First and foremost, this is obviously well deserved. I'm not too familiar with how the other candidates performed, but you probably could have argued that Cam Jordan had made his case when he essentially sacked Matthew Stafford by grabbing a professional offensive tackle - albeit a backup - and tossing him through an NFL quarterback like he was the main character in a 'Marvel' movie...
The one-handed tip drill turned game-sealing pick-6 that served as a heavy-handed dose of Xanax to every New Orleans Saints fan that had entered the initial, 'shock' stage of grief at the prospect of the Detroit Lions completing a 35 point comeback was just icing on the cake. Too be quite honest, the icing on that cake should probably read "I know we don't tell you this anywhere near enough, but thank you for being you!".
Seriously, it's a blessing that the Saints do-it-all defensive end is an easy going guy, because he's damn sure smart enough to know that - prior to the last three games - his teammates have actively sabotaged the illustriousness of his career. If Cam Jordan's love language was 'words of affirmation' then the heart that he displays every Sunday would easily be cold and lifeless by now, because leading a unit that spent three years refusing to follow has cost him no shortage of notoriety.
In a league that loves its pass rushers, one of the best and most versatile players doing it has flown under the radar as the trusted pilot of a rinky-dink puddle jumper that has barely been capable of getting off the ground since 2014. It's about damn time he was - at least temporarily - given the wings of a 757 and able to soar, even if a 'Defensive Player Of The Week' award that is limited to his own conference is the bare minimum in terms of the accolades he's actually earned. The main thing that the ever-so-belated competence of their secondary has allowed for is optimism, but the league-wide recognition of Cam Jordan as the absolute beast that he has always been comes in at a close second.
I'm not dumb enough to think that lugging around a gas mask like a conspiracy theorist that's convinced we could be seconds away from biological warfare at any and all times is anything more than an act of symbolism, but I'll be damned if I don't love the thought process behind it nonetheless.
In fact, if we are being completely honest, I think they should double and triple down on the overly literal use of inanimate metaphors. Why not pack their lockers with month old swiss cheese just to remind themselves of how easy they've been to pass through and how egregiously they've stunk? Does it not fit the budget to make them trudge through a ball pit filled with nothing other than yellow penalty flags to get to the practice field so they can't possibly forget the litany of sins they've committed defensively over the last few seasons? Would it be over-the-top to hire a Brandon Browner doppleganger (or just Brandon Browner himself, I'm sure he's free) to stomp around the locker room yelling his list of career accomplishments at everyone? I want the lowest of lights from the last three years playing on a loop in the locker room over the backdrop of Rob Ryan screaming non-sensical obscenities. Anything to make this suddenly rejuvenated unit hungry and desperate to avoid the shame of historically piss poor defense's past. Those old habits need to officially be declared dead, even if that means throwing them a figurative funeral.
So let's hope they are wearing those facial respirators as diapers because if they are serious risk of letting smoke get blown up their ass after their first three game stint of relative success since 2013 then I'm probably going to need to borrow Laremy Tunsil's gas mask come Sunday.
What an odd, odd game of football. That was basically the embodiment of the phrase "any given Sunday" if your Sunday's relied heavily on the use of hallucinogenics, because the storyline appeared to have been written by someone with a Tiger Woods-esque toxicology. If I had told you that the Saints gave up 35 points at home, turned the ball over three times, surrendered both a defensive and special teams touchdown, all while Drew Brees failed to eclipse the 200 yard marker then you'd likely have resigned yourself to the inevitable despair of another 7-9 season.
Instead, the actual result has them headed to Lambeau Field as an undeniable favorite (due to unforeseen circumstances, of course) with their first winning record in four years. The Saints needed a tipped ball turned touchdown from Cam Jordan to put an exclamation point on what was a certain win that ever-so-quickly started to have the look of an incomprehensibly devastating loss. Yet somehow, a game that highlighted some obvious flaws ultimately has them in the slightly above average position that they have seemingly been fighting for forever.
Perhaps that serves as nothing more than a proverbial nod to the unpredictability of NFL football, but it could also be an indication of how (finally) having the makeup of an opportunistic defense can cover up a lot of blemishes. It wouldn't be wise to depend on too many more 5 sack, 5 turnover, 3 touchdown performances from a unit who still showed their age on quite a few plays, but I'll be damned if it's not nice to see that they have it in them. The Saints weren't about to go an entire season without giving the ball away, but - for once - it appears they have defense in which doing so doesn't automatically signal defeat. Those mistakes were coming sooner rather than later (in the case of the "interception" of Michael Thomas' clear catch, with the help of piss poor officiating), so it can only be considered good news that they weren't unredeemable.
Now, it would have been nice if Sean Payton continued to rely on the rejuvenated legs of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to run out the clock when up 35 points. Perfect world, the Saints win by 25+ on the backs of a ground game that was literally adding injury to insult at a pace that likely alarmed Detroit's medical staff. Unfortunately, the risk taking mentality that unnecessarily allowed the Lions back in the game is the same one they used to pull away in the first place, so - being a decade into his tenure - it's best to just accept the bad with the good. The type of guy who is willing to run a fullback end-around option on 4th down to set up a first down flea-flicker isn't the type of guy to take the air out of the ball halfway through the 3rd quarter, and - when it's put like that - we probably shouldn't expect him to be.
