Sunday, May 31, 2009
Next week the Saints will be in full on practice mode, contact included, for the team's first mini camp. The offseason is about to really get in gear as we near towards the start of training camp scheduled for July 29/30. Pictured above... is that Shockey dropping footballs and looking dehydrated? We've still got a number of guys nursing injuries (Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, Lance Moore) and several other guys who are back after spending at least part of 2008 on injured reserve (Courtney Roby, Tracy Porter, Mark Simoneau, Adrian Arrington, DeMario Pressley, Charles Grant). It will be interesting to see how things unfold. First and foremost, the progressive goal throughout camp needs to be: HEALTH. The Saints were horribly plagued last year by lack of health and it's something they really can't afford this year if they want to go far. While depth is as good as it's ever been in New Orleans, there's only so many injuries to key contributers a team can absorb. Here's to hoping the injuries are minimized.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
See below my all time best Saints team, in 53 man roster format. Feel free to add comments on who you would replace. Anyone snubbed?
QB (3): Drew Brees, Archie Manning, Bobby Hebert
HB (3): Deuce McAllister, Dalton Hilliard, George Rodgers
FB (2): Craig Heyward, Terrelle Smith
WR (4): Joe Horn, Eric Martin, Danny Abramowicz, Quinn Early
TE (3): Hoby Brenner, Henry Childs, Wesley Walls
T (4): William Roaf, Stan Brock, Jammal Brown, Kyle Turley
G (3): Jim Dombrowski, Steve Korte, LeCharles Bentley
C (2): Joel Hilgenberg, Jerry Fontenot
DE (4): Wayne Martin, Joe Johnson, Doug Atkins, Frank Warren
DT (3): La'Roi Glover, Jim Wilks, Tony Elliott
OLB (4): Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, Mark Fields, Renaldo Turnbull
MLB (3): Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, Winfred Tubbs
CB (4): Dave Whitshell, Johnnie Poe, Mike McKenzie, Ernie Jackson
FS (2): Dave Waymer, Tommy Myers
SS (2): Sammy Knight, Gene Atkins
K (1): Morten Andersen
P (1): Tommy Barnhardt
KR (1): Michael Lewis
PR (1): Reggie Bush
ST (2): Fred McAfee, Bennie Thompson
LS (1): Kevin Houser
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Darren Sharper (pictured left) is the measuring stick for not only players on the Saints, but anyone in the NFL. The guy has had a more accomplished career as a ballhawk than any current cornerback or safety in the league. Sharper has played in 183 NFL games, picking off 54 passes. A number of these games he wasn't even a starter. That means he averaged one interception 29.5% of the games he played in. In college, Sharper was even more impressive. Granted he faced very low quality quarterbacks playing at William & Mary in the 90's, but he had 24 interceptions in 44 games, good for one pick in 55.5% of the games he played. Wow.
stats on the other defensive backs in order of best to worst ball skills:
Jason David: 75 NFL games, 16 INT's (21.3%)
44 college games, 16 INT's (36.4%)
Tracy Porter: 5 NFL games, 1 INT (20%)
43 college games, 16 INT's (37%)
Malcolm Jenkins: 52 college games, 11 INT's (21.2%)
Usama Young: 29 NFL games, 2 INT's (6.9%)
45 college games, 9 INT's (20%)
Roman Harper: 36 NFL games, 3 INT's (8.3%)
49 college games, 5 INT's (10.2%)
Randall Gay: 53 NFL games, 5 INT's (9.4%)
42 college games, 2 INT's (4.8%)
Jabari Greer: 70 NFL games, 4 INT's (5.7%)
51 college games, 2 INT's (3.9%)
Leigh Torrence: 42 NFL games, 0 INT's (0%)
44 college games, 7 INT's (15.9%)
Chip Vaughn: 50 college games, 3 INT's (6%)
Pierson Prioleau: 128 NFL games, 1 INT (0.8%)
48 college games, 2 INT's (4.2%)
What do these statistics tell us? Maybe not all that much. First off, keep in mind guys like Leigh Torrence suffer in comparison to others because he didn't really get many reps as a defensive back. While he's played a lot of "NFL games", a lot of that was on special teams and not spent on the field where he would have interception opportunities. What's misleading about the college statistics are that we don't know when the players became a full time starter, or the competition they faced at quarterback. For example, Usama Young at Kent St. would have an easier time posting big numbers than say Jabari Greer at Tennessee. What I think we can safely take away are 6 things:
1. Say what you will about Jason David, the guy has ball skills. The problem is he takes a lot of risks. While those risks yield a long pass play too often, they also yield an incredibly high number of interceptions. If the guy could bite a little less on play action fakes, his INT % could still be solid while costing his team less.
