For Saints' Fans That Somehow Aren't Already Used To Unbelievable Losses, Here's A Video Detailing How The 'Minneapolis Miracle' Was Just One Big Conspiracy
Look, every fan has their own way of coping. Me personally, I'm more of a "stare blankly at the television while my soul takes a leave of absence from my body and spend the next few days stewing in the solitude of a dark room" kind of guy, but I'm not here to tell anyone how they should go about recovering from what was one of the most crippling defeats in sports history.
I do, however, have one question, and shockingly it's not "what do you think Cam Jordan bought with his earnings after colluding with Marcus Williams to throw an NFL playoff game?". Instead, my question is what does one stand to gain from repeatedly watching the play that broke their spirit in slow motion while producing a voiceover so ominous that it would make the directors of Black Mirror feel the need to go outside and get some UV rays? Truly convincing yourself that the Saints were on the take doesn't seem like all that bad of an idea for the time being since next September feels like it about 10,000 haunting flashbacks away from coming to fruition. I just don't understand how that helps the healing process when next football season starts and the inevitable urge to start rooting for the same players that you accused of conspiring against the franchise are once again leading its defense?
Never mind the fact that Case Keenum was stepping up in the pocket and Cam Jordan's momentum would have had him closer to sacking his kid's lunch than the Vikings quarterback, because I'd rather trust that an All-Pro defensive end misread his pass rush (he didn't) than think he's a criminal who can't be trusted. Not only does it make far more sense for a 21 year rookie to make a stupid mistake than for him to wait until the last play of the game to unleash his maniacal money making scheme that required an opposing wide receiver to defy physics to stay in bounds, but it also makes cheering for his comeuppance during the next number of years far more palatable.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you should do whatever you need to in helping to ease the pain of watching Stefon Diggs waltz into the end zone with no time left. But - and this is a huge but - if you happen to choose the method of spending hours and hours crafting a video whose cinematic value makes every 9/11-related YouTube with 113 views seem Oscar-worthy then you're a shortsighted loser who should probably put that time to better use...by finding a way to microwave your tinfoil cap while it's still atop your head.
I say this knowing full well that if not for one mind-blowingly miraculous play I would fully endorse their work here, but fuck 'NFL Films'. You want to cut to a head coach who basically slapped fate across the face when it was just starting to doze off by prematurely mocking the home fans while an ill-prepared defense took the field then go right on ahead. But I will not stay silent after a 22 year old 'Airhead' addict - who is exponentially more humble than his play on the field - was made to look like a cocky asshole while he was enjoying the fruit (snacks) of his labor. That camerawork was both instigative, unprofessional, and a stain on the superior standards set forth by the late, great Steve Sabol. He probably rolled over in his grave faster than Marcus Williams trying to make a game-winning tackle when he saw the final edit, and I wouldn't be a Saints fan if I thought otherwise.
In all seriousness, I'm glad Alvin Kamara put this dude in an online bodybag. Lord only knows how often I would be made to look like an ass if I had a camera following me around at all times, and I'm not even the type to shamelessly seek attention by way of twitter trolling. Of course, the '3 God' is getting the attention he so desires, but not without the painful reminder that he desperately needed help from someone that could record the audio to him ripping open some candy and have it get 1,000x more clicks than Soundcloud Skim Thug's greatest hit.
Vikings Fans Are Donating By The Thousands To Saints Punter Thomas Morstead's Charity For Some Odd, Yet Awesome Reason
TheAdvocate- Thomas Morstead might be taking the torn cartilage in his ribs back to Minneapolis sooner than expected.
Morstead, whose toughness and class in Sunday's playoff loss to the Vikings inspired Minnesota natives to start donating to his charity, pledged on Wednesday to personally deliver a check to Children's Minnesota if this week's donations hit $100,000.
What You Give Will Grow, Morstead's foundation, has already pulled in more than $60,000 in donations, most of them from the Minnesota area.
A Vikings fan started the movement on Reddit after Morstead punted in obvious pain during the playoff game, then came back out onto the field and shook several Minnesota hands as part of the Saints group that was forced to come back out of the locker room for the NFL-mandated conversion try.
Morstead's foundation, What You Give Will Grow, is primarily focused on fighting pediatric cancer.
Children's Minnesota is a not-for-profit system that includes two hospitals, 12 primary-care clinics, nine specialty-care sites and six rehabilitation clinics.
Look, I'm not usually one to critique the reasoning behind the rapid influx of money into a cause as objectively good as the health of kids, but - solely out curiosity - Huh? What? Why?
The Minnesota faithful - who are a less than a week removed from wanting a bounty put on the happiness of all Who Dat's - are now donating tens of thousands of dollars to the charity of the Saints punter because he played through an injury he obtained making a tackle that robbed them of a punt return touchdown? All the sudden Vikings' fans are philanthropists because a member of the opposing team came back out of the tunnel to stand their in physical and emotional agony while they lined up to take thee most celebratory of knee?
Again, unbelievably happy that ailing children are the beneficiaries, but - unlike Andy Dalton closing his eyes and throwing the Bills a postseason bone - Thomas Morstead isn't the first fundraising NFL player to show some class while persevering through pain in the last 17 years.
