Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

NFL Power Rankings (Week 13 - 2011)

Yeah, so one Skittle-riffic game was already played, whatever... It's not like the Seahawks or Eagles were moving THAT much. As always, I've ranked teams 32nd to 1st, with each team being ranked based on who they could beat on a neutral field. So...31 could beat 32, 30 could beat 31, so on and so forth.

In honor of the new Muppets movie, I'm tossing out some Muppet bits for this edition of the Rankings. Sorry, Facts and Chicks blog, maybe next time...

Mahna Mahna, folks.



32. Indianapolis Colts (0-11)
31. St. Louis Rams (2-9): Steve Spagnuolo is not to blame for this team sucking as much as it has. Injuries and a slew of holes across the roster are to blame. That and their receivers are a bunch of #nocatchingmotherfuckers
30. Minnesota Vikings (2-9)
29. Cleveland Browns (4-7)
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7): And to think, Jaguar fans, you guys could have had Tebow... #wanking
27. Kansas City Chiefs (4-7)
26. Miami Dolphins (3-8)
25. San Diego Chargers (4-7)
24. Philadelphia Eagles (4-7): Well, their season sure went tits up in a hurry...
23. Washington Redskins (4-7)
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneeers (4-7)
21. Carolina Panthers (3-8)



Here's the one sad thing about the new Muppets movie: Statler and Waldorf are barely in it, but they've been getting watered down for years to begin with. Take a look at the above video. They're trading barbs with MILTON BERLE, for fuck's sake! These guys were biting, sarcastic and clever.

20. Arizona Cardinals (4-7)
19. Seattle Seahawks (4-7): Marshawn Lynch's favorite beer: Skittlebrau
18. Buffalo Bills (5-6)
17. New York Jets (6-5)
16. Denver Broncos (6-5): Hope everybody on the set of First Take carries a poncho to work if Tebow makes the playoffs. Skip Bayless will spooge like the scene in Scary Movie 2.
15. New York Giants (6-5)
14. Oakland Raiders (7-4)
13. Tennessee Titans (6-5)
12. Chicago Bears (7-4)
11. Atlanta Falcons (7-4)



Sam the Eagle, FTW. No, seriously, I think he'd win the GOP nomination at this point. And he'd probably beat Pres. Obama. I would look forward to an "the Eagle/ Fozzy Bear" administration. Fozzy's not qualified, you say? He's cuddlier than Joe Biden and Dick Cheney, that's for damn sure...

10. Detroit Lions (7-4): Enjoy this visit in the Top 10, fellas, cause you may be off it next week.
9. Houston Texans (8-3): Since they're on their backup to the backup and have signed Jake Delhomme to be THAT guy's backup... (checks watch.) Yep, the Texans collapse is right on schedule.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4): Still relevant this season, folks. Bully for them.
7. New England Patriots (8-3): God, I hate the Patriots...
6. Dallas Cowboys (7-4): But not as much as I hate the Cowboys...
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3): And nowhere NEAR as much as I hate the Steelers!
4. San Francisco 49ers (9-2): Still the number 2 seed with five games to go. They play the Rams twice, the Cardinals and Seahawks, and the Steelers. Any chance they lose at least two of those games?
3. Baltimore Ravens (8-3): Which looks more ridiculous on Joe Flacco: eyebrows or facial hair? Ugly jokes, folks. That's why you've come here.
2. New Orleans Saints (8-3): If I were Tom Condon...first thing I'd do after Breesus signs his new contract is I'd go down to Walmart, buy every copy of every Madea movie on DVD and Bluray, bring them home and take up skeet shooting.
1. Green Bay Packers (11-0): I am yet to feel any animosity toward Aaron Rodgers. I ought to at least not like the guy for this season, but nope; dude's alright in my book. But anywho...fuck Brett Favre as always...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Purple Friday, folks! Why LSU wins by more than 2 TDs

Today's "Black Friday" post comes courtesy of my "Guy Who Knows A Guy." You thought he wasn't real, right? WRONG! Not only does he continue feeding me full of information, he also dropped this dime on me today: LSU is going to win by more than 2 touchdowns. Continue reading to get his take on Tigers v. Razorbacks. (Note: And sign I'm not the GWKAG...I like college football, but I don't like it enough to go through all this trouble analyzing it.)



In the meantime, I hope you guys had a very Gaga Thanksgiving. Whatever the fuck that means...

LSU-Arkansas.....lots of texts on thoughts on LSu game tomorrow and pt spread and thoughts. Game sits at 11.5 or 12 pt spread depending on who you talk to. Opened at 14. Why that much? LSU is real good at home and Tiger Stadium is one of the toughest road venues in college football. When Vegas factors Tiger Stadium in, instead of the usual 3 or 3.5 pt addition to the spread added in for the home team, Vegas will go w/ 4-5 pts. The additional points despite Arkansas being just a one loss team.