2. Tracy Porter is a promising young player. While his NFL track record is too small a sample size to make any definitive judgments, you can see from his college stats he's got a nose for the ball. He also takes less risks than David, so he's a guy that might be capable of putting up good numbers for us for a long time.
3. Malcolm Jenkins had a pretty good college career. He's got a nose for the ball. Maybe we shouldn't expect him to come in and post 8 INT's as a rookie, but I have a feeling he'll be a good one.
4. Jabari Greer and Randall Gay's stats were much worse than I would have guessed. That is misleading because both are very solid corners. They're not going to get you 10 picks in a season, though, or maybe even 3. Don't expect these guys to come out and outplay Larry Fitzgerald for a jumpball. I'm guessing they probably don't have as good of hands as a Malcolm Jenkins/Tracy Porter type guy, but they are just as good if not better at keeping tight coverage and breaking up passes.
5. Based on Usama's college stats, I'm actually optimistic about his ability to contribute as a free safety.
6. Based on the stats of Chip Vaughn, it's hard to deduce he'll be any better than Roman Harper.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
15. S Chris Reis: This guy is a pretty good special teamer, but hasn't done much as a safety. With Usama Young (position switch), Pierson Prioleau (free agency) and Chip Vaughn (draft) all added this offseason it seems like Reis would be the odd man out. We know he won't outperform these guys at safety, so he's going to have to massively outperform them on special teams to make the roster. It's going to be tough for Chris.
14. P Thomas Morstead: This could just as easily say "Glenn Pakulak", but I'm giving the veteran the edge. Basically it comes down to 1 roster spot and 2 players. Whichever does a better job during the offseason and preseason stays.
13. CB Jason David: He's somehow still around, but he makes an awful lot of money on a cap strapped team for a guy that's consistently underperformed. At this point in his career I don't see the coaching staff putting much trust in his performance based on the other guys they've added. Still, he's shown good ball skills at times and the staff may give him another chance in this brand new Gregg Williams defense.
12. T Jermon Bushrod: He keeps making the team, and keeps being inactive on gameday. I know the Saints love his potential, but for how long are they going to hold out hoping it comes to fruition? They've given him every chance to pass up Zach Strief on the depth chart and he's yet to do so. In addition, the re-signing of Strief this offseason proves they are not sold on Bushrod.
11. C Nick Leckey: At first glance you would think he's a lock, but he's going to get some competition from undrafted rookie Alex Fletcher. The Saints may also opt to have a more versatile player that can also play guard (like Jamar Nesbit) fulfill the spot at backup center behind Goodwin. Being new to the team Leckey needs to show he's got some value to the team.
10. WR Adrian Arrington: Everybody loves Arrington, fans and coaches alike. He's already annointed by some as headed for the starting lineup next year. Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, let's not forget he was a 7th round draft choice (most of which don't last long in the NFL) and he had a season ending surgery in his rookie season before ever playing in a real game. He still has a lot to prove if he's going to make this team. He needs to prove he can perform and can stay healthy, neither of which he's done AT ALL to this point in his young career.
9. QB Joey Harrington: Joey hopped between the #3 QB and released so many times last year for the Saints it was almost painful to keep track of. It's kind of sad, but Harrington's roster spot depends less on how he performs and more on how injured the team is. If the Saints are very healthy and have a roster spot to sacrifice on Harrington they'll do it because Sean Payton likes him. The problem with short team injuries, though, is the Saints then need to sign short term replacements. Harrington is going to be the odd man out again if that scenario plays out.
8. TE Darnell Dinkins: Historically under the Payton era the Saints have kept 4 tight ends, and that's good news for Dinkins. He's currently battling Buck Ortega for that 4th spot, and you have to like Dinkins' chances there as an 8 year veteran. That said, the Saints could easily decide that they're just going to go with 3 tight ends this year, especially with the need for more defensive ends early as Will Smith and Charles Grant serve suspensions.
