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Falcons v Saints

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When the Saints are on defense: There's no secret here. The Falcons want to pound the ball with Michael Turner and mix in a few short and medium passes. They'll take a handful of shots downfield but that's not Matt Ryan's game. Very concerned about injuries to Patrick Robinson and Tracy Porter this week. If neither can play, the Saints have a problem. Jabari Greer is playing very well but Leigh Torrence is a liability. The Falcons have more than just Roddy White now. Still, if the Saints can get the Falcons in 3rd down passing situations, they should be able to get them off the field sometimes and that should be enough.

When the Saints are on offense: Take care of the ball. Take care of the ball. Take care of the ball. I expect the Falcons defense to be the opposite of their offense. They will throw a lot of different things at the Saints. They don't have a shutdown defense. Their defense has to take chances. They really don't match up well with the Saints passing game. They can't cover the Saints fast guys downfield without giving a big cushion, can't cover the Saints big guys in the middle without double teaming, and have no one to deal with Darren Sproles. There is no reason why the running game can't contribute this week, too. If the offense is on its game and is playing smart, they'll score a lot of points and put a lot of pressure on the Falcons offense to do the same.

The Saints can really help themselves this week. Get a good win over a division opponent on the road, go into the bye week in decent shape, and start gearing up for the final six games, four of them at home ... and that's what scares me. They were in good position to help themselves before they traveled to Tampa and before they traveled to St Louis and they laid an egg both times. They need to break that bad habit.

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Falcons - Saints week

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Kinda quiet this week so far. I think that may be because the Saints and Falcons fans are both unsure of what they have. The Falcons have looked good at times, bad at times, and puzzling at times. The same can be said of the Saints. How do you follow a spectacular blowout win of a bad team with a blowout loss to another bad team? Yes, the Saints were blown out of the Rams game. The Saints led wire-to-wire last week against the equally puzzling Bucs but they didn't really ever put the game away. This is not a must win game for the Saints but they can surely help themselves with one.

Offering my disappointing WR, Larry Fitzgerald, up in a trade for disappointing RB, Chris Johnson, this week before our fantasy football trade deadline. Not sure either player will help either team but I have to do something.

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Thoughts on Saints-Bucs

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I considered yesterday's game with the Bucs a must win for the Saints. It was important in my eyes to avoid being swept by a team in the division. They got off to a decent start and I was really pleased to see a running attack but it bothers me somewhat that they seemed to have taken their foot off the gas during the game.

I am not impressed with Josh Freeman at all. When the Saints had players in his face, he threw rainbows that hung in the air or he missed his receiver by a mile. That he completed two of those is a testament not to his ability but to how wide open his receivers were.

It will take a better effort next week to beat the suddenly hot Falcons.

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Halftime

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Saints 17 - Bucs 3

Decent first half but they can't let up. The Bucs are good enough to get back in the game and win it. Not liking the over-reliance on Jimmy Graham. They're best when everyone is involved. Also not liking Pierre Thomas limping off the field. They need him in the second half.

GEAUX Saints

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Saints v Bucs - Round 2

When the Saints are on defense: They just need to do something. Create some turnovers. Contest a pass. Get off the field. Sack the quarterback, pressure him, or knock him down. Take some of the pressure off of the offense.

When the Saints are on offense: Take care of the ball. Take care of the ball. Take care of the ball. Score some points early. Get ahead. Spread the ball around. Move the chains. Take some of the pressure off of the defense. The first loss against the Packers was mostly on the defense but the last two were mostly on the offense. The offense must be more efficient.

The Bucs won the first game by simply playing smarter. This is really the first must win game of the season. They have to treat it as such. It won't be easy. Tampa knows the Saints.

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Inconsistency

How does a team look unbeatable one week and ordinary to bad the next? Every one of Sean Payton's teams has had this problem, even the Super Bowl team. Fans may point to the 13-0 start in 2009 but even that season was up and down. OK against the Lions, great against the Eagles, OK against the Bills, great against the Jets, OK against the bye week, great against the Giants, OK against the Rams, great against the Patriots, OK against the Redskins, and so on into the playoffs. Great against the Cards, OK against the Vikes, great again against the Colts. How do you hold Freeney and Mathis at bay one week and give up all kinds of sacks the next? Consistency is what this team needs. Well, that and a couple of decent linebackers.

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Thoughts on Saints-Rams

Tip of the cap to the Rams on a solid effort in winning their first game. They absolutely deserved to win.

About the Saints: It appears Sean Payton's old nemesis has once again reared its ugly head. INCONSISTENCY. His teams have rarely put up two good games in consecutive weeks. Yesterday's loss was on the offense. Two more interceptions on Brees. Both were awful and led to touchdowns. They face a must win game this week against Tampa if they want to win the division. They still have time to figure out their inconsistency issues but I swear I did not expect to see these problems with this team. I still think they're the only real threat to the Packers in the NFC but they really need to figure out how to play better on the road.

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Game Day - Week 8, 2011

No messing around today, Saints. Just take care of the ball. You'll take care of the Rams.

Looking at today's schedule, the games in Pittsburgh, Steelers-Patriots, and Philadelphia, Eagles-Cowboys, are the only ones that look interesting. Go Pennsylvania, I suppose.

Fantasy team not looking too good for today's matchup.

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Football crowd

Wonder what kind of home crowd the Rams will have tomorrow for their game with the Saints. St Louis fans have always embraced their baseball Cardinals more than any other franchise in town. My guess is most of the buzz in the stadium will be about the World Series Champion Cardinals, not the winless Rams. There will be a strong contingent of Saints fans there, too. I don't think they'll be disappointed. Don't fool around with these guys, Saints.

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Saints v Rams

When the Saints are on defense: We don't know who will be quarterbacking the Rams. Feeley is my guess. He's a veteran. They're going to try to run Steven Jackson down the Saints throats and mix in a few passes to keep the Saints defense honest. They're going to want to keep the ball away from the Saints offense. If the Saints defense can consistently get the Rams in 3rd down situations, they'll be OK. They should expect the unexpected. The Rams can't just line up, play their game, and beat the Saints. They'll have to take some chances.

When the Saints are on offense: They just need to continue what they started last week. Spread the ball around. Use all of their playmakers. Take care of the ball. Make the Rams defense defend short, medium, long, left, right, center. Make them defend every player on the field and every blade of grass. There will be mismatches all over the field in the passing game but don't forget the running game because the Rams are pretty weak against it, too.

If the Saints play smart, they win this game. As they showed against Tampa, they don't always play smart. The biggest concern for me to watch last week was the Saints not having Sean Payton on the sidelines. I thought that was going to be a factor and something they'd have to work on all season. I still think they'll be tweaking that setup but it certainly worked. I'm not concerned at all this week.

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Quarterbacks

If there was ever a doubt that the NFL is now a quarterback league, all one need do is look around. In Indianapolis, the Colts are hopeless without Peyton Manning. Look at all of the teams who have already made switches at quarterback due to ineffective play. Look at the teams who have made switches due to injury. Clear separation is starting to show up between the average teams and the good teams. The Jets and Ravens are getting by with good defenses but their offenses are holding them back and it's because of their quarterback play. Game managers like Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, and Mark Sanchez will only get you so far. I think a quarterback has to make plays in today's NFL to get to the next level. The Packers, Saints, Steelers, and Patriots are Super Bowl contenders because they have quarterbacks who can do that.

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Thoughts on Saints-Colts

Not much to say here. The game got away fairly early and the Colts offered almost no resistance. Glad they won but I don't like to watch this kind of massacre against a bad team. It doesn't tell us much about where they are. They're back in first place in the division again, though. I like that.

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Sunday Night Football

Should be a visual feast tonight for the Saints, New Orleans, and the SuperDome. The SuperDome will put on their fabulous new light show for all to see. Hopefully, the Saints will follow suit and light up the Colts.

The Bears are helping the Saints out right now in London. The Lions are hanging with the Falcons but still trail in Detroit. The Broncos and Tim Tebow are being shut out by one of the worst teams in football, the Miami Dolphins.

It's early but it looks like my fantasy football team will take another one on the chin this week. Arian Foster is almost single-handedly doing it. He has 40 points already. My two running backs, DeAngelo Williams and Daniel Thomas, have 5 points between them.

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Saints v Colts

The Saints take on the Colts Sunday night in a matchup that looked a whole lot better for NBC a few months ago than it does now. It's a rematch of Super Bowl XLIV. Both teams are coming off of a loss.

When the Saints are on defense: The Colts are not a team that is going to pound them into submission with the running game. They are going to try to most of the same things with Curtis Painter at QB that they do with Peyton Manning. Unlike Peyton, Curtis has NOT seen everything. The Saints have to disguise what they're doing and try to confuse him. A few defensive stops are all that's needed. Turnovers will do fine in this regard. I think that Super Bowl might have been the last time the Saints won a turnover battle.

When the Saints are on offense: Be patient. The Colts are counting on their defense to keep them in this game for a little while and they'll be ready to do just that. The Saints have to just play their game. Play up tempo early to wear down their pass rushers. Bushrod is going to need some help with a healthy Dwight Freeney. Make sure he gets it. Throw the quick passes early when they're playing deep. The Saints have a huge advantage at quarterback this week. They just need to play smart.

The biggest concern for me to watch this week will be the Saints not having Sean Payton on the sidelines. That's going to be a factor and it will be something they'll have to work on all season.

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Jimmy Graham

I would like to be able to claim that spectacular powers of observation were responsible for a fantasy football tip I proffered back in February. It's not true, though. My powers of observation are pretty ordinary. When it comes to Saints tight end, Jimmy Graham, anyone with eyes could see the Saints had something. A 6'6", 260lb tight end with good hands who can run fast and jump high is going to present a problem for defenses. He's too big for the defensive backs and too fast for the linebackers ... and he's getting better by the week. He's also young and exuberant and he's in one of the best places he could be to learn his craft. It's still early but I think he'll be an All-Pro mainstay for the next 10 years.

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Thoughts on Saints-Bucs

The Saints lost a tough one yesterday that they richly deserved to lose. When they take care of the ball, they win. When they don't, they lose. It has been like that throughout the Payton era. A few more observations:

  • The whole thing went sideways as soon as Payton got hurt. I don't know how much difference it would have made to have him storming up and down the sidelines, calling the plays, making the decisions, and talking up his players but I have to think it would have made some difference. Will be an interesting couple of weeks as he rehabs and adjusts to not being on the sidelines. He doesn't need to be in playing condition but he is a high-energy guy on game day and storming up and down the sidelines is when he's at his best.
  • Getting tired of the phantom "unnecessary roughness" calls. That one on Malcolm Jenkins yesterday was bullshit.
  • Drew needs to throw his jump balls higher.
  • One of those interceptions should have been defensive pass interference. The guy pushed Colston out of bounds well beyond the five yards and while the ball was in the air.
  • Not sure what they were trying to accomplish running the ball straight up the middle. They tried it way too much to suit me. Zero, plus one, and minus one was the usual result.

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Brees with the contract ... again

I am not understanding what the holdup is. The market is set. The skins are on the wall. Brees is going to get Brady/Manning money, maybe slightly better. He deserves it. The leverage is all Drew's. The Saints can't let him go and everyone knows it. It is not very often that the fans are 100% behind the player and not the team but that is the case here. What exactly is left to negotiate?

