I recently had the pleasure of catching up with one of our good friends and former writers here at the Toro Times, Josh Wilson. Josh is now editor for the FanSided page Sixer Sense which is dedicated to the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, but is still an avid NFL fan.
And it just so happens that the team Josh grew up rooting for and still follows is hosting the Houston Texans this Sunday, the New Orleans Saints.
I asked Josh several questions about the team the Texans would be facing, as well as what his thoughts were on several Texans issues, such as Arian Foster‘s injury and Brian Hoyer being named the starter;
"RG: The third preseason game is often called a dress rehearsal as teams usually have their top guys play more than any other preseason game to get prepared for the start of the regular season.With that in mind, who are you most interested in seeing the Saints get involved Sunday?JW: I’m definitely excited to see Drew Brees under center, in the closest we’ve had to a real game scenario in a long time. Additionally, I’m excited to see him throwing to his targets, particularly Brandin Cooks. Cooks was largely known as a “second option,” type of guy last year, but after trading away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, this could be the year he’s the main target.I’m also excited to see Benjamin Watson adapt to his new role as the leading tight end now that Graham is gone. I’ve thought Watson was a good player in a bad situation with the shadow of Graham over him, but this gives him a chance to show us what he’s really got.RG: The Saints seem to realize Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger. They decided to part with playmaker tight end Jimmy Graham and in exchange received a top ranked center in Max Unger. They then drafted tackle Andrus Peat with their first pick in what I think was a great draft haul.JW: Do you see these moves as positives for the Saints as they now field a much tougher offensive line?I remember vividly the day Graham got traded. Tough day, for all Saints fans. The young kid we saw explode with talent early in his career was — for the first time — not going to be a Saint. To make matters worse, he was moved to a team that largely has given us trouble over the past few years — the Seattle Seahawks.The move to bring in Unger is one that takes immense football understanding. The offensive line let teams rush Brees way too often last year. Due to this, many third downs and even fourth downs were often not converted.Don’t get me wrong, I love Graham. Wish we kept him. But teams have figured out how to defend him, and really, it’s simple. It’s just a double team. Graham was not producing well, and neither was the offensive line. Hopefully this offensive line can now keep Brees out of trouble, and also pave the way for C.J. Spiller and Mark Ingram.RG: With the revamped line how do you see the C.J. Spiller and Mark Ingram combination performing this year, and will they lean more heavily on the run after dedicating so much money to the spot?JW: I sure hope they lean on the run. I’m curious to see how they balance all of their offensive talents. They have two great running backs, as well as one of history’s all time greatest quarterbacks.The balance is something important, but with Brees aging — something Saints fans seem to be afraid to acknowledge — I hope to see a 65/35% split, with a running majority. I would count short screen passes to Ingram and Spiller as running plays as well, something the Saints have done well and something Brees is known for.RG: In round three the Saints brought in quarterback Garrett Grayson. Do you believe he will be the guy when Drew does decide to hang it up, and if so, how long do you see the man who helped revitalize this franchise staying in the league?JW: I don’t think he’s the “guy.” I think he may be the temporary replacement until they find another franchise guy. I could definitely be wrong, however, and admittedly don’t know much about Grayson. I’m curious to see how Brees mentors and treats him.I see Brees in the league for another five years. I think these next two are his last chance at contending for a title.RG: A completely unrelated question….how does it feel that Sean Payton lost a year of coaching from BountyGate, because “ignorance is no excuse,” yet Bill Belichick didn’t receive so much as a slap on the wrist in DeflateGate?JW: I’m sure you expected a biased answer, and that’s what you’re going to get. The BountyGate was one of our first glimpses at the faults of the NFL, in my opinion. The discipline system is extremely random and sporadic, as shown by the one year suspension Payton got with his first offense, and the minimal punishment Belichick got for DeflateGate.I do understand though, Bill wasn’t as involved as Payton was allegedly in BountyGate. Still, I’m not the biggest fan of Roger Goodell whatsoever, largely due to his inconsistency.RG: As for the Texans, being that you covered them in the genesis of the quarterback battle, what is your take on Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett? Also, did the right guy win the job?JW: I’ve been “team Mallett,” from the beginning. I like his youth, and don’t like the inconsistency Hoyer has shown throughout his career. Still, age is important, and leadership is important.I’m going to bring up a point about Hard Knocks, and say that regarding this QB competition, my favorite part was seeing a real, raw look in at head coach Bill O’Brien delivering the news to both guys. We know that these meeting happen in sports, but it’s not often we get an inside look like that. I appreciated that a lot.RG: Who are you most excited to see on the field testing the Saints this weekend?JW: The entire Texans defense. This matchup is one of the best defenses against the best offenses. I can’t wait to see some of the defensive starters looking to take a jab at Brees. Obviously, I’m hoping Brees can scramble and stay safe, but still, it’s something I’m looking forward to.RG: What is your opinion of the revamped receiving corps for Houston and can DeAndre Hopkins excel as the number one guy in this group?JW: None of these guys are Andre Johnson, I’ll say that. But I believe that DeAndre Hopkins has an opportunity to get his shot here. That’s the case with a lot of guys, seemingly for the Texans this year.Cecil Shorts was also a good pickup, and I think he’ll do better thanRG: How bad is the loss of Arian Foster and how do you expect to see Alfred Blue do?JW: I don’t think the Foster loss is as bad as people have made it out to be. Blue is ready for his time, and this gives him the perfect opportunity. Don’t expect him to be as good as Foster, but don’t forget, Foster is aging. It’s time for Blue to step up.RG: Lastly how do you expect the game to play out and who wins?JW: While I’d like to say the Saints would win, I don’t think that’s what will happen. I think the Texans are in the right mindset. This season is an important one for them, and they are clearly all set for the regular season, with a mindset of going out and winning, even in the preseason.Not that the Saints don’t carry this, but I think the Texans have more of a reason to get momentum going.I’m taking — reluctantly — the Texans on Sunday 20-17."