7. DT DeMario Pressley: Like Adrian Arrington, Pressley suffered a season ending injury in his rookie season before the regular season even started. With veterans Brian Young and Hollis Thomas now gone, the depth at his position is much thinner (pun intended). Pressley should be a lock, but again he's a guy with a lot to prove as a lower draft choice that hasn't stayed healthy. Remi Ayodele should give him a good battle for a roster spot.
6. LB Troy Evans: Evans is a reliable special teamer and backup for the Saints and he should be back on the team. The season ending injury to rookie linebacker Stanley Arnoux only helps Evans' chances of making the team. The only question for Evans is the emergence of Jo-Lonn Dunbar, both on defense and special teams. Dunbar had the biggest block and the hardest tackle (both on special teams) of the season last year and made several national highlight reels. Dunbar plays the same position as Evans, so the Saints may decide Evans is dispensable if they are ready to increase Dunbar's responsibilities.
5. WR/KR Courtney Roby: Roby showed a lot of explosiveness as a kick returner last season, and sparked a previously weak area for the Saints in terms of production. Roby is the clear front runner to return as the Saints primary kick returner, and that should mean a roster spot for him. He will get some competition from Skyler Green, though, and Roby needs to help his standing by showing the coaching staff during the offseason/preseason that he can make plays when called upon at receiver.
4. ILB Mark Simoneau (pictured above): While Simoneau is a little bit of a pricey backup, he's a good guy to have around as a performing backup and positive locker room influence. Simoneau is also coming off a major injury last year, though, and is getting up there in age. He'll have to show the coaching staff he's still able to be as useful to the team as he's been for the Saints in past years.
3. HB Mike Bell: Bell is my early offseason leading candidate the land reps with the Saints in game situations behind Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. He's probably got stiffer competition with the undrafted rookies (PJ Hill and Herb Donaldson) and Lynell Hamilton than anyone on the roster which make things tough. But based on what he showed in limited duty last year, Bell can still play. Expect him to make the team and be a relied on role player in this year's offense.
2. S Pierson Prioleau: I know it sounds crazy that he wouldn't make the team, but how many safeties do the Saints keep? You figure Darren Sharper, Roman Harper, Usama Young and Chip Vaughn are all virtual locks. So that means Prioleau would make 5 safeties on the roster. Again, considering the suspensions of Grant and Smith the Saints have to be careful about what positions they overload with depth. If Vaughn as a rookie outperforms Prioleau, the veteran could be cut. All this said, with Prioleau's relationship with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his experience as a starter, backup, and gunner on special teams, he should be safe.
1. DE Jeff Charleston: With the suspensions of Grant and Smith, Charleston has gone from a bubble player to a virtual lock. But watch out, because Grant and Smith come back in week 5, and if Bobby McCray and Paul Spicer (who are both ahead of Charleston on the depth chart) are still healthy and playing well, Charleston could be let go. Charleston played very well filling in for many injuries last year and deserves to make the team and get on the field. I'm glad to see he'll get this chance.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thanks to loujohnsonXX, I've discovered THESE AWESOME PICS of the Saints OTAs. Check them out, some real gems in there. Also, is that Heath Evans wearing #44? Did he have to steal Mike Karney's job AND his number? That just doesn't feel right.
I just came across this on tmz: Jeremy Shockey Rushed to the Hospital. I remember a quote from his former teammate Tiki Barber that said Shockey "lived hard". He practiced hard, played hard, and partied hard, according to Barber. Well, this may be the result of the latter. Before any of us rush to any judgments or blast Shockey's maturity level, let's hope the guy is going to be ok because this does not sound good. Hopefully he had one too many margaritas (not mixed with anything else) and took a little nap to sleep it off. We can worry about whether he's facing the same fate as Will Smith and Charles Grant when we know he's going to be fine. Our thoughts are with you #88.