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Saints v Bucs

The Saints have a chance to take command of the NFC South this Sunday with a win over the Bucs. I know it's too early to talk like that but the Bucs still have a trip to Lambeau, the Falcons have a trip to Detroit, and both still have to face Carolina twice and the Texans. The schedule favors the Saints if they just take care of business and beat the teams they should beat.

When the Saints are on defense: The Bucs are going to try to get physical with the Saints. Whether it's LeGarrette Blount or Earnest Graham, the goal will be the same. Ball control. Josh Freeman is a decent quarterback but not much more than that. He's not a guy that will consistently move the chains on 3rd down. They need to get the Bucs in 3rd down situations.

When the Saints are on offense: This is a mismatch. The Bucs are pretty mediocre on defense. They don't stop the run all that well, they don't rush the passer all that well, and they don't cover all that well. The Saints can take advantage of all of those things. They are not going to be able to stop Drew Brees and the offense without considerable help FROM Drew Brees and the offense.

If the Saints play smart on offense and defense and if they take care of the ball, they'll be 5-1 and will keep pace with the other NFC leaders.

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About confidence

One last thing about last week's game-winning drive versus the Panthers. In basketball, there's a strategy of "playing for the last shot". To me, it looked like the Saints were doing exactly that. Typically, a team will do that at the end of the game only if the game is tied. You want the last shot to go in or you want the game to end in a tie and go into overtime. You don't want the other team to get a shot. When the Saints started that last drive, they were behind by more than a field goal. They needed a touchdown. There were 7 minutes left and they used more than 6 of them methodically moving down the field. Sean Payton showed a monumental amount of confidence in Drew Brees and the offense. It was not without risk. They don't get the touchdown, they lose. It was fantastic and it screwed the Panthers. They had some time at the end but not much and they had zero room for error.

The Saints and Bucs have developed a pattern the last two years. The Saints blow the Bucs out in Tampa and lose to them in the SuperDome in a closer game later in the year. Once again, the schedule-makers have deemed to have the two teams play in Tampa first. As a Saints fan, that is my preference. They play all division opponents on the road first this year.

Bob Fortus of the Picayune thinks the Bucs will be angry and motivated. I don't know about that but I suspect they'll play better this week because they are better than they looked last week in San Francisco. The Saints will have their hands full.

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Thoughts on Saints-Panthers

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  • There were question marks about Cam Newton coming into the season. I wouldn't say they've all been answered yet but I'd say enough of them have been answered that I wish he was in another division. As a Saints fan, he concerns me much more than Matt Ryan or Josh Freeman already.
  • With every long, game-winning drive, Drew Brees' agent says cha-ching. I can hear it all the way in Bush.
  • Never thought I'd say this but the Saints need to diversify their offense. They are looking for and going to Graham and Sproles too much. Those guys are doing a great job but the Saints have a ton of playmakers and they're all more effective if the defense has to account for them. They need to spread the ball around more and let the other guys make some plays.
  • Still waiting for this defense to get better. Don't think we've found the answers at outside linebacker.
  • Call it the Brett Favre effect but I think the Saints are getting called for way too many roughing the passer penalties mainly because of the reputation they earned, right or wrong, after the NFC Championship game and because of Gregg Williams subsequent "remember me" silliness.

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Sizing up

No, not your Big Mac meal. The NFC South. I agree with him. The early schedule favored the Bucs and Falcons. Now, it favors the Saints. The Saints went 2-1 versus the Packers, Bears, and Texans. The Falcons are 0-1 so far and the Bucs are still 0-0 against those three. They still need to take care of their own business, though. Good things can happen for the Saints if they beat Carolina tomorrow afternoon. There is the possibility of gaining a game on the whole division.

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From the desk of Peter King

From SI's Peter King:

New Orleans Saints (3-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-3)
Gregg Williams is the latest bright defensive mind to give Cam Newton his best shot this week. It'll be just enough at the weirdly named Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Loved what Newton said the other day when a reporter asked him if he was surprised with how well he's made the transition from college to pro quarterback. "If you write a good article, do you surprise yourself?" Newton said. Jerry Richardson's got to be gleeful over Cam Newton.

The game is in Charlotte. Says it right there in the first line unless I'm missing something and Charlotte has its own "weirdly named Mercedes-Benz Superdome". Proofread much, Mr Professional?

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Saints v Panthers

On paper, this is a mismatch. See last week's entry for what I think of mismatches. This is an important division game. The Saints have to treat it as such.

When the Saints are on defense: The Saints have a lot of experience with the Panthers but a new coaching staff and a new rookie quarterback renders that experience moot. They are not a run first team any more but they still have two terrific backs and I figure they'll start using them sooner or later. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have both been a problem for the Saints. It is important for the Saints to stop those guys on first and second down. They have to get Carolina's offense into third downs and they have got to get off of the field a few times either on downs or on turnovers. They also have to contain Cam Newton. He likes to extend plays with his feet and when he does, Steve Smith gets open. They have to minimize that and make him throw to the tight ends and other receivers. They'll make a few plays but they don't tend to be big plays. Make them go on long drives.

When the Saints are on offense: The Panthers defense is having all sorts of problems. They've been gashed for rushing yards and passing yards all year. No reasons whatsoever that the Saints can't continue that trend. They need to go about it with more consistency, though. They need to score touchdowns.

One last message to the Saints: Don't fool around with these guys. Not saying you don't put in a good effort every week but you tend to make games you should win harder on yourselves ... and us fans. :) The Panthers are going to play hard until the end and the longer they stay in the game, the more dangerous they'll be.

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Cam Newton

The Saints get their first of what will probably be many looks at Cam Newton this Sunday. Will be interesting to see what Gregg Williams can conjure up for him. The Panthers are not a run first team any more even though they have still have two 1000-yard backs in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Cam is also not a run first quarterback any more like he was at Auburn. His growth as a pro has been very impressive. He is a quite unpleasant addition to the NFC South for us non-Carolina fans. I think you need to slow down their running game, keep Cam in the pocket, blanket Steve Smith, and make him beat you throwing to other receivers. Those other guys can make a few plays but not enough to beat a good team like the Saints ... I hope.

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The Morning After

  • Except for the Saints' first two drives yesterday, there were only a few bright spots in yesterday's win over the Jaguars.
  • The Jags play decent defense but the Saints left plays on the field, too.
  • Glad that Jag linebacker wasn't thinking on that interception. He could have lowered his head, turned right into Drew, and delivered some punishment. No way should he have let Drew push him out of bounds.
  • For the second week in a row, the Saints lost the turnover battle but still won the game. I like that they can overcome that on occasion but it IS living dangerously.
  • They did just enough to win yesterday. I think Saints fans are just going to have to learn to live with that once in a while. We got a little too used to impressive winning in 2009. We need to get over that.
  • The defense concerns some. To those, I say look around the league. The Saints have given up 98 points in 4 games. So have the Patriots. The Packers, God's gift to the NFL, have given up 97. The Cowboys and Eagles gave up 24 and 21 point leads yesterday. No one, except maybe the Ravens, is playing great defense right now. Some will get better, though. I expect the Saints to be one of them.

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Get over that other hump

The Saints climbed the mountain and planted their flag two years ago. There were quite a few fairly easy wins that year and most of them came against the good teams. The Saints weren't considered elite then. Last year, they were considered elite yet I can only think of one easy win and that was against the Bucs in Tampa. New England gets 5-6 easy ones every year. I'm not saying any one game should be easy. Just saying they shouldn't all be so difficult. I guess we could say the Bears game was easy. This one tomorrow should be, too, but I bet it won't be. Hope I'm wrong.

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Saints v Jaguars

On paper, it looks like this is a mismatch but three mismatches last year (Cardinals, Browns, and especially, the Seahawks) went seriously wrong and I'm sure that is on Sean Payton's mind this week.

When the Saints are on defense: The Saints know what the Jags want to do. They want to run Maurice Jones-Drew down their throats as hard and as often as they can. They'll mix in a variety of passes to keep the Saints honest but Coach Rob would not be honest with them. Coach Rob would keep 8-9 men in the box, blanket their tight end, Marcedes Lewis, and make rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert and his wide receivers beat me. The more 3rd downs the Jaguars face, the better off the Saints D will be.

When the Saints are on offense: They need to be patient. The Jaguar defense is similar to the Bears D. They play super deep to prevent the big play. That pass to Devery Henderson over the Bears "Cover 2" defense in the first half was fantastic and thoroughly chilled those guys to the bone. That's where the game was won. ALL other defenses will see that on film and will stay deep like the Bears did after that pass and like the Texans did last week until the Saints made them creep up. Defenses have to pick their poison against the Saints. When they do, the Saints need to make sure they die. What I'd really like to see, though, is for Drew and the offense to get that big engine cranked up early. No way the Jags will be able to keep up.

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Marques Colston back already

When I heard Marques Colston broke his collar bone and was going to be out four weeks, I thought four weeks was optimistic. I thought then it would be closer to six. Turns out it was pessimistic if he's back already. I hope he is completely healed. No need for him to have a setback this week. The Saints will definitely need him down the road.

Best news is Zack Strief's injury is not season-ending. Charles Brown did fine last week in relief but I'll feel better when the Saints have both Brown and Strief healthy.

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Tuesday Morning Quarterback - Week 3, 2011

Gotta tell you. It did my heart good to see the fundamentally sound and methodically conservative Falcons fall for the no-brainer freeze play Sunday with the game on the line. When the Bengals fell for it last year against the Saints, it could be attributed to two factors. 1) The Bengals were a bad team and 2) Sean Payton is bold enough to run a play in that situation. I don't think Raheem Morris is that bold and it remains to be seen if the Falcons are that bad. :) If you can't tell, I like Raheem a whole lot more than I like Mike Smith.

No way that flag should have been thrown. That was a fabulous play.

Wondering why the Saints waited until the 4th quarter to blitz Matt Schaub Sunday. When they started doing it in the 4th quarter, he was far less effective. In fact, he kinda crumbled.

I don't know if the Buffalo Bills can hold up for a whole season but I'm enjoying them being in sole possession of first place in the AFC East with the loud-mouthed Jets and most awesome Patriots chasing them.

The Detroit Lions, on the other hand, look very likely be around the leaders all season, both in their division and in the NFC.

More bouquets thrown at the Packers. Please get well soon, Pack. People are really worried about you.

The Colts put up a pretty game effort Sunday night for the first time this season but it was yet another loss. Peyton Manning may as well take the year off. No reason whatsoever to come back to this team this season.

The goal in last night's game here was to limit Jason Witten to a less-than-spectacular night. That was a fantasy football goal. Didn't care much about the game. I watched a minute here and a minute there for a total of three or four minutes. Glad I didn't watch the whole thing. Had to be boring. The NFC East needs all of the self-promotion they do. That whole division is dull.

From the Saints' next opponent file is a comment from a Jacksonville Jaguar fan:

One in ten Americans is currently out of work. Jack Del Rio should join them.

Alrighty then.

Finally, my fantasy team finally broke into the win column this week thanks in large part to Jimmy Graham. It's Hyde week.

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No huddle - Fake injury nonsense

From SI's Peter King:

I think it is wrong to coach players to fake injuries. I also think teams do it (I have long suspected New Orleans defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove took a dive in the Colts-Saints Super Bowl when Peyton Manning had Indianapolis rolling in the no-huddle in the second half), and teams coach it. There's little doubt of that.

