Friday, July 30, 2010

Saints Nation Has Moved!

Saints Nation has moved over to be hosted by Bloguin

I'm happy to say the site is moving off blogger and will join the bloguin family to boost their sports network. Don't worry nothing has changed except the URL. Same content, same writers, and same daily posting you are used to.

Please click HERE to head over to SAINTS NATION.

Saints Nation: Payton/Loomis Training Camp Opening Presser Notes

We'll run through these for most of camp bullet style for the sake of getting the important information out of the way. Here's the run down of day one.

-- Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton both met with the media. You can read the transcripts by clicking HERE for Payton and HERE for Loomis.

-- Starting on the "Physically Unable to Perform" List (PUP) will be Robert Meachem, Marques Colston, Clint Ingram and Darren Sharper. Colston and Ingram shouldn't last more than a week or so, according to Loomis, whereas Sharper and Meachem may take a little bit longer. Overall it didn't sound like a major concern.

-- The fact that neither Heath Evans nor Jimmy Wilkerson were on the PUP list was a bit of a pleasant surprise. Those two had much more serious injuries, surgeries and recoveries than any of the 4 guys on the list and for those two to come to camp and be full go is really encouraging.

-- If you read between the lines with what Payton and Loomis said about Bobby McCray, it sounds like he was cut because they didn't like his attitude, and it sounds like he pleaded with them to get another chance. I'm impressed that actually worked and he got his job back. Hopefully he can show some real seriousness in camp.

-- With Sharper out, Malcolm Jenkins and Usama Young are both getting a fair shake at free safety during camp. For now both are switching out at starter. I have no doubts Jenkins will outperform Young with ease.

-- Nice to see Dunbar and Arnoux get kudos for their offseason progress, because someone needs to fill into Fujita's shoes.

-- It sounds like Patrick Robinson could be signed any second. He won't be nearly as late to camp as Jenkins was last year. <EDIT: see below he was signed to a 5 year deal last night>

-- I don't know why but I love the idea of Lance Moore holding on field goals and extra points. I hope he gets the job.

That's it for now.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saints Nation: Saints Sign 1st Round Pick Patrick Robinson to a 5 Year Deal

1st round draft choice and 32nd pick overall, cornerback Patrick Robinson of Florida State, has signed a 5 year contract with the Saints and he'll be at camp in time for the first practice tomorrow morning. Kudos to Mickey Loomis for getting this deal done quickly and way ahead of last year's 1st round pick. I'm sure the fact that he was picked 32nd overall helped in negotiations a bit. Jason LaCanfora first broke the news, and it was confirmed by the team on Greg Bensel's twitter account.

I also forgot to mention that Bensel also communicated that "Black & Gold Scrimmage Set for Saturday, August 7 at Saints Camp...starts at 2:50 pm and ends at 4:20 pm...Open to the Public"

Saints Nation: Jason McKie Released

Almost as quickly as he was added to the roster, veteran fullback Jason McKie was shown the door. I'm pretty surprised to see him released without even getting a fair shake in training camp. I guess Heath Evans' injury is healing quicker than the Saints expected, and they feel good about him being full go by the beginning of the season. It's safe to assume this guy is good enough to catch on somewhere.

Also released was defensive tackle Earl Heyman.

Saints Nation: It's Time to Look Forward for the New Orleans Saints, by Joshua Joffrion

This season, the New Orleans Saints have a task ahead of them, one like they've never had to face before, it's time to defend their Super Bowl title.

For years and years, the Lovable Losers of Louisiana never really had much of a chance to make the playoffs, much less make any postseason noise, but that was before Drew Brees and Sean Payton came to town. Since the magical season of 2006, the Saints have been in the playoffs discussion every year but after missing the postseason in 2007 and 2008, the  Saints patched up the defense and reeled off thirteen straight wins to start a season for the ages. Three straight losses followed and the Black and Gold seemed destined to crash and burn once more.But Brees & Co. got it all back together and clipped some Cardinal wings in the second round of the playoffs which set up the NFC championship game between the Saints and Vikings, arguably the best game in Louisiana Superdome history. Garrett Hartley's winning field goal in overtime put the Saints on a path to make history and the Who Dats never looked back. The season ended like every season should and the Saints were crowned league champions after a 31-17 win over New Orleans native Peyton Manning and the mighty Colts of Indianapolis.But those are all memories, water under the bridge. Drew Brees summed it up best in an interview with Sports Illustrated, "Last season was awesome, just awesome, but now it's time to bring another trophy back to our city." 

The offseason was eventful, to say the least. Both Brees and head coach Sean Payton both released best-selling
memoirs, the Lombardi Trophy was carted around like a circus oddity,  which of course, for this area, it is, and one of the worst environmental disasters in US history rudely interrupted the celebration just over two months after Black and Gold left Miami as NFL champions. But as Brees said, it's time to bring some more hardware home. The Saints have a chance too, a really good chance.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Saints Nation: Dolphins Sign Charles Grant

I guess teams are filling out their roster at the 11th hour getting ready for training camp because we've seen tons of movement all around the NFL in the last 48 hours. Former Saint Charles Grant was the latest to find a team, as he inked a 2 year contract with the Miami Dolphins. You remember Grant was released earlier this offseason by the black and gold, following yet another disappointing season. The deal is apparently worth up to $4.5 million, and I for one was shocked to see anything but the bare bones minimum going into his bank account for a chance to play again at the highest level. The fact that a team would throw that much loot at him to basically continue to reward his lazy behavior and slack attitude is frankly disturbing. If he's still available to this point in the offseason, it's not like teams are throwing silly money his way. It was hard enough to stomach the $20 million in guaranteed money he got from the Saints over the 3 years of his mammoth deal he actually played for the team. Those 3 years, by the way, he produced positively miserable results. He was injured all the time, and you know why? Because he was so fat and completely out of shape. It's a given you get more hurt when you're out of shape. Grant had no motivation to get fit because he had it made, and he had no fire inside him. So what happens? The Dolphins throw more millions at him. Unbelievable. I wish him the best and maybe the Dolphins will get a revitalized player out of him, but I highly doubt it. I'll be the first to doubt his ability to make any impact whatsoever with his new team. The bottom line was that Grant would only stay focused long enough to get his, and the Dolphins aren't really asking him to prove much. I guess it remains to be seen if they gave him an incentive laden deal with a very low salary - that would be the only saving grace for the Dolphins in this move.

