack does for the offense in getting after opposing defenses. "When you make teams have to defend the run, it opens up the offense. I think the personnel we rotate in and out of the game is something that works to our advantage." The Saints are a top 10 rushing offense now, averaging 115 yards per game on the ground.

At halftime of Sunday's game, the Saints will honor the 50 greatest members to ever put on a Saints uniform. Brees is obviously one of the 50, and number one, by most of sound mind. He says it will be a really cool experience for the fans to see some of the historical Saints players on the field at the same time. "Pretty amazing... to get all these guys together at the same time is really neat. I think it's going to be really special for all the fans that have been in the stands since 1967. To put them all on the same field at the same time will be a pretty special moment," Brees added.

The Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert and Duece McAllister will be two of the 50 honored at halftime, and McAllister says it will be neat and special but if the Saints don't win on Sunday that will be the bigger story line.

To hear Brees' entire interview with Bobby and Deke, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Drew Brees on "QB to QB"

Photo via USA Today
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Kristian: Myles Brennan's father says he hasn't de-committed from LSU

As reported earlier today, star LSU recruit QB Myles Brennan said on Twitter that his committment to LSU is in a state of transition, but Brennan's father Owen joined Kristian and T-Bob on "Double Coverage" tonight to say there's more to than the story than that.

According to Owen Brennan, Myles hasn't "de-committed to LSU, instead he's keeping his options open... I want to make that perfectly clear. He is not decommitted from LSU. Listen, there is no denying there has been nobody more committed to the LSU program certainly over the last four months than Myles. I mean, he has forgone phone calls, offers, visits; he has done nothing and going nowhere but to LSU, Baton Rouge and Tiger Stadium on Saturday night. I mean his commitment is undeniable," the senior Brennan explained. 

In that Twitter post, Myles seemed to suggest the transitional nature of LSU's program under Coach O was reason for him to keep options available. "You're in a transition period, in the last few days, over the last 24 hours, LSU has made it very clear that they are trying to formulate a backup plan. In the event that things don't go exactly the way they want to go, that they don't get the coordinator and players that they want. They want to be able to formulate a backup plan, and that's exactly how what was explained to Myles," Brennan continued. 

"He's been very mature about it," Brennan said, and says Myles thought, "'You know what, maybe I need to take the same course of action and formulate a backup plan.' He's not decommitting from the university but he said in the uncertainty of the this transition period maybe he needs to do the same thing in the event that maybe things don't fall in place the way in has been proposed or the way it has been discussed. And you know what, if it does, there's no one more committed to the University of Louisiana." 

To hear the entire interview with Owen Brennan, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Owen Brennan on "Double Coverage"
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Kristian: Saints are aware of "The Comeback Cats"

The Detroit Lions (7-4) come to town Sunday to battle the Saints (5-6), and New Orleans is well aware of the Lions' comeback ability this season.

"This is a good team that has been in a lot of close games, much like we have, and they’re one of two teams in the history of the league that have come from behind in seven games and won, and the last team being the Colts in ’09 that Jim (Caldwell) coached," Coach Sean Payton explained.  

The Lions are particularly adept at playing from behind and winning, in large part as a result of how well QB Matthew Stafford is playing, explains Payton. "Everyone’s involved. There’s a lot of different touches, not to one specific player. You see the tight ends involved. You see him getting it to his running backs. I think he’s playing awfully well. The other thing that’s concerning is when he gets outside of the pocket, because a lot of his big plays come then." The Lions are atop the NFC north, and could arguably be one of the hottest teams in the league right now

Yesterday a report from ESPN surfaced that WR Brandin Cooks could be growing frustrated with the way he's been used in the Saints offense. Cooks wasn't targeted and didn't register a catch in Sunday's lopsided win over the Rams. Coach Payton doesn't seem to be concerned about the report. "He’s a fantastic player and a great man and we have a great relationship. It’s hard when you do have a game with a lot of numbers like that and a guy like Brandin who works his tail off doesn’t have a target or a touch. That can happen. But I would say that’s rare. He’s been explosive this season. He’s certainly a primary target for us in what we do and I think that’s evident," Payton chirped when he was asked about the report.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Cooks targeted early and often this week against Detroit. Quarterback Drew Brees also said he wasn't worried about Cooks being frustrated.

 At first blush I like the way the Saints match up against the Lions.  Last year the Lions came into the Superdome and beat the Saints 35-27 despite a second half rally from Drew Brees and the Saints.  I do however expect a lot of points in this game on Sunday, with two great quarterbacks taking aim on leaky secondaries.  The Saints filed the first injury report of the week. You can see it below. 