Yet another potshot at the Saints Super Bowl XLIV victory. It just galls some that the Saints won that one over their favored son. GOOD. And about this one: You can't, on the one hand, extoll the virtues of the no-huddle hurry-up offense and how it wears defenses down, dehydrates them, and takes their legs out from under them and then cry about it when it does exactly that. The no-huddle is especially hard on defensive linemen. Must be hard on wide receivers, too. Reggie Wayne's legs looked like they were in concrete on the very next play.

Solid win for the Saints

That was a solid and very satisfying win the Saints got yesterday over the Texans. They got behind early. They were not at their best. They sustained in-game injuries in addition to the ones they already had. They did not win the turnover battle. They still found a way to win over a pretty good team. I'll take that kind any day.

Worried about the injuries to the offensive line yesterday. Charles Brown filled in fine for Zack Strief. I think Strief might be done for the year. His injury looked pretty nasty. I didn't see Kreutz go down. I noticed de la Puente in the game but couldn't figure out who he was playing for. Matt Tenant was inactive yesterday. That will change next week. I'm betting they'll be looking at free agents this week.

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An anniversary

Today is the 5th anniversary of the re-opening of the SuperDome.

I remember going to work that day. It was Monday. The Saints were 2-0. The Falcons were also 2-0 and were favored because they ran all over the first two teams they played. The Saints had a new coaching staff and a lot of new faces. I knew maybe two or three guys on the offense and even fewer on the defense. The rest of the team was draft picks and free agents. They had somehow beaten the Browns and the Packers on the road but they were going to be really tested that night. Michael Vick was a monster in the wildcat formation and he was always hard on the Saints. This was going to be a tough game. I decided to wear one of my Saints shirts that day. I thought nothing of it at the time.

When I got to work, I knew something special was happening. Just about everyone was wearing Saints gear. The game was the talk of the town. We didn't really know what we had yet because Head Coach Sean Payton was also a new face and they'd only played two games. Both games were close but one thing was immediately apparent. Drew Brees was much more accurate and decisive than Aaron Brooks ever was.

The video below is from the pre-game festivities. It is fantastic and I never get tired of it.


I would always prefer to be at the game rather than watching on TV but there are some games that I am especially sorry I didn't attend. The Falcons game that night is one of them. The Saints forced a three and out on the Falcons first possession. Steve Gleason came through almost untouched and blocked the punt. It was recovered for a Saints touchdown and it sent the crowd and the Saints bench into orbit. The Saints won that night and their trajectory as a franchise changed right before our very eyes. We've always loved our Saints ... even when we were hiding behind paper bags. We hide no more. I've said this before and I truly believe it. The Saints saved the city of New Orleans. I can't imagine what that soul-crushing period after Katrina and the hard recovery would have been like if we'd had another sorry Saints team to despair over.

The Saints take on the tough Houston Texans in about 25 minutes. The formula remains the same. If they take care of the ball, they'll take care of the Texans.

On the fantasy front, I'm going into today's game short-handed. Peyton Hillis is out so do I go with Daniel Thomas against the Browns or DeAngelo Williams against the Jaguars? My choice is Daniel Thomas. DeAngelo is getting a lot of money in Carolina and producing very little. He'd better make the most of his opportunities today but he stays on my bench until he starts doing so.

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About beatable quarterbacks

From Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle's Z Report:

Drew Brees is great, but he’s not Peyton or Brady. There is no denying that the Saints emergence as an NFC power has coincided with their signing of Drew Brees back in 2006. Brees has posted some phenomenal numbers and, more importantly, been the unquestioned leader of the Saints. I have tremendous respect for Brees, but I do think he’s more “beatable” than both Manning and Brady. While Brees doesn’t lack the confidence of either QB, I have seen defenses confuse and rattle Brees from time to time which is why he’s thrown 79 interceptions in 81 games as a Saint including seasons with 22, 18 and 17. Granted, Brees throws more passes than your average QB, I’m just saying that the Texans have a better chance of shaking him than you might think.

His stats are OK here but I don't completely buy his analysis. Let's put this out front first: ALL quarterbacks are less effective when they're getting knocked around a lot. No exceptions. I only saw Brees really confused for a whole game once last year and that was against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns came up with a defense that had the whole Saints offense flummoxed. As for being "beatable", football IS a team sport. How well a QB plays depends a lot on who they're playing, how often they're playing with the lead, how much their own defense is helping them, how the running game is going, etc.

Drew did throw more interceptions than normal last year and some of them were very bad. One pick six against the Falcons was especially bad but he overcame it and the Saints won that game. I give Brady and Manning an edge here but only because they've had longer periods of excellence. Drew is doing fine in that area considering he languished in a different kind of offense for five years in San Diego.

Tom Brady and the Patriots are playing very well after two weeks. Brady is off the charts. How would they have fared against the Packers at Lambeau and the Bears at home? My guess is about the same as the Saints did. The Saints had a rough first quarter on opening night but have played pretty well since. How would Brees and the Saints have fared against the Dolphins at whatever-that-place-is-called and the Chargers at home? My guess is about the same as the Pats did. How would the two teams and quarterbacks do against each other? I hope we get to find out. :)

One last thing: I like what the Patriots are doing with their two young pass-catching tight ends. They're going to be a tough matchup for any defense. I'd like to see the Saints add one next year to go with Jimmy Graham.

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Texans v Saints

When the Saints are on defense: It will be good to have Will Smith back this week. The pass rush was pretty good this past week against the Bears but I think that might have been the result of one of the dumbest offensive game plans I've ever seen. Thank you, Mike Martz. I don't expect the Texans to be like that. They'll stick to their running game and mix in some passing plays off of play action. Their cutback running concerns me. The Saints have been known to over-commit and get sealed off. That naked bootleg Matt Schaub does has also been very effective against the Saints in preseason games. The defense is going to have to get the Texans in 3rd down passing situations and they're going to have to get off of the field once in a while. A turnover or two wouldn't hurt, either.

When the Saints are on offense: The Saints haven't seen this Texans 3-4 defense except this past preseason when both teams played as vanilla as they could. Their defense won't be as conservative as the Bears were last week. Throw the Colts game out. Kerry Collins had maybe two weeks of practice in a new system. He was hopeless. The Dolphins were able to run downhill on them, though. Here's a chance for all of the Saints running backs to see what they can do. The passing game will be there. The formula for the Saints has been the same for three years now. If they take care of the ball, they'll take care of the Texans. Wouldn't hurt if they got off to a faster start, though.

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Wednesday Morning Quarterback - Week 2, 2011

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Tuesday Morning Quarterback a day late.

Saints got a solid win Sunday over the Bears. It was a pretty close game until the fourth quarter and it was good for Saints fans to get a satisfying win over those guys. The officiating crew was pretty bad. They ticky-tacked a roughing call early in the game that saved the Bear touchdown drive. They missed an unnecessary roughness call on the Bears a minute later where the Saints guy was hit a solid yard out of bounds and pushed into the Saints bench. That one had Sean Payton fuming. They then missed Darren Sproles stepping out of bounds on a touchdown. The official claims he tried to communicate but couldn't. In the end, none of that mattered. The Saints were the better team that day.

Mike Martz may have a lot of great offensive plays in his head but his offense has been figured out. He doesn't protect his quarterbacks. He nearly got Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger killed in St Louis and it looks like he's going to get Jay Cutler killed in Chicago. I'm no fan of Cutler and he is partly to blame for the beating he takes but I felt bad for the abuse he got Sunday. His offensive line is horrible and he holds on to the ball too long. Late in the game, when they were finished and he should have given way to his backup, Martz had him under center with an empty backfield. When he dropped back, the Saints were getting to his spot as fast as he was. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Is it too late to schedule the Chiefs? Not only have they been the worst team in the NFL the first two weeks, they've lost their best player for the season.

The buzz yesterday was all about the Giants pulling some of the most bush-league crap I've seen since the Seattle Seahawks did the exact same thing some years ago against the Buffalo Bills. Somehow, to me, a fine, a penalty, or a charged timeout doesn't seem like enough. Teams are playing a fast no-huddle offense. If teams are allowed to fake injuries to slow them down, make substitutions, or just to catch their breath, it's wrong. On the other hand, playing a fast tempo like that causes injuries. Defenses get gassed and they cramp up if they have to play at that tempo all game. I'm all for doing something about the blatant cheaters like the Giants but don't expect this to stop. Teams are just going to get better at faking. Let's at least make them do that.

My fantasy football team lost another close game this weekend. I feel better about this one because I played all of the right players and they put up a decent score. The other team was just better this week.

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Saints v Bears

With three killer games to open the season, the schedule maker did the Saints no favors. What I think about this Week 2 matchup at the SuperDome:

On offense, the key is patience. The Bears are going to play ridiculously deep to prevent the big play. Not only is that what they do best anyway but that is what has proven to be a Saints weakness. The Bears will give the Saints short completions. Get the ball to Sproles. He can turn short completions into long gains.

On defense, just do more of what they did in the second half of last week's game. The Bears don't have the offense the Packers have. Their receivers aren't as disciplined or as good. Cutler can put up decent numbers but he can also be sacked and hurried into turnovers. Time for the D to step up.

And to the Saints players: Please don't give those guys as much help as you have in the past. If you take care of the ball, you'll take care of the Bears.

GEAUX Saints

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About the Bears

Hopefully, the Saints have figured out some things about the Bears since the last time they played. They figure to play that same soft "Tampa 2" defense that the Bears and many other teams have used against the Saints with success. They'll play very deep, try to keep everything in front of them, and try to make Drew impatient. In spite of his Super Bowl performance two years ago, most teams know he doesn't like to dink and dunk. Most teams try to take away the Saints big plays. The Saints need to play fast and take those 7-8 yard gains. If they can get ahead of these guys for once, I think we'll see the kind of game all Saints fans are hoping for Sunday. It's good to finally get these guys at our place.

Tough loss for Brian Urlacher. Sympathies to him and his family. He'll play this Sunday. His teammates will rally around him and they'll be doubly tough.

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Easy people ... easy

About some of the criticism from Thursday night's loss:

Bad tackling: If you go to the Green Bay boards, their fans are saying the same thing. This is league-wide. I'm not sure I buy it, though. Modern offenses are designed to get playmakers in open space and some offenses are pretty good at it. You saw two of them Thursday night. Both teams have a lot of weapons. The Saints defense was considerably better after halftime. You didn't hear Jermichael Finley's name at all in the second half and only heard Greg Jennings' name once or twice. The Saints didn't lose because of poor tackling. They lost because the other team made one less mistake and one more play.

Red zone short yardage failures: This has been an ongoing problem for Sean Payton's entire tenure here. They've tried power running, they've tried play-action passing, they've tried reverses. All with limited success. NFL defenses are smart. In the red zone, they have less field to defend and the offense's options are limited. To win down there, you're not likely to fool them with your formations or your personnel group or your play call. You have to beat them. Getting better here is going to take a determined effort.

Play calling: Are you kidding me? Really? Sean Payton is the best play-caller in the game. Absolutely not the problem. It's a 60-minute game. Not every play is going to go for a first down or a touchdown but a lot of them do in New Orleans. We are spoiled rotten with this offense.