Here are some stats to back it up and why LSU wins by at least 17 tomorrow.

LSU has rushed for 210 yds per game, avg'ing 4.8 yds per carry. Ark's def has allowed 164 yds per game on the ground and 4.3 yds per tote.

LSU's def has given up just 90 yds per game rushing, 2.7 per carry. Arkansas' ground game - 146 per, which isnt too bad, and 4.6 per carry.

If something gives here, it will be the Hog defense going against LSU's running game. many other teams, including Alabama, a much better defense than Arkansas, stacked the line of scrimmage and the Tigers had success running the football at times.
Richardson and Lacy had 26 carries total for 64 yds when you take away each of their longest runs.

LSU has had success w/ 4 of their staple runs this year and in this order 1) iso, 2) power, 3) zone, 4) counter. If you went back and counted up the running plays, they would tally out in that order. Power and zone would be close.

In the turnover ratio game, LSU is +18 while Ark is +1. LSu forces turnovers on defense, we all know abt Mathieu's exploits, but the front creates pressure and the secondary has the best depth in the country. LSU has only lost 3 fumbles all season on offense, while their QBs have just thrown 3 INTs all year, tops in the country. While people continue to question the ability or usage of the 2 QBs for the Tigers, they have used their talents to help LSU to an unblemished record through 11 games - 1 of 2 of the 120 1A teams to accomplish that feat.

LSU has allowed just 10 pts per game through 11 games, while Ark has allowed 21 pts per. Both offenses have scored around the same amount of pts, w/ the Hogs 1.4 pts better than LSU - both in the upper 30s. Divide the pts for vs pts against and LSU has a 3.79 # while Ark has a 1.86 #. Double the difference.
yards per pass att differential is the passing stat to look at, not yds passing or efficiency, etc. LSU has a 3.10 figure in the category, while Ark has a respectable 1.86 number.

B/c of that yds per pass attempt differential figure and LSU's clamping down on opponents returning punts, the Tigers have enjoyed a big field pos advantage all year. WIng has been as good as any punter in the country w/ any type of kick needed. hairston has been good for a true freshman and the kick cov team has been solid. LSU gives up 1/2 yard on punt returns to opponents, while Ark gives up 11 yds per punt return. If the teams trade 5 punts, LSU would have a 5 first down advantage on paper.

If either team wins the toss, they will defer and put their defense on the field 1st. LSU - b/c their defense is one of the two best in the country. Ark - b/c they lead the nation in touchbacks w/ 34.

So.....1) LSU has a big advantage stopping the run and should do so vs Ark 2) LSU will have an adv running the football against Ark's run defense, which will open up the play act pass, where Tiger Qbs have had plenty of success this season 3) Spec teams continues to win out for LSu w/ their punting and coverage teams 4) LSu will create turnovers on defense, as they have all year and not turn it over. Ark does not create turnovers like LSU does.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chaing Gang: A Boner-Inducing Rushing Attack!

Each week here at Hakim we bring together a group of Saints bloggers to discuss all things Saints during the week. Here is their email chain. This week we had Grandmaster Wang from moosedenied, Dave Cariello and Andrew Juge from Canal Street Chronicles, and Ralph Malbrough from WWLTV.com. And the boss man, Kevin Held.

RALPH:
At this point I'm not sure what's left to say. The Saints have rushed for 200 yards the last two home games. They didn't create any turnovers but they really only let Blount get loose on one long run.

I still don't trust them on the road.

I know we all had Ingramania and were pumped to get him but looking at how awful that front 7 on defense is maybe the Saints should have traded back up to get another defender.
I get they were worried about Ivory's foot and all the running back injuries

But at this point I think I'd rather have Sproles, Thomas Ivory and a 2012 #1 pick than Ingram.

This defense is going to have to be rebuilt AGAIN. New DT, new linebackers. All of it. I asked the question on the podcast and I'll ask it again, "What does this defense do well?" I think the answer is NOTHING so the question becomes what is realistic for it to do well the rest of 2011?

Maybe create turnovers or stop the run? If you could pick one what would it be?

I think I'd go turnovers and just try to ride Breesus far as you can.


WANG:
I just finished the podcast and I agree that the answer is "not a goddamn thing." Not consistently, anyway. I will say that I thought both Will Smith and Cam Jordan were killing it yesterday. Especially 91, especially in the second half. For a while there it seemed like Smith was about a half inch away from Freeman on every single snap. He was straight abusing Tampa's LT. Which was nice, but like you and Kevin were talking about, the middle was wide open all damn day. Roman Harper had a pretty decent game too.

But I still come back to the nagging feeling that yesterday was at least as much about Tampa shitting the bed like the Saints did down in Tampa, as it was about the Saints playing a particularly strong game on defense. And Blount being in his first game back off an injury explains a lot of him rushing for "only" 72 yards. Tampa looks like they might be getting dangerously close to imploding. And I do mean imploding, as in from within.

