Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rome Has Been Built (may '08 article)

There are two ways NFL head coaches and general managers build professional football franchises capable of winning Super Bowls, and patience seems to be the only variable between them. Teams can build for the future to win consistently or mortgage the future to win now. Some teams, such as the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots refuse to make large sweeping personnel moves; rather they continuously find value in each free agent signing and draft pick. The Colts or Patriots will never package a heap of draft picks to move up in round one to get that "need to have player" necessary to win a Super Bowl.

On the other hand, some teams cling to hopes of winning a Super Bowl this year and choose to mortgage their future to achieve that end. For example, the Jaguars traded away their first round pick, two thirds, and a fourth-round draft pick to acquire Florida's Derrick Harvey. And, a year after trading their 2008 first-round pick for Brady Quinn, the Browns traded their second and third round picks for Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers, rendering them “pick-less” until round four. Very rarely, if ever, does the decision to mortgage the future not come at too steep a price. Luckily, for Saints fans, the Saints appear to have their future in mind with every move they make. They are building a team in hopes of winning not one Lombardi Trophy, but several.

Although the Giants are the reigning Super Bowl champs, they are not a franchise built for the future. They will not be a dynasty. Teams that are consistently successful (as measured by their ability to compete for Super Bowls) always have two things in common: an elite QB and a consistent top 5 ranking on offense or defense. The two dominant professional football franchises of the new millennium have been the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. The Colts have an elite quarterback in Peyton Manning and have been consistently ranked in the top 5 in total offense for the past several years. The Patriots also have a superstar quarterback in Tom Brady, and last year (in their bid for perfection) were ranked tops in the league in total offense – prior to that, for the past several years, it was their defense that was ranked among the best in the NFL. The dynasties of the 1990’s, the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys, boasted the same. Denver had their elite quarterback in Elway and a top 5 offense (and in 1997, a top 5 defense, too). Dallas had Aikman and a top 5 offense throughout their reign. San Francisco was perhaps the greatest of them all. The '49ers won the Lombardi Trophy five times in the 80's and 90's behind the superior quarterback play of Joe Montana and Steve Young and consistently had offenses or defenses (and sometimes both) ranked in the top 5 of the league.

So if the formula for consistent success is a team with an elite quarterback and a top five ranking on one side of the ball, where do the Saints stack up right now? While Drew Brees may not be in the same category as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, few would argue that he has not been an elite NFL quarterback the past two seasons. Last year he finished behind only Brett Favre and Tom Brady (but ahead of Peyton Manning) in passing yards; and in 2006, he led the entire league. While the Saints no longer boast the Dome Patrol defense, the team has had no issues finding offensive success over the past two seasons. They finished first in the league in total offense in 2006 and fifth in 2005. In common with past NFL dynasties, the Saints have an elite QB and a consistent top-five offense. With Sean Payton calling the plays for a team whose offensive starters average 27 years of age (25 for their three big playmakers, Brees, Colston, and Bush), it's safe to assume that there will be little if any drop-off in total offense over the next several years. The Saints window of opportunity is just beginning to open.

So far, however, even with those pieces, the Saints have failed to make it to the big game, which is less than every one of our division rivals can say. Carolina and Atlanta made the big game in 2004 and 1999 respectively, and Tampa Bay won it in 2003. Unfortunately for those teams it is 2008, and last I checked, Jake Delhomme and Tampa's five QB's (even if you combined their skill-sets) are not elite; and Atlanta will be hard-pressed to finish the season in the top twenty in offense or defense, much less the top five. Also, the once-vaunted defenses of the Panthers and Buccaneers are no longer as dominant. It's not that they are bad; quite frankly they're much better than what the Saints strutted out the past two seasons – but we're looking for top 5, remember. Sure, teams can win a Super Bowl without having an elite QB and top 5 offense or defense – the Giants proved that last year and, as mentioned above, Tampa proved it in '03 -- but they won't do it consistently. Teams need both. If the Baltimore Ravens would have had an elite quarterback to complement one of the best defenses in NFL history we may be talking about them as the great dynasty of the early 2000’s. Too bad Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Kyle Boller, or Steve McNair didn’t fit the bill as “elite.”

Teams that have the necessary ingredients do not have to make rash personnel decisions in order to remain competitive. They can be more patient. Recently, in negotiating with the New York Giants for tight-end Jeremy Shockey, the Saints proved they are not willing to mortgage their future; rather they exhibited the patience necessary to build a dynasty. The team made a fair offer for the tight end during the draft, but was rebuked. New York, reasonably so, demanded higher compensation than a 2nd and 5th round pick, but the Saints chose not to sweeten their offer. Since then, I have heard such things as "we should trade next year's first round pick for Shockey because we can win with him now, and there is no telling what next years' pick will produce." As for me, I was happy when Loomis didn't allow the Giants to force his hand in overpaying for Shockey, and believe we should not even consider giving up our 2009 first-round pick for him. I was happy when we didn't throw millions at Asante Samuel to lure him to New Orleans (much like the Buccaneers did when they made Jeff Faine the highest paid center in the league). I was happy when we refused to mortgage the farm for Glenn Dorsey (much like the Panthers did when they gave the Eagles a second and fourth-round pick in last month's draft and their first-round pick next year for a player who, by most accounts, was just the fourth or fifth best-rated lineman available – sorry Coach Fox, but Jeff Otah is not going to win Carolina the Lombardi Trophy either).

In the last two cases, teams have made personnel decisions that will put them behind the eight ball for the future all in hopes of competing for the playoffs this season. Why? Carolina and Tampa are not winning the Super Bowl this year. The Saints may not either, but at least we are not paying players and making draft moves that will short-change us for next year… or the year after. While Jacksonville was giving up the farm (four picks) for Derrick Harvey, the Saints gave up one third-rounder for Sedrick Ellis. When Carolina was sending 3 picks to Philly for Jeff Otah, the Saints were sending the Jets a mere fourth-rounder for Jonathan Vilma. While other teams in the NFC South tried desperately to answer all their personnel questions in one off-season, the Saints understood that it is not always prudent or possible to do so. They were content to leave a few needs unanswered when they refused to overpay for a tight-end or a corner back (remind anyone of Belichik?).