Bad games from some players: Patrick Robinson had a rough night but this was his first real playing time and he was defending some of the best receivers in the game. He wasn't torched, though. He was right with Jennings for the touchdown. That back shoulder timing route is a great play that is difficult to defend. The front seven had a rough first half. Most people are focusing on the struggles in the secondary but if the ball gets past the front seven 90% of the time, the secondary is going to have trouble. They did much better in the second half and that bodes well for the team in my book.

Here's what I take from Thursday night: The Packers were better that night and it's a long season. Says here the Saints will look much better next week against the Bears.

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Thoughts on Saints-Packers

Two old problems plagued the Saints last night.

On offense, it's short yardage. It's been a problem since Sean Payton got here. Most people only saw it in the Super Bowl two years ago when two tries to get one yard failed. We saw it again last night ... twice. Saints fans have been seeing it for a long time now. They can make 3rd and 18 but they can't get one yard when they need it. Not sure what the answer is but they'd better find it. It comes up a lot.

On defense, it's the pass rush. The return of Will Smith in two weeks will help there but I think this will probably be an area of concern whenever they play good teams.

I'm kinda surprised at the doom and gloom coming out of some people about this one loss. The defense had some problems but they also got some stops. The Saints spent the whole game chasing the Packers but they might not have without that early turnover. It was an exciting game. Tip of the cap to the Packers on a well-earned victory but the season is certainly not lost here.

In fantasy football, Greg Jennings got an early score for me and Jimmy Graham got a late one so there's that. :)

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Showtime

The big day is finally here. As Judas Priest would say, "Here's where the talkin' ends". Kinda enjoying the talk between all of the fans, though. The players aren't getting into it much. That's a little disappointing.

I expect both teams to be ready to go tonight. Saints are short-handed. Defensive end Will Smith, wide receiver Lance Moore, and placekicker Garrett Hartley are out. Lance had a great game against the Packers last time so no doubt he'll be missed. No excuses to be made and no quarter to be offered and there's no crying in football, either.

I have two players going tonight for my fantasy team. Tight end Jimmy Graham of the Saints and wide receiver Greg Jennings of the Packers. Hope Graham has a big night.

All kinds of bouquets being thrown at Ted Thompson, Aaron Rodgers, and Green Bay fans nowadays. Thompson and Rodgers have earned them. Not sure about the rest of it, though. The "Green Bay way", in particular, bothers me. The nonchalance. It's part of "their culture". Don't celebrate. Put up the trophy, hang the banner, and leave room for others. Just another day at the office, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, well, part of the Green Bay culture also had many of those same Green Bay fans sending death threats to Thompson and Rodgers over the Brett Favre situation just a few years ago. They booed Rodgers in his first training camp. Convenient memories up there in Green Bay.

Man up, Pack. The Saints are coming.

Saints v Packers tonight.

GEAUX Saints

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Payton Extension and the Packers game plan

Sean Payton's contract extension is great news. The Saints are the most exciting team in football and he is totally responsible for that. Time to get Drew locked up, too.

Thursday's Gameplan:

Defensively, my guess is the Saints will play a similar game against the Pack that they used against the Colts in the Super Bowl. They'll primarily concern themselves with the Packers passing game. Payton is rumored to have said to Gregg Williams that he doesn't care if the Colts get a hundred yards rushing and Williams responded that he didn't care if they got two hundred. The Colts are not a running team. Neither are the Packers. I think the Saints have a better secondary now than they did then. Patrick Robinson will be a better nickel back than Malcolm Jenkins was and Jenkins is a better, much more athletic free safety than Darren Sharper was. The capability is there to do a better job of it against the Pack then they did against the Colts. They'll have Jenkins over the top to help with Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley. I think the rest of the Saints secondary can man up against Pack receivers. The front seven will deal with the running game.

Offensively, I expect the Saints to throw the ball early against the Pack's base defense and just mix in a few runs. Later, when the Packers start getting creative with their defenses, is when I think we'll see a steady diet of Mark Ingram and the ground game. I like everything about the Saints receivers and tight end Jimmy Graham matching up against the Packer secondary. That's where the game will be won.

GEAUX Saints

3 days until Saints v Packers

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4 days and counting ...

4 days until Saints v Packers

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Drew Brees and the big contract he has coming

Huge gap? I don't believe that. I can't believe that he's asking for much more than Peyton Manning money and I can't believe the Saints are offering much less than Peyton Manning money so how could a "huge gap" exist? The Saints know what the market for Brees is and Brees knows what his market value is. They're going to let him play a season and, then, franchise him? That will cost them even more, especially if he wins a Super Bowl. Saints are geared up for a big season and Drew will be the main man. Admit this to yourselves, Saints. Drew has all of the leverage. There's no way you can let him walk. Season ticket sales would plummet and a window of opportunity for more championships will close. The fans would never forgive you. You have no Aaron Rodgers or Steve Young waiting in the wings. You have no choice. Stop messing around. Just bite the bullet and do the right thing.

5 days until Saints v Packers

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6 days ...

I don't know how many of the guys that played last night will still be in town Sunday but it can't be many. I'm sure some of the offensive linemen will be backups. The little I saw was pretty ugly. Running back Joique Bell made a case for himself to make the final roster. He played well enough that the Saints won't be able to stash him on the practice squad because someone would definitely take him. I think they're going to keep 5 tailbacks and 1 fullback. After having no running backs at the end of last year, this is a much better problem.

All eyes on the Packers now. I think the Saints match up very well with the defending champs. We'll find out soon enough.

6 days until Saints v Packers

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With 3rd string QB Sean Canfield starting tonight and with 27 players taking their last shot at making the team, I can't think of a single reason to watch. I'll watch for a little while, though. Canfield's only chance to make the team is if the Saints decide to keep three QBs. Not likely. Chase Daniel is the backup. I think Sean will be on the practice squad for another year. The whole rookie draft class should be on display and that's really all I care to see tonight.

It was in the news yesterday that the Saints are talking to Drew Brees' agent about an extension. Both sides want it done so it will get done. Most "experts" are thinking its numbers will be below that of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. I don't see why. I think it should be the same. He means every bit as much to the Saints as those guys mean to their teams.

Petty, petty politics has a Presidential address airing on the same night as the Packers-Saints season opener next Thursday. The Republicans didn't like the President asking for Wednesday night because it would conflict with their televised debate so they said no and suggested Thursday night. Petty all around. Petty for the President to choose Wednesday night knowing it would rankle the Republicans and petty for the Republicans to suggest Thursday night knowing it would conflict with the NFL opening night extravaganza. Are these really the only two nights on the calender?

7 days until Saints v Packers

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Alex Brown

Kind of surprising Alex Brown was released yesterday but it really shouldn't be. I can't say he was any more invisible than his predecessor, Charles Grant, but he wasn't much less invisible. The guy hardly ever made a play. I wonder if this is an indication the Saints have information on Will Smith's opening day status. If Smith can't play due to suspension, who are the opening day defensive ends? Rookie first rounder Cam Jordan will play but I would think they need at least two more. Turk McBride and Jeff Charleston? Repeat after me. In Payton we trust. In Payton we trust. In Payton we trust.

8 days until Saints v Packers

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Tuesday Saints Tidbits

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Thinking the offensive line will be fine. With a good mix of run and pass available this season, the defenses won't be able to tee off as much as they did last year. Also, Drew hasn't done a lot of play action in the preseason. Chase has, though. I wonder if that's by design. Show vanilla with Drew when the Packer film watchers are paying attention and do a little more with the guy they know won't be playing much. The cat will be out of the bag in 9 days.

Chances are good that Chris Johnson will be MIA this Thursday night in the SuperDome. He's still holding out. Even if he had reported to camp on time, I can't imagine him playing in the last preseason game. Saints fans will have to wait until December to see Johnson. This Saints fan thinks the Titans aren't paying him nearly enough and he should sit out the whole season. That will show them.

Would like to see Drew hit Sproles in the hands on those swing passes instead of his helmet.

I'm not as concerned about the tackling as some. Tackling is a matter of determination and there just isn't much of that in the preseason, especially for tackling big running backs.

Love when it's down to single digits.

9 days until Saints v Packers

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10 days and counting ...

The countdown begins. Wasn't too thrilled with the Saints effort on defense yesterday against the Raiders. They still get sealed off inside and let runners bounce outside, especially early in games. The pass defense didn't look great, either. They need to start getting to the quarterback.

The offense looked better this week than the first two. I think they'll be OK but they still need to find some balance. They're throwing too much, particularly to Jimmy Graham. The passing game is more effective when everyone is involved. Not that I mind Graham being involved this much because he's on my fantasy team but I want a Super Bowl Championship for the Saints more than I want a fantasy football championship. Ideally, I'd like both.

The Saints have a date with the Titans this Thursday night in the SuperDome. The two will also play during the regular season. The last preseason game, usually the most vanilla game imaginable with just about all of the starters held out, will be even more so. Might be a good game for insomniacs.

10 days until Saints v Packers

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I remember the last time the Saints played the Raiders in Oakland during the preseason, too. Brees was going to play the whole first half but he was as sharp as he's ever been and his first three drives resulted in 3 TDs. He left right after the first quarter up, 21-0. The Saints bench continued pouring it on the Raiders starters well into the 3rd quarter until it was 45-0. The Raiders scored their touchdown against soon-to-be car washers and insurance salesmen. The Saints went on to win the Super Bowl. More of that, please. :)

I'm just hoping they play better tonight than they've played the first two weeks just to give me a little hope they'll be ready for the Pack in 11 days.

For better or worse, here is The Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground for 2011:

QB Ben Roethlisberger - $22
QB Jay Cutler - $2
RB Peyton Hillis - $29
RB DeAngelo Williams - $19
RB Daniel Thomas - $4
RB Ben Tate - $1
RB DeMarco Murray - $1
WR Larry Fitzgerald - $25
WR Greg Jennings - $27
WR Johnny Knox - $1
WR Mike Sims-Walker - $1
WR Greg Little - $1
TE Jimmy Graham - $15
PK Olindo Mare - $1
D/ST Seahawks - $1

The first player added to my team was Jimmy Graham and I think I overpaid. I'm certain he doesn't go for this much elsewhere but I was in a roomful of Saints fans. Depending on the Browns' Colt McCoy and the Panthers' Cam Newton to provide enough of a passing threat to keep 8-9 men out of the box so DeAngelo Williams and Peyton Hillis have a little room to run. Hoping Larry Fitzgerald returns to form with that big contract and a better QB. I think I'm pretty safe with Ben Roethlisberger and Greg Jennings.

11 days until Saints v Packers

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Saints v Packers

A few chinks in the Packers armor were revealed last night according to the Green Bay Gazette. I watched a little bit of that game. The chinks must have been revealed after I switched away from it. What I saw of the Pack was pretty impressive. Aaron Rodgers is a super QB. The Saints will have their hands full but if they can get ahead or stop the Pack running game and get them in obvious passing situations, his pass protection is suspect. The Saints defense is going to have to get off of the field a few times. I think the Saints offense can do business against their defense. Can't wait.

12 days until Saints v Packers

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

Postcards

About Peter King's postcard:

The bad: opening at Super Bowl champ Green Bay.

Just as bad for the Pack as it is for the Saints. The Saints probably match up with the Packers better than anyone else in the NFC. Yes, it's a tough game for the Saints but it's definitely no gimme for the Packers.

I don't think there will be a lot of surprises in the first Saints cutdown next week. The only surprise for me would be if I recognize any of the names.

