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.


Deuce22 said...

Good riddance Bullocks!! Don't let the door hit your slow ass on the way out!

MT said...

Bullocks is taking a lot of heat for issues he couldn't control. I don't care who you put in there, when your CB is as lame duck as mroverpaidcantcovermygrandmother, and your DLine cant put any pressure on the QB then it makes the FS job pretty much imposable to do correctly, especially for a young player. Now, I am not saying I am a big fan of Bullocks... but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see how well he preforms this year with a DLine that will actually make QB's worry about holding the ball until the WR is in the perfect spot.

SaintsLife said...

Don't forget about Freddie Roach too. Even though he went undrafted, there's potential. Otherwise, great take.

NolaDome said...

I'm pretty sure Training Camp will decide this battle.

Bullocks will not need to play the run as much this year with Vilma and Ellis.

Anonymous said...

kaesviharn outplayed bullocks at the end of last year. he may not have the athletic ability as bullocks, but hes smarter and has a better feel for the game. this may not be a permanent fix but for right now kaesviharn is the correct choice.

sebastien09 said...

they saints are shocking alot of people this year by not losing one game. i think they might go all the way