I understand that many Saints fans would rather just make the big game like Carolina did in 2004, or Atlanta did in 1999 (or preferably win it like Tampa did in 2003), and could care less about "building a dynasty." But why think small? Please don't buy in to that stupid cliché that states "the future is now!" People who think that way have little foresight. Teams that mortgage their future to win now have an itch and they scratch it. They truly believe that they are only one player away from winning the Super Bowl. But they will wake up to the reality that all they did was cripple their franchise.

As the 2008 season approaches, Saints fans should know that they cheer for a team that is very close to exploding through the weak NFC ranks. They follow an organization that is finally doing it the right way. The men running the show (Loomis and Payton) are building this team for the long haul, not the short. The Saints have their elite quarterback, Drew Brees, and one of the NFL’s top five offenses – and neither appears to be going away any time soon. Those are the two things dynasties are built upon. Rather than selling out for now, our front office is putting in for later. Fans should enjoy the ride – the next five years will be the best Saints history may have to offer.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Big Ten RB? No Thanks.

Ki-Jana Carter, Ron Dayne, Curtis Enis, Maurice Clarett, and T.J. Ducket -- all successful Big-Ten running backs turn busts in the NFL. Perhaps Beanie Wells will be different -- more like Eddie George. But why would we want to gamble on it?

In Payton's offense, we average just over 20 carries per game. In 2009, I think PT gets 12, Bush gets 8, and newly acquired Heath Evans gets 3-4. If we draft Beanie, how many carries are there for him? Does he move PT down to 5 carries a game and Bush down to 5? So he gets at most 10? (Probably not). How much better off are we then on offense? Do we REMAIN the #1 offense in the NFL, but separate from whichever team is 2nd best? Or, are you Beanie lovers just envisioning us controlling the clock late in games (and in that way help the defense)?

We found a hidden gem in PT 2 years ago (the same off-season we spent the 2nd overall pick on Reggie Bush), and drafting Beanie now would not be taking advantage of utilizing the good players that we already have. It's true that the Saints have a situational need at RB -- however, situational needs do not have to be (and should not be) addressed with your most valuable pick (i.e. first round). Core needs do. Our offense is already the best in the NFL. Let me repeat that: OUR OFFENSE WAS THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE LAST YEAR.

It is horribly irresponsible to think that Beanie is the direction we should go at pick # 14. Any indirect (positive) effect that drafting Wells would have on our defense pales in comparison to a direct effect that drafting a defensive player would have. Beanie will not get us over the hump. A better defense will. There will be a good defensive player available at pick #14. It's not my job to know who that guy is -- it's Loomis, Payton, and Williams. Whoever they think that is -- they better pick him.

Sure, some will state that although we had the best STATISTICAL offense last year, it did not look like that on many occasions. At times, we struggled to move the ball consistently and failed to convert several key third downs. Again, this is true -- but don't get lost in those details. The struggles on offense (in particular the running game) was the smallest of many reasons we digressed in 2008.

My point is that we are not losing games because we're not averaging enough points. We're losing games because our opponents are averaging too much. Beanie does little to change that. An impact defensive player will.

I really think all this goes back to "how we lost" close games last year... and it wasn't because we couldn't run the ball (I know, burn me for saying that). It's amazing how many people think that. If our kicker makes two 40-50 yard field goals against Denver and Minnesota, we are 10-6. Or, if our defensive backs and safeties do not let the same WR's (Berrian and Hester) run the only route you cannot let happen at the time it did, we are 10-6. If those two things did not happen, we go to the playoffs and who knows. But I assure you, the "let's draft Beanie talk" would not be as rampant. Sure, we may have won a few if we could run up the middle late in the fourth quarter when a few teams were expecting us to; but we didn't lose those games because we couldn't do that.

Again, the benefit to drafting Beanie -- a more effective inside running game, allowing Reggie to be more of a "factor back" by contributing in the passing game and on special teams, yada yada -- pales in comparison to the benefits earned by taking an impact player at a position of core need (not situational need -- defined by the fact that Beanie Wells would be one of 3 contributing RB's). Ask yourself who deserves to be on the bench more; Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush... or Scott "the ghost" Shanle? Wouldn't you rather that the Saints put themselves in a position to win games in multiple ways (offense, defense, and special teams). Right now, all of their eggs are in one basket (offense). If they draft Beanie, they are just buying more of the same stock. They need to address more fundamental weaknesses prior to further strengthening that which is already strong. They have been adding strong building blocks in the front of their defense (Ellis, Vilma, etc.) It's time the Saints complete the defensive puzzle.

So who should they draft? Brian Cushing? Malcolm Jenkins? Vontae Davis? Peria Jerry? I don't know -- pick the one you like. Just don't take Chris "Beanie" Wells.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Keys to the Car are Greg's

I know there has been a lot of talk the last few weeks about drafting a RB, but I really don't see that happening. I think that's option C or D for the Saints. I think they have 2 defensive players that they are comfortable taking at 14. If those are gone, I think we try to trade down. If we can't and Beanie is there, I think we take him -- but that scenario is unlikely and I just don't see it happening. In general, I feel that Loomis and Payton will give Greg Williams the keys to the car in the first round (this season), because I think that they think they just can't get the defense wrong AGAIN. Williams' success should be very important to them -- more important than drafting "Deuce's replacement." If that's true, take a look at the following:

From 1997 - 2008, Greg Williams has had 11 first-round picks (out of 12 drafts). 8 of the 11 first-round picks have been spent on defense:

1997 -- Kenny Holmes (DE, Miami) 18th pick, average career - no longer playing.
1999 -- Javon Kearse (DE, Florida) 16th pick, we know him -- was pretty good
2000 -- Kieth Bulluck (LB, Syracuse) 30th pick, know him too -- ditto
2001 -- Nate Clements (CB, Ohio State) 21st pick, I know, I know...
2004 -- Sean Taylor (S, Miami) 5th pick, May he rest in peace
2005 -- Carlos Rodgers (CB, Auburn) 9th pick, Aweseome 2nd year, got hurt in 2007
2007 -- Laron Landry (S, LSU) 6th pick, Is he any good?
2008 -- Derrick Harvey (DE, Florida) 8th pick, Mediocre / poor start last year. Will start in '09.