***UPDATE*** Espn posted a new report HERE claiming dehydration and he's ok. You know brewskies can dehydrate you pretty good in that dry Vegas air. You have to drink some electrolytes Jeremy! Side note, I google image searched "Shockey drunk". Check out the first two pics (especially the second). Yikes. Might want to get those down. One of two girls looks engaged, but maybe not for long.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
What many people who have never played football may not realize is that reps with the first team is the only way to really gauge progress, so this is a huge opportunity for these guys. When you're running plays with the backups you're on the field with other guys that might not understand the system, you're lined up against weaker players on the other side of the ball than what you'd see on Sundays, and you get much less time on the practice field as the starters. If Meachem is beating guys like Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter consistently (which the article suggests), that is going to turn the heads of the coaching staff much more than Meachem beating Leigh Torrence on the handful of reps with backups. The article also suggests that Arrington made a terrific touchdown catch in traffic on a pass from Brees, and again that pass coming from Brees is much more to Arrington's benefit than if it were coming from Joey Harrington.
So far so good for these young receivers but there is a long way to go. That said, once Moore and Colston come back there will be less reps and less opportunities to show the coaching staff that they can trust them. So while you always want to look at offseason training as a marathon and not a sprint, Meachem and Arrington may not see another opportunity to practice with the 1st team this season. In my mind they're auditioning for trust and playing time during the season every moment they are out there with the starting unit. They need to seize this moment if they want to play a part in the success of the 2009 Saints.
PS. I know it's early, very very early, but is anyone else concerned that our #4 and #5 receivers are repeatedly beating our starting corners? Didn't we address this issue?
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Saints Nation Question: Jeff, based on your experience around the players and the locker room, who would you say are the biggest leaders/vocal positive influence personalities on the team? We know Brees, Vilma and Fujita are always guys that are named as leaders. I'm looking for more of an unsung hero, maybe a player I wouldn't expect you to name. Anyone that would surprise most fans? Also, which player(s) are the biggest potential for distraction besides Shockey? Any players with more volatile or occasionally selfish attitudes that you've noticed?
Jeff Duncan: Good question. The unquestioned leader in the Saints locker room is Brees. He is the top dog and with Deuce McAllister now gone there really isn't anyone that's a close second. Will Smith, Scott Fujita, Mike McKenzie, Charles Grant and Vilma have been the leaders on defense. Randall Gay has been vocal about stepping into a leadership role in the secondary. I think Darren Sharper, by virtue of his experience and credentials, will naturally become a leader in the position group. Two guys that are kind of quiet behind-the-scenes types are Stinchcomb and long snapper Kevin Houser. Jon Stinchcomb was elected as the team's NFL Players Association rep this year, a sure sign of respect from his peers. He's the leader on the offensive line. Houser is just a great all-around guy and, as the most-tenured Saint on the roster, someone that others can go to for advice and information. He's a registered financial broker and helps a lot of players with business tips, investment portfolios, etc. I think the young trio of Lance Moore, Pierre Thomas and Usama Young has the potential to become core guys and leaders in the locker room. They have become close off the field, do a lot of things together socially and I can see them continuing to grow into leaders with their positive attitudes and work ethic. Equally important, all three are emerging into more prominent roles on the team. That's important because as any player or coach knows, you can't lead from the bench. The Saints have done an excellent job of eliminating problem players in the Sean Payton era. There aren't too many guys, with the exception of perhaps, Jeremy Shockey, that I would label as a possible distraction. Grant and Jammal Brown have had off-field issues that have given some in the organization some concern but I wouldn't label them as selfish or problem players. The term coaches and NFL executives use for these types is "high maintenance." Shockey would definitely qualify for such a label, and this isn't just coming from a media type. There are people in the organization that have no love lost for him, either. Personally, I've never had a problem with Shockey, but there was at least one unreported incident with a local reporter that showed his lack of professionalism. Hey, he's an emotional and passionate guy, and sometimes that emotion is going to boil over (See: Brees at Atlanta). That's part of the package with Shockey and the Saints knew this when they traded for him.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Sean Payton has specifically been asked why he doesn't run the wildcat with Reggie Bush. His answer is always that he doesn't want to take the ball out of Drew Brees' hands. But he'd do that for Vick? He trusts Vick more than Reggie Bush? Beyond absurdity.
