Friday, July 31, 2009
Training Camp Bullet Points:
-- Sean Payton claimed in his conference that Jason Kyle's addition was a "football decision" only and Kevin Houser's release had nothing to do with the tax credit operation gone awry. As if. I don't understand why athletes and officials always lie bold face to the media. I'd much rather he just say "no comment". Denial is not a river in Egypt, Sean. Per NOLA.com, Payton's quote was: "We felt in Jason's case, we felt like we were getting someone a little bit quicker with his (snap) times on field goals and PATs, and a little bit quicker with regards to the punt (snaps). Certainly we had consistency with Kevin, but we felt Jason had better velocity, and we made the decision." That's fine, I believe everything he said in that statement could be true... but for him to say "the decision that we made was not predicated on that issue" to me is a bold face lie. The financial loss aspect was a significant factor. Had Houser not gotten several people to invest, he's still on the team, simple as that.
-- Malcolm Jenkins, while unsigned, is training in New Orleans. He's not partying with his fraternity in Columbus. He's not relaxing at home milking his off time. He realizes the seriousness. I'm not worried one bit about it. I don't really think you can blame Loomis OR Jenkins as much as you can blame the current market for him not being at camp on time. Almost every team is dealing with this issue. One thing that should make us all feel better is Jenkins' maturity on being ready to be at pratice within 10 minutes of being signed.
-- Everyone passed the conditioning test except one player, who was not named.
-- Jonathan Vilma had a secret abdominal surgery a couple of weeks ago, and the Saints are taking it easy with him. That said, apparently his first practice went smooth and "much better than expected". (STORY)
-- Injured receiver Adrian Arrington (sore hamstring) spent all morning on the bike, while Lance Moore (surgically repaired torn labrum in shoulder) participated in team drills as normal. Moore will stay out of contact drills for 2 weeks.
-- Apparently the support has been OVERWHELMING. A HUGE turnout by Saints fans for the first day of practice.
-- Big shock (sarcasm), Payton and Loomis reiterated the team has ZERO interest in Michael Vick.
Check back for more training camp bullet points as practices unfold.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
1st round draft choice Malcolm Jenkins has yet to sign, and Stanley Arnoux (who is already injured and out for the year) will apparently sign a contract at a later date. I remain optimistic they'll get Jenkins in camp within the next few days, but you never know. The entire crop of 1st round choices leaguewide have been extremely slow getting deals done. One thing I can promise Saints fans is Jenkins realizes the importance of getting to camp on time, and he takes this seriously.
In other news, ex Saints Hollis Thomas was signed to 1 year deal with the St. Louis Rams today. Saints Nation wishes him the best in his new adventure.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Thanks for participating! In the coming weeks Saints Nation will ask the fans to vote for the All NFC South 1st team. Please vote in the new Saints Nation Poll posted on the right hand side of the site: Which QB is 1st Team All NFC South?
Monday, July 27, 2009
1. Who will win the battle for the starting punter job between veteran Glenn Pakulak and rookie Thomas Morstead (pictured)? Based on how awesome Morstead was in college and based on the fact that the Saints moved up in the draft to get him, he's got to be the favorite, but you can't rule out an experienced veteran like Pakulak who's been down this road before and has a strong leg in his own right.
2. Who will win the battle for long snapping duties? You guys can tell I think special teams are important, right? Will Jason Kyle, who is the obvious favorite, win the job - or will the Saints feel that Rob Ninkovich gives them more versatility based on his ability to play at defensive end? With Will Smith and Charles Grant set to be sidelined in games 1 through 4, they could use more depth at defensive end and Ninkovich would be a nice luxury if he can cut it as the long snapper.
3. We know Bush and Thomas are locks, but who's behind them? Mike Bell is currently leading the way, but he has gained weight and Sean Payton wasn't thrilled about it. Lynell Hamilton, PJ Hill and Herb Donaldson are all still in the mix here and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.
4. How will the Saints fare with injuries? The Saints were crushed by key injuries early and often last year. The main thing you always want to hope for in training camp is that you get out of it healthy. So many freak injuries happen on the practice field you have to hope for some luck. The health of a lot of people is important, but Drew Brees and Jonathan Vilma especially. As the season progresses you know guys are going to go down because of the physical nature of the game, but you can hope that training camp runs smooth so you go into the season healthy.