A total of 3 DE's, 2 CB's, 2 S's, and 1 LB were drafted be Williams-led defenses.

He really had some good defensive picks from 1999 - 2001 (and many of them were late first rounders). Recently, he's had success too, but admittedly, it's hard not to when you've picked in the top 10 four of the last five years.

Based on the above info, it looks like he drafts defensive personnel to do two things:

1.) Pressure the passer (3 DE's drafted), and 2.) Cover a lot of ground (i.e. speed) in the secondary (4 S/CB drafted). That could rule Jenkins out, since he's a bit slower and Williams seems to have drafted true safeties and true corners in the past -- I could also be reading too much into it that. The sample size is admittedly small. Secondly, there is a possibility that we go after a tweener OLB/DE that can rush the passer like Aaron Maybin or Brian Orakpo -- especially when you consider that both of our starting DE's are staring 4 game suspensions in the face. But then again, we just signed Paul Spicer to pair with McCray and Savage, so that route also seems unlikely. Williams' draft history suggest players like cornerback Vontae Davis and safeties Louis Delmas and William Moore are more likely picks. They all have speed and play true safety/corner positions. However, the moves we have made suggest that we have already filled needs at those 2 positions (Greer and Sharper) and should target an OLB in the draft.

I think I return to my original assumption that an OLB seems most probable (i.e Cushing). Although, based on Williams draft history, Davis and Delmas won't go away -- and I am not so sure they should.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The email began innocent enough... excitement for Greg Williams

about Williams and the cap...


a lot of this is hype from a times pic writer, but you can't help but get excited about gregg williams:
He said every position will play an important role, but four spots are especially critical to the system: middle linebacker, nickel back and both safety spots. That's why he said he would begin his evaluation process from the back of the defense and move forward, linebackers to linemen.
I'd say we're getting a new safety somewhere along the way.


Yea, it sounds like it, and we definitely need one, but who? If we make a FA acquisition, who do we let go? If we draft a young safety, can we really start him from the get-go? And who would we take at 14 now anyway?

I have no idea how this is going to play out


check out the list of cap figures:
At 2.2M, Patten is almost definitely a goner. And Deuce too probably.


You still take a hit when you cut someone though, so even though we are cutting some guys, we are still going to be on the hook for some of that. Plus, we have a lot of backloaded contracts that are going to count more against the cap than they did last year. Even though we have some FA's who likely won't be re-signed, I still don't see how we get any big name guys. Jeff Duncan said it as well - we are not going to make any big acquisitions unless we give some guys up.


All of this = Saints F.I.T.B.


Yeah, that's true. For cap purposes, the signing bonus is pro-rated over the term of the contract. When you cut the guy, you take a hit for any amount of the signing bonus that has not already been accounted for. The fact that a contract is backloaded in subsequent years doesn't hurt you for cap purposes. It just makes the player more appealing to cut, e.g. David Patten.
We're probably not going to get a Nnamdi, Peppers, or Haynesworth-type guy; the Saints just don't do that, even when we do have the cap room. But Atogwe? He's a possiblity.


I meant, We have backloaded contracts on guys we are not cutting, which is part of the reason we are in so much trouble.

about the draft (i.e. William Moore, S Mizzou) and Reggie...


about the USC LB's at the Senior Bowl:
here is the scouting report on william moore.
My takeaways:
- ballhawk
- pussy, doesn't hit
- injury prone


sounds like Bullocks. THat's exactly what the report on him was


yep. combine that with his play on an overrated team/conference, and i'm not a big fan.

"while he is fairly reliable as an open-field tackler, he does not play with a mean streak and he lacks power as a hitter. He will get erased too easily when teams run at him and he rarely supports with reckless abandon."


yeah this guy is worthless


yeah under coach payton we play such a tough brand of football that i can't imagine drafting a guy whose description sounds very much like the guy that sean payton has tried to make centerpiece of our offense the last three years (maybe he will finally figure it out that reggie isn't like the LT of two years ago .....but rather like gil fenerty without the heart)


puh-leeze dude

Your hatred for all things Reggie has completely blinded you to what the guy can do. From now on, any time I see the word "Reggie" in something you write, I'm just going to skip that paragraph and assume it says "waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa reggie booooooooosh, waaaaaaaaaaa. I thought you were going to be marshall Faulk, LT and Brandon Jacobs all in one. waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. why didnt you win us the superbowl reggie? waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"


now that's what i am talking about!!! a little heat into the board....of course, you misinterpreted what the dowg said....i didn't criticize reggie; i criticized his head coach for how he used reggie. i think you'll agree with me, counselor, that reggie's best year was his first when he was used as a complement to a different style running back....or the lightning part of a "thunder and lightning" package...or the "change of pace"....or the "left-jab after the big right hook" or whatever the hell you, fine counselor, would want to say

but now he is somehow expected to be those guys that you mentioned "all in one"...and all saints fans, even ones who sit closely and comfortably to the field in the club section, would readily admit that mr. bush cannot possibly be expected to thunder, lightning, and driving rainfall all in one..it is simply not a part of his makeup and it is counterproductive to what makes him special. after all, who on this fine email list would dare to say that mr. bush has been "special" the past 2 years like he was his first....any takers gentleman?

in fact, dude, if you ask the father of 2 among us, he will tell you that i am in fact a reggie apologist.