Long story short (and it was a very long story, because that game felt like it lasted about 6 hours), the Saints defense is - at the very worst - complimentary to an offense whose best days are probably still ahead of it. We aren't looking at the reincarnation of the '00 Baltimore Ravens, but we are looking at a group with a dominant pass rusher who bats passes better than most defensive backs, a shutdown corner who flipped his hips and transitioned right around the rookie wall, and an undeniable penchant for making a game changing play or two. In reality, that's all Drew Brees has ever needed on most days, and with how the first two games of the season played out it seems surreal that he actually has it.
Also of note: It's laughable that those who considered Adrian Peterson a 'has been' have taken to using his one day return to 'All Day' form as a way to criticize Sean Payton. It's almost as if they are only capable of reading box scores when they support their ever-changing argument. I said that I thought there was still some juice in those 32 year old legs when he was traded to the Cardinals, but that it wasn't worth the squeeze as the third option in a crowded backfield. Admittedly it's a small size, but both those things appear to be true. You can chastise signing him in the first place, but not sure how making a mutually beneficial move after being unable to fit 61 carries into one single offense is an indictment of it's head coach...
Especially when it was done to get someone who is capable of the following more involved...
The reincarnation of Adrian Peterson was impressive, but so was the performance of the player that made him replaceable...
Knock On Wood: The Saints Have A Chance To Be The First Team Since 1933 To Go 5 Games Without A Turnover
On one hand, there is nothing not to like about the New Orleans Saints consistently playing mistake-free football for the first time in a long time. I am not going to research the numbers, but I feel pretty damn confident in saying that Sean Payton and Drew Brees have proven over the years that they are insanely good when they win the turnover battle, and disastrously bad when they lose the turnover battle. Consider that your 'stat of the day', if you will. A perennial top 5 offense is at its most productive when it only completes passes to itself. Who knew?!?
Theoretically, the fact that they have managed to go four games without giving away a single possession can only bode well for a team that is only getting healthier on the offensive side of the ball. With the backfield roles more well defined and the return of trusted players like Terron Amstead and Willie Snead seemingly imminent, the Saints certainly don't stand to become more turnover prone, and that's been the one Achilles' heel of a unit that's put forth a decade of dominance.
On the other hand, these depressingly suspicious stats feel like the forewarning of a black cloud that's getting ready to piss on the preemptive parade that Saints' fans will be ready to throw if they climb over .500 for the first time in 4 years. There's so much to be optimistic about with the defense coming off two fantastic performances and a week of rest. However, the opportunity to make history plus the potential to take a step toward repeating a hauntingly similar history make for quite the sphincter clenching combo.
I'm not sure if I would rather Drew Brees take the first snap and immediately hand it to the closest defensive lineman just to put a quick end to the madness, or if doing so would all but guaranteed yet another 7-9 season. All I know is that a never before reached peak in ball security is the biggest mountain the Saints will have to climb if they hope to finally ascend above completely average, and failing to do so is likely to send them on an eerily subpar path to Lambeau Field. Blessed be the bounces because this team might have to enter the record books to keep the season trending upwards, and that scares the crap out of this Saints' fan.
LBS- The Star Tribune says Peterson is being sued by Minneapolis-based Crown Bank for allegedly defaulting on a $2.4 million loan.
The suit says Peterson took out the loan in May, 2016, but defaulted a few months later in October. He reached a forbearance agreement with the bank in which he agreed to pay back the loan by Dec., 2016, but he failed to comply and only paid back $1.2 million.
Peterson asked for more time to pay back the loan and has made some payments, but he still owes around $600,000.
I'm pretty sure this is just a case of insanely odd timing, but I would be lying if I said it didn't put a smile on my face to learn that a former New Orleans Saints player was in the news for all the wrong reasons just hours AFTER being dealt elsewhere.
Granted, defaulting on a back loan due to - what I'm assuming - was a technicality isn't the most egregious scandal that Adrian Peterson has ever been involved in, but the fact that he has to answer questions about it as a member of another organization is a (totally unintentional) step in the right direction! We'll take the 81 meaningless yards in 5 games and the mid-round draft pick, and the Cardinals can have the 32 year old aging vet and his impending lawsuit!
This is probably just a complete coincidence that this news came out the same damn day that he was moved. However, getting caught up in some dumb shit while incidentally being employed by the Saints is like an NFL pastime of sorts. So, with that said, I'll be damned if it doesn't make me feel even better about moving a 3rd string running back - whose apparently financially irresponsible - for any sort of asset! I wish Adrian Peterson the best of luck in Arizona, but - more importantly - I'm glad he got served while on somebody else's clock!
I would say "don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened", but I'm pretty sure that couldn't apply less to this situation. The quick one month fling with a first ballot, future HOFer has come to an underwhelming and unfulfilling end for both parties. All it took was 81 yards on 27 carries over 4 games for the New Orleans Saints and Adrian Peterson to realize that their relationship was much better in theory than in practice. But hey - at least they avoided the exasperating stretch of stubbornness that generally precedes most breakups and ultimately ends in a resentment-fueled, public scene!