5. How quickly does Malcolm Jenkins sign, and how quickly does he pick things up? There's A LOT of depth at cornerback this year and it'll be interesting to see if Jenkins performs at a high enough standard to stay in the mix. First and foremost, he needs to come to camp on time because we've seen that can really put players behind the eight ball if they start missing package installments. Will he battle for playing time with Gay, Greer and Porter, or will he suffer the "red shirt" type season former 1st rounder Robert Meachem had as a rookie? Don't forget Jason David and Leigh Torrence are also guys that Jenkins won't necessarily pass on the depth chart.
6. Speaking of Jason David, what are the Saints plans for him? Is he really going to get a fair shake in camp? Will the Saints continue to pay him that handsome contract as a number 4 or 5 corner? Based on the injuries at corner last year, you figure David has a shot if he can stick around long enough and someone goes down... but he's going to need to play out of his mind in camp, and really contribute on special teams.
7. How does the depth at defensive end look? We know Smith and Grant and goners for games 1 through 4, so the progress of the Bobby McCrays, Paul Spicers and Jeff Charlestons are even more important. Anthony Hargrove too, who will get his shot to make this team given the scenario. They'll need to play well and hold down the fort until the high paid starters come back.
8. Can Adrian Arrington finally make a statement? Everybody loves him and thinks he's the next Saints star, but the reality is he's spent the entirety of 2008 on injured reserve, and he got banged up in mini camps this year and didn't participate much (hamstring). Can he step up and secure the #5 spot at receiver, or will his inability to practice eventually cost him his job?
9. How quickly does Usama Young adjust to the move at free safety? Does he play so well he gives Darren Sharper a run for his money at the starting position? Does he struggle so much he jeopardizes his roster spot?
10. Can Rod Coleman still cut it in the NFL? With Hollis Thomas and Bryan Young both goners the depth at DT is looking pretty thin. I've said it before and I still believe the Saints will look for players at DT on the waiver wire to bolster depth if they feel their guys aren't cutting it. Coleman was a superstar in his NFL prime, but he's been out of football and came back this year to give it another shot. Based on what they have at DT it looks like the Saints are counting on Coleman to log a good amount of snaps. The hope is he'll be the rejuvinated Rod Coleman of old, the fear is he'll only be a shell of his former self.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Saints Nation caught up with current Saints Defensive Assistant/Linebackers Coach Adam Zimmer (pictured on left) this week for a quick Q&A. Adam Zimmer is entering his 4th season as a coach of the Saints and has been with the team during the entirety of the Sean Payton regime. Adam is a native of Ogden, Utah, but considers Texas home. His father, Mike Zimmer, is the current defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals (who the Saints will play in their first preseason game). Adam is a graduate of Trinity University (Texas) and his already rich NFL pedigree will no doubt land him a more prestigious coaching role in the very near future. Enjoy!
Saints Nation: Adam, thanks for joining us. Curious which player in your mind is the most vocal leader on the team?
Adam Zimmer: We have a lot of leaders on the team, but on offense when Drew talks everybody listens. On Defense, Scott Fujita has been a captain for us 3 years and he is a great leader for us.
SN: Does any player come to mind as the funniest personality?
AZ: We have some good humor guys as well. Since I work with the Linebackers, I'll stay in our room with Troy Evans, his nickname in our room is "Funboy"
SN: What's it like to work with Sean Payton?
AZ: I love working for Coach Payton. I've learned a lot from him. He is a brilliant offensive coach and he challenges the Defense everyday in practice. Anytime you work for a great coach, it makes you better as a Coach. He is very good at organizing practices, and schedules as well. He also knows when the guys need rest and when to give them a bone with a team activity. I've known him since he worked with my Dad in Dallas and he is a great guy and a great Coach to work for.
SN: In your off time you've got a lot of great food to enjoy in New Orleans. What is your favorite restaurant in NOLA?
AZ: Well, I'm not that big of a fan of seafood, and I grew up in Texas so I love Mexican food so I would say Superior Grill. I like Impastatos and Dragos as well but I love my Mexican food.