13 days until Saints v Packers

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

Just some things with two weeks to go

  • Glad the preseason is winding down. The Saints are starting to get a little banged up.
  • Wonder if Will Smith will get to play against the Packers. If so, that's great news.
  • I would like to see the Saints offense get a touchdown on the first drive this Sunday in Oakland. Just to make sure they still know how.
  • No team has the quality depth in the defensive secondary that the Saints have. That will help them tremendously against the top flight passing teams.
  • Unfortunately, the NFL has more running teams than passing teams still. The other three teams in the NFC South, despite all of their upgrades in their passing games, are still grind-it-out, physical running teams.
  • Some short-sighted Saints fans are a bit upset that the Saints are considering moving training camp to Oxnard, CA. They're using the taxpayer angle. The Saints get concessions from the state, they should help the local economy whenever possible, blah, blah, blah. This taxpayer wants them to do what makes football sense.

14 days until Saints v Packers

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

Thoughts on Saints-Texans

Not terribly alarmed by this loss. I only watched the first half in real time. I kind of blew through the second half with the DVR to see if there were any highlights. Didn't notice any. Here are some things I noticed in the first half:

Let me start with this. That naked bootleg the Texans run with Matt Schaub is very effective and that brings up a problem I have with the NFL. The best way to defend that play is to tackle the quarterback every time. The problem with defending it that way is if the quarterback actually hands the ball off and you tackle him, you're getting a personal foul penalty. That is just not right. The defense should have the right to assume the quarterback still has the ball until he shows his hands or hook slides to the ground and takes himself out of the play. Brett Favre handed off against the Saints in the NFC Championship game and continued running. Bobby McCray blew him up and got flagged for it but he shouldn't have. I'm for protecting quarterbacks but only if they're standing tall in the pocket. If they're out running and still in the play, they're fair game and should be treated like any other ball carrier. It is totally unfair for a quarterback to try to make the defense think he still has the ball and then penalize the defense for believing him.

Both teams played basic defense and neither team really wanted to tackle the other's running backs.

The Saints got a little too cute at the goal line on the first drive. Drew really needs to be smarter with the ball. Take the sack or throw the ball away next time. Better yet, run the ball. That's what had them there in the first place.

How did the officials not see Sproles being tackled on that screen pass? Even after Drew threw the ball to the ground right at him to help point it out? What the hell were they looking at?

Pass protection was a little better this week but not much. Biggest area of concern for me right now.

Robert Meachem makes a great catch on a terrible pass this week but dropped a perfect pass last week. He's now entering the Devery Henderson zone with the wild inconsistency. With rookie Joe Morgan making some great plays, the Saints are going to have trouble letting him go. That means Henderson, Meachem, and Courtney Roby had better step up or Morgan is going to take one of those roster spots.

When these two teams meet again in a few weeks in the SuperDome, it's going to be a whole other thing. There will be blitzing. There will be play action. There will be starters on the field the whole game. Unfortunately for the Saints, it will be their third straight tough game after the Packers in Week 1 and the Bears in Week 2.

18 days until Saints v Packers

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

Texans v Saints

Playing a team in preseason that you're going to be playing for real in just a few weeks is always something to be concerned about. You do learn a little something about each other. Who can beat who one-on-one is the main thing but, since both teams want to get their first teams some work, there is going to be an offensive motive to make a few first downs and score some points and there is going to be a defensive motive to get some stops and turnovers. That means there will be some game-planning. Who can withhold the most?

Here's what I'm looking for from the Saints:

What kind of pass protection can they muster? I didn't think it was very good against the 49ers last week.

I'd like to see them get a few yards in the running game early. They seem to do fine with the running game in the 3rd and 4th quarters but I'd like to see a little more production in the 1st and 2nd quarters. That will help play action.

I'd like to see the defense continue what they were doing last week ... playing fast. On that note, I'd be shocked if Jonathan Casillas is not in the starting lineup against the Packers. He needs to play under control but he's all over the field and in on just about every tackle. I see Will Herring on the strong side and Casillas on the weak side with Vilma in the center when the Saints are in the 4-3. When they're in the 3-4, add Scott Shanle. I don't know how many linebackers the Saints are going to keep but the four mentioned plus the two rookie draft picks, who will probably both make the team, makes six. I think Jo-Lonn Dunbar is in trouble.

No major injuries to important players, please.

Here's what I'm looking for from the Texans:

Anyone fantasy-worthy that I don't already know about. Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, Owen Daniels, and Arian Foster are guys I know and all of them will make someone's fantasy team in every league. Who else do the Texans have worth taking a chance on?

19 days until Saints v Packers

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

20 days

We're in the BS stage of preseason now. Last week, a 25-0 road win over the Chiefs meant nothing for the young Tampa Bay Bucs. This week, the starters were drubbed and manhandled by a New England team that was "in midseason form". Last week, the Eagles did nothing to tamp down Super Bowl talk and their "Dream Team" self-proclamation. This week, they stunk it up big time. It's still just practice, folks.

The thing about preseason is that people do sometimes put stock in it. They'll say things like, "They were only in for a quarter but the starters on defense were pushed all over the field and the starters on offense couldn't get anything going". Yeah, so? Anyone remember Super Bowl XLIV? Preseason games mean nothing, nothing at all, not ever. However, when your team looks good in one of these overpriced practice games, you feel good and when your team looks bad, you get worried. It's a quandary fans of the Bucs, Pats, Eagles, and Steelers find themselves in this morning after their meaningless games last night. 20 days ...

20 days until Saints v Packers

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Will Smith and the NFL

I'm OK with the notion that NFL players are responsible for what's in their bodies. In the StarCaps case, the banned substance was not listed on the label. The NFL knew it and didn't warn anyone. Why? Were they not concerned about players taking it or were they more interested in catching players that were? The product has since been taken off the market, probably because NFL players stopped using it. From what I remember from the time, one of the Saints players, Deuce McAllister, even had the product tested at his own expense. It's not a steroid. It is a product that masks steroid use and that's why it was on the ban list. It was also a product to help with weight loss. The NFL needs to come out with a list of approved name products. They could probably even come up with a licensing scam scheme plan to make money on it. If a player takes anything but those approved, name products, he's on his own when his drug test comes back positive. Just give these guys some better guidance. I expect Will is going to be lost to the Saints for the first four games.

22 days until Saints v Packers

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Jon Stinchcomb

The Saints released Jon Stinchcomb yesterday. He's been a fave here for a while now. Jon is a good guy in a tough business. He may have other opportunities this season but I think he'd be better off if he took time off and healed before he pursued any of them. He played through a knee injury last year. He had surgery during the offseason to re-attach his quad muscle and he still doesn't look fully recovered from it. The 49ers ran around him Friday night fairly easily. Good Luck, Jon.

23 days until Saints v Packers

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Kicking off the new season

I don't really see what good the new NFL kickoff rule is doing. Kicking off from the 35 is going to triple the number of touchbacks. Not only are the placekickers kicking deeper into the endzone, the kickoff team is five yards closer to the returner. Of the 7 kickoffs in the Saints-49ers game the other night, I think only 1 was returned and that one was ill-advised. I know they're concerned about player safety but do more injuries really happen on kickoffs? If the theory is that kickoffs are dangerous, why not eliminate them? Of course, that would only change EVERYTHING because the onside kick would be eliminated, too. If your team is down by 9 points or more with 3 minutes left in the game, the game is over. They'd have no chance, however slim, to get the ball back if they scored. There was a time when teams kicked off from the 40, then the 35, and until this year, the 30. Placekickers kept getting stronger so the NFL kept pushing them back because they wanted more kickoff returns. Returns are exciting. Now, they want less? This is not a good change.

24 days until Saints v Packers

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Thoughts on Saints-49ers

The Saints were pretty aggressive in their 24-3 win over the 49ers last night. That was the first time I watched a preseason game from start to finish in a long time. Just some things I'm curious about, noticed, etc ...

  • Not sure what was accomplished by blitzing a team that obviously wasn't prepared for it.
  • Where did all of those defensive linemen come from? Pretty deep there.
  • I liked what I saw out of Jonathan Casillas and Johnny Patrick before he got hurt. Cam Jordan might not be starting for a while.
  • Not going to worry about the first team offense yet but I see some of the same things I saw last year. They're not doing the "shock and awe" thing they were doing in the Super Bowl year. Enough with the sluggish starts.
  • Both teams looked tired to me. Joe Morgan looked gassed by the end of his punt return TD.
  • How can the Saints keep Joique Bell if they've already got Ingram, Thomas, Sproles, and Ivory? He looked great last night. Can the Saints keep five tailbacks? If you put him on the practice squad, someone will grab him.
  • The starting wide receiver group (Colston, Henderson, Meachem, and Moore) has nothing to worry about.

26 days until Saints v Packers

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Saints v 49ers

Starting tonight, the Saints play 5 games in 27 days. The first four don't count and I don't care if they win any of those.

About tonight's game: I'm anxious to get a look at Mark Ingram, Cam Jordan, and the rest of the rookie draft picks. Anxious to also get a look at the new free agent defensive tackle tandem of Shaun Rogers and Abrayo Franklin. That's pretty much it. The other offensive and defensive players have nothing new to show me. I'd like to see a crisp opening drive from Drew Brees and the starters on offense. On defense, I'd like to see a stop in the first series. After that, the game will give way to rookies and camp bodies and things will get sloppy. I doubt I'll watch the whole thing. It's kind of painful.

The 49ers have three draft/auction-worthy fantasy football players in my view. They are Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree. There won't be anything new to learn tonight from any of them.

27 days until Saints v Packers

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NFL Overtime Rules Suck

A few years a go, the Colts and Chargers ended regulation tied. The game went into overtime. The Chargers won the coin toss, took the kickoff in overtime, and drove the field into field goal range, kicked the field goal, and won the game. Peyton Manning and the Colts never got a chance, unless you call the 60 minutes of regulation a chance or the opportunity to stop the Chargers in overtime a chance. OUTRAGE. How dare the NFL allow an important game to be decided by a coin toss. Well, 60 minutes of regulation, overtime, and a coin toss. Two years ago, the same thing happened in the NFC Championship Game in the SuperDome. After 60 minutes of regulation, the Saints and Vikings were still tied. The Saints won the overtime coin toss, drove into field goal range, and kicked the field goal to win. EVEN MORE OUTRAGE. We must change the rules. The NFL, spurred on by two of the NFL's loudest sports pundits, Mike Florio and Peter King, changed the rules. Now, both teams get a chance unless the team winning the toss scores a touchdown. These rules only apply during the playoffs. In the regular season, the old rules apply.

That's just stupid. The same rules should apply to the regular season and the playoffs. The old rules were better. Overtime should be severe. It should be dreaded. No coach should want to think, "Let's take our chances in overtime". Overtime should not be safe. Under the old rules, very few coaches ever went for the first down, touchdown, or two points to try to win the game in regulation rather than go into overtime. They almost always kicked the field goal or extra point but the day was coming when many coaches might do something different. When faced with a decision to kick the extra point to tie or go for two to win, we will probably now never get to see a coach decide, "We're going to decide this game right now with the ball in our hands at the two yard line". If the overtime rules had remained, the game might have evolved to that way of thinking and I think it would have. That's what football should be about. Bold and aggressive. Now, not coming to a stadium near you.