Ralph, seems you were right on about that whole home vs. away thing. Or at least other people are now coming to that conclusion too. I still think it's mostly about the Saints half-assing it a lot of the time, but that does seem to happen a lot more on the road than at home. I don't see any other explanation for the difference in the performance of both lines from week to week aside from just sometimes they half-ass it and other times they use their whole asses. I mean, you can't convince me the return of Zach Strief makes THAT big a difference. The d-line also looked like a whole different line than they usually look like, and it can't be just because Tampa was missing Jeremy Zuttah.

It still disturbs the hell out of me that these guys seem to need stupid motivational shit like the baseball bats to get it through their skulls that they can do better. The bats were cool that one time in the playoff game against Arizona, but doing it several times a year is retarded, and SHOULD be unnecessary.

Good win though. I just wonder how much of it was due to the "fact" that Tampa might very well be circling the drain at this point. They're still better than the Rams though, so we've got that going for us. I look at the rest of the schedule and I don't see an "easy" one left. Not a single one. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe they'll be able to stay "motivated" now without the need for souvenir baseball bats and shit.

Ralph, I hear you about "did we really need Ingram?" but with all due respect, hindsight. And hell, for that matter, we're still just about halfway through (assuming playoffs.) How much money are you putting down that Pierre and/or Ivory are gonna stay healthy for the next 7+ games? I suppose it could happen, and that would be great. Until yesterday, Ingram was the Saints' leading rusher, and he still leads the team in rushing TDs. We're gonna need him again before it's all over.

But, sheesh, what a thing of beauty it is when the Saints' rushing game is working like it was yesterday. Huge throbbing boner.

You're right about the defense needing to be rebuilt (again) though. And that's gonna be a tall order.


RALPH:
I think everyone underestimates how playing on the road affects the o-line. Crowd noise, snap count, etc. Plus the Saints were way behind in Tampa and St. Louis and that means teams can just tee off and forget the run. To me the best things to have on the road is good lines and the Saints have neither.

As for the Saints not needed to be motivated. NFL players need it because while Brees might be a freak and want to be the best, hall of famer, etc the majority of NFL players are just like most of us. They show up to their job, do the best the can, but do they really give a shit? Yes they want to do a good job and keep their job but they simply aren't going to be geeked every week. It's a huge part of Sean Payton's job to get them focused and motivated every week. I think overall Payton has done a fairly good job and the Saints haven't laid many turds in his 5 and a half years.

Also I think part of the Saints completely sucking in St. Louis is they didn't make any plays to build any sort of momentum until the fumble recovery. I think especially on the road somebody has to make a play to sort of get things started. A team can't get emotional unless they start playing well. If a team is flat or sleep walking the only thing that snaps them out of it is a big play.

This week will tell me everything I need to know about the Saints. Three straight road duds and it's official; 2011 is a one and done playoff game at best.

I'll be interested to see how Gregg Williams schemes to stop Michael Turner and without Porter I wonder if the CBs can hold up against Jones/White.


KEVIN:
Just so we're clear...This season is a failure if the Saints don't make the postseason. Am I correct in this?

As for the running game, I'm glad we've got Ingram. Yeah, hindsight being 20-20, etc., maybe we should've taken a LB or some other help in the secondary.

Like I said in an earlier thread, I think the Saints need to be defense specific in this draft. And yes, that means, GET A LINEBACKER. Vilma isn't going to be around forever and is already showing cracks. And Scott Shanle is Scott Shanle. Shaun Rodgers is done after this year, right? Please say "yes," somebody.

PS - Boner-inducing running games are a great thing.


ANDREW:
Yes, Rogers has a 1 year deal.

The bye week isn't necessarily coming at a great time because the Saints are fairly healthy at the moment, but it'll be nice to recharge. Show good intensity at Atlanta and then get a little break. This Atlanta game is huge. The winner of this game has a really good chance to take the division. The Saints come back from the bye to host the Giants and Lions. Those are brutal matchups. They need some leeway with a division lead and a tie breaker as insurance going up against those teams... which is why this Falcons game is a must win. They need to scratch, fight and claw like they did in Atlanta last year. This may be week 10 but it has the feel of week 17, plus it's the hated Falcons. We're not amped and hyped on it yet because of the emotion of this past weekend with LSU and the Bucs game... but trust me, by mid week this will hit all Saints fans across the head with a "holy shit, wait a minute, this game is HUGE". It's 6-3 vs. 5-3 for the division lead. If the Saints lose, they can recover. If the Falcons lose, at home, they're toast. This is the Saints' chance to bury them. I hope they take it.


