Archive for September, 2007

Fixing The Saints
September 30, 2007

Five surefire ways to fix the Saints

By Mike Florio – SportingNews

So what’s wrong with the New Orleans Saints? Funny you should ask that. Because I was just getting ready to tell you. (What a strange coincidence.)
But, hey, I’ll take this a little farther than simply identifying the problem. I’m also going to offer up a solution or two. Or five. (And because the Saints have a bye this weekend, they undoubtedly are scouring the web in search of ideas for reversing that 0-3 start.)

There are, as I see it, three glaring problems that have contributed to the Saints’ six-game swing to start the ’06 and ’07 seasons.
First, the league office saddled the Saints with a much more difficult early-season schedule this year. In ’06, the Saints opened at Cleveland and Green Bay, scoring narrow wins. Then came the epic re-christening of the Superdome against Atlanta, pushing the Saints to 3-0. The rest of the way, the Saints went a mere 7-6 — and 0-3 against AFC teams.
This year, the schedule-makers parked a flaming bag of poo on the Saints’ porch, rang the bell and ran.
In Week 1, the Saints got a prime-time trip to the RCA Dome for the coronation of the Super Bowl champion Colts. Should we have expected anything other than a blowout? The Saints presumably didn’t.
The 41-10 beatdown surely forced the team to start asking itself tough questions when it should have been focusing on getting ready to go to Tampa Bay. So much for that. 0-2.
Then came the home opener against Tennessee, which many presumed (erroneously) would be a repeat of last year’s coming-out party. The Saints, however, were 0-2 at home against AFC teams a year ago and they continued that trend against the Titans.
Really, if the Saints had opened at Cleveland and then headed home to face the Bills and 49ers, New Orleans might be 3-0, too. Just like the Steelers.
Second, the only expectations placed on the ’06 Saints were to show up and play in 16 regular-season games. Winning any of them would have been viewed as a bonus. This year, the words “Saints” and “Super Bowl” began to appear in the same sentence. That’s a lot of pressure (just ask the Chargers) and helps motivate the opponents, too.
The ’07 Saints often appear desperate, causing them to depart from the game plan as they go for the quick score. Case in point: On fourth-and-short early Monday night, Saints coach Sean Payton called for a downfield pass. The receiver was covered, the pass was off the mark and the Saints were on their way to a 0-3 record.
Third, some league insiders say defensive coordinators have figured out the tendencies of Payton’s offense, forcing quarterback Drew Brees to attempt throws he lacks the arm strength to complete. One common criticism is the play of the offensive line, but I don’t buy that. Brees had plenty of time to throw on a key third-down play Monday night after Tennessee had jumped to 10-0 lead. Brees tried to get it to receiver Lance Moore, who was open. By the time the ball arrived, however, Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck — a linebacker! — was able to get in position to intercept the pass.
So how can the Saints turn around their season? Here are five suggestions:
1. Relax. Everyone needs to take a deep breath. And another. And a few more. The Saints have placed way too much pressure on themselves to build on the successes of ’06. That pressure is suffocating the team. However, it’s one thing to realize a team is pressing and quite another to find a solution for the constant sense of urgency. The bye will keep the team winless for another weekend, potentially creating more anxiety. The Oct. 7 game is against Carolina, a team that swept New Orleans last season. The Saints should assume a loose, nothin’-to-lose mindset.
2. Mix it up. If, as some believe, that Payton’s play-calling has become predictable, the coach must break out the ’06 game film and adjust his game plan. Payton then must stick to the blueprint, taking what the defenses give without trying to nail a video game-style play to send the fans to their feet.
3. Don’t use Reggie Bush as a decoy. Last season, opponents feared Bush and the Saints used that to their advantage. Payton made him a high-priced diversion to create space for the rest of the offense. This year, Bushophobia has been cured and opponents are not consumed by the notion they’ll end up on the wrong end of a highlight-reel play. The only way to restore that respect is to command it. Payton must get Bush the ball in the open field and create mismatches.
4. Trade for a veteran receiver. Last year, long-time Saint Joe Horn was valuable, despite playing in only 10 games. His presence as the No. 1 wide receiver helped then-rookie Marques Colston blossom and ultimately make Horn expendable. Colston, however, now is struggling as the clear-cut No. 1 receiver, the target of opponents’ game plans, averaging only 58.5 yards receiving per game. Veteran Derrick Mason isn’t happy with his role in Baltimore, and the Saints should take a shot (longshot?) at trading for him. Mason, 33, could mentor Colston — and draw some safety attention away from Colston. If Mason can’t be had, there are other options — Washington’s Brandon Lloyd and Miami’s Chris Chambers, to name two.
5. Sign Corey Dillon. With Deuce McAllister (knee) out for the season, many league observers assume Bush will inherit the bulk of McAllister’s carries. Bush, however, is not — and likely never will be — a between-the-tackles runner. So why not offer the job to Dillon? Dillon, who turns 33 on Oct. 24, was phased out by the Patriots last year, and no team offered him the starting job in free agency. He’s still on the street. In New Orleans, Dillon could get all the carries his aging body can handle.
Another option is to trade for Minnesota’s Chester Taylor, who is about to be eclipsed by rookie Adrian Peterson. Or how about a reunion with Ricky Williams, if he is reinstated? Such a deal would result in a rare, if not unprecedented, situation in which the same general manager (Randy Mueller) who traded the guy from his original team then trades the player back to it. For that reason alone, I’m all for it.
So heed this advice, Saints. It might not deliver that Super Bowl you dreamed of this offseason, but it certainly won’t make the team any worse.