Their one social media-enabled spat might signify otherwise, but this is surely a mutual, amicable split that leaves both everyone involved feeling better about their future prospects. Sean Payton can now give more attention to his younger, more intriguing love interest in Alvin Kamara, and Adrian Peterson can get to playing the (back) field that was left unattended by David Johnson's injury. Oh, what could have been. Oh well, they'll always have...uhhhh...an iota of pre-preseason hype..I guess?
Now, I'm not sure of the salary cap ramifications of this move, but hopefully whatever they pissed away in available money they made up for with the addition of a mid-round draft pick.
Speaking strictly from a football perspective, however, I see very little downside. The presence of a proud player who was desperate to re-prove himself served as nothing more than a ticking time bomb in a locker room that certainly didn't need distractions from the person filling a relatively negligible role on the roster. With Mark Ingram's versatility demanding snaps and Alvin Kamara's play demanding touches, Adrian Peterson wasn't soon to see the field in any significant capacity barring injury.
I do think it's possible he still has something left in the tank, but he certainly wasn't going to be able to do anything more than sit in the show room and rev the engine a couple times per game in New Orleans. Might as well give him the opportunity to run until he's on 'E', and - more importantly - get something for him while it was widely presumed that his value was next to nothing.
The Saints RB Coach Says It's A "Matter Of Time" Before Adrian Peterson Breaks Out, Which Is A Bold Faced Lie
PFT- Through his first four games as a member of the Saints, there’s been little sign that running back Adrian Peterson has a lot of juice left in the tank.
Peterson has 27 carries for 81 yards, including four yards on four carries against the Dolphins last week, and the Saints have had more success when they give the ball to Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Given those trends, one might expect the team to lower their expectations for what Peterson is going to bring to the offense this season.
Running backs coach Joel Thomas says that’s not the case, however.
“It’s just a matter of time,” Thomas said, via Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I really feel like this block, it’s going to break. We just have to keep on chipping and you keep grinding, keep getting after something and ultimately something positive is going to come out of this.”
Peterson played six snaps against the Dolphins in a 20-0 win that would seem to offer the kind of opportunity to get Peterson work that might not exist in closer games. If he’s not playing there, it’s hard to think he’ll be playing a lot at any time unless an injury shakes up the backfield mix.
A matter of time, huh? I understand that Adrian Peterson's position coach doesn't stand to do himself any favors by publicly stating that Adrian Peterson is a footnote in the Saints' offense. Luckily, I'm not tasked with keeping him motivated in case his services are eventually needed so I can say that - for the 32 year old running back who is far and away the third priority in a crowded backfield - time is the matter.
Personally, I don't think that 'AD' yet stands for 'All Done', but the only way he's truly "breaking out" is if his runs are through a field of poison ivy or a gaggle of unclean women. Assuming Mark Ingram remains healthy (::knocks on wood::), there's just not going to be enough touches available to get him going. It's no coincidence that the team has looked better offensively with Alvin Kamara's ever-expanding role, and they aren't going to sacrifice his development to give insanely predictable snaps to someone that needs far too many of them to be effective.
Now, that doesn't mean there isn't an 80-90 yard performance in his near future, because I think he still has the timeless talent to provide that (as shown below)...
However, even if there is, it would most certainly be the outlier. It took a Mark Ingram ball security issue to get Tim Hightower going last season, and Adrian Peterson is simply a vastly superior player filling that same less than significant role. I think I speak for all Saints' fans, players, and (running back) coaches (who aren't at liberty say so) when I say that the team is probably better off if he continues to do so. That might read as an indictment of the future HOFer, but it's really just a commendation of the players ahead of him who are balling their asses without needing a historically versatile playbook catered to their skill set.
Live and learn, I suppose. A Sean Payton offense is no place for an aging back that is trying to re-prove himself as one of the best to ever tote the rock. In retrospect, we probably should have known.
I am fairly certain that the person who coined "everything is better in moderation" wasn't talking about starting caliber offensive tackles when he did so, but you'd truly believe that less is - indeed - more with the way fate has delivered hits to the Saints depth over the years.
Just look at New Orleans' top two picks in the first round of the NFL draft for proof that the organization seemingly isn't allowed to have too many nice things. Marshon Lattimore gets selected to solidify the secondary...and Delvin Breaux almost immediately goes down to a bruise that magically (through the power of misdiagnosis) turned into a broken leg. Ryan Ramczyk gets picked to learn behind a couple of veteran bookends, and one of those bookends busts up his shoulder before it's even in pads. It's football so obviously unfortunate injuries happen, but the fact that Zach Strief just went down for an extended period of time - due to a mistake made by the player that was supposed to serve as his protege - with the return of Terron Armstead seemingly on the horizon makes me think they were never meant to have three's company in protecting their quarterback.
Now, hopefully getting put on the shelf with his expiration date as a pro approaching sooner rather than later doesn't signal the end of a hell of a career for Zach Strief. As someone who has been in the organization for a decade and been an intricate part of their offensive success since 2011, he certainly deserves to go out in more triumphant fashion than writhing around on the ground clutching the re-injured knee he decided to play through. That's why it would be nothing short of great news if he were able to return and bring a wealth of experience to a potential (fingers crossed) playoff run. Unfortunately, it's not so good news that the Saints only seem to have a reliable next man up when they are in desperate need of a reliable next man up.
So, safe to say I started digging the grave a bit prematurely?