Thanks for voting and please participate in the new Saints Nation Poll: Who is the best defensive back in Saints history?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
According to NOLA.com, the Saints have released Josh Savage in favor of adding defensive end Anthony Hargrove. Um, why? Savage came in last year after a rash of injuries and played pretty well in limited time. The truth of the matter is neither player will would likely make the 53 man roster, so in the end Hargrove will have to turn some heads in a major way to have any chance. I'm still scratching my head though because Hargrove's track record is closer to a Cincinnati Bengal than it is to any current Saint. The morally upstanding player blueprint Sean Payton typically seeks was ignored here. Payton says "He's an interesting player". His checkered past is interesting, I'll give Sean Payton that much, but it doesn't make him appealing. The guy has failed drug tests, twice, and he's been suspended for a much as an entire season. He also carries the requisite arrest outside of a nightclub thanks to his involvement in a scuffle. Very impressive.
Hargrove must have a lot of talent for the Saints to show Savage the door. I don't like the move and I feel for Savage, because he was never even given a chance to fight in training camp. I'm sure Hargrove will be on a short leash because it's already clear he'll be a bad fit in the locker room. By the way his stats have yet to show anyone how loaded he is with talent. Barring a complete character and performance transformation, don't count on this guy being a Saint for very long. I'm not saying this guy doesn't deserve a shot, but he'll be surprising a lot of people (myself included) if he can turn himself around.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Many of you are reading about the Starcaps case as a decision on the possible 4 game suspensions of Charles Grant, Will Smith and former Saint Deuce McAlliser looms. What some don't remember is Jamar Nesbit was a part of that group that tested positive for the same water pill. The difference between Nesbit and the rest of the players mentioned above is Nesbit accepted his 4 game suspension last season without appealing. While hindsight can be 20/20, Nesbit's current in flux status can very much be attributed to that decision to not fight the suspension. Thrust into the starting lineup in Nesbit's stead, 5th round rookie out of Nebraska Carl Nicks played admirably while filling in. He played so well, in fact, that Nesbit never regained his spot upon his return from suspension.
Given the Saints current cap situation, they are not in a place where they can afford pricey backups. Unfortunately for Nesbit, this could potentially leave his roster spot in jeopardy. While having him would be a nice luxury as a backup because he's a player of starting quality that also has the versatility of playing many other positions along the offensive line, it remains to be seen if it will work financially. Assuming Nicks and incumbent right guard Jahri Evans don't get injured or suffer a severe drop in form, Nesbit is blocked from returning to the 5 man line-up charged with being security detail for Drew Brees. If the players in the Starcaps case end up exonerated, accepting that suspension without appeal could have been the biggest mistake of Nesbit's career. Time will tell, but the Saints would be well advised to find a way to hang on to this player.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I don't know who will start for that team but none of those names scare me. Not that Jeff Garcia did either, but he always seemed to produce against us.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Saints Nation: Will Smith and Charles Grant's performance will play a big part in possible success of 2009
Lots of money has been invested in the bookend linemen Charles Grant and Will Smith. Their performance since the signing of their most recent contracts has been disappointing to say the least. Grant signed a 7 year $63 million deal in 2007, while Smith signed a 6 year $70 million deal in 2008. If you're good at math, you'll notice that means that between the two, they're looking at maxing out at over $130 million for the life of their deals.
Taking a look at what they've done since they've received their lottery tickets, Grant has recorded 5.5 sacks in 2 seasons (an average of 2.75 per season) compared to 36 in 5 seasons prior to his major deal (an average of 7.2 per season). Smith had just 3 sacks last season, his first season since signing his new contract. In the 4 years prior, he amassed 33.5 sacks (an average of 8.375 sacks per season). One could deduce from these numbers that both moves in hindsight were poor investments by the Saints, but the production of these players prior to their massive contracts is undeniable. Still when you're talking about 5 less sacks per season after signing their respective deals, that is staggering. While sacks do not paint the whole picture for how a defensive lineman is performing, it's hard to argue that both players have played at a much lower level post-contract than what we as fans had grown accustomed to seeing them play.