RALPH:
Andrew, just saw your defensive grades. Will the Saints be better off playing Dunbar again this week and give Vilma even more rest? My initial thought was yes because Falcons have Turner but can Vilma help on Gonzales? Or I'm I completely wrong though because Gonzo will be covered by Shanle or Casillas not the middle linebacker.


ANDREW:
Vilma is typically covering backs out of the backfield. The tight end is either Shanle or Harper's responsibility depending on the coverage assignment/blitz package. Part of the reason why Dunbar fared ok against the Bucs is they didn't really have a receiving back threat with Earnest Graham injured. And still, Lumpkin was wide open a few times including once for a touchdown and Freeman missed him. Jacquizz Rodgers is a threat, but overall I think this is another favorable matchup to have Dunbar in there because you're facing a physical in between the tackles back in Turner. So overall, yes, I think the Saints are better off with Dunbar this week. Tuner isn't a big threat receiving at all. They do throw to Ovie Mughelli in short yardage and the red zone, though, so the Saints will need to keep an eye on that. I would say that Vilma is a MUCH better option when the Saints are playing backs like Matt Forte, for example. That's a horrible matchup for Dunbar.

Is it just me or is the buzz surrounding this game at a flat line? WTF? This is the Atlanta Falcons for F's sake! 6-3 @ 5-3 with the winner taking over the division lead. I mean, do games get any bigger? Can we all please start spitting fire and get more motivated? I'm not blaming us for the lack of fire, but as Saints bloggers it's on us to get the hype started. Have we forgotten what Roddy White said? Have we forgotten they signed Brett Maxie, Bobby Hebert, Morten Andersen, Joe Horn etc etc etc... Or Aaron Stecker the week of the matchup to get intel on the Saints? Have we forgotten that for 44 years this rivalry has been for the pride of the South? Have we forgotten that UNACCEPTABLE face Jerry Glanville had every time they scored points on us that to this day makes me what to take an axe to everything in my house? (ok that was psycho, sorry.) I know the LSU game last weekend took all of our collective focus but it's time to move on. This is Saints vs. Falcons baby! The most underrated rivalry in all of sports. Come on, someone give me something. Dave, tell me you're semi hard for Dave the Falconer and the Falcons "aren't that bad" to at least get my blood boiling. Wang, come up with some witty piece about how Roddy White is a crime against humanity. Kevin, rant about how Deion Sanders high stepping on the fleur de lis is forever etched into your brain akin to that time you were picked last in touch football after a girl with down syndrome. Ralph, bitch about how Olin Kreutz belongs on the Falcons. Hans, give me a hot read post about how Matt Ryan enjoys feeding strawberries naked to Joey Harrington. Come on guys. Give me something. THIS IS SAINTS-FALCONS. Is no one fired up???


RALPH:
I agree that the buzz hasn't gotten cranked up. I really think there's this attitude among the fanbase that think if the Saints just need pull their head out of their ass and not sleep walk then 2009 will be HERE ANY MINUTE.

They don't realize the 2011 Saints are in a fist fight to the death to win the NFC South. I finally accepted the 2011 Saints for what they are at halftime of the Rams game. Their shitty tendencies like no run defense, horrible line play on the road, Brees throwing picks, and defense not getting turnovers aren't bugs in the system they are FEATURES built into the 2011 version.

The whole off season theory of Franklin/Rogers upgrading the defense is a failure so far although Franklin looked good and you grading confirmed it so there is a little hope.

I guess it's sort of a good thing the fanbase has become a little spoiled and has great expectations. But come on it's TIME TO HATE THE FUCKING FALCONS, that's like 35% of the fun being a Saints fan.


WANG:
Heh. Nice. Just for the record, I believe Mughelli is on IR (???)

Hate to say it, but I think Dunbar > Vilma at this point in most situations.

I think the Penn State story is dominating most sports fans' attention right about now. Might explain a lot of the lack of being fired up about this weekend.

Personally, though? There's the Penn State thing, but also, and I can't believe I'm about to confess this... I don't have any particularly extraordinary hate for the Falcons. For me, they're just another opponent. Not really sure why, but that's always been true for me. Sure, I want them to lose at every opportunity, but it's no different from how I approach Tampa and Carolina, and back in the day the Rams & 49ers. No extra juice there just because it's Atlanta.

If Kevin Held and I ever meet face to face, he's welcome to slap me in the face for saying that. I deserve it.


RALPH:
"But come on it's TIME TO HATE THE FUCKING FALCONS, that's like 35% of the fun being a Saints fan" - well said, except the number is more like 83%.

And congratulations Wang, you've officially brought my blood to a soft boil (hehe, soft). Way to be a Roddy White lover. Dave can still raise the temp with a plug of his physical relationship with Dave the Falconer. Come on Cariello, you know you want to shout it from the rooftops.