Such is the "beauty" of The NFL, where are all you really know is that you actually know nothing at all. One week you think a woeful defensive team is just taking advantage a broken and battered quarterback, and the next that woeful defensive team has gone into full lockdown mode while that broken and battered quarterback is dominating the reigning champions on the road. Now, given that Jay Cutler had about as much interest in being in London as I had in being awake for a 9AM game that felt a hell of a a lot like a Week 4 preseason game, I'm not sure how much can be taken away from what eventually turned into a dominant performance...
Call me a skeptic, but years of optimism gone awry and abject disappointment have taught me not to let myself get too high on the narcotic that is the moment. After all, the Saints merely avoided a soul crushing loss to a team with a recently retired quarterback who probably would have rather been anywhere else in the world than under center (or split out wide). Still, you can only play who is on your schedule, and - considering the Saints early schedule has been unforgiving - it was nice to see an encouraging effort that couldn't have been any better mathematically give them the opportunity to start with a clean slate coming out of the bye week.
With Green Bay and Detroit on the horizon, the two weeks following said bye week should tell us whether this young defense is bi-polar or steadily improving. Hopefully the time off gives players like Zach Strief, Terron Amstead, and Willie Snead the chance to make sure this offense remains the one that methodically choked the life out of the Dolphins in the second half. The Saints are going to have to make complimentary football their calling card if they want to get over .500 for the first in what feels like an eternity, but - for once - an energetic secondary and the appearance of a pass rush are giving us reason to believe that that's not entirely out of the question.
- Alvin Kamara is absolutely electric, and I'm pretty sure we've only scratched the surface in regards to his talent.
- On a related note, if Alvin Kamara is going to continue his meteoric rise to more touches then I'm not sure I see where 'AD' fits into the offense. Now, usually a backup running back that's merely around for insurance purposes doesn't have to fit into the offense. I'm just not sure that won't result in unnecessary locker room tension in a situation as rare as having a backup running back who is a future first ballot HOFer with a chip on his shoulder. I wasn't one of those people calling for him to be traded after one extremely telling sideline stare, but giving someone who is used to being a workhorse 6 extremely predictable snaps isn't really helping him or the team...
For those who aren't overly concerned with doing the impossible in satisfying everybody, let me rephrase...
"In a show of neutered neutrality that emulates the one that Jerry Jones first ran by Donald Trump, the #Saints will spread their cheeks and sit on the fence."
I've tried to discuss this topic in a fairly intellectual way since it's completely taken over the news cycle. But it's Friday, I'm insanely tired of talking about it, and I'd prefer to start viewing Drew Brees as the Saints' only hope in getting to .500 for the first time since the last time the POTUS had a respectably sized penis instead of the nauseatingly neutral spokesperson for nationalism, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it....
This decision reeks to the highest of heavens. It's total fucking garbage that is complicit in changing the narrative originally set forth by Colin Kaepernick. I'd rather every member of the New Orleans Saints robotically stand by themselves and at attention with their hand over their heart while the National Anthem plays, because at least that wouldn't create the facade of a "protest".
Whatever. Promote "solidarity". Preach "unity". Those of us with a functioning brain will continue to realize that what you're really doing is completely compromising a cause on behalf of those who dragged the military into the conversation because they were uncomfortable having it.
So, before I go back to being a Drew Brees' fanboy, I leave you with this...
Ah, the ultimate Catch-22 of facing Cam Newton. On one hand, he'll forever be considered an MVP caliber quarterback (due to that one time he won MVP) so you want to consider it a good sign of things to come when you make him look like a bum while holding him to just over a 150 yards through the air and turning him over three different times. On the other hand, he's still an overrated, wildly inconsistent passer who played the vast majority of the game without his top two weapons in the passing game so it doesn't exactly undue the damage that was done by the Patriots a week earlier.
The instinctual plays made on the ball that resulted in all three interceptions make me want to believe that this particular defense does have more talent and cohesiveness than those that came before it, but I'll keep my optimism cautious until I see at least one more repeat performance. The ways in which Sam goddamn Bradford and Tom Brady defiled the Saints' secondary won't soon be forgotten - especially since they so closely resembled the nightmare that has been reoccurring since 2014 - so they are going to have to do a wee bit more than slap around Scam to regain the trust that they managed to lose faster than their first two games. Kenny Vaccaro looked like his benching lit a fuse under his ass, Ken Crawley proved - at the very least - it was a mistake to have him standing on the sidelines, and P.J. Williams finally followed through on years of unfulfilled promise by making a game changing play. Now, if they can repeat that while someone more accurate than Cam Newton is throwing the football then we'll really have something to get excited about.
The offense, on the other hand, was a welcomed improvement. Surely their versatility had more than a little to do with the fact that they weren't one punt away from being down three scores at any given time, but they still seemed to develop a rhyme and reason that wasn't there in previous weeks. Hopefully the return of Willie Snead will only to stand to increase their effectiveness and give Michael Thomas a long overdue break from the bracket coverage he's almost exclusively been facing. The running game finally produced some big plays, and Drew Brees looked like Drew Brees we've come to know instead of the beleaguered veteran that was resigned to marching helplessly off the field for the umpteenth time after being let down by his teammates. As if it were a question. the offense shouldn't be as much of a question going forward.