SN: Back to football - How would you compare Saints fans to fans for other NFL teams in your experience?
AZ: Saints fans are great. They are loud and into the game for the whole time. When my Dad was in Dallas, the fans were not that loud until something good happened for the team. Saints fans are loud from the opening kickoff until the final whistle. The Dome is a great homefield advantage.
SN: Of all the players your team has faced, who is the most difficult player to gameplan against in the NFL?
AZ: Well since we play him twice a year I'd have to say Steve Smith. He is as good a receiver that there is in the NFL. You can double him, focus on him and try and take him out of the game and he will still beat you. Also, when we played Michael Vick he was very hard to plan against. He scares you to death because he is so versatile. I haven't played against Brady yet (we will this year), but I'm sure he is a handful too.
SN: Which player on the Saints in your mind has the most untapped potential?
AZ: That's a hard question. We have a lot of young players that I think will step up this year in some way. We will find out soon when training camp starts. It's hard to judge a players toughness without pads on in the OTA's and Mini Camp, so I'm looking forward to training camp.
SN: Alright, give us your prediction for the Saints' regular season record for 2009?
AZ: Well obviously we are going to go 16-0, haha. Really, there is so much that can go on in a season as we saw last year with injuries and stuff so its hard to predict a record. I do think we have potential to be the top seed in the NFC if we can play smart and stay healthy. It will be a fun year, and hopefully a Super Bowl run that Saints fans deserve.
Special thanks again to Adam for taking the time, and good luck to him and the team in training camp which is right around the corner. Hopefully he can enjoy a few good Mexican meals this week before he gets back to the grind!
Friday, July 24, 2009
2000: 10-6, 8th total defense, 21 INT's, 64 sacks
2001: 7-9, 16th total defense, 15 INT's, 53 sacks
2002: 9-7, 27th total defense, 20 INT's, 39 sacks
2003: 8-8, 18th total defense, 14 INT's, 32 sacks
2004: 8-8, 32nd total defense, 13 INT's, 37 sacks
2005: 3-13, 14th total defense, 10 INT's, 25 sacks
2006: 10-6, 11th defense, 11 INT's, 38 sacks
2007: 7-9, 26th defense, 13 INT's, 32 sacks
2008: 8-8, 23rd defense, 15 INT's, 28 sacks
So here's the basic rundown... 2000/2001 are throwaways compared to the other seasons because new rules were implemented in 2002 and beyond to protect the quarterback which yielded less sacks leaguewide. But let's look at, since 2000, the average outputs.
in 3 WINNING seasons the Saints average: the 15th ranked defense, 17.3 Picks, and 47 sacks per season (38.5 sacks per season if you take out the inflated 2000 sack number).
In 3 8-8 season the Saints average: the 24th ranked defense, 14 Picks, and 32.3 sacks per season.
in 3 LOSING seasons the Saints average: the 19th ranked defense, 12.7 Picks, and 36.7 sacks (though if you scratch the 53 sacks in 2001 prior to the rule changes the sack average drops to 28.5 per season).
The idea is that while the defenses were actually worse in yardage yielded on the 8-8 teams, the teams were overall better and they posted more sacks and interceptions. The winning teams also had FAR MORE interceptions and sacks. The alarming statistic the losing teams showed was the very low number of interceptions per year. Admittedly what this number crunch doesn't show is how the offenses performed each season, but for the sake of this argument I think it's a safe assumption that the performance of the Saints' offenses from 2000 to 2009 have all been pretty good.
So let's hope the reputation Gregg Williams has made for himself as a guy who turns defenses into mayhem creators rings true. Based on the numbers: more sacks and INT's means more wins. We'll see if his language can translate in New Orleans.