Looking ahead to the 2009 season, first and foremost Drew Brees needs to stay healthy. The Saints organization has been spoiled by his ability to stay out of the infirmary as he has started every single contest in 3 years with New Orleans, and hopefully the good fortune will continue. Second to that, the Saints desperately need for Grant and Smith to regain the form that has eluded them since they hit the jackpot. Even with an improved secondary in the offseason, the Saints cannot afford a complete lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
What still looms is a possible suspension for both players which would result in both players missing the first 4 games of the regular season. Smith and Grant, along with Deuce McAllister, who is no longer on the team, failed a drug test last year and their appeal is ongoing. This could mean that Paul Spicer and Bobby McCray would start the year at defensive end for the Saints. While we can hope for the best in the appeal efforts, it's realistic that this scenario will play out. Spicer and McCray are capable players that can hold down the fort, but it really doesn't leave much room for depth or error. The Saints cannot afford to lose a player at the position, or have their backups suffer in performance. Should Grant and Smith be banned until week 5, this will leave them only 12 games in a shortened season to prove they can still play at a high level. Both players are also coming off nagging injuries from a season ago, so health will be as much of a hurdle as their likely suspensions. How well these two players can rebound will ultimately dictate the Saints' success and separate them from being a competitive team versus a team that is capable of going very far. Based on the amount of money the Saints have invested in these two players, they are married to them for the near future: win, lose or draw. How these two can rebound from a disastrous 2008 will tell a large tale of 2009.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saints Nation Fans Have Spoken: Herb Donaldson is most likely rookie free agent to make the 53 man roster
Please participate in the new Saints Nation Poll on the right hand side of the screen. This week: Which Saints' first round pick was the best in their history?
Saturday, May 9, 2009
So far the Saints are off to a bad start in reducing the amount of injuries they suffered last year. Hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come. As for Arnoux, he'll have to work very hard in rehab and try to come back ready for 2010. Sad to see the rookie minicamp start this way.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Between Drew Rosenhaus' twitter page which claims the Saints have interest in bringing back Mike McKenzie and the swirling NFL rumors that the Saints may sign Edgerrin James, it looks like the roster tinkering may be far from over. The Times-Picayune disagrees with either player joining the roster, though, as Mike Triplett wrote THIS ARTICLE about McKenzie and Brian-Allee Walsh wrote THIS ARTICLE about James. In the end I agree on both accounts; I just don't see the Saints signing either player.
At first thought I wondered, "man it would be great to cut Jason David and re-sign a healthy McKenzie at a cap friendly figure". On second thought, though, David is 26 and McKenzie is 33. While McKenzie has had a more accomplished career by about a factor of 50, David is still young enough that he could improve. Perhaps Gregg Williams will be able to utilize his strengths without exposing him the way the Gary Gibbs scheme did so often. At 33, McKenzie might only have a good year or two left in him, and with the number of promising young corners on the Saints roster it's time to turn the page. I just feel like if the Saints had any intention of retaining McKenzie they would have tried to re-structured his deal instead of releasing him, thus giving him a chance to get healthy and fight for a roster spot in training camp. The Mickey Loomis quote that they've left the door open for a possible return, in my opinion, is a lip service comment based on respect he has for McKenzie and the fan popularity he's amassed. You have to play nice when you release players that have served you well.
The Edgerrin James possibility just seems even less likely. His performance the last couple years hasn't been that impressive, he's the same age as Deuce McAllister, and he's dealt with similar injuries in the past. James' gripe with the Cardinals was the lack of carries he got in their offense. In New Orleans, he'd have Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush ahead of him on the depth chart and based on the Saints salary cap situation he'd be playing for a song. He had 133 carries last year, and as a #3 running back for a pass happy team he'd never get close to those kind of reps with the Saints. I just can't picture James beating out Pierre Thomas as the primary ball carrier and I think he'll become a distraction as a backup that's not playing that much. The Saints aren't stupid and this is a concern for them as well, so they'll give Herb Donaldson, Lynell Hamilton and P.J. Hill every chance to prove themselves in training camp before they move to sign someone like James.