Did Not Practice
T Terron Armstead Knee/Quad)
RB Mark Ingram (Toe)
RB Daniel Lasco (Hamstring)

Limited Practice
G Senio Kelemete (Hip)
TE John Phillips (Ankle)
T Zach Strief (Knee)

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Kristian: The Saints are a playoff team! Yeah, you heard me right!

Before you roll your eyes or shout me down, hear me out.

The Saints 5-6 record wouldn’t qualify them for the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t a playoff-caliber team. Heck, the Saints might not even make the playoffs this year because of three close losses in games the team could have won.  However, the Saints are the team that nobody wants to see get in the tournament. 

New Orleans is very dangerous! You heard me right. There is reason for my optimism, I'm not just drinking Black and Gold koolaid.  The Saints offense can score with anyone - it’s the best offense in the league, and the defense is markedly improved.  Over the last three games, the Saints defense is top five in the NFL in total D.  Sure they give up some points, but they have an ability to stiffen when they need to, and that’s a sign of a pretty solid defense. The special teams unit will be the ultimate demise of this team, and could have already foiled a playoff run. 

I”ve seen enough football to know what a playoff team looks like, and this team is of that caliber.  I was one of the more cynical media members about this team when they were 0-3, and here they are at 5-6.  I like this team's resiliency and moxie, I like their ability to bounce back from setbacks, and maybe most importantly, I like their make up in the locker room.  

“I think this team feels that we’re better than our record shows. At the end of the day, we are what we are. We’re 5-6 and we put ourselves in this situation, but this team still has a chance to do something special,” Saints offensive tackle Zach Strief said.  Special? Yes indeed, it would be special just to make the playoffs at this point for New Orleans after starting 0-3. This brings me to a greater point.

Those that are calling for Sean Payton to be run out of town? Yeah, you need to stop. I was originally falling in that trap, but not anymore.  After reflection and deep thinking, I feel like this could be one of Sean Payton’s best coaching jobs in his 10 year tenure as the Saints head coach.  The Saints lacked depth, experience and frankly, talent, but he’s somehow engineered impressive wins over Seattle and Los Angeles, and a near victory over the Denver Broncos.  He’s the right guy to lead the resurrection and return to the glory years. 

If nothing else, Payton created this mess, so let him see if he can clean it up.  I think he can and will.  If the Saints miss out on the post-season this year, that won’t be the end of the line. The Saints will be a playoff team NEXT season, that I would be willing to bet on.

Wanna see it through? I am!

Photo via USA Today
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Brees: Key to Saints win over Rams was execution

The Saints tuned up the Los Angeles Rams for a good old fashioned butt kicking 49-21 on Sunday.  QB Drew Brees certainly was familiar with the schemes of Gregg Williams from his days as the Saints DC, but ultimately it boiled down to executing, Brees explained.  

“Gregg is doing a lot of different stuff there than he was here. That’s a salty defense, they are tops in the league in points given up.  The’ve given up less than 14 points in the last three games in a row. We knew the type of defense this was coming in.  We knew we were going to have our opportunities in the run game, we needed to execute them in the pass game... it was a protection game, and we were able to do that today.”  The Saints ran up 555 yards of total offense including 28 of 36, 310 yards and 4 TDs from Brees in the win. 

The Saints and Brees understood the importance of being more physical than the Rams. “We talked about that a lot, we knew it was going to be a hit them in the mouth and come back for more.  We knew it was going to be a game that we shouldn’t look at the scoreboard,” Brees added.  The Saints were certainly the more physical team rushing for over 200 yards and constantly changing the line of scrimmage. 

The Saints even resulted to the bag of tricks in the win against the Rams, calling a wide receiver double pass from Willie Snead to RB Tim Hightower for a 50 yard scoring play.  “That was impressive! We practiced that 3 times doing the week, and today all four of those throws looked the same. I need to take a page out of that book,” Brees said jokingly. 

Now the Saints turn their attention to Sunday’s match up with the 7-4 NFC North-leading Detroit Lions. “Detroit is playing really good football.. we know the challenge ahead of us, we have to be ready for it,” Brees added.  The Saints are two games back of the Atlanta Falcons with 5 games remaining.  Atlanta is 7-4 on the season.