Meachem or Sullivan???
September 25, 2007

I hate to harp on the negative … but I would not be doing my job if I didn’t pose this question to you all in the blogger world. Is Saints 1st round draft pick, WR Robert Meachem, a worse pick then DE Jonathan Sullivan was in 2003?
No one will argue that Sullivan goes down as one of the worst busts in NFL draft history let alone Saints draft history. The former 6th over-all pick was over weight, over paid and is out of the league after 3 meaningless season’s with Saints.
Is Robert Meachem following the same path? I hated the choice of Meachem on draft day. We reported on this blog back in April that the Saints should take WR Anthony Gonzales from Ohio State. They did not. Gonzales went a fews picks after the Saints selected and is one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets for the Colts. Another player sitting there when the Saints picked … Miami TE Greg Olson. A lenghty pass catcher who is shining right now on a so-so Bears team. (Paging Saints Tight Ends!!! Has anyone seen Eric Johnson or Billy Miller this season?)
Meachem came to camp out of shape and out of practice. He did not run clean routes, dropped passes and looked bad over-all. All indications are he would have been cut if not guaranteed a 1st round contract and money. He has been inactive for the Saints first three games. To put that in perspective … QB Tyler Palko has been active the last 2 weeks. As much as I like Palko … the 3rd string QB position is one that will never be used in a game that is meaningful. The Saints receivers have dropped passes (Devry), looked slow(Patten) and missed reads (Copper). All thw while Meachem is on the sideline dressed in street clothes … just like Sullivan he may want to get used to it … because at this rate, it could be a short stint in the NFL. A friend recently told me it’s karma … last year we got a 1st round quality receiver in the 7th round (Colston) … this year we take what looks to be a 7th round quality receiver in the first (Meachem). KARMA????

September 25, 2007

An open letter to Drew, Sean and Reggie –

Expectations were high coming into this season … we even whispered words like Superbowl! Not with baited breath, but in a bold, bragging tone. Is it still possible after an 0-3 start? Maybe, this is New Orleans and we have come to expect the unexpected. What we cannot wrap our heads around though is the sight of you all struggling.
Let’s go back a bit … As you all know the city of New Orleans is still reeling in some instances from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina almost 2 years ago. We’re tough, we can take a lot … coming back and living here is not easy some times, it’s a labor of love. No matter what color you are, how old you are or what your financial background is … when someone tells me they’re from New Orleans or from the metro area and have gone through and are trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina … I look at that person as a friend, an allie in some cases as family. Someone who knows what it’s like to have almost lost something you love so much. We almost lost our city … New Orleans was on it’s knees in 2005. But due to resilance, recovery and relying on one another … things are changing. New Orleans is recovering and parts are well on their way back. In the past two years we have all been let down, by the levees, our elected leaders even the state of Louisiana (The Road Home Program). But we were not let down by you. In a time when we needed you most you all ‘stepped up’. Amazing considering it was a time when people here had almost lost faith in anyone in a position of authority stepping up and doing anything. Everyone knows by now the Saints team of 2006 uplifted this city. You gave us so much to believe in and hold onto. As corney and unrealistic as it sounds, you all gave us HOPE. No matter where people live, uptown on St. Charles Avenue or in the lower ninth … come game day everyone was a Saints fan. I was at the airport when you all returned from the NFC Championship Game loss in Chicago. Thousands of fans .. in freezing temperatures and soaking rain waited until well past one AM just to thank you for making them feel something other than dispair.
Fast forward now to today … it seems a little bit of desperation is due. Your 0-3, but we’re still trying to believe. The news that Deuce McAllister is out for the season with a knee injury hit some the way it did when they found out their homes were flooded. A sick feeling of loss. After an 0-3 start, people are beginning to wonder to doubt to question. It’s the same way most people feel two years after Hurricane Katrina when it comes to New Orleans recovery. Wondering, doubting, questioning. We don’t want to feel that way about you all and the team. When you win, people go to work happier, more upbeat … more prodcutive. It’s always been said in this state, as goes New Orleans as goes Louisiana. Can the same be said for you all? As go the Saints as goes the city’s recovery? It’s a lot to live with, a lot to lump on your shoulders … but remember this, when times are tough … as they are day in and day out here … you all give us something to believe in, to cheer for to feel good about. I can look into your eyes and see it means a lot to you. Just know this, when you look back into our eyes … this means more to us. You all are athletes, this is a game … but for us, THIS IS MORE THAN FOOTBALL!

