At his Friday news conference in New York, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell avoided a question comparing the fairness of his ruling in the Saints’ Bountygate scandal and the league office’s mishandling of the Ray Rice case.
Two years ago, Goodell ruled that the Saints’ “ignorance” of the pay-to-injure saga was not a suitable defense. He has used a similar defense of the NFL’s investigation with Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back who was originally suspended for two games for his role in a domestic violence dispute with his then-fiancée and current wife, Janay. After a video of Rice striking her was made public, Rice was suspended indefinitely and released by the Ravens.
Asked whether he considered resigning, Goodell said, “I have not.
“I’m more focused on doing my job. And doing it to the best of my ability,” he said. “I understand when people are critical of your performance, but we have a lot of work to do. That’s my focus. We’ve been busy the last couple of weeks. We have results to show for it. ... I’m proud of the opportunity that we have to try to make a difference here and do the right thing. We’ve acknowledged that we need to change what we’re doing. Now we have to get to what are those changes going to be.”
At home in the Dome
Home sweet Superdome.
The Saints are eager to return to their home field, hosting Minnesota on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Visiting defenses, coach Sean Payton said, are forced to signal changes instead of verbalizing them.
“It’s good to be home, good to be back in the Dome,” tight end Jimmy Graham said. “Just excited to see all the fans out there, hopefully get a win for them.”
The stadium offers a noisy, home-team advantage. It’s certainly more friendly for the Saints (0-2) than the Falcons’ Georgia Dome and the Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium.
“It’s not necessarily the building itself, but who’s in it,” Payton said. “So playing good football, having a sold-out venue, having success — those things all lead to the passion. It’s a big deal.”
The Saints were undefeated (8-0) at home last season, allowing 15.6 points per game. On the road, they allowed 22.3 points per game.
Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is more than just an offensive option for the Vikings. Patterson is also a special teams threat, his speed and elusiveness just as dangerous on kick returns.
“He’s a physical runner, really talented,” said Saints linebacker Ronald Powell, a rookie. “We’ve got to do what we’re being coached to do. Leverage the ball, be in the right places and go make plays.”
Patterson has averaged 23.7 yards on three kickoffs. Last season, he scored on a 109-yard kickoff against Green Bay, an NFL record. He finished 2013 with a 32.4-yard average on kickoff returns.
“His production speaks for itself. What a tremendous talent,” said Greg McMahon, special teams coordinator for the Saints.
On the attack
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the Saints have blitzed often, especially during the Week 2 loss at Cleveland.
The effort, though, hasn’t led to sacks — not all the fault of the defensive line. Credit should also be extended to speedier passes, Ryan said.
“Quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball (faster), in 2.4 seconds when it used to be over three (seconds) on third down,” he said. “We’re getting hits on the quarterback, but we’re not getting the sacks and things like that, the production. But we need to go hard and fast.”
The Saints enter Week 3 with just two sacks, tied for 27th in the NFL. Outside linebacker Junior Galette and reserve defensive end Tyrunn Walker have one apiece.
Middle linebacker David Hawthorne (ankle) was ruled out for Sunday’s game. Fellow middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (shoulder) and center Jonathan Goodwin (elbow) were upgraded to probable. As expected, running back Mark Ingram (hand) and fullback Erik Lorig (ankle) are out.
Goodwin’s backup, Tim Lelito (back), is questionable. Inside linebacker Kyle Knox (ankle), a reserve, also is probable. Receiver Joseph Morgan (knee) is probable.
For Minnesota, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder), offensive tackle Phil Loadholt (ankle), tight end Kyle Rudolph (abdomen), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (groin) and linebacker Michael Mauti (foot) are probable. Linebackers Chad Greenway (hand/rib) and Brandon Watts (knee) and receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring) are questionable.