Saints DT Rankins:  Fans expect us to “beat the sh%# out of everybody”

The team faces sky-high expectations entering the playoffs

Seth Dunlap
January 09, 2019 - 7:35 pm

Many New Orleans Saints players have quietly voiced their frustrations about unrealistic fan and media expectations surrounding the team this season.   The Saints were on a record-setting offensive pace the first half of the season, and five consecutive double-digit wins spanning late October through Thanksgiving had many expecting those kind of blowouts every week.

Relative struggles by the team late in the season has tempered those expectations a bit, but there are still many members of Who Dat Nation who believe the Saints will put a beat down on the Eagles this week similar to the 48-7 one the laid on Philadelphia earlier this season.

Sheldon Rankins, the team’s outspoken defensive tackle, was blunt in his assessment that fans need a bit of a reality check.

“It’s a little different in the sense that everyone is truly expecting us to go out and beat the sh%# out of everybody and go win a Super Bowl, where as last year, our last playoff game, people were kind of a toss-up about it whether it was us or Minnesota.”

While sky-high expectations for the team was expected after last year’s playoff run, Rankins said the players have carried that burden well this season on their way to a 13-3 record, the best mark in the NFL.

“For us this year, everybody is expecting greatness. Everybody expects us to do great things,” Rankins said.  “We’ll just continue to go out and play the style of football we know how to play.”

Their first playoff test comes this Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champions.  The Eagles are a much different group than the team that lost by 41 points in the Superdome on November 18.   Most importantly, it will be Nick Foles at quarterback for the Eagles, the sandy-haired folk hero who guided Philadelphia through the playoffs to last year’s title.

“He’s playing really good right now,” Rankins said of Foles.  “He’s got that offense moving at a great rhythm, great pace.  So as a defense we have to go out there and make it hard on him.  Take away his first, second reads.  Make him hold the ball so our pressure can get there.”

Rankins will play a big part in whether the Saints defensive front can indeed put pressure on Foles.  He had a career-high eight sacks this season, after only having six sacks in his first two seasons combined.   Stopping Foles, however, won’t be enough in itself.   This Eagles team has learned how to win in various ways during the past two postseasons.

“They’ve been there, they’ve been to that mountaintop so they’re not going to come in here and do anything differently or go about things in a special way,” Rankins noted.  “They know what it takes to get there.”

The Saints and Eagles will kick off their Divisional Playoff game at 3:40 p.m. CST on Sunday.

Listen to Rankins full interview below.

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