Roster Update: The Saints released fullback Darian Barnes, freeing up a spot for a soon to be signed rookie. Barnes was kind enough to recently have a Q&A with Saints Nation, which you can read HERE. We wish him luck this season in finding a team that needs him and hope he can land elsewhere quickly. He served the Saints well in spot duty last year.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Brooks had certain undeniable qualities. His performance was inconsistent, yet his ability was virtually unmatched. His speed, size, arm strength and playmaking ability was enough to make even the best of NFL QB's jealous. Where Brooks struggled was his on field decision making, his costly mistakes, and his propensity to play "low IQ" football. Brooks also had a very care free demeanor and a laid back approach to things. Brooks played 6 roller coaster seasons as the starting quarterback for the Saints, leading them to the playoffs only once in his very first season as a spot starter coming in for injured Jeff Blake. That season would also be the first time that the Saints would win an NFL playoff game in franchise history, when Brooks led them to an improbable 31-28 victory over the previous Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams in the Superdome. To his credit, early in his career he was viewed as having poise and being virtually unshakable given his limited experience, almost like he was immune to pressure. As he grew older and his demeanor didn't change, some fans turned on him and took his approach as careless, having no heart, and being ambivalent. Brooks got a big contract following his playoff win in 2000 and won the starting job in 2001 - so the Saints were committed to him for the long term.
Ultimately Aaron Brooks' failure to prove that the Saints' investment was wise led to the undoing of head coach Jim Haslett. In 2002, Brooks suffered an injured bicep in his throwing arm which affected his performance greatly. The Saints were in a dead heat for a playoff berth, and folded down the stretch losing their last 3 games to cost them a postseason berth. At the time the Saints had what many fans and media viewed as a very capable backup quarterback in Jake Delhomme, but coach Jim Haslett refused to play the backup despite a significant drop in Brooks' play post injury. At the time, Haslett claimed that Brooks, even injured, gave the team the best chance to win. What he didn't say was that the team had invested heavily in Brooks and were committed to him, and that he was terrified Delhomme would come in, play well, and stir up a quarterback controversy in what was Delhomme's contract year. Haslett had been down that road with veteran Jeff Blake in 2000 when Brooks took over and decided to avoid going through it once more. Haslett would admit years after his dismissal from the Saints that he made a mistake not playing Delhomme that season in favor of an injured Brooks. That following offseason, Delhomme left for Carolina and ultimately led them to the Super Bowl in 2003, exacerbating the issues fans had with the Saints' financial and professional commitment to Brooks. The recent lack of success Brooks had on the field as well as the overall team performance didn't help matters, and neither did Brooks' non-chalant attitude. As you can see from the records the team had during the Brooks years as well as his personal stats, things got worse and worse following the first magical run.
Since the Brooks era, the Saints have won their second playoff game behind quarterback Drew Brees, a quarterback who is quickly establishing himself as not only the best Saints QB of all time, but one of the best currently in the NFL. Brees had a remarkable 1st season that almost earned him NFL MVP honors in 2006, a tough sophomore season in 2007, and a terrific 3rd season that almost saw him break what seemed like an eternal passing record for yards in a season set by Dan Marino in 2008. Despite Brees' personal success, the team has suffered from the same average performances they had when Brooks was leading the way, and thus the memory of Brooks lingers on. Navigating forums you'll still see the obsessive hatred fans held for the man, and you'll also see the diehard supporters jump to his defense as they always did. While the addition of Brees has helped dissipate some of the Aaron Brooks talk, the recent performances of the Saints have not. What is interesting is that Saints fans have been more tolerant of the Brees/Payton era vs. the Brooks/Haslett era entering year 4 despite almost identical results in the win column. Whatever the reason, it's been more pleasant to follow this team as a fan because the turmoil amongst fans was tenfold in the former era. It seems as though the current crop of fans believe in the organization's efforts more than they did back then, and buy into the organizational belief that the ultimate plan for success is on course. Part of that is the fanbase's belief in Brees vs. the previous disbelief they had in Brooks. It's hard to say why Brooks burned some fans to the core like he did. Perhaps race played a role in some cases. Brooks did smile a lot, even when the team was underperforming and when he made costly mistakes - and that turned a lot of fans off. Jim Haslett's loyalty through periods of bad play was an annoyance to many. The fact that they had a capable backup in Delhomme, who never played, and that he went on to another team and had so much more success was another sore spot. Ultimately Brooks just didn't have the personality to assume the role and responsibility of a veteran quarterback and leader.