28 days until Saints v Packers

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The 2011 Season and all the predictions

The New York Times is predicting big things for the Saints this season. That's nice, I suppose. I've read all sorts of predictions this year. There is no question the Saints have all of the ingredients to make a run at a Super Bowl. That embarrassing playoff loss last year should provide all of the motivation they need according to some. The prize, alone, should be enough motivation according to me. We'll get our first look at the 2011 Saints this Friday night in the SuperDome against the 49ers in Game 1 of 5 over a 27-day period. Games 1 thru 4 don't matter to me. Just get out of them without injury, if possible. Game 5 is for real.

32 days until Saints v Packers

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Olin Kreutz

About the Olin Kreutz signing by the Saints Thursday: By all accounts, he took less money to play for the Saints than he could have gotten elsewhere, including from his former team, the Bears. It wasn't that long ago that the Saints were the team losing free agents to teams offering less. All the credit in the world for that turnabout goes to Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton, and Drew Brees. Now that the Saints have him, everyone in Chicago is trashing him. They say he's washed up, can't block, is a locker room bully, and is always being penalized in games. I suppose those are all good reasons for the Bears to have offered him more money but I think it's more likely Bears fans are simply galled by this. Good.

33 days until Saints v Packers

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34 days and 90 players

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Sean is right. 90 players in camp is too many. Sorry to see Lynell Hamilton go. I liked him but the backfield really is pretty much settled already with Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, and a fullback. Teams are going to start dropping lots of players soon. Practices are shorter and there just aren't enough needed reps to go around. They need to cut the rosters down to a more manageable number. Not a good year to be a player "on the bubble". The coaching staff is used to seeing 3-5 such players. When that number goes up to 15-20 and the time to get looked at is shortened, it makes it that much harder for those guys to get noticed.

34 days until Saints v Packers

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38 Days

I like everything the Saints are doing right now but, mostly, I like what they're not doing, though. That's calling attention to themselves. The Packers, Eagles, and Patriots are all 6-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl and they're all getting a lot of print. Rex Ryan's Jets are also getting a lot of print. They're at 12-1 along with the Saints. I prefer expectations lie elsewhere, particularly early in the season. I like that they're flying under everyone's radar now just like they did in 2009. I like that they've been mostly hidden from view. That all ends in 38 days. Bring it, Pack.

38 days until Saints v Packers

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Philadelphia Eagles 2011

The Eagles are making big splashes all over in this short offseason. First, the blockbuster trade with Arizona for Kevin Kolb. They got themselves a draft pick and a pretty good cornerback in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Then, they swooped in quietly and plucked cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha out of free agency. They picked up former Packer DT Cullen Jenkins yesterday. They've also added Vince Young as backup for Michael Vick. Their two terrific young WRs, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, are missing but I think they'll eventually turn up. Can Andy Reid pull these guys together and make a team? My thinking on Andy Reid has always been that he does better when he has less. This team, on paper, is the most-talented he's ever had.

Looks like they're built to beat the Packers, Falcons, and other teams who have two or three viable options in the passing game. The Saints are still a tough matchup for them because every Saint eligible receiver is a viable option. Eagles corners are tough but their safeties and linebackers aren't. Those guys will be matched up against a Saints WR, TE Jimmy Graham, or one of the Saints RBs. Cullen Jenkins will be handled by Evans or Nicks. He will not be a problem. That's not to say Michael Vick and co won't give the Saints D problems. It's a tough one to call. They don't play during the regular season. We'll have to wait until January to see this matchup.

39 days until Saints v Packers

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Signings continue

Saints have agreed to terms with free agent Roman Harper and rookie Mark Ingram. The only minor concerns now are David Thomas and 1st rounder Cam Jordan. They'll both sign before long. Jordan doesn't really have much choice. Thomas probably has a little interest from other teams but the Saints will get him unless someone swoops in out of the blue like the Eagles did yesterday with Nnamdi Asomugha. I don't see that happening.

Just trying to keep up with player movement is going to make my fantasy football preparation difficult. I think I might be better off not doing it and going to auction totally ignorant but I like to think I have something to do with my wins and losses. I'll post my 2011 Cheat Sheet as soon as its ready. One of my auctions is set.

40 days until Saints v Packers

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End of

It's the end of a chapter in the New Orleans Saints story. Reggie Bush has been traded to Miami. No, it's not Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Not by a longshot. Still, I'm sad to see him go. It was exciting when he got the ball in his hands. He didn't live up to expectations in his time here but, to be fair, his expectations were ridiculously high. He was NOT a bust. He had some spectacular games and he was a difference maker in quite a few of them. There shouldn't be any second-guessing anywhere about the Saints taking him with the 2nd overall pick in the 1986 draft. He was a spectacular player at USC and he had enormous buzz about him the year he came out. The Saints were coming off of the horrible Katrina season and that buzz was needed. Picking Bush was good football AND good business. There was NO WAY they could have passed him up. Good Luck, Reggie.

Saints are practicing for the first time today. The full regular season starts in less than six weeks. All NFL teams will be practicing before the weekend is out. Each team will have 90 players on their training camp roster and the coaching staffs probably haven't even met half of them. The fans aren't the only ones who will need a program. Some think the quality of play will be off the first few weeks because of the time lost to the lockout. I don't think anyone will notice.

One last thing: The Patriots seem to have totally moved away from their philosophy of acquiring team-first players. It started a few years ago with Randy Moss but was totally completed this year with the moves for me-first players, Chad Johnson Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. There is just not enough aspirin in the world.

41 days until Saints v Packers

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Training Camp Opens

The scorecard as I have it now:

Reggie Bush off to Miami
Usama Young off to Cleveland
Remi Ayodele off to Minnesota
Randall Gay released

Jonathan Amaya in from Miami - Part of Reggie Bush trade
Will Herring in from Seattle
Darren Sproles in from San Diego

Re-signed
Lance Moore
Scott Shanle
Danny Clark
Jermon Bushrod
Jo-Lonn Dunbar
Leigh Torrence
Chris Reis

The highest remaining priorities in my mind right now are to re-sign Roman Harper and David Thomas. The next highest priority is to get the rest of their draft picks signed. Times a wastin' ...

41 days until Saints v Packers

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Reggie Bush to the Dolphins???

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That, I didn't see coming. As of this writing, the deal is not done yet but it's a deal that makes sense for the Saints. I think it's pretty obvious that Bush is going to get more money from someone than he is going to get from the Saints. A trade would get them something in return. The trade makes some sense for the Dolphins, too. If they can get him to agree to a contract, they won't have to bid on him on the open market. If they can't sign him to a contract, they don't make the deal and nothing is lost. The Dolphins plan to make him a feature back. He's had many opportunities to assume that role in New Orleans and if he was up to it, he wouldn't be taking such a huge pay cut and the Saints might not have drafted Mark Ingram. All of that said, I'll be sad to see Reggie go. I liked him and liked what he did for the Saints offense.

The Saints re-signed Lance Moore yesterday for five years. Excellent move. They also signed Seattle free agent LB Will Herring. I know nothing about him but I suspect the Saints did it because they're expecting to lose one of more of their own free agent LBs. Scott Shanle is drawing some interest from quite a few teams.

In other news, the Saints report to camp today and first practice is tomorrow. All training camp practices are open to the public this year. I believe that to be good PR on the part of the Saints to win back some fans after the lockout. In all honesty, I doubt they lost any.

As the brief offseason comes to a close, I think the Saints are lagging behind other teams a little bit in assembling their roster. I'm kinda used to them being ahead of other teams. There is absolutely no reason to panic because of that, though. I'm OK with everything they've done so far. Now, THAT'S a reason to panic. :)

42 days until Saints v Packers

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The Saints have been busy signing rookie free agents since yesterday afternoon. I have no idea how many they've come to terms with but it's quite a few. Let's hope they find something on the order of a Pierre Thomas again. There's no way this blog will be able to keep up with all of the craziness that will happen in the next few days. I'll just weigh in wherever I see fit.

44 days until Saints v Packers

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Today

| 2 Comments
FOOTBALL

45 days until Saints v Packers

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46 days

I think there is finally enough momentum on this lockout thing to end it. We will then have a few weeks of craziness and, then, a full season. I won't get too excited until the names are on the dotted line because too many things have happened at the last minute. I'm glad the Saints got in some quality workouts this offseason because the first two games on their schedule are against teams that are pretty well established. The lockout probably had a minimum impact on the Packers and Bears. I wish the Saints had gotten a couple of tuneup games early against some of the teams that have new coaches or quarterbacks but these two games will be a good test. Man up, Saints. It's just about time to crank it up.

46 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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The Hartley Kick

WWLTV.com has been counting down the Top Ten Most Clutch Plays in Saints history. They've decided that Garrett Hartley's oevrtime field goal in the NFC Championship Game vs the Vikings rates Number One. I think Tracy Porter's interception in that same game should rate higher because it put Garrett there in the first place. It's not a bad choice, though, and I'm not complaining. It's a subjective list. What I wrote about it at the time. Love the Joe Buck call and the reaction of the fans as their medium roar turns into a loud roar.

47 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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Rampant Rumor Mill

As the NFL and their players finally close in on a new CBA, the rumor mill that is PFT got a good one going involving Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. They quoted a juicy story from Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe that stated that Brees and Manning wanted to be exempt from the franchise tag for life. PFT and their rabid followers went off on it. Mike Florio claimed that those demands could scuttle the deal. No one confirmed it with the players and when they finally did talk to the players and they denied it, PFT claimed the players were "softening their stance" because of the backlash. How fun is that?

1) It wasn't true.
2) Even if it was, why would it scuttle the deal? It only concerned two players. I could see how the Saints and Colts might be concerned but the teams who might be interested in signing unrestricted free agent QBs like Manning and Brees would offset those two votes.
3) It wasn't true.

Please get this lockout over with before everyone goes nuts.

50 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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Motivation

After that awful playoff loss in Seattle last season, my thoughts turned immediately to this season and what the loss would mean to the Saints mindset. Mike Triplett is expounding on it in the Sporting News. The Saints had several key injuries going into the playoffs. I'm not making excuses. They still should have beaten the Seahawks. I don't doubt for a minute that the Saints are really pissed off about how they ended last season. That will undoubtedly fuel their fire this year.

The other things that can help? A solid rotation of good running backs this year should make the ground game a serious compliment to the top flight passing game. The additions of free agent Shaun Rogers and first round pick Cameron Jordan should add some playmaking ability on the defensive line if those players are as good as advertised this season but I'm not convinced the defense is all that much improved. If the offense holds up their end this year like they usually do, the defense is good enough to win with, though. They only had that one really bad game last year.

The division games figure to be tough again this year. The Saints like to play fast. Everyone else in the division likes to play slow and methodical. The Bucs and the Falcons are a nuisance and a threat to win the division but they're not Super Bowl contenders in my view. Run first teams can win a Super Bowl but good passing teams have a better chance.

The Saints are a serious Super Bowl contender in 2011.

62 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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67 Days

67 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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68 Days

68 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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Fate of Bush

There is a growing chorus that now says Reggie Bush is pretty much gone in New Orleans. WWL's Jim Henderson has joined the chorus. He thinks there is a team or teams willing to "overpay" Reggie Bush. I always though the Saints were one of them but no matter. Most teams realize that this is now a passing league and thousand yard backs are rare. That's not to say they aren't delighted when they stumble across one as the Texans did last year in Arian Foster.