Hypothetically speaking, this should all bode well for a team that looks to be returning their #2 wide receiver and their stud of a rookie corner against a team that's coming off a decisive loss to a roster that was built to lose. However, letting a Dolphins team that hit rock bottom get back up off the mat would be par for the course for the Saints as of late. For that reason, I'll stay level headed. The funeral for Sean Payton's tenure has been temporarily put on hold, but - for now - we'll continue to let the parlor hold onto the deposit.
The win felt good, and Cam Jordan's postgame zingers served as quite the cherry on top, but - until further notice - there's not too much to take away from it other than a much needed victory...
Look, I love Drew Brees. Even when he's slinging touchdown passes in a playoff game for a franchise that's much better built to compete for a championship then the one that is currently dragging him down, I will still love Drew Brees. What he has meant to the Saints' organization and everyone that is even mildly emotionally invested in its success can't possibly be overstated. That's why I want to follow his lead and believe in this team...but I simply can't.
Maybe it's because I enjoy keeping my feet grounded in reality or maybe it's because I have spent enough time reading the Bible. Whatever the case may be, the last three seasons of "Sunday school" have taught me that running on blind hope will only end in slamming face first into the wall of inevitable disappointment. If I were to believe in the unbelievable, I would need just one logical reason to, and - through two increasingly unwatchable games - this team hasn't so much as given me a glimmer.
Like, other than the play of a rookie cornerback that has now officially been declared 'out' for this upcoming Sunday, what would give even the most nauseatingly positive of Saints' fans faith in this team?
I wouldn't consider the impotent offense that stands a better chance of closing the door on its head coach and his head scratching decision making than closing out a touchdown drive when the game is still in reach to be a source of optimism. The defense that impressively manages to break their own record in becoming more historically piss poor ever single year, and will probably serve as the elixir for Cam Newton's ailing shoulder this weekend certainly won't get me to shoutout the holy spirits.
This is usually the part of the week when the sting of a terrible loss would start to fade, and the eternal optimism of Sunday's unknown would begin to creep in. However, with so, so, so much recent and eerily reminiscent evidence of how things are likely to play out, can you even say it's truly unknown anymore?
At best, this version of the New Orleans Saints is consistently inconsistent. At worst, they are flat out dreadful. Time well tell which of those is closer to true, but - with their irrationally confident 'Hall Of Fame' quarterback set to become a free agent at the end of what looks to be another woeful season - this regime doesn't even have fucking time to deperately pray for good fortune anymore.
The Saints Have Dealt Former 1st Round Pick Stephone Anthony To The Miami Dolphins For A 5th Round Pick
So, there it is. The 1st round pick - that was attained via the trade of their former All-World tight end - has officially been flipped for a future 5th round pick. The player who went from a promising prospect in his rookie season to a damn near unplayable liability in even the most piss poor of defenses one year later officially has a new home, and I'm a little concerned with my initial reaction to the deal.
If you ignore how high Stephone Anthony was selected then getting anything of note for a guy that probably only claimed one of the last couple of spots on this year's roster so that the organization could potentially trick another team into taking the bait on his unfounded potential has to be considered a steal. A draft pick becomes a sunk cost once you make it, so it makes no sense to keep inflating that price by dumping time and effort into an investment that you've yet to get a legitimate return on. The fact of the matter is that the former Clemson linebacker has been given more than enough opportunities to prove himself, and with those opportunities he proved that he's not any better than the collection of mid-round picks, lost-cost veterans, and former backups in front of him. In the sense that a known player that likely should have gotten cut retrieved the unknown that is a future player, you have to love what the Saints did here.
On the other hand, it should probably make fans a bit squeamish that this is low the bar has been set by the current regime. Like, as far as getting bang for their buck, turning a former 1st round pick into a future 5th round pick is sadly one of the beneficial trades they've made of late. I guess what I am trying to say is that the fact that they managed to get an asset for Stephone Anthony shouldn't make you feel any better about how laughably they managed the asset that they used on Stephone Anthony. I don't care how much you love Max Unger, because this move is basically an admission that the Jimmy Graham trade - like so many before it (Kenny Stills, Darren Sproles) - was an abject failure that officially did less than nothing to fix a dog shit defense.
But hey, with the way that defensive players like Malcolm Jenkins and Akiem Hicks have prospered following their departure from New Orleans, I should probably count my lucky stars hoping that Stephone Anthony doesn't develop into the second coming of Zach Thomas on Miami's watch. Sadly, that would have to be considered a win with often the Saints have ended up on the losing end of personnel decisions.
The Saints Are Bringing In Lamarr Houston For A Workout, And That Somehow Makes Me Feel Worse About Their Defense
The irony is that reading the news that the Saints' desperate attempt at providing a quick fix to their anemic, one-man pass rush (shoutout to Cam Jordan, he deserves do much better) was bringing in Lamarr Houston for a workout makes me feel about as stupid and hopeless as he must have felt when he tore his ACL doing this...
Nothing against Lamarr Houston, but - considering the Saints' damn near decade long track record with attempted defensive "improvements" - a guy that literally hopped, skipped, and jumped his way out of the lineup has a better chance of providing a punchline than a quarterback pressure. I know that if a contract offer did come to fruition then it would be of the low risk variety, since - as is customarily the case with this franchise - there is no where to go but up. Still, they might as well punch fate right in it's spiteful testicles if they are going to add an oft-injured, underperforming pass rusher to an oft-injured, underperforming defense.