I got 2 kids??? btw, I'm referring to my son as "Loadhalt" now. I just love the name.
...ask Ducan.
I'm not getting into the Reggie stuff. Been there, done that.
I will, however, refute your collective bashing of William Moore. The dude is a starting safety in the NFL. Bullocks isn't. You guys are making judgement calls on that one page of an "assesment." Have you even seen the dude play? Maybe he will be underwhelming in the NFL... but I saw the guy play in two games this year, didn't know who the hell he was, and each time I said to myself, "wow" ...on several occasions. I hardly think 2 games of watching a college safety play is sufficient reason for a judgement call, but neither is a one-page ESPN scouting report. Let's just wait and see after the combine what people are saying. If he does begin to "rise," I think there is a very good chance that we draft the dude. And if that turns out to be the case, I will be excited about it.


I really don't think Payton is asking Reggie to be an all-in-one type of back. BUT, I think Payton has to run him up the middle from time to time to keep defenses honest. And it was starting to work. He had a huge carry right up the gut against Carolina just before getting hurt.

It's easy to bash Payton's play-calling. It's actually fashionable lately. But repeat this to yourself 3 times - We have the best offense in football.

Now, even I will acknowledge that some of those stats are skewed because of games where we threw up points in garbage time like it was going out of style. But, we are easily top 5 in the league, and whether you like it or not, Payton's play calling plays a role in it.

And here is the thing about his play calling - He can't win. Either he runs it on 3rd and 1 and we can't pick it up and everyone throws a fit because he ran the play everyone just knew he would run, or he tries something tricky and everyone gets pissed because he's "overthinking" it, or he gets the ball to Reggie in the flat and everyone gets mad because "we always go to Reggie" and everyone amazingly knew that would happen too.

Newsflash - Sean P is a good coach and a good play caller and the Saints offense will again be dominant next year. The season is in the hands of the Front Office (and whoever they can bring in via free agency and the draft) and Greg Williams.

As for Moore... I have never seen the dude play - all I'm saying is, that was the scouting report on Bullocks. Bullocks was labeled a ball-hawk, not extremely fast, and not a big hitter, a guy who just made plays. Well, we have all see the plays Josh Bullocks makes for the Saints, and they typically involve him making the good ole college try at tackling a wide receiver who beat him deep.


Please... let's step back for a minute and place things in proper perspective.

Not knowing that Coslton, Nesbit, Goodwin, Bush, Patton, Cambell, Ellis, Thomas, Grant, McKenzie, Porter, and Gay would ALL miss signifigant time injured, a 10-6 record last year would have been a comfortably accurate prediction -- and we went 8-8 (off by 2 games). Not to mention guys like Shockey, Deuce, Bullocks (ok -- yay!), and Smith ALL reportedly played the season with signifigant injuries. That's 16 starters (out of 22!!!) that either missed signifigant time or played hurt. Now, I know all teams suffer injuries and all teams have guys that play hurt; but, none had that many. We all must say that this affected chemistry (both offensively and defensively). We must take this into consideration when proclaiming the "status" of our team and projecting for next season.

Why am I saying all this?

Because I think we are supporting a culture that suggest we have to nail the perfect pick in this draft, or we have to go get upgrades in FA -- supporting it with a certain sense of urgency, because we've missed the playoffs for 2 years in a row, and people are starting to question Payton and Loomis' decisions (both in game decisions and off-season ones). I urge you to step back and look at the big picture. We NEED a lot less than most people think. We already have a championship core. We just need them to stay healthy. Sure, I hope we continue (as Payton and Loomis' past track record suggests) to make good, in some case great, draft decisions. But I don't think 2009 is in the hands of Loomis, or the scouts, or Greg Williams. I think it's in the hands of the players we already got -- they just need to stay healthy... trade their vaginas in for a set of balls, so to speak. Ok, that's somewhat inaccurate -- we really we just need a few good breaks instead of an alarming number of bad ones). If 6-7 people get hurt or play injured in '09, we'll be ok; if 16 do again, we'll be in trouble again, no matter what decisions we make this offseason. There should be a sense of urgency this offseason -- to stay healthy, not win the FA lottery. I trust that our Front Office will continue it's alarming success rate in the draft and FA -- no matter if it's big splashes or small ones.

We may have gone 8-8 last year, but it wasn't because Payton couldn't call a play to pick up one yard on third down; it wasn't because Payton talked Loomis into trading for Shockey; it wasn't because Jason David and Usama Young couldn't cover a nine-route; and it wasn't because Gary Gibbs was a bad D-Coordinator. It was because Deuce didn't return as the same RB he was in '06, and it was because Colston missed half the year, and it was because Shockey played with a sac on his ass, and it was because Porter and McKenzie were not there to do their job, and it was because to many people were injured for Gary Gibbs to effectively do his.


I agree with this:

"We may have gone 8-8 last year, but it wasn't because Payton couldn't call a play to pick up one yard on third down; it wasn't because Payton talked Loomis into trading for Shockey; it wasn't because Jason David and Usama Young couldn't cover a nine-route; and it wasn't because Gary Gibbs was a bad D-Coordinator. It was because Deuce didn't return as the same RB he was in '06, and it was because Colston missed half the year, and it was because Shockey played with a sac on his ass, and it was because Porter and McKenzie were not there to do their job, and it was because to many people were injured for Gary Gibbs to effectively do his."

And I also think we just failed to show up to 2 of our most important games - Atlanta (the first time) and Carolina (the first time). Both pathetic showings.

On the other hand, we keep Hester from getting behind us and Smith from catching that prayer Delhomme threw into triple coverage, and we should be 10-6.

So while I agree with everything you said, Scott, I also think sometimes it just boils down to the fact that winning teams win, and losing teams lose. At no point was this more obvious than when the Pats went 11-5 without the best qb in the league.