All in all, it shouldn't have taken the Saints 6 years to figure out Brooks wasn't their man, and it shouldn't still be on the minds of Saints fans that the organization dropped the ball. Brooks did make a lot of efforts in the community for kids (both in New Orleans and in Virginia) and he always stayed out of trouble off the field, so based on the person he is he probably didn't deserve the treatment he received. Those were bad years more so due to the fan base griping than they were on the field, which is sad. Things didn't work out with him and many of you called it long before the plug was pulled. These things happen, and those of you that saw it deserve credit, but we're talking about something that has been over for 4 years. These days things are better amongst debating Saints fans, but the Aaron Brooks debate resurfaces all too often. Let's move on and enjoy this 2009 season, please.
Regardless of what side you stand on of the proverbial Aaron Brooks fence, it seems it won't vanish anytime soon. The quarterback enjoyed some high times in New Orleans very early in his career and he also suffered through professional hardships you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. The NFL is entering its 3rd year without Aaron Brooks, and the Saints are entering their 4th. Perhaps the lack of news is the reason for the nostalgia resurfacing, but it can't go away soon enough. In the end Jim Haslett trusted him unconditionally and it led to his downfall, but Brooks shouldn't be blamed for Haslett's loyalty towards him. Perhaps one way to put this story to rest once and for all would be for the current team to win a SuperBowl?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Rd. 1: Malcolm Jenkins, CB unsigned
Rd. 4: Chip Vaughn, S, unsigned
Rd. 4: Stanley Arnoux, LB, unsigned
Rd. 5: Thomas Morstead, (pictured) P, unsigned
A little alarming when you consider that the other teams in the NFC South have all signed AT LEAST 4 drafted rookies to contracts. The good news is there's still a little time, and with one of the smallest draft class in the NFL it won't take much to get it done. It remains to be seen what the Saints will do with Stanley Arnoux who tore his Achilles tendon and is already out for the season prior to signing a contract. No reason to think the Saints won't sign him regardless, but you never know.
Mickey Loomis better get to work!
Drew Brees had a chat on NFL.com yesterday and you can review the transcript HERE. Definitely worth the read!
Click HERE for a Q&A the Sporting News had with Jonathan Vilma.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
One thing I want explained to me: to the 4 of you out there who voted "other", WHO could you possibly have in mind?!? I had Bush, Shockey, Ellis, Will Smith, Sharper and Jammal Brown all included on that list. Just curious who you four would label as more valuable than the players listed. Please comment!
Thanks for your participation in this Saints Nation Poll and please participate in the new Saints Nation Poll: Assuming Greer, Porter, Gay and Jenkins are the Saints top 4 corners, who do you think will be their #5?
Monday, July 20, 2009
A few thoughts:
- When mentioning teams that didn't make the playoffs last year that will this year, how about mentioning your own team? I realize you are biased, but show a little confidence publicly!
- Peter King ranking us 24th overall? That is a ridiculous ranking. We've underperformed the last two years but you can't have the #1 offense and be #24. I don't care how bad your defense is. It's not like we have the 32nd defense, either. I would be more upset but this is the same guy that said New Orleans was a likely destination for Michael Vick, so he may need a lobotomy.
- Cool to see him give a shout out to Rickey Jackson (on second page).
- I'm starting to wonder if Sean Payton's "friendship" with Kenny Chesney might involve romantic candlelight dinners.
Overall it's a fairly entertaining read, but Payton's topics and comments aren't exactly riveting either.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
According to scout.com, Hollis Thomas may be heading back to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent 10 years prior to joining the Saints. Thomas was a member of the Saints for the last 3 seasons, but only played in 8 games in the 2008 season due to a left triceps injury. Last season, he only had 7 tackles and zero sacks. But in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, he averaged 46.5 tackles and 3.25 sacks. If Thomas is back to his pre-injury self, this pick-up could improve the Eagle's defensive line significantly. The Saints released Thomas back in April, largely due to Sedrick Ellis' performance in the 2008 season, where he had 30 tackles and 4.0 sacks. Good luck big Hollis, but I do think we're better off with our current crop of younger (and relatively thinner) talent.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
As nola.com recently reported, the Saints are the next team to enter into an agreement with the state lottery corporation. The Louisiana Lottery will now have Saints-themed scratch-off tickets starting September 8. As a twist on the traditional cash prizes, lottery players will have the option to enter losing tickets into a second chance drawing to win VIP access to Saints events. We all know Louisiana can use the money, and by law, 35% of lottery ticket sales go to the state treasury department. I'm just wondering what kind of cut the Saints organization will get for the scratch off sales.