Most teams are now looking for versatile running backs who can carry the ball, catch passes, and pick up blitzes in the passing game. They're also looking for running backs who can do this in a two or three back rotation and be productive. The days of running backs getting 20-30 carries per game are going to be scarce in the NFL. I don't think the Saints are realistically expecting that out of Mark Ingram. There was a time when the passing game supplemented the running game in the NFL with few exceptions. It is now the other way around with few exceptions. Reggie Bush has a place in a two or three back rotation. That position pays $2-3 million per year. If someone is willing to pay more than that for Reggie, good luck to them.

80 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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More on Reggie Bush

Several stories came out yesterday saying the Saints granted Reggie Bush permission to talk to other teams. It's kind of irrelevant whether that's true or not. He adds a dimension to an offense so there is definitely interest in him. He's still under contract with the Saints, though. To facilitate a trade, a potential suitor will not only have to offer a contract substantially larger than what the Saints are offering, they'll also have to compensate the Saints. A trade is not very likely.

The Saints will keep him under his current contract until they have to pay him or release him. Potential suitors will stay away until he's released and then they'll try to outbid each other but I don't expect anyone to go crazy. I expect all of the offers he receives to be about what the Saints are offering and that he'll remain a Saint.

82 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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Minor Rant

Anyone who follows football knows who Drew Brees is. If you don't, I'll tell you. He is the star quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, the face of the franchise, and the unquestioned leader of the team. He is also a leader in the New Orleans community, a fantastic ambassador for that community, and an all around good guy. He is 100 feet tall in Louisiana and growing. Full Disclosure: I am a huge Drew Brees fan.

The NFL and its players are in the middle of a dispute and are trying to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. Drew has been outspoken for the players in this matter and has been the target of some ridicule and criticism. Bear in mind that he didn't have to do this. He has nothing to gain. He's a superstar. He'll be fairly compensated, regardless of what the final CBA looks like, and he could have taken the low profile route that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are taking now and like Joe Montana took before them. That's not who he is. He stands up for what he believes. As for the criticism, that's fair enough. He put himself out there. That said, most of the ridicule/criticism is ludicrous at best, childish at worst, and most of it coming from people who have not sat in on any of those meetings or talked to any of the parties. Such as:

I’m tired of Brees, he has stuck his foot in his mouth and said horribly annoying things too many times for me to ever want to like him, turd. - bittersonicsfan


Brees has turned into a major douche. I have so little respect for him after all this. - rooneyruleblues


You don't have to look hard to find many more like that. Disagreement is fine. It's the American way. In all of his remarks, Drew has never been uncivil. I don't consider myself a civility hawk. Harsh criticism is fair and even warranted sometimes. I've engaged in it, myself. If comments like the two above are the best you've got, here's a little harsh criticism for you: You're a fucking idiot.

And, now, for something completely different: There is some embarrassment to the Chicago Bears in this "Exxxotica Expo 2011" story but the best line is in the video when the reporter says family-friendly Rosemont is going to put this expo in a corner so as to not arouse the public.

If there is to be a full NFL season in 2011, it will start 12 weeks from today. That would include about 6 weeks of training camp and preseason-don't-call-them-exhibition games and a pretty short time to get a whole lot of rookies and free agents signed. What normally takes several months to shake out will be compressed into a couple of weeks. Hectic is the word that comes to mind.

84 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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ESPN Insider

There are days when I'd like to read further but I would never pay to do so. I don't think any opinion regarding football is worth my money. If he could give me a money-back guarantee that the Saints WILL win the Super Bowl, I might change my mind. I don't need anyone to tell me the Saints are serious Super Bowl contenders this year. Anyone who can't see that is an idiot.

86 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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90 days

I don't agree with the Week 17 Bucs-Saints assessment. The Saints were still mathematically in the hunt for the top seed. They needed Carolina to beat Atlanta, which was unlikely but not impossible. It was an impossible situation for them, though. How do you motivate a team to play against a pretty good team even when you probably don't have anything to gain? The Saints sustained three significant injuries in that game. They lost Malcolm Jenkins, Jimmy Graham, and Chris Ivory. Most people think the loss of Malcolm Jenkins was the main reason the Saints lost the playoff game to the Seahawks. That loss was on the defense. The offense put up 36 without all of their weapons. That should have been enough to beat the Seahawks.

The Saints are the only team in the NFC South built to win a Super Bowl. The Falcons, Bucs, and Panthers build to beat the Saints. They are all grind-it-out-run-first, physical teams. The Saints need to get younger, more athletic, and more physical on defense. I think their draft this season will help them achieve that. Jonathan Casillas coming back from injury will also help. On offense, they're fine as long as they can enter any game with at least two healthy running backs from the four they're likely to carry this season.

No ifs, ands, or buts, the Saints are a Super Bowl contender. Just give them a chance to play.

90 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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92 Days

Have some minor issues with the Top Ten venues but they're not worth talking about. I'll say this, though. Arrowhead is the most fun to watch when the Chiefs really get going. That Monday night opener against the Chargers last season was a blast. Even though I am somewhat of a Saints homer, I think they have the SuperDome about right at Number 6. The fans do their part but the team doesn't. They were 5-3 at home last season and 6-2 during the Super Bowl season. A great team should finish 7-1 or 8-0 at home. The Saints need to defend their turf better.

92 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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93 Days

The Saints, unfortunately, still have their share of Dodo birds. If I would have ever earned a Super Bowl ring, that thing would be in a safe or a safety deposit box when it wasn't on my finger. It would never, ever be left in my car. I'm sorry for his loss but I'm also very disappointed in his judgement.

93 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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Saints workouts

I don't think there's any doubt that the Saints are more organized and more serious than any other team when it comes to this offseason. I don't think it's any guarantee of success. Could be they'll tail off at the end of the season because of the work they're putting in now. There is such a thing as over-preparation. All of that said, I prefer the the way they're going about things, especially with that killer first game in sight. If this team gets off to a fast start like they did in 2009, they'll win the Super Bowl.

94 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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95 Days

Tim Leiweke of AEG (pictured) told Farmer that a stream of false starts over the past 16 years has made each side leery of the other. As a result, Leiweke said the owners “don’t have a lot of faith” in L.A., and that L.A. “doesn’t have faith in the NFL, either.”

It's about time. The NFL doesn't want to move a team to LA but, of course, they don't want anyone to know that. They'd lose leverage for every team who wants a new stadium. Unfortunately for the NFL and fortunately for everyone else, they have seriously overplayed that hand. No one believes it any more, including Los Angeles. The NFL wants to put an expansion team or even two there and collect a billion dollars or more each in expansion fees. To do so, LA has to have a stadium in place and there's the rub. The NFL doesn't want to award a team to LA until they have an NFL stadium and LA doesn't want to build an NFL stadium until they have an NFL team.

95 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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99 days and 99 bottles of beer on the wall

Drew Brees gave a kid the thrill of a lifetime. Whatever your stance on the NFL/NFLPA dispute, Drew's role as leader is appropriate and even courageous. Whatever the new CBA ends up looking like, it will have no bearing whatsoever on superstars like him. He's going to get a huge contract next time. There is no dispute there. If you're anti-union but love the Saints, consider this: Do you think there is a team in the NFL that will play harder for their leader than the Saints? He's standing up for his guys. It will definitely make a difference.

99 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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Come on baby ... light my fire

Drew Brees set a fire yesterday. I don't know whether I agree with it or not but I like how all of the commenters, who have never sat in on any owner-player negotiation, have told him to shut up and that he doesn't know what he's talking about. So much for stating your opinion.

104 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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Rookies at the workouts

Glad to see rookies joining the workouts at Tulane. They really need coaching but, since that's not available, being part of this will give them an idea of what it takes to be a professional football player, which is not something they'd get working out on their own.

Man, get this thing done.

108 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope

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Dumbass Quote of the Day

Clearly, the Saints’ popularity and success is attributable to the team’s owner, not its lazy, spoiled, greedy, communist “franchise QB.” If you have been keeping up with the totally unsuspicious anti-player comments on this site, you would know that players like Drew Brees are easily replaceable.
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Saints Tidbits

Well, duh. Drew Brees is the best free-agent signing of last decade. Wrong. Best free-agent signing ever ... in any sport. He may be just under 6 feet tall on the football field but he's 100 feet tall in Louisiana. No other player anywhere has ever meant as much to his team and their fans as Drew.

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Is there anything to get excited about?

Well, yes, but ...

Encouraging, but only if the season starts on time.

111 days until football Saints v Packers ... but only if the season starts on time.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

A little embarrassing

Am I the only Saints fan that finds the list of inductees a little embarrassing? I remember those players. I've been a Saints fan since the beginning. Billy Kilmer? He was the best quarterback on really bad teams but he wasn't much more than decent. Reuben Mayes? He had a terrific rookie season, tore up his Achilles tendon in the playoff game, and lost his job to Dalton Hilliard. He hardly ever played again after his injury. HoF on the strength of one season? That list should be reduced by half. The guys in there now should be more worthy. The guys on the current team who end up in the Saints HoF will be. Guys like Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks, Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, etc. Some of the guys they'll be joining don't belong.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

Reggie Bush Again

Reggie Bush had some fun with his detractors yesterday by telling his Facebook and Twitter followers that he was enjoying the rest and relaxation the lockout is affording him. He surely knows some people already think that he coasts too much. How anyone could think he was serious is beyond me. How anyone could get angry over it worries me.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

About Reggie Bush

I agree with absolutely everyone that says Reggie Bush has a place on the Saints roster and a role on the team in 2011. There are a lot of people who think the Saints have not gotten the value out of the 2nd overall pick that was fair to expect. I agree with them, too. So the ten you were expecting turned out to be a 7? It is certainly not a total loss. When the Saints are shuffling him in and out of the game, the defense is always looking for him to see if he's in the game and to see where he's lined up. When the Saints offense is in high gear playing their up-tempo game and shuffling personnel in and out, they are the best offense in the business and a defensive coordinator's nightmare. Reggie is part of that. The main gear is Drew Brees. Everyone else on offense is a cog. When Bush is one of the big cogs, the Saints are a better football team. I hope they can work something out with him.

127 days until football season ... hopefully ...

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

Saints Workouts

Saints players are working out today at Tulane. I suspect most of them have been staying in shape on their own but this will be the first player-organized workout I can remember. Not sure what they did during the strike season of 1987. I'm very curious about who will attend these workouts besides Brees, Stinchcomb, and Vilma. All of the players on last year's final roster? Players under contract only? Reggie Bush? What about the rookie draft picks?

Also wonder if Tulane is charging for the use of their facility and who the trainers will be. Saints trainers can't be present but other personal and professional trainers are under no constraints.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

2011 Draft Results - Final Tally

The last two Saints draft picks, DE Greg Romeus from Pittsburgh and LB Nate Bussey from Illinois, are unknown to me. The only player the Saints drafted that I've actually seen play is Mark Ingram. 7th rounders are almost always relegated to special teams, the practice squad, or the street. I know, I know, Marques Colston came to us in the 7th round but his seizing the job from a former first rounder, Donte Stallworth, during training camp? That was luck. We can hope for the same from one or both of these two but that's not realistic.

Here's how I see it for the 2011 class. All of my speculation is barring injury, of course.

