Hey guys, can you believe that after this week we’ll be halfway through the season? Let’s talk about my return to Columbus—O-H-I-O!—what I take with me on the road and how this year’s 6-1 Saints compare to our Super Bowl-winning 2009 team.
My dad is a Giants fan, but as a kid I wasn’t because whenever they were playing, that meant I couldn’t watch TV or play video games—that was his 4-hour engagement. I hated the Giants!
Our recent bye week gave us some much-needed rest and relaxation. I got to go back to Columbus for Homecoming, so that was fun. They actually honored Antoine Winfield and me during the OSU-Iowa game as the only Jim Thorpe Award winners in Ohio State history. I was proud, and it was great to get a warm welcome from 105,000 fans, all in scarlet. And here’s a big shout-out to my Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers I caught up with over the weekend!
As just a fan of the Buckeyes now, I’m more anxious because I can’t control what they’re doing on the field. But it’s also fun riding out all the highs and lows. My team is now 8-0, with 20 straight wins, and when you don’t lose a game going on almost two years, you’d think you’d be ranked #1 or #2. I understand they take into account the strength of your schedule; I’m just hoping Alabama, Florida State and Oregon catch a loss late in the season. Then, if we continue to take care of business, we’ll be right in position to get into the National Championship game.
Now, in the Saints’ win over Buffalo (35-17), we were clicking in every phase of the game. Drew Brees had 5 TD passes. We got Lance Moore back and he scored a touchdown. Young wideout Kenny Stills had a big game with two long touchdown receptions. And Jimmy Graham (also 2 TDs) and Darren Sproles created serious matchup problems across the field.
On the other side of the ball, our defense came up huge—four sacks, two fumble recoveries and a pick—which gave Drew more opportunities. The defensive line has been playing phenomenal this year, a lot of 4-man pressure without blitzing too much. They’ve really been getting to the QB, and in the last game as we continued to hit him, he started making mistakes under pressure.
One big difference from the Super Bowl year is that we’re not undefeated—that team started 13-0. The biggest similarity is that we’re winning as a team in a bunch of different ways. Our defense is forcing turnovers at a really good rate. Drew is at the top of his game. And we’re finishing games well with possession football. Whenever we can dominate a fourth quarter to finish a game, that’s where we have an advantage.
Next up are the Jets in my home state of New Jersey. My requests for tickets are pretty high, but I decided to cap it at 20 for immediate family and close friends… or they’d be lining up, LOL. My dad is a Giants fan, but as a kid I wasn’t because whenever they were playing, that meant I couldn’t watch TV or play video games—that was his 4-hour engagement. I hated the Giants! After that we’ve got two tough physical home games against the Cowboys and Niners. Each week you have to reset in your mind, make corrections and keep healthy—and you’ve got to find a way to get better each week and finish the season strong.
So what travel essentials do I have? We travel with these recovery compression tights and guys wear them on the plane before and after the games. They help with keeping blood flowing while traveling.. What’s funny is seeing big O-lineman trying to squeeze into them, and it takes them like 5 minutes. They’re supposed to be custom-fitted, but some guys still struggle.
I also always take my iPad with me, to watch film before and after the game. By the time we get on the plane coming home, the team has already uploaded film for us to watch. I also like to watch movies. And if you want to see a very funny one, I just saw Bad Grandpa with Johnny Knoxville. I’m usually the one who’s into that kind of comedy—my wife usually shakes her head—but she was in there crying out laughing! So that’s a rave review from both of us!
—As told to Ashley Jude Collie