Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dios Mio!!!

Dios Maria! What better way to end our losing skid than with an immaculate catch on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the half. Yes, the Saints are 7-4. Which means that they are in first place in the NFC South which if you listen to the so-called pundits is the weakest division in the NFC. It doesn't matter to me whether you play in the AFC North or the NFC South as long as you win the games you are suppose to win and play tough against teams that are supposedly better than you.

As I prepare myself for another weekend of Saintsdom. I'm reminded of the glory days of the NFC West showdowns between the Saints and 49ers. Before the Falcons became my bitter rival, I was incessantly mortified everytime the 49ers walked into town. They were the epitome of the world class organization all the way up the top. Back in the 80's Eddie DeBartlo was running the 49ers and no expense was big enough for his team to compete. When the 49ers came into New Orleans for thier SuperBowl romp over the Bronco's in the late 80's. I distinctly remember hearing the rumor that DeBartlo rented our the New Orleans shopping plaza for his team. Anything they wanted within the confines of that building was there's for the taking. I don't know if that story is true, but I know one thing Saints players can't even get a deal on a Benson BMW without haggling the dealer for the MSRP.

One of my most vivid memories of the 49ers was back in 88 the 49ers came with thier usual swagger into town. I thought this would be the year for us to really take it to them. Jerry Rice catches a bomb from Montana and as he is about to cross the goal line he fumbles the ball. Obvious to the viewer at home that he fumbled before he made it into the endzone by the backfield judge had a poor angle and this was pre-instant replay. They (officials) awarded the 49ers a touchdown who went on to win by one point. This is just merely one of the games that has caused frustration to many a Saints fan. Although, this weekend the New Saints will excercise the demons of the past, and no expense will be paid for this victory will be sweet revenge.

Things I notice over the weekend:

1. Morten Anderson missed a field goal to the left. Must have had is wallet in the wrong pocket. I've seen him miss quite a few important FG's for us in the past. Good for him.

2. Reggie is starting to run more North/South. I heard the announcers say that Payton talked to him about having speed through the hole, not to the hole. Perfectly stated.

3. We blitzed the heck out of Vick. I like that aggressiveness even though it backfired a couple of times with huge plays against us. Still, I would like to see more of that against Alex Smith this weekend.

4. Drew Brees continues to show why he was the most important free agent signee during this past offseason. He's on record to throw for over 5,000 yards and break Dan Marino's single season passing yards record. That's DAN MARINO!!! Not Dan Magickowski. I never knew how important a quarterback position was to a team until we had Drew come to the Saints. We just never had this type of guy back in the pocket.

5. Still need to run the ball more especially when we have the lead. I know I've been saying it all season, but it's important to keeping the other team off the field. The second to last drive by the Saints to go up 24-13 is something I would love to see happen consistently. That's what makes us a playoff type team.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Consolation prizes are for suckers

I've spent my last weekend doing some freelance work in Jackson, Mississippi only to have it seem like it was a year. I totally missed out on a great football weekend with my consolation prize being a Saints loss to the Bungles at home that rivaled something from the bizarro world.

My complaining about the Saints has dissipated after they won their 6th game of the season. I can atone for the fact that I realistically thought the Saints would win 7 games at most this season figuring that the new coach, new players, and lack of quality defensive playmakers would prohibit us from making the playoffs. That changed a little as the season progressed and my expectations started to change. I along with others began to believe that the Saints were well within contention to make it to 9 or 10 wins this season by week 6. Has this change? No. I still think the Saints have three more wins in them. The problem is that anything less than 3 more wins can be construed as a tank job by the Saints coaching staff.

Let's consider the facts. Saints are pretty thin in the secondary specifically at the safety position. Since Roman Harper's departure to the IR we have been exposed for the weakness that is getting us beat the last few weeks. Big plays. Fred Thomas has a strained neck to go along with the strained hamstring. There was a reason the Saints cut Jay Bellamy. He just can't cover over the top, and I love the passion Craft and McKenzie play with, but without pressure on the QB they look average at best. If you compare our corners and safeties with those on the Patriots, I'd say they are about equal. The only difference is that the Patriots LB's get more pressure on the quarterback than ours do. Plain and simple.

With that being said the Saints still have a chance to stop teams. The way they can do this is by controlling the clock. They have to sustain long drives and finish them off without creating turnovers. Sounds simple. Last few weeks it's been difficult. Payton said it best before the season started, "You haven't been tested! Once you've been tested then it's how you react to those situations that define you as a team." I like our chances in Atlanta this weekend. With our backs up against the wall, let's see if the Saints can define themselves as a legitimate playoff team.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rickey, Rickey, Rickey!!!


Whenever I see that number only one thing comes to my mind. Rickey Jackson. Rickey Jackson was a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints for over 13 seasons during the 80's and 90's. I can remember him just thrashing through the line and wrecking havoc on the opposing quarterback. He was a menace. Unstoppable.