Friday, July 17, 2009
We're now 28 days from hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in the Superdome, a preseason game that will officially kick off the Saints 2009 playing schedule. We'll get small sample of how our new defense looks against the 32nd ranked scoring offense last year. Carson Palmer is back from injury, and so is Chad Ochocinco. We'll also get to watch a fair amount of play from former Saint J.T. O'Sullivan, who is battling for the backup position behind Palmer. Counting the days Saints fans, counting the days!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
You can check it out HERE.
Saints Football Today is run by 15 year old aspiring journalist Joshua Joffrion, and his homepage is found HERE. Pretty good stuff for a young Saints fan learning the ropes if you ask me! He's also got an interview up with current Saints fullback Darian Barnes that was pretty entertaining.
ALSO: pay no mind to the screaming child in the background (it's not too disruptive), I can promise you that wasn't on my end! In my defense I thought I battled through the distraction and stayed pretty focused on the task at hand :)
Lagniappe: According to ESPN.com, no long term deal between Julius Peppers and the Panthers will be signed this year (STORY). It's a good thing for the Saints because it means he could leave the Panthers after this year, thought I'm sure it won't come easy.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Roman Harper and Usama Young combined to go on NFL.com's "live chat" today and had a very entertaining Q&A with fans which you can read HERE. You have to love Harper guaranteeing the win over the Cowboys and the props they both gave to Devery Henderson for his speed.
Lagniappe: Lots of other interesting news around the league in case you weren't keeping tabs --
Check out THIS ARTICLE on Saints cornerback Tracy Porter. He grew up a Saints fan and apparently was a terrific basketball player.
Brian Griese was released by the Bucs. Now they have 4 guys and I honestly have no earthly idea which one they'll cut. They've got 1st round pick Josh Freeman, so you figure he's a shoe in. "Starter" Josh McCown, Byron Leftwich, and 2008 2nd round pick Josh Johnson. They can only keep 3, which one do they cut? Your guess is as good as mine. The best part as a Saints fan is I wouldn't feel good about any of those 4 being my starter.
Bubba Franks was released by the Jets. I always thought Franks, even in his prime, was more of a name than an actually solid player. He never lived up to his hype coming out of college.
Derrick Mason retired from the NFL. There goes the guy I always picked in the last rounds of fantasy football. No one would pick him because he had bad QB's and was in his mid 30's, but you could always count on him getting 80+ receptions a year.
Another San Diego Charger rookie gets shot. What is it with this team and their afinity for drafting players with targets plastered on them? Luckily I'm at no risk of them drafting me.
See? You can always count on Saints Nation for Brett Favre-less NFL news :)
Monday, July 13, 2009
1. Panthers - It doesn't get any better than Julius Peppers. Beyond that they've got decent role players in Tyler Brayton, Charles Johnson and rookie Everette Brown.
2. Falcons - John Abraham had more sacks last year than Julius Peppers, and as Saints fans I think we all remember him eating Jammal Brown's lunch repeatedly. Beyond that they have an underperforming Jamaal Anderson and a role player in Chauncey Davis. Nothing special but Abraham is that good.
3. Saints - The Saints have by far the most depth, as clearly they are prepared for the absence of Will Smith and Charles Grant during the first 4 games. Once they come back they'll have to prove better than Bobby McCray and Paul Spicer who are good players in their own right.
4. Buccaneers - Gaines Adams is overrated, and they've also got Stylez White and Jimmy Wilkerson. Who? Yeah, exactly.
1. Panthers - Maake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis make a beefy and solid pair up front. That's a tough team to run on.
2. Saints - Mark my words, Sedrick Ellis will make the Pro Bowl within the next couple of seasons. Kendrick Clancy is one of the more underrated players out there, and it will be interesting to see how Roderick Coleman rebounds from a year off.
