Kelly's assistants downplay Saints' road record

Kelly's assistants downplay Saints' road record

Eagle Eye: Home-field advantage

December 31, 2013, 5:30 pm
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The Saints are 0-5 on the road in their 47-year history, and 3-5 on the road during the regular season this year. (USA Today Images)

On Monday, Chip Kelly downplayed the historical struggles of dome teams winning NFL games on the road, using a painful Eagles home playoff loss from 2002 against a warm-weather team to exemplify the danger of underestimating an opponent (see story).

On Tuesday, Kelly’s two chief assistants echoed the head coach’s sentiment, with the Eagles preparing for Saturday night’s first-round playoff game against the Saints at the Linc.

The Saints, who play home games at the Superdome in New Orleans, are 0-5 in their 47-year history on the road in the postseason.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur shrugged off the tell-tale record.

“Typically, when you go on the road, you adjust your cadence,” he said. “You have to use more of a silent cadence if you don't use it at home. Other than that, you get yourself ready to play. I'm sure there's a lot of guys on their team that grew up in the north, you know.

“But for the most part, I don't get into that, domed team (versus) outdoor team. I'm not into that part of it.”

Asked if he noticed his offense function differently outdoors in 2009 and 2010 when he called plays for the St. Louis Rams, who also play home games in a dome, Shurmur said the only difference he noticed in his offense was its improvement after the team drafted quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick in 2010.

Other that that, he conceded nothing, even though dome teams historically win less than 25 percent of road games at outdoor stadiums, according to several published reports.

“I was always better at English,” Shurmur said. “I don't worry about that.”

Shurmur would also have you question Newton’s third law, Einstein’s theory of relativity and whether the Earth is actually round.

Perhaps it’s merely coincidence the Saints are 8-0 this year and 3-5 on the road, with road losses four of their past five games.

“We are playing the New Orleans Saints and we are going to get their best and we just happen to be playing them at home in front of our crowd,” Shurmur added, “which we think is a neat deal.”

Likewise, the only stats that moved defensive coordinator Billy Davis are Drew Brees’ 5,162 yards, 39 touchdown passes and 68.6 completion percentage, along with tight end Jimmy Graham’s 1,215 yards and 16 touchdown catches.

No mention of the Saints averaging 17 points on the road this year, compared to 24 for the season.

"You know, I know a lot has been said about that, but we are going to get the absolute best from one of the top offenses in the league and it doesn't matter if it's snowing, how cold it is,” Davis said. “This is a group of pros, Hall of Fame pros, Pro Bowlers. They are one of the top offenses in the league and we expect to get their absolute best, no matter what the weather conditions because of the mental toughness that they have."