That's why I have absolutely no choice but to presume that this is just a combination of midwestern generosity and goodwill mixed with a touch of pity. If literally paying whenever your team pulls a rabbit straight out of their ass is the new fad then I can definitely get on board, seeing as I would gladly have made it rain on the foundation of his choosing if Stefon Diggs' lace had come untied and tripped him into fumbling out of the end zone. However, I just want to be clear that the protocol after experiencing the most unlikely of victory has shifted from buying the bar a round to donating to the riddance of disease amongst our youth. Not only because it's a shockingly positive change for a largely degenerate demographic, but also because it's one that makes a hell of a lot more sense than pledging payments on behalf of a banged up punter for being a good sport.
I have always appreciated rooting for a team whose head coach's competitive fire can be seen burning through the lens of the nearest candid camera, so I'm not going to let a play that defied one-in-a-million odds completely change my stance on Sean Payton's sideline personality. That said, is waiting merely 20 more seconds to find out if the wound is actually deadly before trying to rub salt in it too much to ask?
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for good playoff fun. Unfortunately, I find nothing wholesome or hysterical about trying to justify why the head coach of an NFL franchise who has been on the ass end of faaaaar too many a backdoor pillaging was busy mocking Vikings' fans during the waning seconds of a road playoff game instead of doing...well...literally anything other than tempting the most gruesome of fate.
Now, of course I don't think that Sean Payton would have been teaching fundamental tackling techniques to the team's most trustworthy safety if he wasn't preoccupied doing some premature trolling, but that's not really the point. Full disclosure? I'm not actually sure what the point is, because Stefon Diggs walk-off touchdown was far more of a miracle than it was a coaching mistake. However, I am sure that the last thing I wanted to do today was learn that someone whose extracurricular antics have already blown up in his face once this season chose to engage in them again when said season was on the line. I love Sean Payton, but any real Saints' fan knew not to peacock around the ring before the opponent was officially pinned. He really set himself up to look like an huge asshole, and - by proxy - I also feel like a one for previously encouraging the type of behavior that was immediately followed by the football gods delivering the most soul-shattering of 61 yard strikes.
Who dat say they gonna jinx them Saints?! We dat, indeed.
The Saints, And Specifically Marcus Williams, Received A Warm Welcome Upon Their Return To New Orleans
Sometimes I think that I'm a heartless sports fan that has a dystopian view of professional athletes as only players as opposed to people. Luckily, it's pretty easy to log on to Twitter, read through the hateful criticisms from entirely anonymous jackasses threatening lives they could not possibly understand due to the result of a game they have no real involvement in, and come to the conclusion that - as many names as I have cursed - my fandom is still pretty grounded in comparison to those that trash houses, burn belongings, and threaten homicide.
On a day like yesterday, every Saints' fan was looking for a reason to feel better about themselves, and I found mine when I couldn't help but summon what little soul I had left in smiling at the overwhelming amount of support Marcus Williams received from the kind of fans that don't mind putting a face and a name to their thoughts and opinions. Remaining relatively classy in defeat is admittedly the least fulfilling of moral victories, but believing in this young, talented, and close-knit team's ability to accomplish bigger and better things in the future means believing in their promising rookie safety's ability to overcome the most dispiriting of disasters.
What giving Marcus Williams a hero's welcome upon his return home lacks in logic, it makes up for in sentiment, so I don't mind being a bit sappy after an overachieving season that no member of the Who Dat Nation could have objectively predicted - regardless of how it ended.
The real ones got your back 4-3...
There truly are no words that can encapsulate what it felt like to watch the rug get ripped out from underneath a team that was one Marcus Williams arm tackle away from standing tall as the proud owners of one of the most improbable comebacks in playoff history. Hell, if there were, The Times Picayune provided some pretty accurate insight into what they might be...
That play (or lack thereof, depending on who you were rooting for). The one that - for better or worse - will forever be burned into the brain of every person even mildly invested in it's outcome. The one that - whether it makes you sick or aides in your health and happiness - will seem impossible to get away from. The one which is sure to soon have an obnoxious name that will immediately become common knowledge to both the richer and the poorer whenever they discuss the unpredictable nature of professional football. It will eternally be married to the memory of a game that was so much more than one mistake.
There's no shortage of directions you could run in trying to explain why the New Orleans Saints lost yesterday's game to the Minnesota Vikings. The most obvious being a scoreless first half that had a game script that essentially read like a "How To..." guide for losing playoff games on the road. Unfortunately, even taking the high road by pointing out the dozens upon dozens of other plays that went unmade eventually circles you back to the soul crushing instant in which a rookie mistake provided the sadistic irony in cruelly twisting the knife into a team whose trajectory was turned downside up by potentially the most impactful draft class of all time.
All 'the good'. Drew Brees picking himself up off the turf and penning one more chapter to his 'Hall Of Fame' career with a surgical dismantling of the most dominant defense in football. Michael Thomas giving Xavier Rhodes a twirl during his coming out party as a matchup proof pass catcher. Alvin Kamara continued rise to super stardom. Marcus Williams timing his flight to hawk a ball that officially made the game competitive. Taysom Hill proving his worth in a way you'd never expect a third string quarterback to do by forcing a punt into the outstretched hand of his teammate. A converted 4th-and-10 that had it's spot in the highlight reel stolen by the the oh-so-rare walk-off touchdown. The Saints finally scrubbing themselves of the 'finesse' label that for years followed them by resiliently battling back from a three score hole in the most hostile of environments.