The more I think about these two speculative moves, the less I believe they'll happen. If, God forbid, Pierre Thomas and Randall Gay (or Jabari Greer) go down in training camp with season ending injuries... then sure, that changes everything. Until then, don't expect the Saints to sign either of these guys. Barring something unforseen, I believe the Saints are primed for a playoff run with the current roster, and I wasn't convinced of that this time last year. GEAUX SAINTS.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I want to applaud the Saints for wasting no time in running these two out of town. I don't know Ealy and Kapanui personally, and maybe what happened was out of character for them, or they truly regret their absolutely horrendous judgment. Maybe they don't. But I know teams like the Bengals, Raiders etc... have kept players for doing similar things in the past. Admittedly, the fact that they were long shots to make the team had a lot to do with how quickly they were released. Had this been Reggie Bush, the Saints would have been more tolerant - but the point is that would never happen with Bush. Why? Because the Saints invest in players with upstanding moral character. This is what makes it so easy for me to root for the Saints. I trust that win, lose or draw, Sean Payton is putting guys out there he trusts as genuine team players when the game is on the line. Ealy and Kapanui were not being team players last week, and now they're gone. Look what Terrell Owens has done to teams. Look at what Ron Artest has done to teams, and is currently doing to the Houston Rockets in the midst of a heated playoff series. In a team sport, selfish talent does not benefit the greater cause. The Saints have identified their approach and what type of guys they want to fit that said approach. Ealy and Kapanui made it clear they weren't the right mold so they're looking for a new team. The message the team sent is clear: unprofessional behavior will not be tolerated. I could not be more proud of the Saints on this one.
Positives: Strong upper body with huge thighs and legs. Tough for defensive backs to bring down once he gets going. Uses a nice stiff arm to get potential tacklers at bay. Patient runner, will wait for blocks to develop then hit the hole. Has surprising quickness and a nice burst for his size. Uses his low center of gravity to spin off a pile and maintain his balance. Lowers his pads for contact, keeping his legs churning near the goal line or first down marker. Willing pass protector with good leverage and strength who can blow up defenders in space.Negatives: Does not have breakaway speed. Runs out of gas in the secondary, resorting to a big arm pump to keep going. Lacks experience catching the ball, but seems fairly comfortable with it. May lack lateral quickness to sidestep players in the hole or pick up blitzers at the next level. Holds the ball high and tight most times, but still has ball security issues.
Ok look, the guy isn't a blazer. Neither was Deuce McAllister last yeah. I think this addition is more crucial to the Saints than people realize. I used this link to pull up his stats in college. Every guy that makes the NFL has good stats, but I want the Saints fans to get a sense for how well he performed:
|9/13||@South Dakota State||L 24-22||18||43||2.4||8||1||7||40|
|9/20||Stephen F. Austin||W 34-14||37||229||6.2||66||3||0||0|
|10/4||@Missouri State||W 33-21||41||273||6.7||38||4||2||20|
|10/11||@North Dakota State||W 27-22||26||124||4.8||29||2||0||0|
|10/18||Indiana State||W 56-0||20||137||6.9||17||2||0||0|
|11/1||Northern Iowa||L 30-6||23||116||5.0||20||0||1||0|
|11/8||@Southern Illinois||L 24-14||28||99||3.5||13||1||0||0|
|11/15||Illinois State||W 48-45||41||243||5.9||39||3||2||4|
|11/22||Youngstown State||L 31-28||40||235||5.9||31||1||0||0|
So the notables here are he ran for over 200 yards 4 times. He ran for 157 yards against an SEC defense in Arkansas. He averaged less than 4.5 per carry in exactly 2 games. Those numbers are incredible. I can't wait to see how things shake out with this guy in camp, and I have a feeling he's going to make some teams look silly come preseason.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Saints Nation caught up with Herb Donaldson this Tuesday morning to get clarity on this issue, and according to him NOLA.com has a misinformed publication and he DEFINITELY signed with the Saints last Monday. He also fully plans to report with all the other rookie free agents in New Orleans. So that's first hand from the player's mouth, Saints fans. Hopefully we'll get more clarity on the issue soon, because it's very odd that the official site wouldn't include him amongst the signees. Perhaps he hasn't gotten his official jersey number, though, and they're waiting to finalize that before officially placing him on the roster. This would kind of throw a wrench in Saints Nation's current poll question since he's currently the leading candidate to make the team... but based on what Herb just told me I think we can all rest assured an official announcement about his signing should be right around the corner.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Once the fans of New Orleans got that second chance, there was never any second guessing. Every single home game since Katrina has been a sell out. As the Saints just signed a deal to keep the team in New Orleans and in the Superdome till at least 2025, it is apparent that the fans are responsible. It's remarkable, really, in this economy and in a city who's infrastructure was ravaged completely by a category 5 Hurricane, that the city still finds 70,000 people 8 Sundays a year to bolster the team's support and finances. Benson sure is singing a different tune; and while it's hard to forgive, it's getting easier to forget.