Saints Nation: Mark Brunell Signs with New York Jets

Lots of Saints news today and we're gearing up for camp! On the same day Patrick Ramsey signed to be the backup quarterback to Drew Brees (assuming he beats out Chase Daniel and Sean Canfield which is no given), it's being reported that Brees' former backup Mark Brunell (pictured) has signed a 2 year deal to play with the Jets. I actually think Brunell will serve as more of a role model and mentor for Mark Sanchez, who is still very green, so it's a good move for them. Brunell's experience is less beneficial to a guy like Brees, but I think a guy like Sanchez can stand to benefit a lot from having him around. Of course, if Brunell is thrust into duty, then God help them. I've met Mark and he's a super nice guy, and I'm glad to see an NFL team out there still has a use for him. As for his performance, I think the Carolina game last year proved that he's pretty washed up and the Saints probably stood to improve their backup quarterback position looking elsewhere. Though Brunell, like Ramsey, won't be guaranteed a roster spot. He'll have to battle with Kellen Clemens, Erik Ainge and Kevin O'Donnell. Brunell will likely end up number two, I would think, but it's not like he'll just inherit it. He'll have to prove he's better than those other guys, and it's not like Clemens and Ainge are completely incapable.

Best of luck to Brunell, and thanks for his time in New Orleans! Let's not forget he contributed to the Super Bowl run by holding on some majorly important field goal kicks.

Saints Nation: Patrick Ramsey and Jimmy Graham Both Sign with Saints

Patrick Ramsey (pictured) has now officially been signed by the Saints to a one year deal. He'll compete with Chase Daniel and Sean Canfield to be the backup to Drew Brees, and with his veteran experience one has to figure he's the overwhelming favorite to get the job.

The Saints have also agreed to terms on a 4 year deal with 3rd round draft pick tight end Jimmy Graham out of Miami. That leaves 1st round cornerback Patrick Robinson as the lone unsigned draft pick.

Glad to see these guys on board, especially Ramsey who makes me feel a little bit better about our backup situation. Either he'll be the #2, or Daniel will beat him out which will make me feel better about that position as well.

Saints Nation: Saints Getting Distracted?

I don't know about you guys, but the constant book tours that Drew Brees and Sean Payton have done seem to be getting ridiculous. Throw those on top of all the other tours and activities around the country and I'm starting to get a little worried about the constant distractions. I know once training camp starts that will all stop, but it's not like they get to rest. I don't like the number of activities they've set before themselves during a time traditionally reserved for rest. I heard one report that Brees has signed over 20,000 copies of his book in the last month. Divide that number by about 100 and I'd be having serious cramps in my throwing hand. It's not like Payton hasn't been busy either. These tours have gone all over the country, and they're coming to an end right at the start of training camp. Brees and Payton especially, but a number of the Saints also, have been burning the candle at both ends. I'm a little concerned to be honest that their faces keep popping up in the news during the offseason. The offseason is a time for rest and recharging. Instead, Brees is taking trips to sit in a chair and sign books for four hours at a time, Afghanistan to visit troops, New York to do Letterman, etc etc... I'm not complaining about the terrific exposure the Saints are getting around the country, but is Brees guy capable of saying no to anyone? Based on what he's been doing I can't imagine he's turned down a single request. I respect him for that, but at some point the constant obliging of requests has to weigh on his mental and physical energy. The guy is a human being, not a robot. At some point it just gets to be too much. When do they reach that point? If they haven't then I'd venture that they're getting ridiculously close. I'm probably just freaking out because camp is near and I know everyone is gunning for the Saints, but I think it's tough to go into a season ready when you have had a chance to reboot. The season is already under way and it's time to focus on the future. I wish the team had had a chance to enjoy winning the championship in a more relaxed setting away from distractions, but that hasn't been the case. Hopefully it won't come back to haunt them.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saints Nation: NFL Considering 18 Game Season

There's lots of discussion about the possibility of the NFL adopting an 18 game regular season in the new collective bargaining agreement. The main con for most players is that they already suffer through significant wear and tear with 16 games, and the pros are endless. More football and more revenue, what's not to like? I personally hope it happens, and it's not possible for that to come to fruition fast enough. Preseason is awful. The NFL should halve the preseason games from 4 to 2 and make the season 18 games long. They should expand the roster maximums from 53 to give teams a chance to further evaluate their talent as the season progresses (as oppose to making tough decisions on who to cut after 4 preseason games). You'll still have to cut guys before the season starts, but expanding the rosters hopefully means less tough decisions. I realize it's not ideal for the players even if preseason is cut, but those players concerned about the length of the season aren't playing more than a half in exhibition, and often times less. I realize that injury is a risk that's increased with more games, but with the salaries players are making they shouldn't be complaining. As fans we should all be pushing for this to happen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Saints Nation: Saints Sign 2nd Round Draft Choice Charles Brown

ESPN NFL analyst Adam Schefter via his twitter account has just announced that the Saints have agreed to terms with their 2nd round draft choice, USC offensive tackle Charles Brown. It's another 4 year deal, so Brown will be at camp on time. Kudos to Mickey Loomis for getting these done. That leaves Graham (3rd) and Robinson (1st) as the lone remaining unsigned Saints' picks.

Saints Nation: Ranking the 32 Starting NFL Quarterbacks

Here's my take on the quarterback power rankings of the NFL:

1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: Call it a homer pick if you want, but Brees has thrown for over 4,000 yard the last four seasons and he came within 12 yards of beating Dan Marino's single season yardage record. You can't say the guy isn't a winner anymore, either, because he just won the Super Bowl. No one puts up the kind of numbers he does. He doesn't have win totals that Brady has, but right now I think he is the best quarterback in the league.

2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts: I debated long and hard between him and Brees at #1. Ultimately Brees was on the winning end of the their most recent face off with the highest stakes, and Peyton cost his team with the pick 6 to Tracy Porter - so that was the deciding factor. Still, I think you could find plenty of unbiased observers going with Manning as the league's best, and he does have a Super Bowl win to show for it.

3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: It's pretty hard to argue with the three Super Bowl rings that he has, though I do think we've seen a ever so slight drop off in his performance lately.

4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Say what you will about his off the field behavior, the guy has won the Super Bowl twice and he's gotten better and better every year. The only drawback in his performance is he holds on to the ball too long.

5. Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: He's consistently putting up impressive numbers and the Chargers are always in the mix in the AFC playoffs. Problem is, between the Patriots and Colts they haven't been able to get out of the conference alive. Rivers won't be able to elevate himself until he proves he can win the biggest game.

6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: The guy has all the tools and talent he needs, now he just needs more exposure, seasoning and wins. He's going to be very good for a long time.

7. Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: We all know he's coming back, and he's still a very good quarterback. While he had a fabulous year last year, though, let's not forget how much he struggled the two years prior. He's still turnover prone and he's getting older by the minute. We'll see if he can come back from that major ankle injury at his age.

8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: He's a terrific playmaker and when he's on his game he's as good as anyone in the league. Many say he's overrated but I don't agree.

9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: He's only getting better and he's everything he's cracked up to be. Every time the Saints play him I walk away more impressed. 

10. Eli Manning, New York Giants: Low ranking for a former Super Bowl champ, you might say, but I've always thought Eli was the beneficiary of ridiculous luck and very strong running game/defense. I'm not saying he's bad at all, I'm saying he's the 10th best quarterback in the NFL. I just don't think he's better than the guys I've listed above him.

11. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans: His numbers have been pretty impressive, but his team is still the laughing stock of the league. If they're ever going to have success they need to hang on to him.

12. Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins: Injuries have really been his worst enemy. McNabb just struggles to stay healthy over a 16 game season, and his style of play is largely responsible for it. He just absorbs too many hits. It will be interesting to see how he plays in his new uniform. No doubt when healthy and on his game he's better than this ranking. That just hasn't been happening consistently in recent years.

13. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals: He's still young enough to turn things around, but Palmer isn't the quarterback he was four years ago. Palmer was a top five quarterback, and some would argue he was even top 3 for a little while there, but I think he's regressed severely. I still think he's capable of bouncing back, but he'll need to prove he can still perform among the league's elite before I rank him any higher.

14. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: He's still not flashy but he's becoming a better playmaker. His best asset is that he's a terrific game manager, and as long as he's surrounded by a good defense and running game, he'll be very effective.

15. Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos: Like Flacco he's a solid game manager. He didn't get a big vote of confidence from his coach, who brought in Brady Quinn and drafted Tim Tebow as the quarterback of the future, but you can't deny Orton is a fiery competitor that will keep his team in it.

16. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: Another aging star who's prime is behind him. It remains to be seen how long the Seahawks will stick with him, and this may be his last year as a starter. That said, he's still capable of lighting teams up and making defenses look very bad.

17. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions: He proved last year in my mind that he's the real deal. I think Detroit will win games with him this year and I think he has a chance to turn that franchise's fortunes around. He had no one around him and with better pieces this year I think he'll show major improvement.

18. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: I'm not ready to write the guy off after one bad season, but I do think he's been pretty overrated in his career to this point. One thing is for sure, he'll need to bounce back from last year, because that showing was absolutely miserable. The Bears wanted a guy that could put points up in a hurry, and they got that, but their turnover numbers were the highest in years. Maybe they should have stuck with Orton? I think they would have been a better team last year.

19. Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia Eagles: There were flashes of brilliance last year, and the guy showed he can clearly play. The big question is whether or not he'll be able to do it on a consistent basis.

20. Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders: Maybe a change of scenery will help him out. He's alternated between pretty solid and pretty awful, but in his defense the line that played ahead of him in Washington was atrocious enough to make any quarterback look bad.

21. David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars: I just don't see what the big deal is with this guy. He's serviceable, sure, and he's been commended for not turning the ball over too much, but he doesn't make enough plays.

22. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs: He plugged into the Patriots system pretty well, but shipped over to the Chiefs he showed his limitations. The ridiculous contract he was given will turn out to be a huge mistake in my opinion. Still, he's very capable.

23. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: This guy didn't show me much last year. His team was great, top to bottom, and they had lots of success, he did pretty well in a couple playoff games, but he still turned the ball over way too much. To be expected from a rookie, but I still think it remains to be seen if he can break into the top 15. I think he could easily flop into a sophomore slump this year and get replaced at midseason.

24. Vince Young, Tennessee Titans: We'll see if he can resurrect his career. I think the guy is a ticking time bomb and a disaster waiting to happen. He's the most gifted quarterback athletically in the league, but he's a headcase.

25. Matt Moore, Carolina Panthers: Carolina thinks they have their quarterback of the future in this guy. He did play well at the end of last year, but I think they are in for a rude awakening.

26. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: AJ Feeley may start at first, but we all know this is Bradford's team. I'm starting him at 26 since there are so many unknowns, but I do believe he'll be a good pro provided he can stay healthy.

27. Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills: He's capable of occasional moments of bliss, but overall he's left Bill fans extremely frustrated. That team just hasn't been able to find a long term quality passer since Jim Kelly.

28. Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins: I think Henne was very mediocre last year, and I'm surprised the Dolphins are going into camp with him as the starter. I know Pennington isn't the answer, but if healthy he's way better.

29. Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals: Leinart has been given every chance to win that starting job, and only got it once Kurt Warner retired. If he gets replaced by Derek Anderson at any point, it will prove just how incapable he is of handling the starting job. I just don't think Leinart has the arm strength to cut it.

30. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers: He's already proven he's not good enough to handle this job, but the 49ers are giving him another chance based on the limited promise he showed towards the end of last year. I think that's a mistake, but based on the money they have committed to him I suppose it's worth one last shot.

31. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccanneers: He beat the Saints late last year, so I'll give him credit for that, but overall Freeman was horrible last season. He'll have to improve dramatically if he wants to stick around.

32. Jake Delhomme, Cleveland Browns: After the way he played last year, I was shocked to see the amount of money he received, and even more shocked to see that he was going to be used as a starter. His play last year was so horrendous I'm not sure he is capable of playing in the NFL anymore. He's been good in the past, and his track record probably means he deserves a pass, but I just can't get over how woeful his play was last year. He was in JaMarcus Russell territory with his numbers last year. Maybe he'll turn things around but I think the more realistic outcome is he's replaced by week 5.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saints Nation: 2010 Draft Picks Signing Status

Below is the current signing status of each 2010 Saints' draft pick.

1. CB Patrick Robinson (pictured) - Florida State: SIGNED to a 5 year deal on 7/29
2. T Charles Brown - USC: SIGNED a 4 year deal on 7/26
3. TE Jimmy Graham - Miami: SIGNED a 4 year deal on 7/28
4. DT Al Woods - LSU: SIGNED a 4 year deal on 7/15
5. C Matt Tennant - Boston College: SIGNED a 4 year deal on 7/22
7. QB Sean Canfield - Oregon St: SIGNED a 4 year deal on 7/19

Friday, July 23, 2010

Saints Nation: No Patrick Ramsey?