All 'the bad'. An early offense that was only capable of sustaining their own punter's abdominal pain. The familiar sight of enough yellow laundry to keep George curious flying in the direction of what appeared to be DeVante Harris wearing a Ken Crawley jersey. A red zone turnover that was literally and figuratively a backhanded slap towards the quarterback who was just starting to find some rhythm. Touchdown Teddy Ginn getting a wee too antsy presnap and doing a counterproductive disservice to his sur-nick-name. An untimely sack that took them out of kicking range during a point in the game in which finding themselves a field goal would have felt like stumbling upon water in the desert. Willie Snead completely misfiring on his attempt to make Sean Payton look like a genius, and - in turn - making him out to be a damned fool. Consecutive challenges that were only successful in challenging my sanity.
It will all be forever forgotten due to the fatal nature of 'the ugly', which was quite obviously Marcus Williams actively dodging his sole responsibility in turning a game sealing tackle into a game sealing touchdown. Despite the deep, dark comedic value of the meme-worthy still shot, I know that the intent of the Saints' first year safety was good. If we are being technical about it, he was actually too successful in avoiding the pass interference and keeping Stefon Diggs in bounds so the clock would run out. Therefore, I truly feel bad for a kid who almost assuredly couldn't possibly feel worse.
Fortunately, if his play this season was an indication, he has the talent to avoid letting one abject disaster define his young career. Unfortunately, for the time being, it doesn't just define his career, but the entirety of the 60 minute effort between two teams that were in all likelihood the best remaining in the NFC. Nightmares in New Orleans will no longer be fueled by Alex Smith and Vernon Davis, but rather a visual that is somehow more haunting - Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs, and the yet-to-be-named, win-squandering whiff.
My brain says otherwise, but everyone whose heart went numb as the clock struck zero knows the following to be true. Until this team delivers on the unlimited promise that it displayed throughout a special season, that one mishap will permanently mark their place in Saints' history. It's not logical or fair, but - as that one preposterous play proved - sports rarely ever are.
Sidenote: Special shoutout to the best fans in the league...
Here's An Entire Kindergarten Class Doing 'The Sean Payton' To Remind You That This Playoff Run Is For The Children
Let's make one thing clear. It would be wholeheartedly disingenuous if I completely ignored the fact that the handful of grown ass adults that appeared in this video - equipped with visor, umbrella, and broom - looked like they were far more invested in recreating Sunday's raucous and hilarious scene from a winning locker room full of players half their age.
So, with that being said, I'm going to completely ignore the fact that the handful of grown ass adults that appeared in this video - equipped with visor, umbrella, and broom - looked like they were far more invested in recreating Sunday's raucous and hilarious scene from a winning locker room full of players half their age.
This is the postseason, and after three straight 7-9 seasons, this is no time to think rationally about my rooting interest. Therefore, while knowing full well that a good amount of these little Who Dats were lightly coerced into doing 'The Sean Payton' during the filming of a viral video by those that simply wanted to live vicariously through the carefree enthusiasm of kindergarteners, I have a declaration to make. Much like the Wu Tang Clan, this playoff run is officially for the children (and also nothin' to fuck with). Championships reign eternal, but the eternity of these kids hadn't even started yet the first (and only) time that the Black & Gold partied with the Lombardi.
So think about the possibility of that very classroom being full of sad little Super Bowl-less six year olds sporting the most heart wrenching of puppy dog faces as the Saints take on the Vikings on Sunday. I promise it will make you feel slightly better about going against the dying wish of this sweet old bird...
Brett Favre Picked A Pretty, Pretty, Preeeeeetty Convenient Time To Bring Up The 2009 NFC Championship Game
ESPN- Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre says he played through a concussion during the 2009 NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints.
On a nationwide conference call Wednesday ahead of the premiere of Favre's documentary "Shocked: A Hidden Factor in the Sports Concussion Crisis," the former Vikings and Packers quarterback was asked by Minneapolis radio station KFAN about his memories of that game, which he said was the most violent he'd ever experienced after playing 20 years in the NFL.
That game later came under investigation as part of New Orleans' bounty scandal in which several members of the Saints' franchise were accused of paying out bounties for intentionally hurting opposing players. The NFL determined the allegations to be true in 2012, which led to Saints coach Sean Payton's suspension for the entire 2012 season, among a handful of fines and other sanctions.
At the time, a number of Vikings players and coaches accused the Saints of deliberately trying to knock Favre out of the game. The quarterback said the Saints "came after me with everything they had" but detailed the symptoms he was experiencing as they related to the hits he took that game, which appear to be the sign of a concussion.
"A concussion doesn't necessarily have to be knocked out cold and removed from a game, although the new protocol is in place to remove you from a game even if you're not walking sideways or your arm goes stiff or whatever," Favre said.
"You may even be able to function as if you didn't have a concussion, but if you have head ringing or fireworks or any kind of fogginess, protocol says you should be removed from the game. In that game, there was some head ringing, there was some fogginess. There were two times in which I was hit by [former Saints safety] Darren Sharper late. He lunged at my head and both of them were pretty devastating hits, but I stayed in the game. One they threw a flag, one they didn't. Why they didn't throw the other, I have no idea. If head ringing or fireworks is a concussion, yeah, I did have that."
Favre's documentary will air at 5:30 p.m. CT Thursday on Stadium Network.