So maybe we just need a little, or maybe we need an entirely new attitude, culture, scheme, personnel, etc... After seeing what the Cardinals have done this year, I just don't know anymore.


I think this year's cardinals team is alot like our '06 Saints team. Just a good (not great) regular season (the cardinals were boosted by the fact that they play in the least difficult division in professional sports). Then, both teams got hot at the end. The difference is, that the Cardinals lucked out with having Philly come to their house (playing home in a Dome). Had the giants beat Philly in the Divisional Playoffs, Arizona would have gone to NY and perhaps been derailed with bad weather conditions.

If you remember in 2006, Seattle almost beat Chicago in the Divisional Playoffs. Had that happened we would have hosted Seattle in the Dome. Unfortunately, we had to travel to Chicago and play in conditions hardly catered to efficiency in the passing game.

I think we are the type of team that needs to have homefield advantage in the Playoffs, or at least not have to play in horrible conditions. Arizona got lucky -- the furthest north they had to go was Carolina and the conditions weren't bad in that game (cooler temperatures, but no rain or snow). Now they go to Tampa for the Superbowl -- I doubt that will be an ice bowl :)

I think our "attitude" is good as long as people realize the real reason(s) behind the Saints not meeting expectations. When media, fans, etc. start the ignorant murmurs that we have a bad coach who makes bad decisions, and begin to question a general manager who has had perhaps the best 3 year FA / drafting stretch I can think of, that will inevitably affect the attitude inside the locker room (because the players listen to all of that b.s.). The fact is that if another coach had to deal with the injuries this team had in 2008, a road stretch that kept the team away from the Dome for 48 days, two kickers who single-handedly lost games for us by missing multiple FG's, they would be lucky to sniff an 800 record, especially when you consider that all 3 teams in our division posted an 800 record or better.

I love Payton's coaching this past year because he didn't utter one excuse about anything. He kept plugging in players, coaching others up, and moving forward. He controlled what he could control and didn't make excuses for what he couldn't. I think that's the attitude and culture you want in a head coach, and I think it's present in most of our personell (certainly our QB).

I judge people based on how they handle issues when things are going good, but how they react when things are going bad. If Payton can lead us to a 800 record while dealing with the most unfortunate stretch of occurrences he has had to deal with in his short coaching career, I think he grades out rather well.

I still love the dude, and I still think we will win with him. Moreover, I don't think Loomis was lying (or being naive) when he said that he thinks the team will win a championship with this head coach and QB. It would be foolish to guarantee anything, but I think if we stay healthy, we are not just a good team, but a very good team.

... just saying, vern ;)


i think atogwe would be nice b/c he's the best player available at the most obvious position of need, and the draft that is relatively weak at that position. but i don't want to dismantle our team to get him. we need to re-sign vilma, stinchcomb, evans, and moore. we don't need patten, devery, or deuce. if we can do all of that and make enough cap room to get atogwe, i'd be thrilled. if not, we need to figure out how to address that position in another way.
i'm not part of this loser's lament. i like our team, our coach, and our qb; and i think we are close. i do think that we will only be close for as long as brees is in his prime, which is probably 3-4 more years. i'm prepared for some dark years after that; but if we can get 1 superbowl, just one, i'd embrace those dark years like big bird embraces tickle me elmo (inside joke -- Section123SaintsFan is referred to as Big Bird... long story).


gentleman with all of this talk i know there is certainly one man smiling.....his name is tom benson cuz he knows that the bumper stickers with the fresh company slogans are being put on the cars for next year. for a team that has been horribly disappointing the past two seasons, i would think yall are talking about the patriots here. notice that no matter how you spin it.....we are still holding onto the same nonsense that we have been saying since the ditka years..."we are really really close"
and i know it's different, and payton is better, and gibbs sucked, and injuries and blah blah blah...but the bottom line is that we could have had these very same conversations when blondie was our coach....and possibly the only reason we now spend a little more and hire better coordinators and are threfore a prettier football team is because ole TB aint gettin any younger, and he probably sees his Super Bowl dreams fading into the sunset and has a sense if urgency in his life (and BTW..there was one more team who put more guys on IR than us this year, and they are the 11-5 New England Patriots.....and I believe one of those guys was not just a rookie, or a mild contributor, or a guy whose name sounds really good when you cite it.....he was kind of important to them)
so fire away helm and green, but i am tired of watching us beat up on poor teams and lose to anyone floating around .500 and then spinning it to say "we were really close" (check out the teams we beat and the ones we lost to this year....it's kinda telling).


hey, at least it's not the haslett days when we'd beat the super bowl champion rams and lose to the 1-15 bengals in the same year!


Great stat dude, but let me get this straight - we beat more bad teams than good teams, and we lost to more good teams than bad teams? And taking that a step further, if I dare, we were better than bad teams and worse than good teams?


In other news, the sun came up this morning, taxes are due on April 15, and there is still no cure for cancer.

Now look, I'm not trying to be a dick (it just happens....), but I don't care that we mostly beat the teams we were supposed to beat and lost to the ones we were supposed to lose to. Every season for every single NFL team that is even close to a contender comes down to a few plays. You just have to put the right guys in the right spots and hope it works out. Every team is always a year away (see: the Dolphins, Falcons, and Cardinals this season). Don't try to crush our hope because we have been close before and not gotten it. We're close again, and the difference this time, is that I believe in this staff and this team, and you wanna know why??

Because We aint talkin Aaron Brooks and Jeff Blake - we talkin Drew Brees.

And that's enough for me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Moosedenied's NFC South Preview Part 4: New Orleans Saints

This is GrandMaster Wang's final installment of his 4-part series detailing the NFC South. He saved the best for last. Enjoy...

There’s no denying that the Saints sucked ass in 2007. They were terrible. 2006 was a fluke resulting from nobody taking them seriously. 2007 exposed the Saints for what they are, a slightly-below-average team with a great QB, exactly one legit wideout, no running game and no defense whatsoever.