Pick No. 1 (24th overall), DE Cameron Jordan, California - The coaching staff will have to get this guy up to speed as soon as possible. He'll be thrown into the defensive line rotation immediately and will see significant playing time, especially since Will Smith will probably be missing the first four games. There are two major problems, though. The lockout will eat into his preparation and the new CBA will probably reduce rookie contracts, which could cause league-wide holdouts, particularly amongst first rounders.

Pick No. 2 (28th overall), RB Mark Ingram, Alabama - Ingram will contribute immediately, too, although I think they'll take him out on passing downs. Pass protection assignments are the hardest things for a rookie running back to learn so I expect him to be mainly a first and second down back. It will be interesting to see what the coaches have in mind for the running game with all of these running backs on the roster. The Saints don't need to get to 50-50 pass-run but 55-45 would be better than last year's imbalance.

Pick, No. 3 (72nd overall), LB Martez Wilson, Illinois - I don't see this guy as a first year starter unless he develops into a playmaker during training camp. I see him as a special teams contributor and a spot linebacker. He will probably replace Scott Shanle at some point this year or next.

Pick, No. 4 (88th overall), CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville - This guy is already a special teams demon and that almost guarantees him a spot on the final roster. He's a top flight gunner in punt coverage from what I hear. He'll also possibly see playing time at CB, particularly since that group can't seem to stay healthy.

Pick, No. 5 (226th overall), DE Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh – Unless he turns out to be way better than expected, he's probably a practice squad player. With Will Smith out the first four games and with very little help available in free agency, though, it's conceivable that he'll be on the opening day roster.

Pick, No. 6 (243rd overall), LB Nate Bussey, Illinois – This guy will have to show an awful lot in training camp to make the opening day roster. There's a crowd at linebacker for the Saints. On the bright side for him, all of the veterans, except for Jonathan Vilma, are pretty average.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

2011 Draft Results - Second Day

The Saints added two more defensive players yesterday. I know nothing about Illinois linebacker, Martez Wilson, or Louisville cornerback, Johnny Patrick. I expect they'll mostly contribute this season on special teams. I think most Saints fans are happy to see the team focus on defense and running back this draft. I know they claim they are drafting the best player available but it's too much of a coincidence that they're also players at positions the Saints need, don't you think? They absolutely needed to get younger and more athletic on defense and I think these picks will fill that need.

They're entering today's draft with just the two 7th rounders. The Saints have done very well in the 7th round. As we all know, Marques Colston came to them via that round. They could go any number of directions today, including quarterback. My guess is they'll go TE and WR.

When or if free agency gets here, I'm anxious to see what they can find. I don't think there will be any big splashes but maybe they can find some veteran upgrades to keep some seats warm while these rookies learn. The two first rounders will be rushed a bit and will see plenty of playing time but the rest of this draft class has time.

This is one of the Saints most exciting drafts so far. Get that CBA done, guys. We have a Super Bowl to win.

One last thing: Rarely do I agree with ESPN's John Clayton but I totally agree with his assertion that the Pats made a few moves too many. The draft is about getting players, not more draft picks. Party on, Garth Bill.

Hopefully, 131 days until football season ...

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

2011 First Round Results

The Saints selected Cam Jordan with their own first round pick at the 24 spot and then traded up with New England to select Mark Ingram at the Pats' 28 spot. I like both picks but I'm still a bit concerned that they continue to give up draft picks, this time to a good New England team, who has a boatload of them now. The future is mortgaged to the present. That's not to say that I like what New England is doing, either. Stockpiling draft picks hasn't proven to be sound player acquisition and in the end, that's what this is all about.

If you need some rationalization for this, here it is: The Saints gave up next year's first round draft pick for a first round pick this year. They gave up a low second round pick this year but they had a high third round pick in the bank from the Redskins for Jammal Brown. Essentially, they just moved their second selection down a few spots. If Ingram works out, it was a great move.

I know nothing about Cam Jordan except what's been written about him. I have not seen him play. Going by what I've read, it was a solid pick but I've been fooled by what I read many times. I want to see him play.

I am a LSU Tiger fan and I do know something about Alabama's Mark Ingram. He joins a backfield that is suddenly very crowded ... and very expensive. Ingram will make all of them better in my estimation but there is still a durability issue in that group. It will also send at least one of them up the road. Reggie Bush is convinced it's him. I'm not ... yet. As it stands now, Ingram and Pierre Thomas are in while Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory, and Lionel Hamilton will compete for the other two spots and that's all assuming the Saints even keep four tailbacks. Based on their injury histories, I think they have to but the Saints may think otherwise. You can make an argument that Bush is still in based on his skill set, which is much different from the others, and by everything Sean Payton has said the last few months. His salary is the big issue now and the Ingram selection puts a lot of pressure on the Saints to reduce payroll and get some of the money out of the backfield. Thomas has a healthy new contract and Ingram will get one as a first rounder. I don't see them paying three premium salaries at RB. Chris Ivory and Lionel Hamilton are similar to each other and Mark Ingram. Ivory has an edge over Hamilton if it comes down to those two. It will be an interesting battle if they go to camp with all five of these guys.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

NFL Draft - First Round

The Saints are scheduled to pick someone tonight in the first round. They'll be the 24th team to select. I don't expect them to trade up or trade down. The team will shake their draftee's hand, give him a jersey and a cap, and then what? They can't sign him because there's no collective bargaining agreement. There is no union for rookies to join so why can't they all sign a contract to their liking? The former union must be pretty confident that those rookies won't be offered a contract to their liking without a union. They're right. Of all of the union-busting tactics out there, the dustiest one is the one that offers union members an alternative to their union that is better for them.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

Stopping by

Safety Malcolm Jenkins is the only player who stopped by the Saints facility yesterday according to him and the Times-Picayune. I'm surely hoping the players are in contact with each other. I have heard nothing on that score. I don't expect all 53 to work out together but the guys that are under contract for this year ought to be getting together and we should be hearing about them doing so.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

Happy Easter

With the first round of maybe the last NFL Draft coming up on Thursday, there is all kinds of speculation about what the Saints might do ... with good reason. Their options are wide open and so are their inclinations. Most analysts think they'll draft a defensive player for the front seven like an outside linebacker, a defensive end, or a defensive tackle and, normally, I would counter with this: If the Saints were a team that drafted for need, you could bank on them taking a player at one of those positions. However, this year is not normal.

There's only been a partial free agency period so far. Mainly, they've picked up an old defensive tackle and let go of an old tight end. Amongst the restricted free agents, they do not know yet who they'll be able to sign or who they may lose and they also don't know if they'll still be restricted.

The only thing we can be pretty certain of Thursday night when the Saints come up at 24 is that they won't be taking a quarterback although Best Buy probably wouldn't mind if they did. The replacement TV business would be pretty good.

There is talk year in and year out about trading down. I'm sure the Saints will listen to all offers but is there anyone available at 24 that is good enough to trade up for? They'd have to give up two things of value. The first is a later first round pick, early second round pick, or a good player and the second would have to be something else of real value like a high draft pick or a good player. I kinda hope someone does make an offer that good but I just don't see it.

On Thursday night, I think the Saints will defy their own convention and do something conventional. They'll pick a pass rushing defensive end or an outside linebacker. I'm OK with either.


GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

2011 Saints Schedule

Already looking forward to the 2011 season. I'm being a bit optimistic in that I think they'll get a new collective bargaining agreement signed before any games are missed. It would be a crime against all Saints fans if that silliness causes us to miss either of those first two games. The Packers on opening night looks like a shootout and that should be a blast but finally getting the Bears in the SuperDome is the one I think must Saints fans are excited about. The Saints owe them big time. Aside from the NFC Championship game in 2007, the Bears also took regular season victories from the Saints the next two years, all on that horrible Soldier Field turf. Will be good to see how they do without the aid of, well, anything.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

About "Who Dat"

You will not see much of that expression here unless I'm quoting someone. I don't like it. Never have. There is quite a tussle going on about who owns it. The first time I ever heard it was when Alabama fans and Arkansas fans were in town for the Sugar Bowl. That was 1979. The game was played on January 1, 1980. I don't think anyone owns it but don't come looking to me for support if that's your side, too. I wish it would go away forever.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

First Entry

The purpose of this blog is to talk about the New Orleans Saints, the NFL, and fantasy football. I'll still talk about those topics on occasion on CrabAppleLane Blog but this blog will be devoted to it.

First, an introduction and a little of my Saints history.

My love for the Saints began when the franchise was awarded to the City of New Orleans on November 1, 1966 ... aka All Saints Day. I was at the first game in 1967 at Tulane Stadium with my dad. They played the Los Angeles Rams who had Roman Gabriel on offense and the fearsome foursome on defense. We saw John Gilliam run back the opening kickoff for a touchdown that day. It was so wide open that I've heard people say it was fixed. I don't believe that. That game ended in a loss. It was the first of way too many.

Dad and I had seasons tickets for the Saints at Tulane Stadium from 1968 to1974, South Endzone. We saw a lot of the greats. They all played for the other team. :) Johnny Unitas, Gale Sayers, Sam Huff, and Roger Staubach to name just a few. The Saints moved into the brand new Louisiana SuperDome in 1975. I was tired of going to the games by then and Dad didn't like the seat assignment he got in the transition from Tulane Stadium to the SuperDome (He was a little tired of going to the games, too) so he gave his tickets up.

I got married in 1981. I got seasons tickets again in 1982, this time for my wife, Patsy, and I, first in the terrace and then later in the club. Patsy stopped going to every game soon and stopped going altogether by 1990. I kept the tickets through the 1999 season, though. In 2000, the last of the Mike Ditka years, I was hit with a 40% price increase on those tickets. I was totally dissatisfied with the direction the team was taking under Mike Ditka, it was getting harder and harder to find anyone willing to spend a day at a Saints game and, coming on the heels of back-to-back 6-10 seasons, I decided I had other things I could be doing with my limited disposable income. I did not renew and, naturally, they finally turned things around. First, under Jim Haslett, and then, spectacularly under Sean Payton. I firmly believe that would not have happened while I was still going. I take some credit for my sacrifice. :)

It took 20 years for the Saints to post a winning season. I had seasons tickets the year (1987) they finally did. They won 9 games in a row to close out the season and earn their first ever playoff appearance. I was there for that, too. Naturally, it ended in disaster as Wade Wilson and the Vikings pummeled them, 44-10, and that was after the Saints took a 7-0 lead. Many, many years of up and down seasons followed, but no championships. Then, Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina was a life-changing event. Ask anyone who survived and rebuilt. Louisiana and the Saints were also on the ropes with each other. The damage the SuperDome endured is well-documented and provided owner Tom Benson with cover to either move the team or extract a better deal with the State of Louisiana. At least, that's how I saw it at the time. I now give Mr Benson a pass for his erratic behavior in that aftermath. Mine was erratic, too. I blame it on Katrina and I close the book on that.

Saints fans are a hardy lot. We've endured a lot of heartache and I'll delve into that some later but not now because the tide turned a few years ago when owner Tom Benson let GM Randy Mueller go and promoted Mickey Loomis. At the time, no one knew that Loomis would blossom into one of the NFL's best GMs. Mickey brought Sean Payton in and the two of them brought in Drew Brees, who is currently the best free agent signing in NFL history. Loomis, Payton, and Brees changed everything here.

Welcome to the CrabAppleLane Saints Blog. Hope it's worth your time. Suggestions are welcome.

GEAUX SAINTS GEAUX

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