Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Post-Cards, Pre-Phins: Let's Not Shit Ourselves

Y'all saw that coming, right?

You weren't the least bit worried about any one phase of the Saints game after pulling a W out their asses in Tampa. You had already, after two weeks, come to rely on the Saints to be a stress reliever on Sunday afternoons. You knew, just KNEW, that this team was going to be 3-0 with a convincing win at home against the Max Hall-less Cardinals.

Oh, shut up. No you didn't.

There was just as much internet bickering over the past week as there was after 2 weeks of the 2012 campaign, and that team was being led by Aaron Kromer. It's Mark Ingram. It's the offensive line. Brees throws too many stupid interceptions. Lance Moore needs to step his game up. We never should have traded Chris Ivory. Meachumm???? They need to play Robinson.

Again, shut up.

The Truth, capital t, is that the Saints are 3-0. Two of those three being division wins and all three of them within the conference. The Truth is also that this Rob Ryan defense looks like the real thing. You can keep all the talk about not having faced a real test so far this year. Through three games (against three NFL teams) this Saints unit is a legit top five defense, having allowed only 7 points in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters of the past three games combined. Let that sink in for a minute. 9 combined quarters of football in three consecutive weeks. Not a single point allowed. Put that in your pipe, smoke it and then ask yourself why you're crying about who's doing what on offense. Screw the offense. So they haven't dropped 40 on anyone yet. So they'd run for a grand total of -2 yards into the second half against the Cards. So what? Since 2006, have any of your concerns about the offense ever stopped this team from winning? Exactly. Give it a rest before you hurt yourself and look even stupider.

The Saints owed me a solid against the Cards based on the events that occurred in my life on my way home from Austin, TX, following the Max Hall debacle of 2010. (Maybe one day I'll post the tangent and why I blame the Saints for it, but not feeling it just yet.) As I write this, I'm just glad they paid their debt and I don't have to carry that night with me anymore.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Drew Brees brought back the awesomeness that was (guess I should say IS) the 2009 pregame chant. He’s not the only one bringing back stalwarts from 2009. I have returned to my 2009 ritual 55 Fujita jersey and “Louisiana Logo” Saints hat. A few weeks ago, while coming in from a particularly bad fishing trip, Lake Pontchartrain ate my Saints hat from last year. At first I was all Falcons fan about it, but I quickly realized how easy it would be to blame all the crappy things that occurred last year on that hat. I’ve blamed that hat since. Feel free to blame the hat for anything you'd like. It's worked for me so far. There are a few people I believe should be on the bottom of that lake keeping that godforsaken hat company, but watching Saints games in jail is the worst.

I know superstitions are stupid and have absolutely no effect on the outcome of anything, but they make me feel good for some strange reason. And if this season ends up being one to remember, look out. I’ve been known to find meaning in the meaningless.

Looking forward: Miami Dolphins, Monday Night Football, in the Dome. Jon Gruden only being shown from the waist up so as not to expose the massive boner he has for even the most marginal special  teamer. Mike Tirico actually making sense. Drinking games going on all over the city, and maybe the country, contingent on the frequency with which the word “Katrina” or “Bounty” is used.

If Gruden hadn’t turned into such a damn muppet since getting out of the league, he may have just been the one face-flapper calling an NFL game to have the stones to catch his buddy Sean Payton’s back and take a shot here or there at Ol’ Rog. Oh well. Whatever.

Beating the crap out of the Dolphins at home on national television is more than likely but what will make it absolutely fantastic is the craptacular fashion in which the Falcons just managed to crap the bed, allowing people to consider this Dolphins team to be anything other than the fraud that they are. The Dolphins really are not that good. They just aren’t. They may be “on the rise” (#RiseUp) and a sexy pick right now to turn the world upside down by winning the AFC East, but let’s not forget that the Arizona Cardinals were 5-0 last year, and they pretty much suck balls.

Based on your generic yardage based stats that rank teams, the Dolphins rank 26th in total offense and 21st in total defense. On the other hand, the Saints rank 6th on offense and 5th on defense. If you add up the little check marks in all the ypg and ppg stats, T.O.P and 3rd down %, it's 7-4 Saints, with the Dolphins actually possessing the check mark for PPG and the Saints for rushing ypg.

The Dolphins have one legitimate OMGBEAST on their defense, Cameron Wake. What's that? He's out 2-3 weeks with a sprained MCL? You bet your sweet ass he is and I, for one, am pleased as punch to hear it. To Mr. "I want to beat them at full strength so there aren't any excuses": Bull. And you know it. There is no reason to pretend like you want anything but a win Monday night. Screw every other team and their injuries. It's not like the Saints don't have half of their starters from the beginning of training camp sidelined with a plethora of different injuries. Me? I hope every single team the Saints play for the remainder of the season is missing at least one key player and that weakness is exploited. There is no guy working for the NFL who is sitting there at the end of the season taking away home field advantage in the playoffs because a team won an ugly game or beat a team that was without their star player. That ain't how it works, and if you really believe this "I wanna beat them at their best" crap, I feel sorry for you. I'll be the nekkid guy mounted up on the statue at Wisner and Esplanade giving General Beauregard a reach around regardless of how we make it into the tournament come January.

The stat you'll hear more times than you'd care to this week: Sean Payton's record on Monday Night football at 9-2. As impressive as that is, the Saints have also won 8 straight in Monday night games, one of them without Sean Payton. This is really about to happen Monday night and something tells me it is going to be glorious. The New Orleans Saints backed by 70,000 people, louder and drunker than usual, against a team whose coach thinks calling someone a doo doo head is reason to be banished to infernal regions for eternity. Oh, hell yeah.

