Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints from 2006 to 2008. He'll face his former boss Sean Payton when the Bills travel to New Orleans on Sunday.
Payton is back from a year-long suspension stemming from the bounty scandal and the Saints are 5-1 on the season. New Orleans is coming off a 30-27 loss to New England in week six and the Saints had their bye week last Sunday, so Payton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had extra time to prepare for the Bills.
The Daily Messenger asked Kristian Garic, the Saints sideline reporter for WWL Saints Radio, some questions about this year's Saints.
Q: How significant was it to get Sean Payton back on the sidelines?
A: Extremely, you can see a sharpened sense of focus on the little things that it takes to win games this season with Payton back on the sidelines. He's a great game manager, knowing exactly what to call and how to make adjustments on the fly during the games. Something the team lacked a season ago. Payton has an incredible ability to communicate the exact message to his team during the game week as to what it will take for them to win the particular game in front of them.
Q: Why is the Saints' defense so much better in 2013?
A: I think a few reasons here; first and foremost just a fresh start. They've bought into Rob Ryan's scheme. Last season, Steve Spagnuolo's scheme just wasn't the right fit for the players on the roster. Ryan's schemes are much more sound and the players love it. He allows the players to have a little more input into the game plan. That didn't happen last season under Spags.
Q: Is there any way to slow down Jimmy Graham?
A: Yeah, hope he doesn't play (kidding). Look at the what the Patriots did to him two weeks ago. However not everyone will put their best corner on him and be able to pull it off like Aqib Talib did. Not to mention not every team has a corner as solid as Talib. Ultimately he's a matchup nightmare for just about any team in the league, Drew (Brees) will throw him the ball no matter how well he's covered, because he's so big, can outjump just about anyone and he's going to come down with the ball more often than not. The teams that have had the most success against Graham have been really physical with him.
Q: Who is a player on the Saints that Bills fans may not have heard of, but will have a big impact on Sunday's game?
Page 2 of 2 - A: Hard to answer because the Saints have a lot of "household" names at this point, but a player to watch will be rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro. He plays just about every position imaginable on the defensive side of the football. He reminds me a lot of Troy Polamalu. He just has a knack for finding the football and making good things happen when he gets there.
Q: The Saints come away with a win on Sunday if …
A: If they show up? I know that sounds arrogant but on paper the Bills are overmatched in just about every area of the game. If the Saints allow the Bills to establish the run, Buffalo has a shot. The Saints want to turn this into a track meet and force Thad Lewis to match Drew Brees point for point, and in all likelihood that won't happen. I like the Saints by 10 or more points.
Follow Kristian Garic on Twitter at KristianGaric1 and Dan Goldman at MPN_DanGoldman