The Saints are now free to sign whoever they want as the free agent restriction was lifted on Thursday. I was a little surprised to see Patrick Ramsey not mentioned as a signing because everyone and their mother has reported that Ramsey and the Saints had a handshake deal in place and it was basically a foregone conclusion that he would back up Brees. I'm starting to wonder if the Saints feel good about Chase Daniel and Sean Canfield being the only backup options. It's not quite training camp yet so I could easily be jumping the gun here... Ramsey could easily get signed in the next couple days. But maybe, just maybe, the Saints feel really good about their young arms?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Saints Nation: Bobby McCray and Matt Tennant both Sign with Saints

The picture you see to the right is the hit by Bobby McCray in the NFC Championship game that wrecked Brett Favre's ankle. Most Saints fans across the world know exactly what I'm talking about. The Saints cut McCray in a surprise move this offseason to avoid paying him a roster bonus, and in an even more surprising move they re-signed the veteran pass rusher today. You can officially welcome McCray back to the black and gold.

The Saints also inked rookie center draftee Matt Tennant to a 4 year deal. He'll compete with veteran Nick Leckey for the opportunity to back up Pro Bowl center Jonathan Goodwin.

The players cut to make room for these guys were: Marcell Young, Brandon Sharpe, Sam Maxwell and Harry Coleman. Marcell Young did an interview with Saints Nation so I was sad to see him go as he was generous enough to spend a little time with me. Harry Coleman is a guy some of you might remember from his playing days at LSU. Sad to see him to as well, though the writing was on the wall for him when he got a DUI during the offseason. You know the Saints brass have little patience from fringe players trying to make the roster who make mental mistakes like that during their free time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Saints Nation: 2010 Season Preview, Game Predictions (Part 2)

Up to this point through 8 weeks I've got the Saints sitting at 6-2. Let's take a look at the second half of their schedule:

Week 9: 11/7 @ Carolina Panthers

2009 Panthers Rankings: 19th offense, 8th defense

The Panthers will remember the drubbing they took from the Saints in the previous matchup, and they will run the ball all day long. Tough weather conditions force the Saints to play less of their style of football. The Saints will have their hands full in this one, but sneak it out. By this point in the season Jimmy Clausen is likely starting at quarterback for the Panthers and he makes a mistake late to cost them. Saints 24 Panthers 21

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: 11/21 vs. Seattle Seahawks

2009 Seahawks Rankings: 21st offense, 24th defense

Matt Hasselbeck is a solid NFL quarterback that struggles to stay healthy. The Seahawks may have Pete Carroll on board now, but they are an aging team that is regressing. They'll surprise the Saints a bit by putting a good effort in a shootout, but ultimately they have no answer for Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem stretching their defense deep, which leaves Colston, Shockey and Bush to move the ball at will underneath. Saints 45 Seahawks 34

Week 12: 11/25 @ Dallas Cowboys

2009 Cowboys Rankings: 2nd offense, 9th defense

The Cowboys can put up points in a hurry, and the addition of Dez Bryant to their offense should only make them more potent. This is one of the tougher matchups for the Saints because it's a team that can actually stop them and it's just as capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Playing the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving would be tough on any team. We know this game always means a lot to Sean Payton, especially in Dallas, but I think the Saints have a bit of a let down in this one. Saints 28 Cowboys 38

Week 13: 12/5 @ Cincinnati Bengals

2009 Bengals Rankings: 24th offense, 4th defense

The Bengals have the toughest defense that no one really knows much about. Their offense is also much better than 24th when Cedric Benson is on his game and Carson Palmer is healthy. Still, the Bengals will be praying for bad weather to even out the playing field against the Saints' prolific offense. I'm predicting a blizzard of epic proportions which allows the Bengals to pound Benson all day long. The Saints lose 2 in a row for their first losing streak of the season. Saints 17 Bengals 24

Week 14: 12/12 vs. St. Louis Rams

2009 Rams Rankings: 29th offense, 29th defense

The Rams are in full on rebuild mode, and I'd almost bet my house that Sam Bradford will be injured by this point in the season. The Saints are eager to bounce back from a bad patch of play, and Gregg Williams dials up a scary scheme that has A.J. Feeley's head swimming all day. Saints 41 Rams 0

Week 15: 12/19 @ Baltimore Ravens

2009 Ravens Rankings: 13th offense, 3rd defense

Eventually the Ravens' defense has to drop off. They've been in the top 5 for what seems like 8 years now, but they're aging and the Ravens are starting to spend more money on the other side of the ball. Like in Cincinnati, the Saints have to hope for the best weather possible. I predict they'll make a statement in this game that they are ready for the postseason and that they're not afraid to win on the road in cold weather against hard nosed football teams. Their bread in butter might not be classic football, but the Saints disprove the notion that they are a "soft" football team. Saints 17 Ravens 13

Week 16: 12/27 @ Atlanta Falcons

2009 Falcons Rankings: 16th offense, 21st defense

Matt Ryan will want to showcase his blossoming skills and journey to stardom on the national Monday Night stage. As Atlanta is fighting for a playoff birth, Ryan will play his best and the Falcons will upset the Saints in Atlanta. This will be the lone divisional game the Saints lose in 2010. Saints 31 Falcons 34

2009 Buccaneers Rankings: 28th offense, 27th defense

I'm not sure what the Saints will be playing for at this point, but my guess is it will be seeding, as they sit at 10-5. There is no way the Bucs will beat the Saints in the Dome two years in a row. I think it will be close for a half, with the Saints really pulling away late. Saints 45 Buccaneers 20

My prediction is 11-5 on the season, NFC South Champs, 2nd seed in the NFC, with a chance to get in the playoffs and make another run.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saints Nation: 2010 Season Preview, Game Predictions (Part 1)

As the season is getting closer and closer, I wanted to take some time to run through the Saints' opponents and preview each game, making a prediction for each outcome. You'll see the first 8 games below, and the next 8 games in my next segment.

Week 1: 9/9 vs. Minnesota Vikings

Vikings 2009 Rankings: 5th offense, 6th defense

We all know Brett Favre is coming back, and the Vikings will be coming to New Orleans with revenge on their mind based on how things played out last time. The Saints were outplayed in that game and were in part fortunate to get so many turnovers. I think the Saints will play a much better game overall, but they won't get as many freebees. Saints 31 Vikings 24.

