Monday, March 30, 2015

Birds: Can't count on weather to beat Saints

Dome teams often struggle outdoors, and the New Orleans Saints are no exception. The Eagles' offensive and defensive coordinators discounted the role of cold weather in winning this week's playoff game.

Birds: Can't count on weather to beat Saints

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (right) hands off to LeSean McCoy during the first half against the Lions. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (right) hands off to LeSean McCoy during the first half against the Lions. (Matt Rourke/AP)

Probably the biggest edge the Eagles have going into their Wild Card round playoff matchup with the New Orleans Saints this weekend is that the game is going to be played here, at night, in January. But there is little to be gained from Eagles' coaches emphasizing this publicly; they don't want their players gaining a false sense of security, and they don't want to say anything that could be used as a rallying point for the Saints.

So, the concept of a dome team struggling in weather seemed completely foreign to Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and defensive coordinator Bill Davis Tuesday, even though Shurmur was once the offensive coordinator of a dome team, the St. Louis Rams, and surely knows all the statistics by heart.

"For the most part, I don't get into that dome team/outdoor team," Shurmur said. "I think you play the teams. I'm not into that ... I was always better at English. I don't worry about (dome team statistics)."

Didja feel that way in St. Louis?

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"The year we didn't have Sam Bradford, it didn't matter where we played," Shurmur said. "After we got Sam, we played better."

Bottom line, Shurmur said, "we're playing the New Orleans Saints. We're going to get their best. We just happen to be playin' em at home, in front of our crowd."

Davis said: "I know a lot's been said about that. But playoff football is -- we're going to get the absolute best from one of the top offenses in the league. It doesn't matter if it's snowing, how cold it is. This is a group of pros, Hall of Fame pros, Pro Bowlers ... we expect to get their absolute best, no matter what the weather conditions, because of the mental toughness that they have."

Other nuggets from today's news conferences:

*"Rob Ryan's very aggressive in nature. He gets pressure on the quarterback. They create turnovers," Shurmur said when asked about the New Orleans defense. Shurmur said the Saints have compensated for injuries in their secondary by ramping up the pass rush.

*"Nick did a good job of standing in there" against Dallas's persistent pass rush Sunday night, Shurmur said.

*Sean Payton and Drew Brees are "really one and the same person, they've worked so much together," Davis said."That's the key to great offensive football, when the quarterback has the same understanding as the offensive coordinator, or the head coach, in this case. Then they play very efficiently, and that's what this team does."

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