In the sense that the first noticeable thing he does is likely going to involve him getting carted off the field, Lamarr Houston is actually a perfect fit for a Sean Payton (as run by __insert soon-to-be fired coordinator here__) defense. Unfortunately, that's nothing other than an indictment of the forever laughable state of Sean Payton's (as run by __insert scapegoat__) defenses. I guess I'm glad that they are praying for a little bit of familiarity to make them better, but I'm preemptively depressed since it's almost definitely not going to work.
I am not going to take a look at the tape to determine whether or not Kenny Vaccaro was one of the worst culprits in yet another abominable effort from the Saints defense. That's mostly because I'm not looking to lose my lunch, but it's also because I don't even even need to see a single replay to tell you why he was benched.
We are talking about the vocal leader of a young secondary that was supposed to be the strength of the team, and - at his very best - he hasn't backed up one single word. If nothing else Kenny Vaccaro is expected to be the most physical and intimidating presence in the defensive backfield, and through two games his most memorable contributions have drawn two flags, a fine, and the temporary illusion of a legally forced turnover.
I have no interest in making a list of who was most responsible for making Tom Brady look like he was playing against a D3 school in Western Massachusetts, but - if I did loathe my time enough to do so - I would venture to guess that Kenny Vaccaro might not reside in the Top 5 (this week, anyway). If we were grading on a curve then his complete lack of a noticeable effort could actually get him bumped up a couple of letters above the teammates that were caught consistently grasping at air.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of those young teammates look to him to lead by the example, and the only lesson they got from Week 1 was how to avoid being held accountable by making sure you are so far away from the ball that no one assumes that you were the one that was responsible for covering it. The faltering of a defense falls on the most trusted members of it, so - since sitting Cam Jordan is literally the only thing that could possibly make the Saints look less competent on that side of the ball - Kenny Vaccaro became the scapegoat. Honestly, considering how rarely he's been a solution in an eternally problematic defense, I couldn't care less that he was.
Honestly, I don't even know what to address first. Ironically enough, I think the most fitting way to start is by acknowledging that this is the beginning of the end. Sean Payton probably still has 14 games left to prove otherwise - seeing as I think there is too much mutual respect to cut ties with him midseason - but there's absolutely no reason to think those 14 games will play out any differently than 50 that came before them. In most cases, an embarrassing beatdown at the hands of the best coach in NFL history coming off of 10 days rest wouldn't serve as a soon-to-be vacant sign on the swinging door that will inevitable be hitting Sean Payton in the ass. This, however, isn't most cases.
What the Saints endured yesterday wasn't just a completely non-competitive loss. It was a completely non-competitive loss that highlighted damn near every flaw that's kept them from competing for the last three years and change. The listless effort on offense when it actually mattered. The laughably disorganized defense. The inexcusably self sabotaging penalties. Coaching decisions that were understandably desperate, but nonsensically and haphazardly called for. Sean Payton stepped on the field with a roster that was probably equally as talented as the injury plagued team that was on the other sideline, and - as they have done with so many lesser teams prior - they made them look like they were in a league of their own. Bill Belichick absolutely embarrassed someone that considers himself a protege and he did so on the road with just as many injuries on defense and issues on offense.
I know Sean Payton had to take some chances because his team was being outclassed in every form and facet. However - situationally speaking - dropping back 5 steps for what ended up being a throwaway on 3rd down when you know you're going for it on 4th down is only slightly less stupid than using that 4th down to launch a low percentage prayer to the player with the least trustworthy hands on the entire team. I mean, we are talking about a man that willfully backed his kicker up 5 yards while trying to draw the most well-coached team in sports offsides. In that sole instance it somewhat magically didn't end up hurting a team who certainly doesn't need its odds of becoming a punchline enhanced by its head coach's undeserved, irrational confidence. That said, it was just another example of Sean Payton being predictably unpredictable, and I mean that in the most negative way possible.
I know that Tom Brady intentionally threw an interception up for grabs because - unlike the defense he was going up against - he was more keen to the amount of people on the field than the officials. However, optically speaking, "causing" two turnovers on the same drive and having them both overturned by penalty is so, so Saints that I barely even blinked an eye. I say that to say this...0-2 was always a distinct possibility, but the way the New Orleans Saints organization has ended up here - for what feels like the 30th year in a row - is what has already made a tough early season schedule look impossible to overcome. The competition may be better this time around, but the Saints' level of preparedness and execution certainly isn't. Another summer spent preaching "fast start", and another September spent watching them trail from so far behind that you'd think Brandon Browner was in the locker room giving pregame pep talks.
It might not be time for one of the longest tenured coaches in the league to be relieved of his duties, but it's definitely time to start treating that outcome as inevitable. What Sean Payton brought to New Orleans in '06 can't possibly be overstated and we'll always have '09, but the fact of the matter is that his tenure will largely be looked back upon as a disappointment because of what he's failed to do since. I wouldn't even be mildly surprised if the franchise's inability to field a competent defense more than once a decade costs them the quarterback that made them relevant at year's end. I couldn't possibly muster up the gusto to blame Drew Brees if he wanted to join an organization that wasn't actively undercutting his opportunities to add another trophy to his case. This season - like so many before it - looks to have 7-9 written all over it, but Saints' fan should take what little enjoyment from it that they can because it will be the swan song for at least half of the most successful duo in franchise history. Even if that duo will ultimately have left much to be desired.