You know what, I have no choice to tip my cap. My first instinct was to say "oh, not this shit again" when I saw that the then quarterback of a team that - by their own admission - also had a bounty system in place was once again referencing BountyGate as it were some isolated scandal as opposed to an obvious scapegoating. Unfortunately, as much of a hypocrite as Brett Favre is for pandering to unjustly scorned Vikings' fans just days prior to their long-awaited playoff re-matchup against the team that bullied them out a chance at Super Bowl glory so many years ago, he's equally as much of a salesman.
You can probably count the number of football fans that want to watch a documentary about concussions during the middle of the fucking postseason on one single hand, never mind one in which the focal point is a guy who knew damn well he was ignoring injury as he did whatever possible to extend his ironman streak well into his 40's. That's why it's nothing more than smart marketing to cater to an entire fanbase during the specific week in which they are desperately seeking for even the most illogical and overblown reason to conjure up hatred for the New Orleans Saints.
I bet that the Minnesota faithful set their DVR's to a channel that they didn't even know existed at a time that they typically wouldn't yet be home from work, and it's not because they give a shit about Brett Favre's mental health, but rather because want to walk into U.S. Bank Stadium as drunk, loud, and thirsty for some sort of overdue vengeance as possible. Time has a way of healing wounds, but poorly timed documentaries about brain damage that may or may not have been inflicted within hours of those wounds has a way of opening them back up. I'd imagine Vikings' fans will gladly relive the pain and frustration of eight years if it could make the high they are hoping to have this upcoming Sunday even slightly more euphoric.
And if not, Brett Favre can't say he didn't exhaust all options in trying to get the most amount of people to open up their mind to the worst part of football during the absolute best part of football season. He valiantly played to his crowd, even if it makes said crowd that much more susceptible to downright depression in a few short days.
I think even the most optimistic Saints fan would tell you it's a toss-up as to whether this this team can waltz into the unforgiving confines of the Minnesota Vikings and pull out a victory against one of the league's best defenses while nursing a deleted offensive line. Looking at it objectively, they could put forth a praiseworthy effort and still have their Super Bowl aspirations meet an untimely demise in a less than congenial venue this upcoming weekend.
Subjectively, however, I just don't see that happening. You may believe that opinion to be nothing more than a self-assuring song and dance, but now that it's accompanied by an actual song and dance? It looks the stage is being set for some postseason theatrics. The song might be a bit cheesy and the dance might be excessively "white", but the Saints already have the score and the choreography completed for their championship video. Now all that's left is to string three more victories together and make sure Sean Payton's celebratory flailing of limbs doesn't go the way of similarly skilled American Idol contestants and lives on forever in Saints lore. Big Easy, peasy.
TheState- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera would have liked for safety Mike Adams to bat down New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees’ fourth-down pass in the final two minutes of the Saints’ 31-26 wild-card win.
Rivera also would have liked for the officials to review the play to make sure Adams actually intercepted it. Actually, Rivera said he “would have loved” for the NFL’s replay center to look at it.
Later Monday, the NFL confirmed the the replay center had done so.
Rivera said he told the side judge that officials should review it.
“I said, ‘Hey, you guys need to take a look at that because I’m being told he dropped the ball.’ And he just said, ‘Well, we’ll see,’” Rivera said Monday. “And he actually did say something into his mic. I have no idea what he said. But I did bring it up. I got no information on that (play).
I know, I know. I'm not exactly an unbiased observer that is fluent in the art of refereeing football. Luckily for me, and Ron Rivera, I'm pretty sure that means I'm only a striped shirt and whistle away from being qualified to call games at the NFL level. At the very least, I have better command of 'forward progress' than Jeff Triplette so maybe his upcoming retirement is actually the opening I needed to get into the profession.
With that said, let this explanation of late-game officiating to a losing head coach that's frantically searching for a scapegoat serve as my resume...
You see, Ron Rivera, the best way to force a 4th down incompletion is to instruct your players not to intercept it in the first place. I'm not here to declaratively state whether or not Panthers' safety Mike Adams completed the process of a catch. As even the most casual of fans know, trying to definitively do so is a fool's errand. So, when it's on behalf of a defensive team that is trying to overturn their own goddamn turnover, it's an errand that oft-scrutinized officials are less likely to run out of fear of - once again - looking foolish. While I suppose it would have been nice of the crew to save a team from its own lack of situational awareness, it's certainly shouldn't be their priority.
This might come as a surprise to Ron Rivera, but leaving a judgement call up to those that have - up until that point - granted you a 91 yard edge in penalty yards during a tightly contested road playoff game probably isn't the greatest idea. Maybe Cam Newton was out of the tackle box, maybe he wasn't. Either way it came down to a matter of inches, and those inches didn't change the fact that his attempt to make a play from the pocket literally got dragged into a desperate attempt to avoid a sack as soon as a loss of yardage appeared imminent. Devin Funchess couldn't have caught that ball with the most elongated of pool skimmers and Cam Newton damn well knew that as he "tried" to throw a 30 yard pass while falling backwards with a 290 pound All-Pro salivating on his chest. If Ron Rivera thinks that was in the "area of a receiver" then he might as well start getting directions from my un-licensed grandmother, because apparently he isn't too keen on time, space, or distance. Whether or not it was ever-so-slightly outside the imperfect box used to fit the description of 'intentional grounding', the officials stuck to the spirit of the rules in deciding that for just the second time all evening the Panthers - god forbid - actually broke them.