KEVIN:
Oh, I hate the Falcons, maybe not as much as Ralph does, but I hate them for sure. Wang's right in that most of us are consumed by this Penn State thing. I just read the full indictment for the first time today....do yourselves a favor AND DON'T READ IT. Your soul will get blacker just for looking at it.

Yeah, I kinda approach the NFC South roughly the same, but the Falcons get a nod above Tampa and Carolina. The Falcons are up there with Dallas and Pittsburgh and San Francisco for me. My hate is strong.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NFL Power Rankings (Week 9 - 2011)

I've ranked teams 32nd to 1st, with each team being ranked based on who they could beat on a neutral field. So...31 could beat 32, 30 could beat 31, so on and so forth.

32. Indianapolis Colts (0-9)
31. St. Louis Rams (1-7)
30. Arizona Cardinals (2-6)
29. Miami Dolphins (1-7): Reg-gie...Reg-gie?
28. Seattle Seahawks (2-6)
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)
26. Cleveland Browns (3-5): Somebody add "Peyton Hillis" to the "Madden Curse" Wikipedia page!
25. Washington Redskins (3-6): Can we combine Rex Grossman and John Beck to form "Rex Beck"? It's not as cool as "Max Power," but it'll do...
24. Carolina Panthers (2-6)
23. Minnesota Vikings (2-6): Ponder will be a good quarterback for this team in a couple years. As long as AP stays healthy.
22. Denver Broncos (3-5): It's Jesus Boy, jump for joy!
21. San Diego Chargers (4-4): Phillip Rivers has morphed into Aaron Brooks or something...



This game trailer is 13 kinds of amazing. And for the record, my wife is terrified by having to look at skinny Jonah Hill. Oddly enough, she sat through an entire episode of "Allen Gregory," so I don't know what to tell you people.

20. Oakland Raiders (4-4): Look, I think if they play Denver on a neutral field, they'd win. Simple as that.
19. Tennessee Titans (4-4)
18. Kansas City Chiefs (4-4)
17. Philadelphia Eagles (3-5): Not out of the playoff race just yet. But they're getting there...
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4): This team looks ready to implode. They're arguing on the field and on the sideline. Never a good sign. Keep that shit to the locker room. That or just settle it with a pillow fight.

(NOTE: Honestly, I could see every team above this spot making the playoffs in fine style. Nearly half the league. How's THAT for parity?)

15. Dallas Cowboys (4-4)
14. Chicago Bears (5-3): Protect Cutler, good things happen.
13. New England Patriots (5-3)
12. Houston Texans (6-3): Who from the Patriots D is going to stop Foster and Tate, Attorneys-at-Law?
11. Buffalo Bills (5-3)



Never mind how awesome that was ... I want that fucking hoodie! Actually, I should really go all out for one Halloween and dress up as Ezio Auditore. Spend money and everything! (Checks bank account.) Oh. Nevermind. (Kicks rock.)

10. New York Jets (5-3): The AFC East is what we'd like to call "IN FLUX."
9. Atlanta Falcons (5-3)
8. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3): Hope my old boss drowned in a pool of his own tears Sunday night. I'm sorry, was the microphone on?
7. Detroit Lions (6-2)
6. New York Giants (6-2)
5. New Orleans Saints (6-3): Real good home team. Shaky road team. Yeah, they'll be a fun bet for the postseason...
4. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2): This is still not a mirage...
3. Baltimore Ravens (6-2): Sweep the Steelers? You're all right in my book. I wipe my taint with the 'Terrible Towel'. There, I said it.
2. San Francisco 49ers (7-1): The two-seed in the NFC is theirs to lose. I have them ahead of the Ravens because their D is actually better. And dare I say it...Alex Smith has looked more consistent this year than Joe Flacco.
1. Green Bay Packers (8-0)



"Like a shotgun, needs an outcome / I'm your prostitute / You gonna get some"

Wise words. Wise woman.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chain Gang: Horrors in St. Louis Edition



Each week here at Hakim we bring together a group of Saints bloggers to discuss all things Saints during the week. Here is their email chain. This week we had Grandmaster Wang from moosedenied, Dave Cariello , Andrew Juge and Hansdat from Canal Street Chronicles, and Ralph Malbrough from WWLTV.com. Oh and the boss man Kevin Held. This week the guys discuss the horrors in St. Louis, the offensive line garbage and why Andrew and Ralph are breaking up with Sedrick Ellis and Charles Brown. Also are the Saints too predictable on offense?

Ralph Malbrough:

I was listening to Sean Payton on Sirius radio driving to work and holy shit the man managed to almost put me in full scale panic.

