<span> <span style="">Can you talk about the play of Early Doucet?</span>
"We're just excited about his progress and what he continues to do for us. I think the one thing is, it's so hard with young guys to know what you're going to get and what they're going to be like on the big stage until you get there. We've been able to bring him along slowly because of the other guys. Steve Breaston has really emerged over the last year and a half, but at the same time there were still a lot of question marks because of that. With "Q" (Anquan Boldin) not being able to play and him getting his opportunity the last couple weeks, I think we've all been pleasantly surprised at how he's responded on the big stage, none bigger than last week, knowing how much we needed him. We were going to call on him with the situation we were going to see without "Q" playing. Obviously we saw results. He came up huge and made plays. It's fun to see him grow and continue to gain more and more confidence, starting to play the game the way we all thought he could, starting to play fast. He's starting to be able to use all of his skill set, all the football skill sets. Early on, I think he struggled with that a little bit, because he would second-guess himself. I've seen a lot of confidence and a lot of growing, comfort in what we're asking him to do and the results have been really, really good at the times we've called on him this year and I only expect it to get better."
How does the offensive output of the Cardinals the past two years compare to your time in St. Louis?
"I think we're built differently. I think we have similar capabilities. The thing about that team in St. Louis is that we were so explosive and (had) so many weapons and we were so consistent. I think that is where we'll always separate that team I think from any other offense. We were so consistent year-in and year-out, putting up the numbers that we put up. It was what was so special about it. We had times where we felt unstoppable. We haven't sustained it, I think, the same way as that team in St. Louis. That's what separates us or separated that team in St. Louis from everybody else and we've seen some great offenses in this league, obviously the one you guys watch every week, the New England Patriots of a couple years ago, the Indianapolis Colts, at times. Again, I think is what's special is we put up 500 points three straight years and had the playmakers that we did. That separates us. We were able to do it year-in and year-out. That's what we're working towards here. We definitely haven't achieved that or aren't close to this point."
The Saints haven't been to the playoffs since 2006. You guys had your run last year where you had to win some playoff games on the road. How much does it help you to come to an environment like the Superdome to play a team like the Saints that has played so well this season?
"It's so hard to say, because year-to-year things can be extremely different. Last year, the one thing about our team was we were a young team, but I don't think we knew any better. That helped us out. We didn't get caught up too much. We didn't let anything faze us. We didn't get overwhelmed with too much. Our guys stayed loose and I think that was the reason we were able to have the success we had. There were a lot of guys that hadn't been in that situation. This year, we've been there before and I think the key for us is to try to stay loose even though expectations are different. That's what I think was a little easier for us last year was that nobody expected anything from us, so we could kind of be us. Young guys could be free and loose and it wasn't going to be like you blew the opportunity because no one expected it. It's different this year in that can we keep that same attitude? Can we play the same way even though there are expectations? I think that's the difference from last year to this year and is really going to be a telltale sign for how far we can go is can we play as loose and play as well as we did during that run last year, which is hard to do and it's going to be very hard to do in that place against that team, but that's what makes the playoffs great."
When you see the Saints defense on film, what do you see?
"I see a Gregg Williams defense. I see a defense that gives you a lot of different looks and that tries to keep you off balance. You don't just line up and get what you're going to get. He's going to change it up and I see some good veteran guys, some good athletes, guys that understand how to play the game and I think that's what has always made Coach Williams' defenses so good over when they have been good, it's because he has those right pieces of smart players that understand what he's trying to do, that understand the weaknesses of things when they do certain things and that's what I see from this defense. I see a smart group of guys, playmakers that fly around, are able to change things up, to game plan differently and execute those game plans really, really well. I think that's why, feeding off of that offense, why they've had so much success this year."
What has Beanie Wells meant to this football team this year?