Hopefully I cleared that up for the coach who was trying to defer blame by pleading for more video reviews when the rest of the football-loving world is sick of staring at the ass of a ref while he squints at a monitor and - more or less - tries to save teams from themselves by the centimeter.
NOLA- After New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan produced a sack in the third quarter of Sunday's playoff victory, he began shouting at the Carolina Panthers offensive line. Jordan wasn't upset about something that happened on the play. He was just relaying his thoughts about Panthers left tackle Matt Kalil's blocking skills.
"I was actually talking more to the other Kalil brother," Jordan said after the game. "I don't know his first name, Speedbump. Let's call him Speedbump McGee. That guy."
The Saints beat the Panthers, 31-26, to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs, and after the game, the boisterous Jordan shared some comical remarks about both Kalil and Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.
"You beat the Carolina Panthers three times in a year, I'm gonna have to send this guy a wine bottle," Jordan said of Newton, pointing to a bottle of wine in his locker. "I appreciate him for being that good ol' quarterback. I'm gonna send him a nice little bottle of Jordan wine. No, it's not mine, but I have been drinking it for years. So, I'm going to send him some sauce."
Jordan and Newton have exchanged trash talk for years on the field, but this season, it extended into interviews. After the Week 3 game, Jordan made some jokes about Newton's fashion choices. Leading up to the Week 13 game, Newton remarked on Jordan's fashion and joked he could "send him some sauce."
When a reported noted that Jordan's sauce comment was a callback to Newton's joke, Jordan said, "Petty, right?
As a general rule of thumb, I don't empathize with even the most defeated member of a division rival. Football is hard, so - en lieu of my deepest sympathies - I offer Matt Kalil the suggestion to wear a helmet and protect his neck from the most cutthroat of ruthless mockery.
That being said, if I were to change my stance on postgame compassion, this would probably be the circumstance that would get me to do so. Like, if I felt feelings on behalf of players from a team with which I don't harbor an admittedly irrational emotional investment, this one might hurt.
As if strategically being lined up opposite the spot he consistently manned in becoming a First Team All-Pro defensive lineman wasn't enough of a kick in the dick to the person with which he was being intentionally under-matched. As if getting put through the ringer - over-and-over again - by the guy that bullied his way to a sack before taking his talents to the other side of the line and all-but-sealing the victory with a double-team splitting swim move that would make Michael Phelps take a gulp mid-lap wasn't enough of an emasculation...
Just when you thought Matt Kalil couldn't feel any worse about his evening, he gets nicknamed after an inanimate lump of asphalt. 'Speedbump McGee', as he will be referred to going forward, got reduced to a road-wide obstacle by someone who plays the game like the athletic equivalent of a supped-up pickup whose suspension allows him to heed not the most immobile of obstructions. If I were capable of seeing the world through the eyes of someone that shares a side of the football with Cam Newton I might commiserate with the professional athlete that was granted less respect - both on and off the field - than a turnstile.
Since I don't, the best I can do to muffle my laughter at Cam Jordan's "sauce" call back until the slow-witted target of the joke understands that his season ended with a punchline...
If you asked me to type out my emotional state in the wake of Reggie Bush's incitement of a 'Who Dat' chant that served as the green light to an evening of excitement, It likely would have read as if I were standing stark naked in the middle of a bomb cyclone while doing so.
In a word, chills.
If the sight of so many familiar faces, in conjunction with the remembrance of one that tragically could only be there in spirit, miraculously wasn't enough to move you then the resonation of 73,000 strong voicing their allegiance in bedrock-rumbling unison gave you no choice. The shaking of my hands through a computer screen is enough proof that I need to declare that you didn't even have to be in attendance to feel the love that New Orleans has for the Saints of past and present, and vice versa.
I don't know that this year's rendition of the black & gold needed the spirit of a Super Bowl champion to be in the building, but I'll be damned if it didn't feel better knowing that it was. Reggie Bush paying homage to the late, great Will Smith while surrounded by a cluster of teammates that became eternal shortly thereafter a history defining pick-six was the cherry on top of what turned out to be another unforgettable Sunday. From the awe-inspiring and heartstring-tugging presence of Colston-to-Moore-to-Thomas-to-Henderson-to-McKenzie-to-Fujita-to-Stinchcomb-to-Shanle-to-Harper-to-Gay-to-the soul of #91- to the handful of others I'm forgetting, Reggie Bush didn't even need to take the field with a baseball bat to knock the pregame build-up straight out of the park.
It remains to be seen what lies ahead for a young group that boosts an eerily reminiscent sense of kinship, but they certainly don't lack motivation after getting a first hand look at how quickly you become one with a city as passionate as New Orleans upon delivering them a title.
Until further notice, the answer to "who dat!?!" shall remain "we", because 2009's finest showed how forever binding a winning locker room can be...
P.S. Reggie's opinion of Alvin Kamara, while both predictable and unenlightening, must make every Saints' fan giddy for a future that's already arrived...
I don't think there is a Saints fan out there that would tell you that they didn't comforted themselves with the narrative that, given his experience and accomplishments, their quarterback is the one that any objective person would most want taking postseason snaps for them in the NFC. I know that I, personally, swaddled myself in some ridiculous notion that Sean Payton had yet to open up his expensive array of fine chocolates to Drew Brees while limiting him to vanilla play calling all season. Of course that was just an absurd way to justify a third down conversation percentage that - confusingly contrary to a career-high completion percentage - was the lowest it's been in a decade. However, I'll be damned if the man whose prolonged greatness made it possible didn't deliver in proving that a false sense of security was bulletproof...