3. Buccaneers - Chris Hovan is washed up and doesn't have many years left. He's not the player he was 3-4 years ago. Ryan Sims is a decent space eater.
4. Falcons - We'll see how rookie Peria Jerry works out for them. I don't think he'll be half as good as Ellis. Jonathan Babineaux is a solid player, but behind him they really have nothing.
1. Panthers - Thomas Davis hasn't turned into the star some people thought he'd become, but he's a solid and dangerous player. Na'il Diggs isn't flashy but he's a solid player as well.
2. Falcons - The addition of Mike Peterson, who is very solid, helps this team because they don't have much else. Coy Wire, who is mediocre at best, is also slated to start.
3. Saints - Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle are the guys. Dan Morgan retiring again did nothing to help the Saints. Shanle struggles mightily against the run and Fujita while decent is unspectacular.
4. Buccaneers - Angelo Crowell is good but he is hurt and may not be ready by training camp, and behind him are Quincy Black, Geno Hayes and a bunch of other no names.
1. Saints - This is a bit of a leap of faith because there's a couple other ridiculously good middle linebackers in the NFC South, but the Buccaneers wanted Jonathan Vilma this offseason so obviously they liked him better than what they have. Also, Mark Simoneau is a terrific backup.
2. Panthers - Jon Beason is a tackling machine. He's fast and he is all over the field.
3. Buccaneers - #3 is a little harsh considering how good Barrett Ruud is. He's a playmaker and a monster hitter/tackler.
4. Falcons - The gap between Curtis Lofton and the other 3 starting middle linebackers in the NFC South is severe.
1. Buccaneers - Ronde Barber even at his age still has incredible instincts. He is always making a play. Aqib Talib also had a promising rookie campaign and is only going to get better.
2. Saints - They have the most depth in the division. Promising youngsters in Tracy Porter and Malcolm Jenkins, and solid veterns in Jabari Greer and Randall Gay.
3. Panthers - Chris Gamble is very good, and Dante Wesley and Richard Marshall round out a solid core.
4. Falcons - Von Hutchins and Chris Houston are young and getting better.
1. Panthers - Charles Godfrey and Chris Harris do their jobs very effectively. They won't "wow" anyone but they play sound football.
2. Falcons - Erik Coleman is a very good free safety, but who is going to play next to him? Atlanta better figure that out.
3. Saints - Gregg Williams' new defense is supposed to work wonders for Roman Harper, but I'll believe it when I see it. For the Saints it all depends on how Darren Sharper plays and if he can drink from the fountain of youth.
4. Buccaneers - Somehow Will Allen is behind Tanard Jackson and Sabby Piscitelli on the depth chart. You guys explain that to me. Every time we play them Devery is good for a TD over the top and this year should be no different.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
1. Saints - Drew Brees is arguably the best quarterback in the league, and he's got solid veteran backups in Brunell and Harrington.
2. Falcons - Matt Ryan is a budding star and he's only going to get better. The Falcons can't afford an injury, though, because there is nothing behind him.
3. Panthers - Jake Delhomme isn't getting any younger, and his performance in last year's playoffs was a career worst. In Josh McCown they do have one of the league's better backups.
4. Buccaneers - The Bucs love to collect mediocre quarterbacks. Time will tell how rookie Josh Freeman will pan out, but now that Jeff Garcia is gone the Bucs are due for a drop in performance at this position.
1. Saints - Brees helps this unit maximize their potential, but this group also deserves credit for Brees' production. Colston, when healthy, is a top 10 receiver in the league and the Saints got huge efforts last year from Lance Moore and Devery Henderson. Don't forgot about former 1st round pick Robert Meachem waiting in the wings, too.
2. Panthers - Outside of Steve Smith there isn't much on the depth chart, but he is that good. Mushin Muhammad is an old slow possession guy at this point, but he's effective in the red zone.
3. Falcons - Roddy White turned himself into a stud last year, and he may be better than Steve Smith by the end of this season. Behind him are a bunch of dangerous under the radar "potential" guys.