Travers Mackel
Brother of Fletcher Mackel
NewsChannel 6 Reporter/Saints Fan

The Pittman Pit! How about Corey Dillon?
September 25, 2007

The season ending injury to star RB Deuce McAllister leaves the Saints empty when it comes to big bruising backs.
Reggie Bush is now the featured back, backed up adequately by Aaron Stecker and the third team back is undrafted Illinois product Pierre Thomas. All are small and are cut from the same mold, none will be mistaken for McAllister.
As the preseason winded down in August the Saints most difficult decision was at RB. The team drafted RB Antoino Pittman in the 4th round out of Ohio State and everyone figured he was a given to make the team. Pittman’s play in preseason was not woeful by any means … he did the simple things, made some plays and looked to be the team’s third string back with Stecker playing more of a role on special teams. That all changed with Pierre Thomas lit it up in preseason games. The team decided to go with Thomas instead of Pittman. It’s safe to assume Saints leaders were hoping Pittman would clear waivers and be placed on the team’s practice squad. That didn’t happen … the Bengals snatched him up. Right now the team could use
Pittman as a change of pace back. Someone who could run through the tackle box and take a beating the way Deuce did. Is it necessary to have a brusier on your roster? No, but it doesn’t hurt. Could the Sainst go out and sign a bigger, bruising back to complement Reggie. Yes, and they should, Even if that player has to take a few weeks to get use to coach Sean Payton’s system. One back that comes to mind is Corey Dillon. The former Pat is unemployed and was an asset to New England in their recent run to NFL dominence. May not hurt to take a look at Dillion …

Run Reggie Run …
September 25, 2007

Here it is … after all the talk, the hoopla, the can he or can’t he, is he a running back or wide receiver talk … Reggie Bush is the man. A featured running back in the NFL. All be it, it’s by default with the season ending injury to Deuce McAllister. Will Reggie step up. Only time will tell, he has 13 more games to show all his doubters that he can carry the ball 20-25 times a game, take a pounding and deliver one to would be tacklers. The good news is this … the Saints offense runs primarily out of the 2 back set deploying FB Mike Karney as a lead blocker the majority of the time. Karney will be counted on to open up holes for Bush more so then he did for the bruising McAllister. The offense will be tweaked a little bit to suit Reggie style, but I believe he can suceed in the NFL as a featured back. Remember this, Tiki Barber, Marshall Faulk and LaDanian Tomlinson were all considered to be small “scat” backs who could not take on the work load or punishment of bigger backs. They all suceeded and their teams had and continue to have great success. The Saints can get it in gear in 2007 … just know this the man doing the shifting is a 5’10, 200 pound Californian with the weight of a losing season in Louisiana on his shoulders. Run Reggie Run …

Run Reggie Run …
September 25, 2007

Karney Crying …
September 25, 2007

Stay tuned for our newscast at 5,6 and 10 today (Tuesday) for player reaction on the season ending injury of RB Deuce McAllister. Fullback Mike Karney, a stand up class guy who tells is like it is, actually welled up with tears when he talked about losing a player like Deuce McAllister for the season.

2001 or 2007?
September 24, 2007

Remember the magical 2000 football season, Saints fans??

The Rams’ Az Hakim fumbling a punt return, securing the Saints first-ever playoff victory … an amazing moment.

Rookie head caoch Jim Haslett was the NFL Coach of the Year, and the future looked bright with young talent like Aaron Brooks, Ricky Williams, and Kyle Turley.