I don't know if the Carolina Panthers sold out to stop Ingram and Kamara in their tracks because they didn't totally buy a surefire HOFer's ability to run train by turning back the arm on his biological clock. Regardless, a throwback performance that featured a host of targets, a handful of vintage back shoulder gems, and an 80-yard dose of vengeance from Touchdown Teddy left them looking like they could probably use some investment advice. The red-zone defense will surely get a ton of attention, but those forced field goals would have been for naught without Drew Brees providing the best remedy for a struggling third down offense...an unstoppable early down offense.
In the end, it was a questionable but - in my biased opinion - correct intentional grounding call that both solidified the more deserving Cam's case for Defensive Player Of The Year and, more importantly, allowed the Saints to bust the broom out on their division rivals. The final minutes were about as excruciating as a black market colonoscopy, but - if the celebration is any indication - the Saints locker room is currently looser than Sam Bradford's sleeves...
Their defense is going to have to tighten up between the 20's, their two-headed monster is going to have to carb up, Michael Thomas is going to have to find a way to treat Xavier Rhodes the same way he's treated almost every other corner he's faced in his young career, and the offensive line is going to have to withstand the probable absence of Andrus Peat if they hope to pull off an upset in Minnesota. That said, due to Sean Payton's aggressiveness, his trust in both sides of the ball, the team's genuine and undeniable love for one another, and a bunch of other reasons that are mostly intangible, this Saints' roster has the feel of one that has what it takes to exact revenge for what was a brutal season opener.
If nothing else, yesterday gave me no reason to doubt their versatility on offense and their timeliness on defense, and they are going to need every bit of it heading into one of the few environments that's as hostile as their own.
I'm not going to lie, this playoff appearance is starting to feel like it could turn into something special for the Saints. Admittedly, that subjective and entirely emotional opinion is at least somewhat buoyed by the fact that every playoff appearance that follows a depressing three year lay-off feels special. It's probably also a product of looking up and down a roster that - even more so than that of the one that brought them the Super Bowl - has the most prototypical build for postseason success that New Orleans has ever seen. However, it's the idea that a significant chunk of that championship team will be supporting from the sidelines that has exacerbated that enthusiasm and has my optimism trending dangerously high.
All other influences aside, I truly think the Saints are a far better and more versatile team than the division rival that's already looked helpless against them twice this year. I don't see how the long-belated appearance of some additional inspiration and the backing of a crowd that will be high off the most heavy-handed dose of nostalgia does anything but widens the gap that looks to exist between the Saints and Panthers. There is going to be too many unforgettable memories in that building not to create new ones, so forgive my overconfidence in believing that Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Roman Harper, and the rest of the attending Who Dat family are in for a hell of a DomeComing.
NOLA- New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan is finally receiving some of the recognition he deserved.
The Associated Press announced its 2017 All-Pro teams on Friday, and Jordan made the first team, earning the honor for the first time in his seven-year career. Jordan is the first Saints player to receive this honor since tight end Jimmy Graham in 2013.
Jordan finished the year with career highs in sacks (13) and passes defensed (11). He also had 62 tackles, 17 for loss, two forced fumbles, an interception and scored the first touchdown of his career. His performance should make him one of the top candidates for Defensive Player of the Year.
I don't know if there's all that many things that more impressive than being named one of the two most dominant defensive ends in the NFL during era in which a premium has been put on pass rushing. However, if I were to add a late entry into the polling, I would say that humbly grinning and bearing it year-after-year-after-year while similarly sensational efforts were statistically castrated by the incompetence of almost everyone else around him would give it a run for its money.
I couldn't be happier that Cameron Jordan is finally getting acknowledged for his ability to excel in every facet of defensive line play, but it shouldn't be forgotten that it took defenses that were increasingly and historically horrific to overshadow the work of a player whose top-notch talent didn't suddenly come out of nowhere.
He's too much of a leader to ever say so, so I'll do it for him - playing for the New Orleans Saints has been a burden on a guy whose undying optimism would never let you believe that were so. He'd tell you his play has reached another level this season, and - while he's probably right - there were circumstances outside of his control that might as well have been handcuffing him down as criminally underrated. Shit, if we are going by passes defended then you can make the argument that a 290 pound defensive end was also the Saint's best cornerback prior to this offseason. Need an idea of destitute the defense around him was? If the video for 'Ironic' was three years long and the premise was that she was driving the world's most versatile car but it was forever stuck in reverse, Cam Jordan might as well have taken the wheel from Alanis Morissette.
I'd imagine it has something to do with the fact that adding a little bit of talent around him has shined a brighter light on the endless array of abilities possessed by a legitimate Defensive Player Of The Year candidate (my guess would be runner-up to Aaron Donald), but - unlike the quarterbacks he's consistently frustrating - Cam Jordan's ear-to-ear grin is looking a little less forced these days. Simply put, after being sucked into a 7-9 wormhole, there's no one that deserves to take the postseason stage as an All-Pro more than the guy whose always excelled at all aspects of being a pro.
First of all, every football fan should read that article. I'm obviously a supporter of the Saints so you should probably be skeptical about the following disclaimer, but - bias entirely aside - it's almost impossible to find anything even slightly less than lovable about Alvin Kamara after doing so.