Week 2: 9/20 @ San Francisco 49ers

49ers 2009 Rankings: 27th offense, 15th defense

I think this is a trap game for the Saints. The 49ers will be much improved, and the Saints will be feeling good about themselves getting a tough win against a very good Vikings team. I think the Saints get a little overconfident and the extra time off hurts them. The 49ers improved themselves significantly through the draft, especially along the offensive line. Their defense will only get better too. Saints 17 49ers 29

Week 3: 9/26 vs. Atlanta Falcons

Falcons 2009 Rankings: 16th offense, 21st defense

Not only is this a short week for the Saints, but they have to fly across the country to get ready for a big time divisional rival. Many national pundits are picking the Falcons to take over the reign in the NFC South this year. The Falcons are almost exactly the same in terms of personnel from a year ago. Rookie Sean Weatherspoon may help their defense improve, though. Ultimately the Saints are serious and come to play coming off a loss. Saints 30 Falcons 27

Week 4: 10/3 vs. Carolina Panthers

Panthers 2009 Rankings: 19th offense, 8th defense

The Panthers will continue to run the ball, play tough defense, and have good coaching, but how long will Matt Moore hold down the fort at quarterback? It's got to be only a matter of time before we see Jimmy Clausen. Thomas Davis is already out for the year, and Steve Smith is schedule to miss training camp. Don't forget Julius Peppers is no longer on the team either. I think the Panthers will suffer in 2009 and see a drop in performance on both sides of the ball. The Saints will host Carolina and embarrass the Panthers. Saints 48 Panthers 10

Week 5: 10/10 @ Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals 2009 Rankings: 14th offense, 20th defense

The Cardinals have had the luxury of playing in a weak division the past few years, but with Kurt Warner retired the big question becomes: can Matt Leinart play at the same level he did in college? The Cardinals' big time offseason pickups were Joey Porter and Alan Faneca, two players well past their prime, while they lost a superstar in Anquan Boldin. The Cardinals will play the Saints hard as they remember how their season ended the previous year, but the Saints have just too much firepower. Saints 28 Cardinals 24

Week 6: 10/17 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers 2009 Rankings: 28th offense, 27th defense

A year ago the Saints came into Tampa and shell shocked the Bucs, only to suffer one of the year's biggest upsets when the Bucs visited them in New Orleans. You can bet that the Saints won't underestimate Tampa as Sean Payton will remind them every day of this week that they blew a 17-0 lead by taking the game for granted. I think the Bucs will be improved defensively but Josh Freeman is not an NFL ready quarterback. Saints 27 Buccaneers 3

Week 7: 10/24 vs. Browns

Browns 2009 Rankings: 32nd offense, 31st defense

This is about as cupcake of a home game as you can get. But remember how the Saints did against Tampa last year? Also, the Saints must beware of Jake Delhomme coming to the Superdome, because he's had a history of making the team that let him go look bad. I think the Saints prevail but get a huge scare late.
Saints 31 Browns 27

Week 8: 10/31 vs. Steelers

Steelers 2009 Rankings: 7th offense, 5th defense

The Steelers are as tough as nails and you know they'll be wanting to bounce back in a serious way from the disappoint of last year. I think the Steelers defense will slow the Saints' offense down as much as anyone, so they are tough matchup for the Saints if they can get a few stops and run the ball with success. Saints 20 Steelers 33

Through 8 games, I have the Saints at 6-2. Check back for the remaining 8 games tomorrow.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Saints Nation: Rookie Sean Canfield Sign a 4 Year Contract with Saints

Quarterback Sean Canfield, the Saints' 7th round draft choice out of Oregon State this year, has just been signed and will be ready for training camp on time. Canfield is the second draft pick to sign with the Saints after Al Woods did so late last week. Canfield will battle with Chase Daniel for the #2 spot behind Drew Brees at quarterback, though rumor has it the Saints will sign a veteran quarterback next week (likely Patrick Ramsey). Confirmation can be found on Jeff Duncan's twitter page, and the deal is apparently for 4 years.

Good luck to you in training camp, Sean!

Saints Nation: Reggie Bush to Host Live Video Chat

On July 20th (which is Tuesday, or tomorrow), at 6:00pm Central (7pm EST) adidas and Eastbay are hosting a live online video chat with Saints' running back Reggie Bush.  Apparently you'll also get a chance to win an autographed football. You can access the chat once it's live by clicking HERE.

See the media alert below:


adidas and Eastbay have partnered to host a live online chat with running back Reggie Bush of the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.  On July 20 at 7 pm ET, fans will have the opportunity to ask questions and view Bush’s live responses via video at 

Bush will also showcase the new adidas Scorch adiZero football cleat, which he will wear next season during the Saints’ Super Bowl title defense.  At 8.6 ounces, the Scorch is the lightest football cleat ever made and is available at Chat participants will also have the chance to win a football autographed by Bush.

Entering his 5th season with the Saints, the dual threat Bush has amassed nearly 2,000 rushing and 2,000 receiving yards and more than 30 total touchdowns in his career.

Over the past year, the adidas NOW portal at has hosted athlete chats with stars such as Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Justin Upton and C.J. Spiller.  adidas and Eastbay will continue to partner for athlete chats throughout the summer.

• Live online video chat with Saints running back Reggie Bush
•Chance to win an autographed football

July 20, 2010
7 pm ET

Hosted on

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saints Nation: Review of Sean Payton's Book "Home Team"

I finally had a chance to finish Sean Payton's book "Home Team", and I'd recommend it to any Saints fan as a must read. While the book is not the best written I've ever seen, it seems genuine and informative at it's core. Payton does a great job of showcasing his part arrogant part humble personality, as well as his fears, his hopes, his honesty and his thoughts. I came away from that book having a new found appreciation not just for Payton, but for your average NFL coach. The reality is that all 32 men with jobs like his are brilliant. They wouldn't have gotten that far if they weren't. But, when 32 brilliant men go up against each other, and outside factors like team talent and injuries can effect their performance, some have to fail. That's just the law of averages. But most of all they are all human, and they all have a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed immediately in jobs that are not easy. I've always said that what makes Sean Payton great is less about his football knowledge (which is admittedly advanced, and superior to almost anyone offensively), and more ability his ability to recognize mistakes fast enough to fix them. The problem I had with Jim Haslett was he was too hard headed and he stuck with his decisions no matter what once he made them. You have to have the humility and human understanding to realize that regardless of how smart you are, you're going to be wrong sometimes. It's in our nature as imperfect beings. You see in Payton's book that he recognizes this. He has a nice balance of arrogance to stick to his guns when necessary, which you need to be successful, and humility to admit mistakes when he makes them.