USAToday- Peterson, whose glare at Saints coach Sean Payton during Monday night's game against the Vikings became one of the viral images of the first week, said he thought he would be used more than he was in the opener.
"I didn't sign up for nine snaps, though," Peterson told reporters Thursday. "But unfortunately that's the way the game played out. In my mind, personally, I knew it was gonna take some adjusting. You know, me and Mark (Ingram) played in the last preseason game, and AK (rookie running back Alvin Kamara) didn't even play that game. So with all three of us being out there, I knew it would take a game or so to kind of get adjusted."
As far as the stare at Payton, Peterson said the moment was overblown.
"It was definitely overdramatized," Peterson said. "Of course, with the heat of the game, me being back in Minnesota and things like that, just catching that look – that intense look on my face, like I had – I actually got some laughs out of some of the memes that were made."
Whew, what a relief! I don't know about you, but I couldn't even sense the ittiest-bittiest hint of resentment in that answer. I mean, can you imagine if that contentious moment between an aging player and his head coach of less than one half was a bad sign of things to come? Obviously it wasn't the greatest visual in the world, but - with a defense that had 'Captain Checkdown' boldly emptying the chamber like he was the love child of Yosemite Sam and Brett Favre - I can't imagine that the Saints will end up in a similar position where carries become scarce.
As far as I am concerned, Adrian Peterson voicing his frustration an hour into the season was just a one-off. An example of the moment getting the best of him while facing the team that cast him aside on primetime television. Yup. Definitely, definitely not a glimpse at the conscious effort that is required to appease three deserving running backs when that is one of the few positions on the team that is too damn talented to require a high level of maintenance. I'm sure the 1,000 yard rusher coming off a career year and the first ballot HOFer totally understand that it was just the unfortunate, temporary circumstances of being a pretty bad team that looks destined to do a lot of playing from behind that had them getting easily out-snapped by a rookie. I can't possibly foresee another scenario in which the snaps become sporadic and Mark Ingram and/or Adrian Peterson are unable to push their competitive spirit to the side.
In all seriously, I have no choice but to come clean and admit that I was in favor of the addition of Adrian Peterson when it happened. Unfortunately, that's when my view was of Sean Payton as an offensive genius that always gets the most out of his players, and before I failed to take notice of the steaming pile of crap I was stepping into on Monday night. I'm not ready to toss AD on the trading block after all of six carries, but if that game was a courtesy to the flushing of another season down the toilet then I'm a hell of a lot more worried about the state of the backfield swirling into a shit storm. I do think that the sideline situation was wildly overblown (though the spite in the eyes of the person responsible for it was absolutely not), and I still think the running back rotation has the potential to work in the team's favor. However, I'm far less optimistic after watching it return nothing other than a viral distraction during yet another Week 1 disaster...
NOLA- On the first defensive snap of the season, the Saints had just 10 players on the field. Coach Sean Payton said Tuesday that a third cornerback was supposed to be out there in the team's nickel package, but the team was a man short for the play.
Although it's a mistake, the oversight wasn't too costly as the Vikings gained just 4 yards on the play, a reception by rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Still, Payton acknowledged that it was frustrating to start the season that way.
The official game book shows the Saints with just 10 starting defenders. The third cornerback presumably would've been De'Vante Harris, but it's unclear if the error was on Harris, coaches or another player.
"There's communication that goes on between base and nickel, and without singling anyone out, look, we didn't get it communicated clear enough," Payton said. "Fortunately, it didn't end up hurting us on that specific play."
Maybe I'm slightly overreacting in saying this, but if the Saints really cared about their fanbase they would hold a communal bonfire where every season ticket holder could burn the bill of goods that they were sold throughout the entirety of the offseason.
I mean, I was skeptical that the preseason success would translate to regular season success on the side of the ball that has become the bane of the franchise's existence. That's why I was more sad than mad when Sam Bradford summoned the magic from up under his wizard sleeves to make Dennis Allen's finest look like they were back under the greasy-fingered spell of Rob Ryan. I've been blindly confident in far too many Sean Payton-deployed defenses to get tricked into thinking one was at least average before seeing them hit anything other than rock bottom when it actually mattered. "Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me into an autumn full of alcohol abuse damn near annually for the entirety of a decade, shame on me", as they say.
That being said, I would be kidding myself if I told you that I didn't buy in to the narrative that they had become a more cohesive unit that was capable of doing their communicating before the ball was hiked and their assignments were already past due. That's why I feel so violated right now. The first snap? THE FIRST SNAP?!? They couldn't make it to 2nd-and-fucking-6 before betraying the most minuscule amount of trust that a fan could possibly put in a seemingly proud group of professional athletes that he's far too emotionally invested in?
I feel like I just caught someone cheating on me and I can't stop questioning if literally any part of the relationship was genuine. Were all the overly positive reviews and preseason shutouts just part of one big lie?! Did the Saints ever have any intention of stopping their opponent? Did they ever even care about fielding the correct number of players? Considering they had an entire summer and a full goddamn commercial break to learn how to count to eleven and still miscalculated, I really have my doubts as to whether or not their lip service was aimed at improving anything other than their ability to suck their own cocks. I guess Steve Bannon would be proud, but the Who Dat Nation is most certainly not.