To hear Brees' full interview, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Drew Brees on "Monday Morning Quarterback"

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Payton announces Saints will hire special teams coach Kevin O'Dea

Special teams has been less than special for the Saints this season, and now Coach Sean Payton has made a move aimed at improving his staff. Tonight on the Saints Coaches Show, Payton told Bobby Hebert the team will bring in another special teams coach - Kevin O’Dea, formerly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

“This is an ego-less business, a guy like Kevin is a big hire for us. He was fired up, he got up in today and started putting in a plan. And coaching a kicker is his specialty.. he's a solid coach.," Payton said. He also pointed out that O'Dea will have an impact not just on the kicking unit but also in the return game. "I know you will see the return game improve. I think Kevin is going to help us in that area, and we’re glad we have him on board,” he said.

The Black and Gold have struggled in that arena, costing them three games this season, “You’re fighting for every blade of grass,” Payton explained. 

The Saints are looking to rebound against Los Angeles Sunday after losing two straight games. “I think it’s gonna be important to play well at home in this two game stretch.  I know what we have in front of us in a couple of weeks. We have to focus on Los Angeles and play our best game of the year,” Payton said of the game coming up this week against the Rams. ​

The season is on the line this Sunday against LA! 

Photo via USA Today
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Kristian: Saints to add special teams coach

​The Saints special teams has been far from special this season, and according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the Saints are going to add another coach to help Greg McMahon and Stan Kwan.  

The report didn't specify who would be the new assistant, but Sean Payton acknowledged in his Friday press conference that the special teams unit has to improve.  Despite a poor defense for a vast majority of Payton's time as the head coach, special teams has been perhaps an even bigger eyesore for the Saints.  

Kicker Will Lutz has had five extra points or field goals blocked or deflected this season.  The Saints coverage units are OK; the return units rank near the bottom of the league.  
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Kristian: Saints LB Michael Mauti gets season-ending surgery

The Saints will lose another key player to injured reserve this year.  

Special teams captain LB Michael Mauti will undergo surgery to correct ulcerative colitis, ending his season.  Mauti had experienced weight loss and symptoms for a couple of weeks and is expected to make a full recovery.  

The Saints have been decimated by injuries this season losing several key players either for the season for extended periods of time.  The Black and Gold are turning around quickly on a short week gearing up for Thursday night against the Panthers.

Several players were on the injury report.  RB Daniel Lasco (Hamstring) LT Terron Armstead (knee) CB Delvin Breaux (fibula) all missed practice today.  I wouldn't read too much into Breaux missing on a short week - I anticipate him playing against the Panthers. P Thomas Morstead (left ankle), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad) LB Stephone Anthony (hamstring), DT David Onyemata (knee) and RB Travaris Cadet (toe) were all limited in practice today. 

The Saints mental toughness and character will be tested this week after losing to Denver in the fashion they did and have to turn around quickly and try to get back to .500.  New Orleans would be firmly in the mix at 5-5 with 6 games remaining if they beat the Panthers, also it would assuredly keep the Panthers out of the playoff picture and secure an all important divisional sweep.  The Saints season is on the line in Charlotte on Thursday night.  New Orleans beat Carolina earlier this season 41-38 in the Superdome.

Photo via USA TODAY  
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Brees: Saints have to bounce back; we know what we're capable of

The Saints' loss to the Denver Broncos is depressing personified.  I’ve never seen a team lose a game on a 2 point conversion at the end of the game. The Saints did, however, against the Broncos 25-23, after Denver leapt off the line on a would be go ahead extra point, blocked it and took it back for 2 points of their own.

Should the league take that play out of the game entirely? “It’s a legal play, it’s a pretty incredible feat of athleticism.  It was one of those where you have to time it up perfect and make that play.  That guy made a great play. It’s unfortunate that play made the difference,” Brees explained.  

The 2 point play came just seconds after the Saints tied the game on a thrilling touchdown pass from QB Drew Brees to WR Brandin Cooks. “Just felt like that we had them playing low, and it he made a great play on the ball,” Brees added.  It was sheer excitement and jubilation in the Superdome at that moment - only to be squashed minutes later.  

The Saints typically don’t take silver linings from losses, but against Denver it proved something to Brees and the team.  “We know what we’re capable of if we execute.  The defense played great, they got two turnovers, we turned it over four times. I felt like we had our moments of putting together good drives and made some plays.”  Rookie Michael Thomas had a rough afternoon, fumbling the ball twice.  Brees says Thomas will be fine and bounce back  “Keep your head up! I’m going to need you down the stretch. I’m not worried about Mike he’s going to be fine,” Brees told Thomas during the game. 

Whats next for the Saints?  A quick turn around this Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers on the road. “That’s probably a good thing, you can’t wait to get back on the field fast enough. We’ll put together a good plan for these guys,” Brees said.  Thursday will make or break the season for the Saints.  ​

To hear the rest of the interview, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Drew Brees on "Monday Morning Quarterback"
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