4. Buccaneers - Antonio Bryant put himself back on the map with a great season last year, but behind him are underperforming high draft picks.
1. Falcons - Michael Turner is a guy capable of carrying the load and he proved last year to be one of the best. Jerious Norwood has tremendous speed and gives them a nice change of pace after Turner pounds a tired defense. Jason Snelling is now in the mix too.
2. Panthers - I would never have guessed it going into last year, but the DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart tandem was nothing short of impressive. Everyone knew the Panthers we're going to run last year and people still couldn't stop them.
3. Saints - The Pierre Thomas/Reggie Bush tandem has the potential to be better than the Panthers duo, but they haven't proved it yet. Still, Thomas will get his chance this year to be the guy and you always have to account for Bush's big play ability.
4. Buccaneers - The Bucs have 3 decent players in Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham and Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, but I'm not sure which one will start and the Bucs will probably run them by committee.
1. Panthers - Brad Hoover is a stud and he's one of the big reasons why Carolina's run game is so effective.
2. Saints - I would have had the Saints at #2 with Mike Karney (who was let go in the offseason), but with Heath Evans they're probably even better, and certainly more versatile. Veteran Darian Barnes is a veteran backup who stepped in and played great last season.
3. Buccanneers - B.J. Askew and Jameel Cook are both good fullbacks. They would rank higher if the Panthers/Saints weren't so stacked.
4. Falcons - Ovie Mughelli is a decent player that had the best year of his career last year, but he doesn't compare favorably with the stud fullbacks in the NFC South.
1. Falcons - What a difference a year makes, now they have Tony Gonzalez. He's still the best tight end in the business, and now Justin Peelle fits in much better as a number 2.
2. Buccanneers - Kellen Winslow Jr. was an offseason add for Tampa, and he's a top 5 tight end in terms of ability. That should really help their spotty quarterback play. Jerramy Stevens is a better #2 than most teams have.
3. Saints - We'll see how Shockey performs this season, the Saints could certainly use the production of his big time ability. Billy Miller is one of the more underrated receiving tight ends in the game and is a huge weapon for the Saints. In most divisions the Saints would have the best tight end core.
4. Panthers - Dante Rosario and Jeff King are arguably not even good enough to make the roster for any of the above 3 teams. They block well, but Delhomme needs that big reliable target over the middle and he does not have it.
1. Saints - I think Jammal Brown is a little overrated, but he obviously has the respect of the league based on his numerous Pro Bowl appearances. Jon Stinchcomb, though, is very underrated. He's a bonifide team leader and one of the better technique guys out there. Don't forget about Zach Strief, either, who's been a valuable fill in.
2. Panthers - Jordan Gross is the solid veteran on the left, and Jeff Otah is the blooming young stud on the right. These guys played very well last year.
3. Buccaneers - Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood are the starters. Nothing too special about these guys.
4. Falcons - Fans should be nervous about Sam Baker protecting Matt Ryan's blindside. Tyson Clabo on the right is solid at times, but plays inconsistent.
1. Falcons - Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl are absolute monsters on the interior. Perfect guards for a bruising type back like Michael Turner.
2. Panthers - Travelle Wharton played some at left tackle and did pretty well, but guard is a more natural position for him and he's only better there. Keydrick Vincent of Ole Miss is also a great player.
3. Saints - Jahri Evans will make the Pro Bowl before his career is over. He's arguably the best guard in the division. Carl Nicks played ok last year, but has lots of promise to develop. Jamar Nesbit has to be one of the best backups out there.
4. Buccaneers - Arron Sears and Davin Joseph are unspectacular players that will be pushed in training camp by Jeremy Zuttah.
1. Falcons - Former LSU man Todd McClure has been a mainstay on the Falcons offensive line, and like wine he's gotten better with age.
2. Buccaneers - Former Saint Jeff Faine, like McClure, is regarded around the league as one of the best at his position. He's overpaid, but he's an awesome center.
3. Panthers - Ryan Kalil is a decent player and captain for their line.
4. Saints - Jonathan Goodwin isn't a terrible center by any means and he's filled in admirably since the departure of Jeff Faine, but he just doesn't fare well stacked up against the 3 guys above.