Payton explained Carl Nicks yelling at offensive line coach Aaron Kroemer by saying He told Kroemer to yell at the lineman to not walk off the field late in the game. Kroemer does what he's told and Nicks yells back. I know Nicks apologized after the game but doesn't that sum up the whole Payton in the booth issue; He has to relay most game day messages through someone else. That scares the crap out of me going forward. The Boss has to be the boss and can't lead through others on gameday. I hate to say it but to me the Saints offensive line is like Mike Martz and the Bears; you DO NOT TRUST THEM ON THE ROAD UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Andrew, I'll be very interested in your grades. The tackles got worked but I thought De Puente fell back to earth but I can't be sure until i re-watch.

Wang, I'm done with Sedrick Ellis. He's just a guy. He's never coming around, making the leap , whatever. And could they give Pierre Thomas all the carries? I'm not asking for more running plays because we know that's not likely to happen but Thomas to me is clearly better than Sproles/Ivory running inside.

This team feels like 10-6/11-5 with a home playoff game and then an ass whipping road loss in Green Bay/San Fran. And that's the best they could do. Worst would be 8 or 9 wins. They are the classic good at home bad on the road team. As Saints fans we've never really seen this in a long time because Sean Payton's teams have traditionaly been very good on the road and mediocre to ok at home. Hell, Haslett sucked at home and was good on the road usually. In 2000 they were 7-1 on the road. I know they are 2-3 on the road which isn't awful but the two wins were a so so win in Jacksonville and a Drew Brees comeback in Carolina. No world beaters those two. Tampa Bay always was a must win because they can't lose twice to division opponent.

Grandmaster Wang:

I think Jeff Duncan nailed it and it'll be the subject of my post tomorrow. To me it's real simple, this team needs to sack the fuck up already. It's all between the ears, and quite frankly it always has been, and it starts at the top with Sean Payton and Drew Brees who are as guilty as anybody. They know all the right things to SAY, and so do most of the other guys on the team. Being humble, not taking any opponent lightly, maintaining focus, all that good shit. Guess what? It's just words. Talk is cheap, and performances like that make it obvious that they don't practice what they preach.

It's becoming more and more apparent that 2009 was the exception, it was the year where they managed to come out on top despite themselves. They had scares against bad teams that year too, for all the same reasons, yet in 2009 the ball was bouncing their way and they came out on top anyway. But that was the exception, and 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 are the rule. Every year this team throws away 2 or 3 games for no apparent reason. They strut into a stadium thinking the opponent is gonna shit their pants just because "Oh shit, it's the SAINTS!!!" and invariably they end up getting their asses handed to them.

These guys do read their own press clippings and buy into their own hype, that much is obvious at this point. They can deny it all they want, but it's true. The evidence is on the field. And that's what's holding them back as much as anything else. Until they figure that out (or I should say unless, because I'm not convinced that they ever will) they'll continue to be an underachieving pseudo-contender.

Testicular fortitude. This team doesn't have it. They barely even TRIED in the second half. They wait until midway through the 3rd quarter down by 24 to start running the ball? When it's already too late? On what planet does that make sense? Punting with 6:00 left in the game down 10? Huddling, lining up in a fuckin I formation, dink and dunk 3-yard dumpoff passes. YOU'RE THE GODDAMN SAINTS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! They weren't even trying to push the ball downfield. And I know that the o-line was getting abused and trying to get yards in chunks might have made it even worse. But fucking TRY! It was like they had already accepted the loss, and just wanted to throw a few garbage points on the board to make it look better. That's some pussified shit, and it was absolutely disgusting.

People will point to the last 2 minutes of the first half when all hell broke loose and scream FLUKE! But it was the second half that was truly disturbing. Zero fight. It was like they were just waiting for the Rams to remember that they're the Rams and lay down.

I said it last week, the whole thing about Sean Payton all of a sudden figuring out that the Saints weren't playing to their full potential and giving a "Hey, play better!" speech and everybody being so proud of "how well it worked" was seriously disturbing. Big time red flag that these guys are satisfied half-assing it and think it ought to be good enough. Yesterday just cemented that. Again. In retrospect, it's what we should have expected, because it's what they are. It's what they've been for 6 years now. And that includes Sean Payton and Drew Brees.

Ralph Malbrough:

You make them sound like the underachieving San Diego 'fucking' Chargers. They do have three playoff appearances, 4 playoff wins, and A Super Bowl. The Brees Payton era has two mediocre years, three good ones, and 2011 is undecided. I still say the complete meltdown in Atlanta 2008 is the worst performance in the Sean Payton. They got housed,had Shockey Brees scream fest, and had more on the line. Yesterday was second.

I do think they were flat as shit yesterday and if they don't score that defensive TD I really think they might have got shut out. I love Brees but that INT before half was BRUTAL. He can't make that shitty a decision when Rams have all the momentum.

Wang, I just think at this point they are a 6 or 7 win team at home plus 4-4 if they are lucky on the road. They fucked up letting Goodwin walk and those tackles won't hold up in raucous away environment.