Payton spends a significant amount of time in the book discussing his first season in New Orleans, changing the culture of the team, organization, and foundation. With the amount of work, thought and touches that went into his first year, you can see how they became so successful. They probably got good faster than most of us expected, then it took them a little longer to really be an elite team after that. Payton spends very little time talking about years 2 and 3 in the book. The book mostly focuses on his first year coming to New Orleans right after Katrina, and the championship run this past season. The experience of Sean Payton's first season in New Orleans, post Katrina, was a little haunting. Of course I'll never forget Katrina and the effect it had on me and so many of my family members, but I have to admit I forgot slightly just how hard life was when we got home and the city re-opened. Sean Payton was basically operating out of a third world country, and his description of how things were not only from a business standpoint but personally was a painfully descriptive reminder of what life was like at that time in New Orleans. He had to recruit coaches, players, and build an operation under terrible conditions. How he talked anyone to join him is beyond me. In fact, Payton really wanted no part of that as he had his sights set on the Green Bay Packers job, which he admits he wanted. He was crushed when he didn't get it, but later in the book you'll realize he is ultimately glad for how it played out.

Sean Payton is a sensible and rational guy who cares greatly about people and his relationships. I also got from this book that he likes to drink a fair amount. I definitely get that work hard/play hard approach we all know Jeremy Shockey so well for. Hopefully it's on a lesser scale, though!

I'll save some of the revelations for you to read, and I think there is no question whatsoever that if you're reading this review, there is no excuse for you NOT reading Sean Payton's book "Home Team". The bottom line is the book is very informative and entertaining for any Saints fan, and really any NFL fan. Through reading this I found Payton to be human, which made me appreciate him more. He makes mistakes sometimes, which makes him more likable. He talks about decisions he made that could have had more severe consequences, and his fears that they would blow up into something bigger than they actually did. For example, he allowed his team to compete in water slide distances which ultimately injured his starter Scott Fujita. Ultimately, though, he found success because of his attributes: intelligence, honesty, humility, care, and commitment. The city of New Orleans is lucky to be able to count him as one of our own.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Saints Nation: Al Woods Signs With Saints

Former LSU defensive tackle and Saints rookie Al Woods is the first draftee to sign with the Saints. Usually Mickey Loomis waits a little longer to start inking his draftees, but Woods was locked up today to a 4 year deal. It's great to see him on board!

Saints Nation: Drew Brees and Saints Clean Up at ESPYS, Walk Away with Four Pieces of Hardware

I have to admit I was shocked to see the Saints walk away with 4 ESPYS last night, three of them going to Drew Brees individually. I figured ESPN would find away to ruin the evening for the Saints based on their typical hatred of the deep south. I guess the fans really do control the vote, though, because the Saints were able to avoid some sort of network result rigging.

The Saints walked away with the last two ESPYS of the evening, considered the biggest awards, with Drew Brees getting Male Athlete of the Year and the Saints' team getting Best Team of the Year. Brees also won ESPYS for Best Championship Performance and Best NFL Player.

While the ESPYS have largely been a cash grabbing, attention seeking, imitation award show for the most part of it's history, I have to admit I took big pleasure in seeing our boys get that sort of national recognition. Especially meaningful for me was winning the team award, ahead of the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers. WHO DAT!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Saints Nation: Sean Payton Live Chat on

CLICK HERE to check out the live chat Sean Payton had fielding numerous questions about the Saints. Not much of interest, sadly. It's mostly a boring q&a. I love how one fan gives him an opportunity to single out a rookie that's doing well and he placates him with the "every year we rely on young players" blah blah blah. I love Coach Payton, but why does EVERYTHING have to be so close to the vest?

You can also check out video of Payton talking through the Super Bowl onsides kick HERE. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Saints Nation: 10 Things to Look For As Training Camp Approaches

With training camp right around the corner and just a couple weeks away, here's a few things we should be on the lookout for:

1. Who will win the battle to start at strong side linebacker? The favorites are promising youngster Jo-Lonn Dunbar and veteran Clint Ingram, but don't rule out Stanley Arnoux either. There is literally no way of telling at this point how that will play out, so the Saints will have to settle that on the practice field.

2. Who will be the #2 quarterback? Is Patrick Ramsey definitely coming to the Saints? If so, will he be a reliable backup, or is he washed up? Can Chase Daniel and/or Sean Canfield handle that kind of responsibility so early in their career? Lots of questions there with Mark Brunell now gone.

3. How much will Jimmy Graham contribute? It seems like all Saints fans are ready to annoint Graham as an immediate contributor to the offense, and the heir apparent to Shockey. That said, Graham is relatively new to football (basketball was his primary sport), and it may take him a while to adjust. He could just as easily end up on the practice squad. Don't forget the #2 guy at tight end right now is David Thomas. Graham isn't going to just steal playing time from Thomas without playing extremely well.

4. Who starts next to Sedrick Ellis at defensive tackle? Remi Ayodele is the incumbent starter, but he'll get pushed by Anthony Hargrove, DeMario Pressley, Al Woods and others. I also wouldn't be shocked to see the Saints add another veteran to the mix as camp progresses. Ayodele got better and better as the season progressed last year but he'll need to continue that trend.

5. Can Jermon Bushrod perform at a consistent level at left tackle? I for one was thrilled to see the Saints draft Charles Brown because he'll provide depth at left tackle and I knew Jammal Brown was long gone. This at least gives the Saints some options if Bushrod can't cut it. Bushrod did a good job filling in last year for injury, but the question is can he handle the load as a true full time starter?

6. Will the Saints come back hungry after winning the Super Bowl? Some teams come back stronger, while others come back hungover. The Saints will be circled on everyone's calendar this year and everyone will be gunning for them. There's a new pressure that comes with being Super Bowl champions and every team handles it differently. Can the Saints come back with the same desire to succeed as they had when they had never been crowned champions? I think they will.

7. Can the Saints get production out of the defensive end position opposite Will Smith? Charles Grant has been a disaster for the Saints ever since he signed his long term extension. Bobby McCray's bad back prevented him from getting quality reps last year. Both are now gone. Alex Brown appears to be the main man in charge of improving play at defensive end. Jimmy Wilkerson was an offseason addition as well. Brown is getting older, though, and Wilkerson is coming off a major injury. It's no given they'll be an upgrade so they'll have to come ready to play.

8. Will the departure of Mike Bell hurt the Saints? My thinking is not really, but Bell did provide a huge boost to the Saints' power running game, especially early in the season last year when the Saints were playing arguably their best football of the season. Lynell Hamilton showed some good things later in the season, and he is hopefully ready to fill that void. I have to imagine this will also mean increased reps for Pierre Thomas. It may be tougher for the Saints to impose their running game without Bell.

