NEW ORLEANS - All that stands between the Eagles and the end of their three-game losing streak is a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback who last season threw for more yards (5,476) than anyone in the history of the NFL.
"You have a guy who makes quick decisions, and most of the time, they're the right decisions. That makes it tough, playing against him," Eagles middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans said the other day, talking about New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Brees is why the Saints, 13-3 a year ago, remain dangerous, even in the wake of the Bountygate chaos, even while their defense threatens to set a league record for yardage allowed. Last month, Brees threw a touchdown pass in his 48th successive game, breaking Johnny Unitas' NFL record. Even though the Saints are 2-5, Brees has thrown 20 touchdown passes against just eight interceptions.
Asked what makes the New Orleans offense unique, Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said: "The quarterback. The way they attack you - they're always going downfield and they're passing the ball a lot. They're trying to keep you on your heels, and they're an attacking offense."
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said it's going to be incumbent on the back end to keep Brees' receivers covered until the pass rush can get there. Brees has been sacked 13 times this season, not a lot when you consider he has thrown 315 passes. DRC was asked what Denver did last week to slow down Brees, holding him to a season-low 213 passing yards and a 52.4 percent completion percentage.
"[The Saints] do tend to make plays when you're sitting down in zones, just picking away at zones. If you get in and just challenge 'em, I think it makes [Brees] hold the ball a little more," he said.
Rodgers-Cromartie said getting off a good start, after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter last week at home against Atlanta, will be important.
"It's a mood swing. Get a couple three-and-outs, stop 'em on third downs, I think the offense gets excited . . . try to put the ball in the offense's hands as much as we can."
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the NFL voided the contract extension signed by suspended Saints coach Sean Payton, because it contained a clause that would let Payton walk away if general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended, fired, or decided to leave the organization. Schefter said the league didn't like the precedent that clause would set, and it voided the deal before Loomis was suspended eight games for his part in the bountygate scandal.
This could make Payton a free agent at the end of the season, something Eagles fans picked up on, oh, about two-tenths of a second after Schefter's report. But it isn't clear Payton isn't bound to his current, pre-extension contract through 2013, since he is not getting paid to not coach this season.
And Fox's Jay Glazer said Sunday that Payton told him, "I absolutely plan to remain a Saint."
Loud and clear?
The Eagles, whose patchwork offensive line will include rookie Dennis Kelly instead of Danny Watkins (ankle) for the second week in a row, practiced with piped-in noise twice this past week. Usually they only do that once. "We haven't had it in a while [Sept. 23 at Arizona] so I just wanted to make sure we got [it covered]. That's a loud place," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of the Superdome. "That's one of the louder places in the league, and I just wanted to make sure the guys are comfortable with it and confident with it."
David Sims might see his first NFL snaps at safety; Nate Allen missed the Friday and Saturday practices with a hamstring problem. Andy Reid said Allen would be a game-day decision. After Saturday's practice, Sims said: "I feel a little bit better. I still need some more film to watch so I can get everything down, so I have no mistakes out there" . . .
Damaris Johnson, back returning punts with Mardy Gilyard (hamstring) out, grew up in a New Orleans suburb and has good memories of scoring a pair of touchdowns in winning a state championship game for Destrehan High at the Superdome. "Our whole community was there. We had, like, 30,000 people there supporting us." There are quite a few Eagles fans in New Orleans, but probably not 30,000 . . .
The Eagles released linebacker Jason Williams to make room for defensive tackle Mike Patterson, officially added to the 53-man roster Saturday. Patterson, returning from offseason surgery to untangle blood vessels in his brain, said he expects to play a few snaps Monday night, probably not a lot more.