The last time the Eagles and Saints faced one another, it was in the opening round of the playoffs two years ago, when rookie head coach Chip Kelly and sophomore quarterback Nick Foles took on the veteran coach/quarterback tandem of Sean Payton and Drew Brees. That game, a heartbreaking 26-24 loss, feels as if it took place forever ago, but now the two teams find themselves on similar footing once again, both at 1-3.
On Wednesday, Payton spoke to reporters from Philadelphia via conference call about the differences between the team he'll face this week and the one he saw back in 2013. One major distinction is the fact that two of New Orleans' key contributors in that game, running back and return specialist Darren Sproles and safety Malcolm Jenkins, will be dressed in midnight green.
Sproles racked up 60 yards on eight touches from scrimmage in that game and also returned a kickoff that netted 54 yards to set up the game-winning field goal for the Saints. Jenkins notched four tackles and was part of a defensive backfield that held the Eagles to just 195 passing yards on the day.
"It was absolutely tough (to lose them)," Payton said of the two players, who both joined Philadelphia in the spring of 2014. "Both have great football makeup when it comes to preparation, football IQ and toughness. I'd say that both are extremely well-respected in the locker room, I know they were here. ... Rarely do they do something on the football field that would surprise you or be not what you want them to do."
Another major difference is the quarterback position for Philadelphia. Sam Bradford has had an up-and-down season so far, but over his last two games he's thrown four touchdowns with no interceptions. Here's what Payton had to say about the former first-overall pick.
"He's a quick decision-maker, and he's accurate," he said. "I think he's tough to sack (because) the ball comes out. I think he's a winner. The thing that draws you to him is that he's won a ton of games, he's kind of got that poise in the pocket that you look for, there's a toughness to him and those are kind of the things that come to mind."
App users can click here to listen to the full conference call, otherwise press play on the video player above.