So why is it that I’m about to deny all of that?

Could it be because it’s bullshit?

Or is it because I’m a homer? Actually, it’s plenty of both. But let’s focus on the former. Read it all...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Moosedenied's NFC South Preview Part 3: Tampa Bay Bucanneers

By Grandmaster Wang / Moosedenied.com...
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. For the Tampa Bay Bucs, last year was one of those times.

Oh, they were good too. They were about as good defensively as the Saints were offensively. That in and of itself qualifies as pretty "lucky", given that half their defense remembers the Taft administration and the other half doesn’t remember the Reagan administration.

But even more than that, Zeus must really have a boner for Fabulous Jeff, a guy who was spanked by Grover Cleveland on two non-consecutive occasions. Either that or Hera was really trying to stick it to Ganymede. Read it all...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Moosedenied's NFC South Preview Part 2: Carolina Panthers

As countless 2008 NFL season preview magazines hit the racks, we would like to bring you some analysis from one of our favorite sites, moosedenied.com. For those that are unfamiliar with GrandMaster Wang's writing, take it from us when we tell you the man is talented. Perhaps a bit bold at times, but very talented. He is in the midst of previewing the NFC South for the upcoming 2008 season. Check out what he says about the Carolina Panthers in Part 2 of his preview:

Last year at QB, the Pants started Jake Delhomme, David Carr, Matt Moore, Vinny Testaverde, Rodney Peete, Dameyune Craig, Jack Trudeau, Frank Reich, Steve Beuerlein, and Steve Bono. It got so bad, they were pretty close to calling Chris Weinke. Yikes.

But this year? Jake’s back, bitches! With one of those stringy, impossible-to-chew parts from a Bojangles™ Brand drumstick grafted onto his throwing elbow. And Jeff Otah! And Jonathan Stewart! And the Pants are going to RESTORE THE ROAR this fall! Or something. Right? Read it all...

Moosedenied's NFC South Preview Part 1: Atlanta Falcons

As countless 2008 NFL season preview magazines hit the racks, we would like to bring you some analysis from one of our favorite sites, moosedenied.com. For those that are unfamiliar with GrandMaster Wang's writing, take it from us when we tell you the man is talented. Perhaps a bit bold at times, but very talented. He is in the midst of previewing the NFC South for the upcoming 2008 season. Check out what he says about the Atlanta Falcons in Part 1 of his preview:

This just in: The Falcons still blow.

But hey, five to eight years from now? Watch out, bitches! Atlanta’s got themselves a brand spankin’ new "face of the franchise" in the form of… another overrated ACC quarterback with two first names.

There have been rumors that the selection of Matt Ryan was a big misunderstanding in the first place. Evidently the Falcons’ rep actually told Herr Goodell that they wanted to select Glenn Dorsey, but Goodell thought he said "The Next Ken Dorsey." ...Read it all.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fantasy Love / Hate: Wide Receivers

Currently, I play in 4 leagues: a dynasty league, a customized keeper league (easily my favorite), a "normal" league, and an auction league. In the coming weeks I will give you 3 players from each position that I love and hate heading in to the 2008 season. Here's what I said about running backs. At first I wanted to write about my thoughts on every player, but for now, I thought it best to limit myself. Admittedly, it's a little early. Players' roles are sure to change as we move through training camps around the league, but this should serve to get the ball rolling as you begin to think who you want to target.

Some people I love/hate will be taken in the first round, some people will be taken much later. This is not a ranking, but merely my suggestion if a certain player is being overvalued or undervalued relative to his early suggested draft position by other major publications. And as always, I will try not to present the obvious -- that will be left to everyone else.

So here it goes:

Wide Receivers I Love (i.e. think are undervalued):

1.) Braylon Edwards (BROWNS) -- Last year, he made the jump in to elite status, and this year, nothing is changing. Cleveland has stuck with Derrick Anderson over Brady Quinn, and Edwards should continue to flourish and build upon his 1,289 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns in '07. And that's not even why I like him. Edwards finished as the #3 fantasy wideout last season in ESPN's standard scoring format, behind only Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. However, early projections aren't treating him as such. Many are grouping Edwards in an early-middle tier that includes Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, etc. That said, Edwards should be available a round (possibly two) after guys like Moss, Owens, and Wayne get picked; and, he has a very good chance of posting numbers equal to or better than the numbers the "big three" put up. Cleveland's offensive line is one of the better lines in the NFL and, even if Jamal Lewis isn't great again, Anderson will have all the time he needs to find Edwards early and often. Also, Stallworth's presence as a deep threat should only serve to occupy opposing secondaries so they cannot consistently double-team Edwards -- they will be forced to respect Stallworth's speed by keeping a safety over the top. While others waste a first rounder on one of the "big three," you can afford to wait until the 2nd or 3rd to get a guy who has a realistic shot at ending 2008 as the best wide-receiver in fantasy football. Besides, who are you people that take wide receivers in the first round? It's bad form.

2.) Chad Johnson (BENGALS) -- Do I like Chad? No. Would I want him on the Saints roster? Never. Do I think he needs to grow up? You know it. But will he be on any of my fantasy teams this year? Absolutely. Chad Johnson's value has never been lower... and never will be. I was reading several listings of various WR rankings, and nearly all of them had Johnson's teammate, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, ranked ahead of the disgruntled wide receiver. I actually have T.J. in my keeper league, but couldn't help laughing at the fact that other "experts" projected him ahead of Johnson for 2008. We all know that Johnson had an off-year last year; yet he still managed to finish as the 6th-best wide reciever in ESPN's standard scoring format (one spot ahead of Houshyourmama). Last year, Johnson was tabbed by nearly every publication as a top 5 wideout, now he's not even breaking the top ten. It's happened before with Owens and Moss -- there fantasy stock has dropped because of their on-field antics -- and now it's happening with Chad Johnson. Johnson is still one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL, he still has one of the best QB's throwing the ball to him, and he still has the benefit of playing with a very good offense line. Now you tell me that I can get him for half the price? Thanks... I'll take him.