Andrew Juge:

Yeah I said I'd be in panic mode if the Saints weren't 6-2, so true to my word I'm panicking. The o-line was atrocious. Top to bottom. I actually thought de la Puente was the best of the bunch and that's REALLY not saying much. The tackle play was atrocious. Bushrod and Brown killed the Saints. The tackles on this team are a complete liability and it doesn't help that Graham blows as a blocking tight end. Hopefully Strief comes back and we get a mediocre performance out of right tackle (as oppose to alarmingly horrendous). Did you guys see how the Rams came out? This was their Super Bowl. And the Saints sleepwalked. They should it was a gimme. And you know what, it should have been.

The Saints' defense is just not good enough to win a game for this team when the offense plays poorly. It's either light up the score board, or lose. Brees has no flexibility in playing "marginal". It's either lights out, or it's a loss. I'm starting to doubt the NFC South crown pretty seriously. At this point that's all we can hope for. The Saints aren't going to catch the Packers. Catching the 49ers is feasible but I don't think we can look that far. At this point the goal has to be the NFC South. Next week is the most important game of the season. MUST WIN.

Kevin Held:

At what point should we have started telling Sproles, "stop running out the end zone"? And when should the Saints have decided to give up the screen pass? And it seemed like they didn't get Jimmy Graham involved nearly enough. Maybe the Rams were covering him really well? But couldn't they have found Colston? Or Moore? We have 1,439 weapons, but that shit don't matter if the opponent pulls his six-shooter out faster and puts one between your eyes first.

Hans:

Kevin, I was at the game, and I was SCREAMING IT to him after the second one, but he must not have heard me.

And do you know what the deal is with the "St. Louis Fucking Missouri" t-shirts they were selling downtown?

Grandmaster Wang:

Thanks a lot for declining the opportunity to punch stooj in his stooj face, Hans.

Hans:

You're welcome.

I liked last Halloween's game a LOT better. Beating the Steelers on SNF to go 5-3 and feeling like the Saints were ready to roll through the next five games - good times...but not so much this year. Goal-line stands, timely turnovers, crucial catches, will the NOLA kids and families get to trick-or-treat or will they get to watch the game? The drama lived up to its hype, and it was fun because they played like they wanted to win, and they did.

This 2011 5-3, although it has losses eerily similar to the ones in the 2010 5-3, feels completely different.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying or overgeneralizing, but look at this...2010's 5-3 included: 2 WTF? how did we lose this game? losses (Arizona, Cleveland) and one close-fought one we could have won (Atlanta).

2011's 5-3 includes: 2 WTF? how did we lose this game? losses (Tampa Bay, St. Louis) and one close-fought one we could have won (Green Bay).

But this year, we're not looking up at Atlanta, and we might still be able to salvage one playoff game at home...as Ralph or Kevin or someone already pointed out. But they might also continue to stink on ice every other week, and they're looking at 9-7, 8-8, and watching the playoffs from home.

Ralph Malbrough:

Andrew your grades were just depressing to read. Maybe you should start grading the offensive tackles on the turnstile scale

1 turnstile: Good game QB only knocked senseless one and increase the turnstiles the more Brees gets a beating.

Charles Brown had a 45 turnstile rating Sunday

Andrew Juge:

I'm done with Charles Brown. I'm officially convinced he doesn't have the head makeup to cut it.

Ralph Malbrough:

Yeah, I think he is one of those guys Scouts and coaches love because if you built a tackle from scratch he would look like Brown and so coaches are like, "I know he screws up on film and makes mental errors BUT I CA COACH HIM UP!"

Andrew,you break down the film and since the Saints can't get new lineman in the middle of the season what is best case scenario for this line?

Andrew Juge:

Best case scenario is Zach Strief comes back healthy and plays the rest of the year and there are no more injuries. Best case also includes David Thomas coming back healthy and adding much needed technique and ability off the edge because Jimmy Graham is KILLING the Saints' running game. Best case scenario is Bushrod plays at the level he's been playing at prior to the Rams game, Nicks improves to last year's level, Evans maintains level, De La Puente maintains level, and Strief holds down RT best he can. It's not a very good line. The two guards are as good as you can get but the rest is shaky. Any injury kills them and makes it even worse.

I think a big part of the problem is how predictable the Saints gave gotten in their sub packages. Lance Moore in the game? Pass. John Gilmore in the game? Run. Jed Collins, or an extra tackle off the edge? Run? Chris Ivory/Mark Ingram in the game? Run. Pierre Thomas in the game? Screen pass or delay.

The Rams clearly did their homework. You know the Bucs will too, and they always seem to play well against Brees. I don't feel good about this game. I think the offense will struggle again.