I mean, I too have an affinity for some motherfuckin' wings, but I'd be hard pressed to say they'd be my first priority after coming upon a significant sum of money that semantically sounds like it should be blown on something superficial. Meanwhile, the 3rd round pick who was finally garnering the interest that somehow eluded him all throughout a tumultuous college career decided to collect some while gorging on a purchase so fundamental to life that it can be picked straight from the bone. It's tough to think about anything else when you're hungry, but the fact that I picture myself licking my fingers from the reclined seat of a brand new sports car is proof positive that Alvin Kamara is a more down-to-earth man than myself.
And honestly, he absolutely shouldn't be. Considering his range of skills, his undeniable swag, and the quickness with which he happened upon superstardom, it's a bit of an anomaly that he's remained so selfless, modest, and appreciative. Those characteristics have obviously allowed him to form the type of bond necessary to make up half of one of the most dynamic running back duos in NFL history, but they aren't characteristics that are commonly seen in a player of his ilk.
Perhaps humble beginnings and the uncertainty that comes with bouncing around from school to school kept him grounded, but look no further than his decision to take his most impressive mode of transportation - his own feet - in satisfying the most low-cost of cravings for proof that he's literally taken every aspect of his astronomic rise in stride. In a city that wholly embraces the eccentric, Alvin Kamara is a 22 year old man of the people, and it has endeared him to its people in a way that isn't dependent on what has seemingly become a weekly (if not bi-weekly) visit to the endzone. It's ironic that his first foray into celebratory spending was getting his hands on some lemon peppers, because - without even one single postseason performance under his belt - he'll probably never have to pay for them in New Orleans again.
Sean Payton Didn't Appear To Be Buying What Dirk Koetter Was Selling During Their Postgame "Handshake"
I'd be lying if I told you I was still bothered by watching Mike Evans "protect his (shit stirring) quarterback" by delivering a blind-sided cheap shot to the rookie cornerback who - at that point - had already done everything short of flipping his pockets inside out in stealing his lunch money. In fact, by the time that Marshon Lattimore peeled himself off the turf only to make sure that yet another Mike Evans target got sent to it, I was already on to seeing whether or not the Saints' following opponent would provide the favorite for Defensive Rookie Of The Year with an actual challenge. I just didn't have it in me to hold a grudge when the person who delivered his bullying from behind an opponent's back was the same guy who got punked by a 21 year old during nearly every one of their face-to-face confrontations both before and after said scrummage.
That, however, doesn't make me love this disingenuous pushing match any less. The fact that Sean Payton was ready to skip the forced pleasantries and run the Oklahoma drill against someone who somehow still has a job coaching divisional rival over something that happened two months ago in a blow out victory is proof positive that his memory is as long as it's ever been. Equating that to potential postseason success is quite obviously a stretch, but - entering a playoff bracket that features 4 of the 5 teams he's lost to - I'll be damned if I'm not excited to see how Sean Payton's internalized frustrations continue to manifest themselves. Much like conservative play calling, polished professionalism has never exactly been one of his defining characteristics. Something tells me the continued absence of both of those things bodes well for a Saints' team whose head coach has been getting visibly pissed off far too often for him to argue that he doesn't have something to prove. An animated Sean Payton is an engaged Sean Payton, and an engaged Sean Payton has had a hell of a lot more success than the one that looked lifeless in repeatedly running into the 7-9 hurdle. He pretty clearly took names, so all that's left is to kick some ass.
I'm going to choose to believe that what ultimately happened on Sunday was a result of the football gods rewarding one of the handful of teams to ever overcome an 0-2 start to put themselves in a position to host a home playoff game. The alternative is that the Saints saved their worst for last as they backed their way into a division title, so - purely out of a desperate need to remain optimistic headed into the postseason - I'm going to err on the side of divine intervention by those responsible for overseeing the unpredictability of the National Football League.
The truth of the matter is that the most encouraging aspect of the Saints' game this past weekend is what it means for upcoming games during future weekends. Week 17 was proof that plans are highly subject to change in professional sports, but if the Saints do put almost every goddamned thing that happened against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers behind them and stick to the script then it reads rather favorably for them. A home matchup against a divisional opponent they've already dominated twice? A #1 seed whose offense has been neutered by an injury to their MVP-caliber quarterback likely awaiting them thereafter? Ironically, the only reason I am hesitant to pencil the Saints into the NFC Championship is the inexcusable effort that highlighted their biggest flaws while somehow defying conventional wisdom in giving them the "easiest" path to get there. It is somewhat settling that Sean Payton is no stranger to the annual deflating loss to a team that - on paper - isn't worth his time, but there is a lot to fix if New Orleans wants to take advantage of the luck of a good draw.
For instance, a special teams unit that's been such an ongoing issue that it was deemed beneficial to pluck a retired assistant coach straight off the beaches of his eternal vacation mid-season. The only thing more detrimental than a return game so useless that it forced the team's most indispensable offensive weapon into a more high risk role (that he has unsurprisingly dominated) is a return game that doesn't realize it's useless. When Tommy Lee Lewis fumbled away the lead after trying to return a punt that he had no business catching in the first place one thing became evident. The Saints are still in process of learning that the only way to describe their ability to flip the field as "special" is to do so in a condescending manner that trivializes the trials and tribulations of the mentally handicapped. With hard fought games that could potentially be decided by a coin flip on the horizon, limiting the damage done by a unit from which very little is expected is key.