No matter if you were shitting yourself because you thought the Saints weren't as good as their 2-0 record after the Bucs or are presently shitting yourself because they're now 3-0 and on their way to the Super Bowl without bumps in the road (yes, it is possible to be/have been both) - let's not shit ourselves. 31-7 just happened and that's something worth enjoying with a Monday night game right around the corner.There's some saying about the forest and the trees, but I prefer to simply not shit myself. For the first time since the end of the 2011 season this team is fine.

Let’s just be grateful to be part of the mystery that is the moment before kickoff, and hope that it's enough.

Who Dat, y'all!

But where was it when I first heard a sweet sound of humility?
It came to my ears in the goddamn loveliest melody.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saints Look Good Heading into Tampa; Josh Freeman Doesn't

"These guys really suck.
Can't even hold the other team to less than 17?"


Here goes nothing. And I mean that. Leading up to last week’s game against the Falcons was something that just couldn’t get herer fast enough; something that you went to bed at night thinking about and woke up the next morning picking up where you left off. Playing Tampa just doesn’t do that you. You know why I think that is? I mean, they are a division rival just like Atlanta, but that organization from top to bottom hasn’t even pretended that they cared about winning since they dumped Gruden. It’s a damn shame, too, because they’ve had some pretty talented teams since that 2002 Super Bowl team. Oh well. Screw them.

Take one look at that Jets game and you’ll see why this should be something of zero consequence to the Saints. Granted, they would have won that game if it weren’t for one of their better defensive players being a total moron at exactly the most inopportune moment possible. The fact that the Jets were even in the game at that point shows you exactly how bad this Bucs team is.

Let’s talk Schiano a little here. There are conflicting reports about the captainship of Josh Freeman. Both of them are plausible if you look at his behavior, leadership and overall general demeanor over the past 4 seasons. How is it possible that into the start of his 5th season the dude is a fruit cake? Or that he has no accountability for when he leads his team into the cellar and takes all the credit when they win? Some reports are that Schiano stripped the captainship away from him and others are that the players simply didn’t vote him in as their leader. Either way, your team is about to be bent over if your quarterback isn’t a good enough football player or human being to be the leader of the offense. Good job coaching him up, Greg. Now go blitz the victory formation. Bucs fans would probably actually prefer “Ol’ Youngry” to this clown.

Other things that have been reported about the Bucs’ head coach lately. Unnamed players (pussies, put your damn name on it or don’t say anything at all) are saying that Schiano sucks as a coach and they aren’t even sure what he’s doing in the league. They question how someone who couldn’t even post an overall record above .500 got an NFL gig. They don’t like the fact that he’s a shitty coach or that he tries that “College Rah-Rah” bullshit in the NFL, where you’re dealing with professionals who make a lot more money than you do.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saints vs. Falcons -- Who's Yo Daddy?

"Baby, I told you these shirts were a bad idea.
Now we gonna get clowned on Bourbon Street."
Remember this from last year? When the undefeated Atlanta Falcons came to the Mercedes Benz Superdome to beat up on the rudderless New Orleans Saints? The Saints with no head coach? The Saints with the prolifically woeful defense? The Saints who had discovered a formula for losing games in spectacular fashion that normally would have been won? You remember. How could you possibly forget?

Well, get ready for more of the same.

As for the game this Sunday, Vegas lists it as a push with the Saints -3 at home. The Falcons come into the season opener as the favorite to win the NFC South. Vegas also has decent odds on them to be Super Bowl Champions.  Just like they did last year. And the year before that.  

This has become a recurring theme with the Dirty Birds. They just cannot get it done.

The Falcons have made one legitimate off-season acquisition that should cause some Saints fans to worry. #39. Steven Jackson. Even though he is 72 years old (football years, RB) there is no denying that this man had been kryptonite to the Saints when playing in St Louis. Jackson has faced the Saints 5 times and averaged 5.1 ypc and a rushing TD per game (22 carries/112ypg). Tack on another 5 catches for 32 ypg and there is no denying that this is the man to stop. The Saints are 2-3 against the Steven Jackson led Rams while they are 6-3 against the Falcons with Michael Turner (who is filling up his newly-found free time eating by Cheetos and playing Sega Dreamcast, as I was told by a source) as the team’s primary rusher. 

The good news in all of this? The Falcons Offensive Line is patchwork and pretty much stinks. For some reason, their front office was cool with letting Tyson Clabo hit the market regardless of the fact that he was a really good tackle. After Todd McClure retired they just slid Peter Konz over to Center. Sam Baker is an OK Left Tackle, so there wasn’t much to worry about after he put together a solid performance last season. Garrett Reynolds moved into Konz’s spot at Left Guard and he’s played a game or two in the league. At the start of training camp Falcons fans were ready to see Mike Johnson prove their front office right in letting Clabo walk. Well, Johnson pretty much lost his kneecap (heard he still hasn’t found it) and broke his leg in camp and was replaced by 2nd year player, Lamar Holmes. 

The 2012 Falcons Offensive Line had a combined 457 NFL starts at the end of last season. This 2013 unit that will be trotting out onto the field Sunday, 174 combined NFL starts. That’s math that even Roger Goodell can do.

Speaking of Goodell, Payton’s back. Since 2006, the Saints dominate the Falcons with an impressive 11-3 record. (10-2 with Payton actually coaching the team, but whatever, the past is the past. Right?)  A couple of running game related stats to keep in mind when looking at this matchup: 7-0 when outrushing the Falcons; 7-0 when holding the Falcons to under 100 yards rushing. We’ll find out Sunday if Sean Payton was preaching the gospel when he said there will be a renewed focus on the running game this year. Lord knows we kept enough running backs on the final 53 to do just that.