3.) David Patten (SAINTS) -- Ok, how many people's eyebrows are raised right now? If you're confused, let me explain. I think David Patten has a good chance of being the 2008 "light" version of Wes Welker. The Saints were the only team to throw more than the New England Patriots did last season -- Brees attempted a mind-boggling 652 passes in '07. Even if running back Deuce McAlister returns to health, past experience says Sean Payton will continue to call passes and Drew Bress will continue to chunk it. So why not like the #2 option for a team that is likely to lead the league in pass attempts? Last year, despite only landing a starting job midway through the season, Patten managed to finish ahead of Amani Toomer and Donte Stallworth (and just behind receivers such as Donald Driver, Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, and Laveranues Coles). Now, Patten will start alongside Marques Colston from day one. We all know how good a potent offense's #2 receiver can be (see Wes Welker, T.J. Housh, and Reggie Wayne -- although he's now the Colts #1.) Admittedly, at 33 years-old, Patten will never be as good as the aforementioned wide receivers, but that doesn't mean he can't help your fantasy team. After settling in to the starting role last season, Patten finished with 54 catches, 792 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Assuming he keeps the #2 role all season (which I think he will), it's not hard to envision a campaign with 70 catches, 1000 yards, and 6 touchdowns (that's just 16 more catches, 208 more yards, and 3 more touchdowns from last year). Don't be scared off by the rumors saying that Robert Meachem will take the #2 role this year -- it's very unlikely he will do so. He did not play one down last year. In 2008, which is basically his rookie season, Meachem may pass up Devery Henderson as Drew Brees' third option, but he shouldn't threaten Patten's hold on the starting spot opposite Colston. Down the stretch, Brees developed a trust in the veteran receiver which figures only to be enhanced with a second off-season of work together. And get the real reason I love Patten: he's getting no respect in fantasy rankings. ESPN.com has Patten ranked #56 in it's WR rankings for 2008. If you buy what I'm selling, that's way too low. I think he's going to finish in the top 30 and wouldn't be shocked if he rose higher than that. That's starter material as a borderline #2 fantasy wideout, and if you're in a league that starts 3 WR's, he's a no brainer as your #3 WR. While others start taking mid to late-round flyers on Bernard Berrian, Donte Stallworth, and Patrick Crayton, you sit tight and wait for Patten. You will be glad you did.

Wide Receivers I hate (i.e. think are overvalued):

1.) Greg Jennings (PACKERS) -- In hoping to land the next Braylon Edwards, many fantasy football experts will undoubtedly tab a pool of young wide-receivers that have the potential to take a huge leap into "elite" status in 2008. Among them, you're certain to hear names including Greg Jennings, Santonio Holmes, and Brandon Marshall. Unfortunately, for Jennings, he is the least likely too emerge a stud in 2008. In fact, I think he will digress significantly this season. Last year, you may be surprised to know that Jennings didn't lead his team in receptions (he only had 53 catches to Donald Driver's 82), nor did he eclipse 1,000 yards receiving (he only had 920 yards to Driver's 1,048). Amazingly, he was able to finish last year as the #11 overall WR in standard soring formats (I would bet he didn't fare as well in PPR leagues). So how did he do it? One reason -- touchdowns. In 2007, Jennings caught a ton of them. In fact, out of Favre's 28 touchdown passes last year, 12 went to Jennings. Unfortunately for Jennings, Favre retired this off-season and Green Bay has moved on to Aaron Rodgers (...recently, reports indicate that Favre may return, which could send this entire analysis down the pipe, but for now let's assume that Favre remains retired or plays somewhere besides Green Bay in 2008). Rodgers will be hard pressed to throw for 20 touchdowns, much less 28, and Jennings will likely not see the same percentage of them. If you follow, that puts him around 6-7 touchdowns at best. Even if he gets the same amount of catches and yards, his numbers would read 53, 920, and 7. Hardly numbers worthy of the draft pick you will need to forfeit to acquire him. After Jennings goes, wait another 2 rounds and take Driver. He's a better route-runner, will probably finish with better numbers than Jennings, and most importantly, you're getting a better value.

2.) Larry Fitzgerald (CARDINALS) -- This one is a little tougher to call because I believe that Fitz is one of the most talented (perhaps the most talented) young receiver in the NFL. Out of all the young studs scattered around NFL rosters, Fitzgerald reminds me most of Jerry Rice. He's not the fastest or tallest, but he's got the best hands and is, perhaps, the smartest (call it receiving I.Q.). I don't want this to look like a "man crush," so let me tell you why I don't like him. Part of what made Jerry Rice great was the fact that he had the luxury of working with two of the finest QB's in NFL history in Joe Montana and Steve Young. Unfortunately for Fitzgerald, he will be expected to catch passes from Matt Leinart in 2008. Early rumblings out of Arizona are that Leinart, not Kurt Warner, will start and get every opportunity to succeed (he was, afterall, a top 10 pick, and top 10 picks are not easily cast aside). However, this won't be Leinart's first crack at the starting job. Last year, he started the first 4 games of the season. Fitzgerald's numbers in those games? 312 yards and NO touchdowns. Meanwhile, Anquan Boldin, Arizona's other stud WR, found the endzone 3 times during that span. Even if Warner replaces Leinart again (which is a favorable possibility to many), there's no guarantee that he will remain healthy enough to complete the entire season -- at 37-years-old, Warner is more brittle than ever. The other issue Fitzgerald must deal with is losing touches to Boldin. If the Cardinals had a QB like Manning, Brees, Brady, Romo, or Palmer, I would not worry about the ball being spread around; but when two great WR's are fighting for touches from a below average QB (which, at this stage of his development, Leinart is), there could be a problem. Don't believe me that the quarterback doesn't make the receiver? Just ask Roy Williams and Randy Moss. Neither Williams nor Calvin Johnson finished in the top 30 in fantasy points last year. Moss, on the other hand, flourished with Tom Brady, after a two year hiatus in Oakland when he was catching passes from Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter. The bottom line is that Fitzgerald has too many issues working against him for me to justify the early pick needed to put him on my fantasy roster. There are just safer options out there.