"He's been huge for us. There's a certain air about having him out there, what he brings to the table and his explosiveness and downhill running that excites everybody in the locker room. Every time he touches it, he can explode through the line, he can go into the secondary and make a big play. Those guys are rare to have--the toughness and breakaway ability he has is something that we haven't had around here for a while. I think he's really added an excitement to our running game and a possibility in our running game that we haven't had probably since I've been here. He's stepped up to the challenges in every situation. He just seems to get better and better and more comfortable and more explosive as the season goes along."
Given what you guys accomplished last year, did you guys think you got the respect you deserved after your performance last year?
"No, but again, what you have to understand about us being here, you guys all know the perception of the Cardinals. I don't think one year is enough to change a perception, especially a perception that has been there for so long. I think that's what you see. Last year our division was weak. We won a weak division. We got on a roll. We played well in the playoffs, but we just got hot at the right time. This year, I think we got better and more consistent. I just don't think we've done it enough and consistently enough to get the respect we deserve, but at the same time I completely understand it. I'm not going to be one to jump onto anybody's bandwagon after one year, so I think that's what we're dealing with. I think we know where what we're capable of (doing). I think there are a lot of guys in this locker room that are really, really good football players and deserve more recognition than we got, but recognition comes along with the whole organization playing at a high level. It comes with consistency, doing it year-in and year-out. It changes the perception of the organization and when you do that, you start getting the benefit of the doubt. I don't think we're there yet. I don't think we've necessarily earned that yet. Last year we were 9-7. We played well in the playoffs, but we were 9-7. This year, I think we came back and were more consistent but had stretches where we had three real good games and then threw a stinker in there. That what holds us back, the New England's and Indianapolis's are teams that show up week-in and week-out and you know that you're going to get a battle. Very seldom do they have a game that is a rollover for the other team. We're not there yet and that's why I don't think we have the respect we deserve. I think it has to be earned and we still have work in that area."
Were you attacking the middle of the field against Green Bay so much because you had Anquan Boldin out or because of something you saw?
"I don't know. People have said that. I guess when we put together the game plan and watched film I never to myself, 'well they're really weak in the middle of the field.' I guess it was just understanding their schemes, seeing how they were going to play, having a good game plan to attack (them). What they did, what we'd seen up to that point, they didn't change. It was what made them so good all year long. They did that against us, which was expected and I just think we had guys make plays, we had a good scheme, we attacked where we felt we could attack and I really didn't think about it so much as that we have to get these match-ups and try to do it and when we got those, we were able to exploit it and guys we able to make big plays, huge plays for us, both in the run and pass game. I think that's why we were so effective as opposed to saying that's what we need to do."
Are the defenses being undervalued in this matchup?
"That's what everybody wants to talk about. A lot of fans that aren't necessarily purists or enjoy the ins-and-outs of the game want to see games like we played against the Packers with a lot of points and lot of excitement. I think a lot of times when you have two high-flying offenses, that gets to be the recognition throughout the week and the headlines and that's what it's going to be. I unusually come to find out in those kinds of games that it comes down to the basics in terms of who's going to win and who loses. Yes, I don't think that the defenses get the recognition, but I think that's common. Back when we were in St. Louis and termed the "Greatest Show on Turf," we always had a good defense and a defense that created turnovers and really fed into what we were doing offensively. They never got the recognition because the offense quote unquote scored the points. I think that's the same way in New Orleans watching them play and seeing how many plays their defense has made throughout the year, but that's been a huge part of why their offense has been able to do that. It's always the same way everywhere you go and the same way here. People want to talk about offense because it's flashy and it's exciting, but usually when you have a good offensive football team, a really good offensive football team, a lot of it stems from the way your defense played and giving you opportunities to do the things that you do. I generally think that's the case in both of our situations."
If that's the case, you still like your chances if the ball's in your hands at the end?
"Yes, you have to, you can't get to this point not wanting the ball or not feeling good about the opportunity to win. The New Orleans defense would say, 'yes we'd love to be out on defense against our offense.' I would hope our defense would say that against New Orleans and I'm sure their offense would say the same thing. I think if you're going to be successful, especially in the playoffs, you have to have the mentality that you want the ball last with the opportunity to win it and like your chances."