What made Rickey so unique and special was that he made everyone around him so much better. Just ask Pat Swilling. Just recently the Hall of Fame announced the semi-finalists for the 2006 HOF. Kevin Greene, Richard Dent, and Andre Tippipet made up some of the names for the defensive side of the ballot. Yet once again Rickey Jackson was left off.

Here's my case for Rickey stat wise. He played in 227 games over 15 seasons. 128 sacks!!! That's 10 on the all time sacks list. Only Dent, Greene, and L.T. are ahead of him that are classified as linebackers. He had 6 seasons with double digit sack totals. 6 times was selected to Pro Bowl. He recovered over 28 fumbles second only to Jim Marshall, and had 8 interceptions.

Now what doesn't get mentioned in those stats was that he was the initiator of the Dome Patrol. There would be no Dome Patrol without Rickey. Those 4 LB's were good, but Rickey made them great. He once had a streak of consecutive games played going when he got into a horrific car crash. I'm not talking about a fender bender. He wrapped his car around a telephone poll and walked away. He was definitely hurt, but played that next week with a grill that consisted of as many face bars a helmet could contain with a Dark Vader sheild to protect his eyes. The man was a machine. He played with such an intensity that teams had to game plan around him. Whenever we needed a big play he was always there to make one. If you think of other great LB's such as Derrick Thomas and Wilbur Marshall deserve to go to Hall then Rickey has to be right there above them. The problem with Rickey was that he played in a medium/small market team that rarely got national attention. Though if you ask any player from that decade about Rickey Jackson they will tell the same story of a man who dominated at his position. I would love to see Rickey inducted into the Hall of Fame, it would brighten up the small display that Saints have of Doug Atkins, Jim Finks, and Tom Dempsey's shoe. So for every year that Rickey is not on the ballot I laugh because in my mind he's already there.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm gonna knock you out!

Mixed emotions. Jubilation one point, despair another. Ebb and flow. You know what I'm talking about if your a Saints fan. Things could be worse. I mean we could be 3-6 right now and talking about the draft. So why get caught up in the hysteria that follows one loss. It doesn't end our season. So relax.

Well I know that I've been preaching that the Saints haven't shown thier best game yet, but still I feel that they have much to prove on the defense side of the ball. Coaches call it the knock out punch. That's what we lack right now. We have the ability to score, mount pressure, win close. What we strive for is that attitude that comes when you take a lead and refuse to let up. I believe that the Saints are a young team with the capabilities of building themselves into a perennial force. The problem lies with the learning curve of the NFL. Things change so rapidly that within a two or three game stretch we could go from leading our division to fighting for a wild card spot. Patience.

Three observations from the game:
1. Reggie Bush needs to go to the Tiki Barber school of running with the football. Classes need to commence soon. He has a tendency that is being exposed. By the way, that TD run is #2 in the Reggie highlight reel.
2. Our cornerbacks need to become more aggressive. It's like the ghost's of Toi Cook and Alex Molden have infiltrated our team. We can't get an interception or fumble. All playoff teams are in the plus side of the turnover margin. This needs to change soon.
3. Our offense is explosive. It's almost like the old days of the Houston Oilers with the run and shoot. One problem I forsee is balance. You can't win games throwing for 400 yards and rushing for a 100 yards. Need more rushing plays. Especially when you take the lead in the game. I would love to see Duece running the ball with the lead. He's the guy who can deliver that knock out blow. If we can control the clock then we don't worry about the other team's offense as much.

Later on this week. I'll explain why Rickey Jackson belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame along side Doug Atkins and Jim Finks.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Playoffs? Playoffs? --Jim Mora Sr.

If memory serves me correct when was the last time I saw a New Orleans Saints team look horrible one weekend only to rebound the next weekend and look so dominant? NEVER!!!

This team is about attitude. No longer are they looking for excuses. They are not pointing fingers. They are not settling for 5 wins. It's as if they've been transformed into a winning ball club. If Payton doesn't win coach of the year they shouldn't give out the award ever again.

There are plenty of people out there judging Reggie Bush based upon numbers and saying he's not cut out for the NFL, yet. Jim Mora Sr. said it best, "Diddly-poo." What Reggie brings to the team is speed, versatility, and excitement. You can't buy that with Mario Williams or A.J. Hawk. I've stated this before on my blog, and I guess not enough people read it, but Reggie is not your typical running back. Just like Michael Vick isn't your typical quarterback. He's not going to rush for 25-30 a game because he brings more to the table more than just rushing the ball. Just like Vick can kill you with his legs, he'll try to beat you with his arm too. Reggie is learning how to beat teams by rushing and receiving. What Payton does with Bush is awesome. He moves him out of the backfield, lines him up in the slot, in the power eye, in motion, and let's him return punts. He poses a threat whether he takes it to the house or whether he's in the game. That's what Reggie brings to the game. Plus he's unselfish. You take a guy like Reggie, who breathes confidence and winning, put him on the Saints and you get offensive production. Reggie still has a long way to go before he's polished, but what we have now on our team is something we have never had, a bonafide superstar in the making. (Sorry Vaughn Dunbar, Mario Bates, Ricky Williams, and every other first round running back drafted by the Saints) Gotta have faith!!!