9. Will Darren Sharper be as good in 2010? That microfracture surgery scared me a little bit. Obviously he wasn't able to garner much interest on the open market despite arguably the best season of his career based on the contract he signed with the Saints. Sharper was already a step slow at times last year. Will that be even more pronounced after the surgery? Will he come back better? He's getting up there in age. The fact that the staff officially moved Malcolm Jenkins to free safety tells us the changing of the guard is coming soon. Whether that'll be this season, next season, or later remains to be seen. I'm thinking this is probably Sharper's last year in New Orleans.

10. Can the team stay relatively healthy? Injuries are the X factor for every single NFL team entering every season. You know they are going to happen, and you know you'll need role players and backups to step up into more prominent roles because of them. You just hope you can stay relatively healthy and avoid injuries to your main superstars. The Saints were able to absorb injuries to Billy Miller, Jammal Brown, Shockey, Bell, Pierre Thomas, Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter, Scott Fujita, Charles Grant, Lance Moore and others during various points in the season last year. Fortunately, though, most of those players were able to come back at some point in the season, and the Saints never suffered an injury to #9. That's the key, obviously, more than anything else. No team in the league can really absorb the loss of their starting quarterback. The Saints did suffer a rash of injuries at the cornerback position especially last year, though, and their play began to suffer greatly as the season progressed. At different points in the season, Mike McKenzie and Chris McAlister had to start off the streets because the Saints had no one healthy to throw out there. You just have to hope for a little luck in that department. 

Other stuff: Something is going on with the blogger poll app, so I took it down. It's not working right now for whatever reason. I'll have to put up the vote on who starts at SLB once that's fixed. Sorry about that!

I'm about half way through Sean Payton's book so expect a review as soon as I'm down with it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Saints Nation Fans Have Spoken: Alex Brown Will Have the Biggest Impact of 2010 Newcomers

Asked which offseason addition would contribute the most, Saints Nation fans gave former Chicago Bear defensive end Alex Brown the majority of the vote at 55%. Rookie tight end Jimmy Graham was a surprise finisher in second place at 17%. It sounds like many fans are excited about what the tight end will contribute to the team this year. Still, there's no question that Charles Grant's replacement in Brown is expected to be a significant upgrade to the front four.

Thanks for your participation in the poll, and please vote on the new Saints Nation Poll on the right side of the site: who do you think will start at strongside linebacker?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saints Nation: ESPN Tabs Saints as "5th Best Team in the NFL"

As if the LeBron James information overload in recent days combined with their Brett Favre history wasn't unbearable enough, ESPN is back to hating on the Saints. Watching passively yesterday I saw them mention that the Saints were currently the 5th best team in the NFL. I guess the loss of Charles Grant really changed things for our franchise? I didn't even bother to see what teams they listed ahead of us, but I can only imagine the team we just beat in the Super Bowl, as well as the Jets, Chargers, and Vikings are likely candidates. I don't even know why I let this kind of thing get to me anymore, it's just so predictable. I guess winning the Super Bowl 5 months ago means little to those guys. That's fine, their "rankings" has zero bearing on what happens on the field. I can't wait till that first game against the Vikings.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Saints Nation: Larry Fitzgerald Doesn't Consider the Saints an "NFC Juggernaut"

I was amused by this Larry Fitzgerald quote (pictured to the left getting blanketed by Jabari Greer) "You look at the NFC right now, you think of the Cowboys, you think of the Green Bay Packers, you think of the Minnesota Vikings. Those are the three juggernauts in our conference". I guess he's having trouble remembering who won the Super Bowl and eliminated his team 45-14 from the playoffs last season. Clearly that beatdown was so bad he has amnesia. I guess he doesn't have much respect for a team that completely shut him down. I think he had one catch in the first half when the game was still within reach. I find it interesting that these teams have somehow all leapfrogged the Saints in juggernaut status despite vastly inferior performances. Green Bay couldn't even beat the same team the Saints beat 45-14! Next time we play the Cardinals we'll be sure to run up the score on them again.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Saints Nation: Running the Football is Key to Saints' Success

We all know the Saints can throw the ball. That's never been a secret. Since Sean Payton has joined the team and they landed Drew Brees as a free agent signing, the passing game for the last four years under this current regime was a given in terms of performance. Offensively, the variable has been in overall balance and specific effectiveness running the football. Let's look at the Payton era stats:

2006 stats: 10 wins, 472 carries, 1,761 yards, 3.7 yards per carry.
2007 stats: 7 wins, 392 carries, 1,466 yards, 3.7 yards per carry.
2008 stats: 8 wins, 398 carries, 1,594 yards, 4.0 yards per carry.
2009 stats: 13 wins, 468 carries, 2,106 yards, 4.5 yards per carry.

Without question 2009 was far and away the most successful year for the Saints in terms of both yards and yards per carry. Interestingly enough, though, they didn't run the ball as much as they did in 2006 (by 4 carries). While the yards per carry in 2006 was on par with 2007 and 2008, the carries were much higher, and so was the win total. I think there is a direct correlation there. Obviously this doesn't factor in defense, which was better in 2006 and 2009, but I would argue that running the ball and therefore the clock had an impact on the defensive performances in those years. The bottom line is the coaching staff needs to target spreading around about 450 carries going into the year. When they dip below 400, it's a sign of poor balance and the records reflect poor overall performance. The big question this year is the departure of Mike Bell and how that will effect the Saints. Pierre Thomas will have increased responsibility, and Lynell Hamilton will have to step up.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Saints Nation: Drew Brees' New Book is Now Available for Purchase

Drew Brees' book "Coming Back Stronger" is now available in stores for your purchase. Brees is the second release in the last few weeks, after Sean Payton's book "Home Team", that promises to be an amazing read. You can purchase the book at any of your favorite book buying locations, or you can click HERE if you are having trouble finding it. From the excerpts I've seen it promises to be a very honest and forthcoming story, which covers dark parts of Brees' life in great detail like the major shoulder injury that almost ended his career and the suicide of his mother. It also covers the Super Bowl victory, his time in New Orleans, and much more. It should be an incredibly entertaining read. I have both this book and Payton's on the way to me via the mail, and I will post a review as soon as I'm done with them.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Saints Nation: JaMarcus' Career Over After Latest?