In fact, many experts predicted the Saints would make a serious Super Bowl push in 2001 — but it never happened.

Aaron Brooks crumbled when given leadership responsibilities…

Kyle Turley mentally melted down. Who could ever forget his helmet-tossing incident against the Jets on national TV?

And Ricky Williams … well, what can we say …. he became the Rickey we all know today — completely flaking out.

So, after a dream season in 2006 — a year in which a Saints rookie head coach was named NFL Coach of the Year, a year that saw new stars like Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and Marques Colston emerge — what will be the fate of the 2007 Saints?

Will they be the same old Saints of the pas, following history and tanking out after a little success, just like the 2001 team?

Or will they rewrite history and become consistent winner the city longs for?

Supa Saint…..A MUST WATCH!!!
September 17, 2007

This guy has a great cult following.

His stuff is awesome!

After 2 disasterous losses watching this guys stuff puts a smile on my face.

It’s Not So Bad Saints Fans
September 17, 2007

by: Don Banks

FOXBORO, Mass. — Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we thankfully rediscover other storylines in the NFL beyond Camera-gate in New England …
• It’s only Week 2, but it feels like it’s getting late if you’re one of the unlucky few who are 0-2.
Nowhere can the sense of disappointment and dread be greater than in New Orleans, where a Saints team that was the odds-on favorite to represent the conference in the Super Bowl is winless and hopelessly out of sync.
New Orleans was no fluke participant in last season’s NFC title game, but so far there has been no evidence that the Saints’ 2006 magic carpet ride has carried over. Their offense needed almost seven quarters to produce a touchdown this season, and a defense that was expected to be good enough — if far from great — has been torched for 41 points by the Colts and 31 more by the offensively-challenged Bucs.
And the Saints had 10 days to prepare for Tampa Bay, which trounced Sean Payton’s club 31-14 on Sunday, in a game that didn’t feel even that close.
Amidst the sky-is-falling mentality that likely began creeping in on New Orleans by early in the third quarter, let me offer an encouraging sentiment: Don’t lose heart, Saints fans. Your team is too good to sustain the kind of play you’ve seen this September.
A few quick points to buck up the non-believers in the Crescent City:
• After two road games to start the season (at Colts, at Bucs), the schedule is about to turn friendly. Not a lot friendly, but friendly. New Orleans plays three of its next four games at the Superdome, and has a bye week in there as well. It plays just one road game between now and Oct. 28.
True, drawing Tennessee and Carolina in their next two games doesn’t register as a piece of cake for the Saints, but both are home where the Saints should feed off their crowd and get their fast-track offense running again. If New Orleans can take care of business in those games, they’re back to .500 before a tough Week 6 trip to Seattle and a softer assignment against Atlanta at home in Week 7.
• The Saints aren’t buried in one of the NFL’s weaker divisions. Carolina and Tampa Bay are 1-1, and Atlanta is winless. The Panthers are still a puzzle, falling 34-21 at home Sunday against surprising Houston, in a game Carolina led 14-0 early. The Saints have time to steady themselves without fear of anyone running away and hiding in the NFC South.
• As bad as the Saints have looked, there were a few silver linings to cling to on Sunday. Statistics are usually for losers, but the Saints did out-gain Tampa Bay 343 yards to 330, held a significant edge in time of possession (33:08-26:52), and had a 19-14 advantage in first downs.
The most troubling trend in New Orleans is easy to spot. Once again, despite their efforts to concentrate on it in the offseason and preseason, the Saints defense is getting gouged by big plays, mostly in the secondary.
Last year the Saints gave up 14 touchdowns of 20 or more yards, the most of any team that made the playoffs. It didn’t sink them until the NFC title game at Chicago, but it obviously hasn’t been fixed, either. The Colts gashed New Orleans for three long touchdown passes (all against cornerback Jason David), and the Bucs wisely crafted a game plan to attack the same weak link.
Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia completed three passes of at least 41 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown pass to Joey Galloway, who also caught a 41-yard bomb and scored on a 24-yard reception. Ike Hilliard also hauled in a 41-yard pass from Garcia, who rounded out his day with a 33-yard completion to tight end Alex Smith. Those five Garcia completions accounted for 208 of his 243 yards passing (10-for-16, with two touchdowns).
The good news, and there’s not much of it in New Orleans about now, is that it’s early. Not all 0-2’s are created equal. The one the Saints have crafted is survivable. But the long climb back best start next week at home against the Titans. Any further delay in launching their Super Bowl Express could indeed be fatal.