But the brunt of the loss to the Buccaneers doesn't fall solely on the shoulders of a punt returner, because - with Jameis Winston gift wrapping interceptions so quickly that it made Santa look like a selfish shopper - an offense that has gone stagnant more often than their numbers would lead you to believe repeated that trend. They may have lost the game by nothing more than a late touchdown, but if the score were measured in 3rd down efficiency then we'd probably still be counting up the point differential. The turnovers made their inability to stop the chains in their tracks look like less of a concern than their inability to move them themselves, but that disparity is a two way street and the Saints' were basically on cruise control into oncoming traffic.
The road ahead looks as easily navigable as you could hope for in an absolutely loaded NFC, but it won't matter too much if the Saints don't stay in the balanced, complimentary lanes they used to travel as far as they have in what first appeared to be an inevitable train wreck of a season. This team is good enough on both sides of the ball to make a run, but in order to do so they'll have to avoid aggravating their achilles heel. I can't believe I am going to say this, but it's actually offensive inconsistency that's most likely to bring this dream season to an end. Luckily, there aren't many coach/quarterback combos I'd trust more to avoid it.
AJC- Sean Payton said he regretted making a choke gesture toward Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.
“Listen, the mistake I made that night was letting my emotions get the best of me,” Payton said during a conference call with the Atlanta media on Wednesday in advance of a rematch Sunday. “It’s the same thing that we talk about with our players all of the time. It wasn’t good and I felt like as that game went on, it even affected me in calling plays. I’ve got to better that way. It was frustrating from some of the officiating. But you learn even when you’ve been in this thing as long as I have. It’s something that you regret and you look back on ‘what are you doing?’ So, I think that’s the thing that bugged me for the better part of the week.”
I only have one problem with Sean Payton trying to get in the head of an opposing player who - somewhat forgetfully in all this - went on to nearly fumble away the game later in that very same fourth quarter, and that's the fact that he didn't own up to it earlier. This incident surely would have came up at some point during the week leading up to a quick rehashing of a heated rivalry, but the Saints' head coach could have saved himself some questioning if he just came clean on what was a fairly harmless jab at the Falcons' inability to avoid abject failure.
And honestly, I don't know why he felt like he had to play dumb. Engaging an opposing player with the universal gesture for crumbling under pressure isn't the most professional thing that an authority figure can do from the sideline, but - since the target of it even appreciated the competitiveness it took to do so - I have a tough time feeling differently. I guess it could become a problem if Sean Payton spent a majority of the game screaming at those who he's supposed to be game planning against like an annoying little brother that had nothing better to do than draw a reaction, but there's nothing wrong with the random act of mockery. I don't want him to start making all the calls out of anger and frustration, but that gut of his is pretty damn accomplished.
So yeah, not all that concerned that a little trash talk completely threw off the game management of someone who generally thrives off feel, even if that feel was the fist of the officials pounding on his team's prostate. Considering that same type of passion was largely absent the last few seasons, I think I'm actually inclined to welcome the occasional mishap in harnessing it. Especially if it ends up being directed at the fucking Atlanta Falcons.
Look No Further Than Their 6 Pro Bowl Selections For Some Clarity On The Success Of The Saints' Season
Perhaps it's that going on a 10-2 run after starting off the season in hauntingly similar fashion has made me greedy, but my first thought after seeing that a half dozen Saints were selected to the Pro Bowl was that it wasn't enough. Admittedly, I don't particular care about who is rostered for a meaningless game in which the most successful teams won't even be participating. However, when you have a 38 year old pocket passer, his first passing option, and both running backs all on said roster then you should probably open up a spot for at least one of the five players that have excelled in opening up opportunities for them. Popularity contests don't win playoff games so it's hardly something to dwell on, but the O-line selections weren't only offensive by position.
Anyway, on to the those whose play was deemed worthy of a hopefully-soon-to-be-refused spot in the Pro Bowl...
Two rookies, two running backs, two defensive players, and somehow the biggest surprise is that a Saints' wide receiver has finally been acknowledged for his efforts. Seriously, it's Michael Thomas having what should have been a foregone conclusion prove fortuitous that has me the most dumbstruck of all the selections. I know he's reached rarified air in becoming just the second wideout ever to snag 90+ passes in both of his first two seasons, but considering the way Marques Colston was all-but-ignored throughout the entirety of his illustrious career? It was starting to feel like his successor was going to have to add to his totals by catching someone outside and showing them those hands in person.
Between Drew Brees sipping from the fountain of youth between handoffs, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara putting up unparalleled numbers and becoming the first duo to get voted in together in 42 years, Marshon Lattimore transitioning to the pros more fluidly than his hips in dominating at the most difficult of position, and Cam Jordan triple-doubling down on his case for Defensive Player Of The Year, there's no shortage of seemingly outrageous storylines to pursue. Unfortunately, other than Michael Thomas representing the one position that's gone over a decade without getting it's due in an offense that dominates annually, they have all been discussed ad nauseam.
The Saints have been making history this year, but they've been doing so in such a consistent fashion that them reaping the rewards from said achievements already seems like old news. So the best thing I can say about this team isn't that their top players got picked to go on vacation and sleepwalk through a football game that no one is watching, but rather that every single one of them gave the voters no goddamn choice. All that's left now is to see them keep up that peerless performance through January so that they are too busy celebrating a Conference Championship to care about some selection to a gimmicky All Star Game.