The JaMarcus Russell saga just keeps getting sadder by the minute. The Ryan Leaf similarities are becoming more and more evident. The latest is that Russell has been arrested for the possession of liquid Codeine. Too bad, because he was just starting to see some interest from other teams for a chance at a fresh start in a new system. The Vikings, Jets and Cardinals had apparently all expressed interest in bringing the former LSU product and number one pick overall in the NFL draft in for a chance to compete. Now that he's shown that his immaturity and poor decision making extends off the field, you have to wonder if anyone will ever take a chance on him again. Sure, Michael Vick has freakish talent and he got a second chance, but Vick was at least successful in the league at one point. While Russell has freakish potential in a different way, it's never translated on an NFL field. I think as things stood prior to this arrest, there were questions about whether he would play again or not. Now, I think it's become all but a certainty that he will not. It's sad because you always want local guys to do well at the next level and represent their colors well. I think we can all live with Russell's lackluster performances with the Raiders, but his off the field antics have embarrassed him, his family, his fans and LSU. Russell is just another example of how quickly a high profile athlete can fall if they don't take their fame and the responsibilities that come with it seriously. While his chances are now likely over, the only silver lining we can hope for is that others will learn from his mistakes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Saints Nation: Rookie Quarterback Sean Canfield Faces an Uphill Battle

Saints rookie quarterback Sean Canfield shows off prototypical size and accuracy for a young passer. When the Saints took him in the final round of the draft out of Oregon State, though, I immediately questioned where there would be a place for him. I read THIS ARTICLE which was written this week on Canfield, and he seems like a level headed guy with the right attitude. It's nice to see that Drew Brees is pretty complimentary of him, too. Ultimately, though, Canfield faces very long odds to make the team. The first question is whether the Saints will keep two quarterbacks on their roster or three. The answer to that question has changed from week to week in the Sean Payton era, and most times it has to do with how healthy the Saints are at other positions. Just ask Chase Daniel, the #3 guy on the Saints is typically playing musical chairs between a roster spot and the practice squad during the course of the regular season. If the Saints keep 2, then you have to assume Canfield's chances of making the team are almost nil. Rumors have circulated consistently that there's a handshake deal in place with veteran quarterback Patrick Ramsey, and the Saints will make his addition to the roster official in mid July once the free agency rule restrictions are lifted. If Ramsey does indeed join the team, you have to figure he's the runaway favorite to win the #2 job. That leaves Canfield battling Chase Daniel for the #3 spot, with Daniel already having benefited from a full year in the system. That doesn't mean the Saints couldn't keep Canfield on their practice squad, but I wonder if the Saints will keep four quarterbacks around, practice squad included. If Ramsey ends up not joining the Saints, then Canfield can battle Daniel for the #2 spot. While difficult, that may be more manageable. The bottom line is Canfield could have a very solid camp, and still be shown the door if Ramsey and Daniel meet expectations. In all likelihood, Canfield is going to need to have an AMAZING camp in every sense of the term to have any chance. He'll need to show ability, poise and maturity well beyond his years. We'll see how it plays out.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saints Nation: Happy July 4th!

I hope all you Saints fans out there that support my blog have a wonderful, fun and safe 4th of July! Enjoy the vacation and time off from football as the season will be in full gear before we know it. Please also take a minute to think about our troops who defend our freedom by risking their lives each and every day. I know that's a token thing to say, but there's so many brave young men and women out there that sacrifice their youth and their lives so we can be comfortable and happy in our lifestyles, we owe a lot of our fortunes to them. So thanks to the troops and happy 4th of July to everyone!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saints Nation: Who Starts at Left Tackle?

With every other starting position on the Saints' offense pretty much locked up (except maybe the #2 receiver slot) the biggest competition going into camp has to be at left tackle now that Jammal Brown has been shipped to the Redskins for a draft pick. Incumbent starter Jermon Bushrod (pictured) is the favorite and he'll get the first shot at keeping his spot, but I think it would be very unwise to take that as a given. Bushrod was pretty good at times last year, but there were other times where he was downright shaky. His disastrous play in the Dallas game comes to mind as a major lapse in play. I will give Bushrod credit for bouncing back impressively well from that performance, but the Saints gave him a lot of help all season. The fact that left tackle is the weakest link on the Saints' offensive line is a big of a source of concern. While the Saints still managed to get through the playoffs and win the Super Bowl with a weaker left tackle, it's not ideal that left tackle be the biggest question mark on your offense. Bushrod benefited from Brees' quick release, superior footwork, and line schemes designed to lighten his responsibilities. I assume the Saints will continue to do the same regardless of who ends up starting at left tackle, but it would be good to see Bushrod get pushed. Veteran Zach Strief, perhaps best suited to play right tackle, and rookie 2nd round pick Charles Brown, will be the two guys vying for Bushrod's job. I think it's safe to say the Saints will continue to find ways to get Strief on the field, whether that's at left tackle or elsewhere. The team likes his massive frame and benefits greatly from his power off the edge blocking lighter defenders on running downs. Whether he has quick enough feet to manage an outside pass rush is the big question in terms of Strief playing every down. Brown, on the other hand, I have to admit I know next to nothing about. He's got to be a solid prospect, though, because the Saints believed he was 1st round quality in terms of ability. They had him graded so high they said it was a no brainer taking him in the 2nd round ahead of pretty much everyone else left on the board. I have a feeling they are hoping he'll step in and outplay Bushrod and Strief both, but there's got to be a significant learning curve for a tackle that young. It will be something to keep an eye on for sure. I'm going to predict that Charles Brown ends up starting for the Saints at left tackle this season. It's a bit of an uneducated guess because I've yet to see what Brown can do, but I know the Saints are extremely high on him, and while the Saints survived with Bushrod's play last year, I know they are hoping for an upgrade. Whether that's Bushrod showing strides in improving, Strief continuing to be more reliable on a more permanent basis, or Brown surprising the veterans, I know the Saints don't want to settle for getting a similar performance at left tackle.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Saints Nation: Danny Gorrer Back With Saints

The Saints were able to re-sign cornerback Danny Gorrer this week when he was cut by the St. Louis Rams. The Saints claimed him through waivers and were awarded his services. Gorrer was a member of the Saints' practice squad last year as a promising young undrafted rookie cornerback, before the Rams signed him and promoted him to their active squad later in the season. Gorrer was a player who showed promise in the preseason last year and he'll compete with players like Leigh Torrence for a spot on the team.

LAGNIAPPE: Most of you know I also post on another Saints blog called Canal Street Chronicles. Check out my post for offseason grades HERE. I also recently wrote a post, have the Saints benefited from an uncapped season?