3.) Marvin Harrison (COLTS) -- From a not-so-obvious receiver I hate (Fitzgerald), to a bit more reasonable assumption: stay away from Marvin Harrison. Surely, someone in your draft will see Harrison sitting there in the third or fourth round, and say to himself, "Didn't someone draft that guy in the first or second round last year? I know he got hurt, but I'm going to take a shot on him. If he returns to form, I'm getting a steal!" Then, whoever that loser is will draft him. Don't be that guy. Hearing the selection, some other guy sitting quietly in the corner is sure to draw a line through ESPN.com's 24-ranked WR, smile, and say, "Man, that's risky." Please... be that guy. When older WR's fall from grace, they do so in a hurry. Harrison's 13 years in the league were a thing of beauty, but he'll be 36 by the time the 2008 season rolls around, and more likely than not, his run is over. If you don't believe me, then believe Harrison's own team... They didn't draft Anthony Gonzales in the first round (two years ago) to be a life-time "slot" receiver. At the end of last season, in Week 14, Gonzales had 6 catches for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns at Baltimore. In Week 15, Gonzales followed that up with 7 catches for 86 yards and 1 touchdown. Consider the torch passed. Matthew Berry (ESPN's senior director of fantasy) said it best when referring to Harrison's 2008 outlook: "I think he's done. And I'm not willing to waste a reasonably high draft pick to find out if I'm wrong."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Bullocks Out, Kaesviharn In?

Who Dat News: ProFootballTalk reported last week that Kevin Kaesviharn has overtaken Josh Bullocks (as Bullocks has been recovering from a knee injury) in the battle to become the team's starting free safety. Here's what the article said:

With Saints FS Josh Bullocks out for OTAs while on the mend from knee surgery, Kevin Kaesviharn has moved ahead in the race to become the team’s starting free safety, the way we hear it. Bullocks is the incumbent at the position and has started 43 of the 46 games he has played in during his three seasons in the league, but his performance has been inconsistent, particularly in coverage. Missing a large chunk of time that could have been spent working on eliminating mistakes that plagued him in the past didn’t help his cause as he enters his contract year. Kaesviharn started three games last season, his first with New Orleans, but sources say he looks like the more dependable option at this point and is penciled in as the starter next to SS Roman Harper, who also has encountered consistency issues. Competition throughout the Saints’ secondary should last through training camp and the preseason as defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs tries to improve his unit’s pass defense, which ranked 30th in the league last season.

WhoDatSay: The issue I have with this report is that (as usual) ProFootballTalk doesn't cite its source. Was it a ball boy at minicamp who saw Kaesviharn running with the ones and came to an extreme conclusion? Or was it an insider in the Saints' personnel department who actually knows head coach Sean Payton's and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs' intentions?

I know, I know, they are just looking out for the integrity of their source so they continue to be "looped in" to valuable news. I'm just bitter that they get more hits than us.

As far as the Saints' starting free safety position, here's what I think....

Bullocks is in the final year of his rookie contract. He has all the incentive in the world to be on the field this season and perform. Problem is, Bullocks had knee surgery early in the offseason and hasn't recovered yet. So, OBVIOUSLY, Kaesviharn is getting first team reps until Bullocks is healthy -- and when Bullocks is healthy, it's his job again... or is it?

When the Saints brought it Kaesviharn last season, the expectation was that he challenge Josh Bullocks for the starting free-safety job. However, much like Brian Simmons in his competition with Mark Simoneau at middle linebacker, Kaesviharn could never unseat Bullocks until the end of the season (and only then because Bullocks was forced out with a quad injury). The question is, why? Was Bullocks' play that good? I think not. Was Kaesviharn slow to pick up the defense? Possibly. Did it even matter who was starting, because our RCB (Jason David) was THAT bad? Probably so.

However, unlike Simmons at middle linebacker (all hail Vilma!), Kaesviharn is still around. Right now, the reality is that HE is getting all the reps at free safety, not Bullocks. In the meantime, Bullocks is doing nothing to dispell the public notion that he is inconsistent and unreliable in the secondary (ok -- that's being nice -- public perception is that he sucks). In this case, perception is reality.

Frustrating for Saints fans is that Mickey Loomis and the Saints front office is sending us mixed messages. They made no attempt this offseason (in the draft or in free agency) to upgrade the FS position. Then, after the draft, Loomis commented that the team liked what they had in Bullocks and went as far as to say that "Josh has been a good player for us."

Come on boss, are you serious?

Loomis is not serious. He was just being smart in addressing the media. Imagine the stir it would have caused if when asked about Bullocks Loomis said, "Josh is really not that good a player. It's a shame, he has all the tangibles needed to be a successful free safety in this league, but he just sucks. I don't know what else to say. He's like a fast chicken with his head cut off. Next year, he will not be with us."

If Loomis were serious with his above-mentioned claim, it would be Josh Bullocks' contract (and not Will Smith's, Jahri Evans', or Marques Colston's contract) that the team would be trying to get re-worked. But there has been no such mention of any contract extension for the free safety who has started 43 of the last 46 games after being selected as a second-round pick in 2005 -- and there will be no mention of one.

Because the Saints are not sure Kaesviharn is the better option (and because Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis are just good men), they will not publicly say it; but trust me, Bullocks will not be on the team unless he takes a pay cut next year. Maybe Kaesviharn will not either, as someone from the outside (via free agency or the draft) should and probably will be brought in to upgrade that position.

In 2008, the better player will start the season at free safety. And right now, while Josh Bullocks does his best Cam Cleeland and Donte Stallworth imitation from the sideline, that player is Kevin Kaesviharn.