If you're interested in the exact terms of the deal struck between the Saints and the state, THIS ARTICLE does a pretty good job of ironing out the details in a brief way. I'm not involved enough to understand all the intricacies of the deal, but I believe that the Saints will remain in New Orleans till at least 2025... And that kind of news, especially after what we as New Orleanians experienced just a few years ago, is a godsend.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I blame ESPN for my increasing annoyance over Brett Favre as much as I blame Brett Favre the person. Making me sit through that pathetic press conference of Favre crying (pictured above to the left) for months on end and littering their air time with constant Brett Favre tributes was painful enough. But then he has a change of heart and tells the Packers he refuses to play for them or compete for the starting job? That "change of heart", by the way, included WEEKS of theorizing going back in forth of "he's playing"/"no he's not playing" which ESPN again loved to take a big part in. As if his retirement wasn't drawn out enough, he made us all sweat out his decision as long as possible. And I'm sure he'll do the exact same thing here, except that people are starting to care less and less. He has lost all respect from me. It's too bad because I used to really like Brett Favre. He's a winner, he's a fighter, and he's a fun guy to watch gunsling. Plus he lives in Mississippi not far from New Orleans, so the local aspect always made me root for him. But Brett, please do us all a favor and stay retired while sparring us the "is he coming back?" monthly diatribe. You're not the QB you once were, and while I'm convinced you're still better than anyone on the Vikings roster, it's not worth the mercenary approach: "I'm here for one year to win the Superbowl". It probably won't work out and the fans will turn on you just like they did in New York. People don't love you like they did in Green Bay. In fact, Vikings fans spent your entire career hating you. I'll admit, I also don't want him on the Vikings because he potentially makes them a better team within our conference. But it's time for Favre to move on. All in favor say "I".
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
1996 Houston Oilers defense: 6th overall (without Williams)
1997 Tennessee Oilers defense: 22nd overall (Williams' first season as DC)
1998 Tennessee Oilers defense: 16th overall
1999 Tennessee Titans defense: 17th overall
2000 Tennessee Titans defense: 1st defense overall (Williams goes to Buffalo after this season to be their head coach)
2000 Buffalo Bills defense: 3rd overall (year before Williams)
2001 Buffalo Bills defense: 21st overall (Williams' first season)
2002 Buffalo Bills defense: 15th overall
2003 Buffalo Bills defense: 2nd defense overall (Williams goes to Washington after this season to be their defensive coordinator)
2003 Washington Redskins defense: 25th overall (without Williams)
2004 Washington Redskins defense: 3rd overall (Williams' first season)
2005 Washington Redskins defense: 9th overall
2006 Washington Redskins defense: 31st overall
2007 Washington Redskins defense: 8th overall (Williams goes to Jacksonville after this season to be their defensive coordinator)
2007 Jacksonville Jaguars defense: 12th overall (without Williams)
2008 Jacksonville Jaguars defense: 17th overall (Williams' only season)
2008 New Orleans Saints defense: 23rd overall (without Williams)
2009 New Orleans Saints defense: ???????
What the stats show is that he's had some success. Lots of success. He's coached five top 10 defenses and three top 5 defenses. What they also show is that he is not a miracle worker. In his first year with the Oilers, Bills and Jaguars -- the defensive production was down from the previous season. In fact, the Redskins are the only team he's improved defensively in year 1. The trends we saw in Buffalo and Houston/Tennessee were that it took his players a couple years to understand his system before they really got results. Who knows what this means for the Saints, but it might be a little naive to count on him to turn them into a top 10 defense overnight. The good news is we've had the #1 offense in the NFL 2 out of the last 3 years (and 3rd in that other year) so marginal improvement would likely go a long way. Significant improvement could turn the Saints into a bonifide contender. The Saints have also added a lot more talent on defense this offseason, so there is no excuse for a step backwards. While I'm still a big fan of the Gregg Williams hire, what I take from this is that we shouldn't count on him to flip a switch and completely transform the defense overnight. I think he's biggest impact will be felt in year 2, and maybe even 3. Hopefully the offense does not grow out of their peaking performance by then.