Well, if nothing else, the Saints brought a little clarity to the phrase "the more things change, the more they stay the same". Eight new starters, an infusion of youth, and a supposed attitude adjustment on the defensive side of the ball, annnd they still managed to get gouged to the tune of 346 yards by a quarterback that usually needs about a month to reach that number. The preseason hype train that had people (myself included) hesitantly tooting the horn of a pass rush that added no top-end talent didn't even make it past the first stop before encountering technical difficulties. The strength that was supposed to be the secondary couldn't have been any weaker in making Diggs/Thielen look like a Carter/Moss reincarnate. I don't know why Ken Crawley was scratched, but the island that it left DeVante Harris on got sunk quicker than Atlantis. Now, Sam Bradford definitely made some throws that I had no idea Sam Bradford was capable of making, but they were only a light sprinkle in a mixed bag of monstrous plays that had Vikings players running roughshod.
But let's not pretend that the problems began and ended with the defense, because the Saints offense was somehow equally as hard to watch. A lot of credit has to go the Vikings front four, but an offensive genius had an entire offseason to game plan for that game and THAT'S what he came up with? A predictably sporadic running back rotation that only had less rhyme and reason than it did effectiveness? A red zone offense that was so inefficient that it looked like Wil Lutz drew it up to give himself an opportunity to pad his stats. Zach Strief's early injury didn't help matters, but a "great offense" shouldn't be the loss of a 33 year old right tackle away from having to desperately grate out first downs.
All in all, that game couldn't have gone worse for New Orleans. Never mind the 10 point loss, because the all-too-familiar fashion in which it came is really what made it so demoralizing. Speaking objectively, the takeaway from that performance is that Saints are a team that crumbles in hostile conditions, can't stop anyone, and has it's forever top 5 offense inflated by empty stats. Tough to argue that that's not more of a fact than a narrative after watching a team that preached "fast start" fall flat on it's face right out of the gate. Oh well, Tom Brady's coming to town off an embarrassing loss in 6 days on 10 days rest. Surely that's what will quell the woeful effort that has fans resigned to another season of 7-9.
As for Adrian Peterson's short confrontation with Sean Payton, I begrudgingly admit that he has a point. He knew what he was signing up for when he decided to join a team that has always refused to feature even it's feature back, so it's concerning that his usage as a backup had him staring through the back of his head coach's skull halfway through Week 1. However, as quickly as I rolled my eyes while seeing him get in ear of one of the few people to give him a chance, I admittedly related to his level of frustration with the play calling.
Lastly, I actually have no problem with Sean Payton burning timeouts in an effort to get the ball back before the end of the half, and ultimately giving the Vikings enough time to score another touchdown. It's his job to put points on the board, not stop a mediocre offense from marching 95 yards in under two minutes. He'll have to shoulder the criticism for that polarizing decision as always, but I don't consider trusting his players to get one single fucking timely stop a coaching error....unless he does it again this season.
Newly Acquired Saint, Jon Dorenbos, Is Having Open Heart Surgery After A Physical Showed An Aortic Aneurysm
First and foremost, whew. Jon Dorenbos may not get to play for the Saints as he had hoped coming out of college, but he gets to live to see another day. As someone that magically (figuratively and literally) managed to come out on the other side of a childhood that saw his father brutally murder his mother only to make it as a longtime professional football player with an upbeat personality that is lauded by any and all former teammates, he'll know how to make the best of it. On the surface it may look like the Saints didn't do their homework on yet another player, but the trade that brought Jon Dorenbos to New Orleans ultimately saved his life. Finding out about a deadly aortic aneurysm is undoubtedly worth a hell of a lot more than a 7th round pick and/or a temporary hole left at long snapper, so it's impossible for an initial response to be anything other than a sigh of relief.
Much less importantly, what kind of sick and twisted fate is currently haunting this team? I'm only being mildly facetious when I say that I would get four separate opinions on a skinned knee before I truly believed it wasn't a staff infection if I were a member of the New Orleans Saints. I can't definitively say that their personnel department is being governed by 'Murphy's Law', but Murphy is definitely doing his damndest to make sure clean bills of health don't get passed. Including Nick Fairley's heart issue, this makes two potentially fatal conditions that were found in one offseason, and both came to light immediately after resources were committed to obtaining the players suffering from them. It would be nothing short of stupid to say that's anything other than a coincidence, but I'd bear in the mind the black cloud that's following this franchise if I were a Saint that felt inclined to push back a doctor's appointment.
The bright side is that the medical staff finally proved competent in providing a helpful diagnosis that prevented a tragic, almost certain death. They may have failed in spectacular fashion when giving Delvin Breaux nothing more than an Advil and a pat on the ass to heal his fractured fibula, but at least they can be trusted to show up when the much more significant game of life is on the line.
This isn't the time to be selfish or grim as it relates to something as trivial as football so I won't mention the long snap related loss that's sure to eventually come later in the season, and instead I'll just send thoughts and prayers the way Jon Dorenbos. By all accounts, this unfortunately couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, but at least we won't be forced to talk about that nicer guy in the past tense anytime soon.