METAIRIE, La. — Robert Griffin III hasn’t ever played the New Orleans Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
But having been vast structure before for games, he has a feeling he knows what the Washington Redskins are in for on Sunday in the season opener for both teams.
“The crowd’s going to be into it and they’re going to make it extremely hard for us to communicate,” said Griffin, the rookie quarterback for the Redskins. “It’s our job to know what we have to do, not only just knowing our offense, but knowing it without even really having to communicate clearly to each other.”
The Superdome has turned into one of the NFL’s biggest home-field advantages. New Orleans went 9-0 a season ago, including playoffs, and since the 2009 Super Bowl season, the Saints have gone 22-5.
There was no more dominating season than in 2011, when New Orleans won nine home games by 22½ points.
It’s the noise that plays as much a factor as anything.
Saints fans appear to know when to push the gas pedal all the way down when it comes to screaming.
“When I was in Atlanta, one of the things that we talked about was how loud it was going to be when you came down to this dome,” newly-acquired linebacker Curtis Lofton said. “Now, playing here, it was just preseason games and it was loud. It’s going to be turned up another notch when it comes this Sunday.”
Interim head coach Aaron Kromer said the noise pays off in on-field success.
“You can’t underestimate how loud it is in there, in the dome, and how crazy our fans are. It is really an asset to the team,” Kromer said. “So, they get the ball back for us, we get it one or two more times at a home game because of it and it allows us one more chances to score.”
And no time seems to be more set up for the Saints’ fans to let go of some offseason issues.
Starting with the NFL’s release of results from its bounty investigation, Saints fans have been hammered with bad news.
Head coach Sean Payton and linebacker Jonathan Vilma were slapped with year-long bans. Defensive end Will Smith took a four-game ban. General Manager Mickey Loomis got an eight-game suspension and acting head coach Joe Vitt was given six games.
Quarterback Drew Brees held out for a contract so long that some began to wonder if he ever were going to sign again with the Saints.
Then this past week Hurricane Isaac tore through the region, devastating the lives of parts of the Saints fan base.
Kromer knows exactly what all of that will mean come Sunday.
“We’re looking for the fans to be motivated by the things that have happened in the offseason,” Kromer said. “I know how they are. I’ve been here long enough now to realize that after a storm that we just had, people are looking for a place to lose all the negative thoughts they have from storms and have a place to be a safe haven, to just have fun and enjoy the team.
“We hope that motivates our fans to be even more raucous than they already are. We can’t wait to hear them.”