Ralph Malbrough:

I just read an article on ESPN Insider and it nearly made me pee my pants in fear, I'll quote it

"the Rams were able to exploit a weakness in the Saints' defense. The Saints are giving up 124.1 rushing yards per game, 23rd in the league, but the biggest reason they rank even that high is because their offense usually scores so many points that opponents must pass to try to catch up. The Saints have faced only 22.7 runs per game, the sixth-lowest number in the NFL. New Orleans is last in yards allowed per carry and also last in Football Outsiders' second-level yards (5 to 10 yards past the line of scrimmage) and open-field yards (more than 10 yards downfield) given up per rush. The Rams' defense stopped the Saints from building a big lead, and that gave Steven Jackson a chance to bust loose. He ran 25 times in Week 8 -- the first runner this year to get 20 carries in a game against New Orleans -- and ripped off six 10-yard runs, none bigger than a 32-yarder on fourth-and-2 in the third quarter."

So basically the run defense is horrible and it would be even worse but teams haven't run the ball a lot on the Saints.

One last quote that cheered me up a little

"To beat the Saints, then, a team must generate pass rush without blitzing, cover screen passes and tight ends, and it helps if it can break a couple long runs. The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the two teams sitting a half-game behind New Orleans in the division, can't do many of those things. Tampa Bay is in the bottom 10 in all four categories, including last in covering screen passes. Atlanta at least has the home run threat of Michael Turner and has had a little success against tight ends, but it's still in the bottom five in sacks and screen pass defense."

Tampa will attempt to grind them into the dirt with Blount but I expect the Saints offense to bet better than it was in Tampa.

I'm not feeling good about this at all.

Andrew Juge:

I'm just really not sure what to expect. The Bucs game was a surprise and the Rams game was a shock. The run defense is definitely poor but there are elements that can be successful against it: Dunbar, Ellis, Franklin. Those three have to step up. More than anything the drop off of this defense to me is all about the drop off of Jonathan Vilma. When the heart of our unit isn't beating it's hard to excel. He has missed so many tackles due to being one step slow to the play this season, plays he made in his sleep 2-3 years ago. He's getting clean paths to these runners sideline to sideline and he's just not getting his hands on them. It's not that Vilma is awful, he's just not elite anymore. I tell you what terrifies me after watching the Saints attempt to stop Jackson: the Atlanta Falcons. Michael Turner is a very similar runner. He's a load, he's pretty fast for his size and he's impossible to tackle... historically he's always been tough against the Saints but that is a nightmare matchup if the game stays close. I do think LaGarrette Blount will be rusty this weekend so him playing is almost to the Saints' advantage. Few players come back from being out 2-3 weeks and play that well right away traditionally.

I'm going to stay optimistic here though and say that I think we'll get a great performance out of the Saints Sunday. They are pissed, embarrassed, and this is the biggest game of the season... at home. No excuses, they have to win this one. I'm going to be shocked if they don't come out looking for blood. If they can't respond and win this game with stakes like this you can pretty much write off the season. I know the Rams game is fresh on the mind but this is still the same team that beat the Colts 62-7. We all know what the offense is capable of when firing on all cylinders.

Ralph Malbrough:

Wang, I'm liked your last column but I just don't think it's as simple as the Saints being flat or focused or whatever. I really think it's a case of them not being elite any more and they are a 10-6 team. Maybe 11 wins if it breaks right.

All the Saints emotion/fire/ass kicking comes from their offense. They were flat as shit against St. Louis because the offense was stuck in park and I think it's going to be that way on the road alot the rest of 2011.

Mediocre offense on the road because of the shitty o-line is the new normal.

Also Juge I gave you a serious shout out in my column on WWLTV.com. Loved your sub package stuff and figured the people needed to hear it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Paying up on the Slap Bet

Don't get so cocky about an upcoming game that you go around making a 'slap bet' with your buddy about the outcome. CAUSE THIS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU...

video

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NFL Power Rankings (Week 7 - 2011)

I've ranked teams 32nd to 1st, with each team being ranked based on who they could beat on a neutral field. So...31 could beat 32, 30 could beat 31, so on and so forth.

32. Indianapolis Colts (0-7) - Jim Caldwell had on his best Kathleen Blanco face on the sideline Sunday night.
31. St. Louis Rams (0-6) -
30. Miami Dolphins (0-6) - Dolphins done got Tebowned on Sunday. Lord be praised!
29. Arizona Cardinals (1-5)
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5)
27. Denver Broncos (2-4)
26. Seattle Seahawks (2-4)
25. Minnesota Vikings (1-6) - Ponder looked good in the loss. Meanwhile, McNabb's mom dined on free soup for 3,008th straight day.
24. Cleveland Browns (3-3)
23. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)
22. Washington Redskins (3-3)
21. Carolina Panthers (2-5)

CHRISTINA HENDRICKS TIME!


20. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4)
19. Tennessee Titans (3-3)
18. Dallas Cowboys (3-3)
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3)
16. Oakland Raiders (4-3)
15. Chicago Bears (4-3)
14. Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
13. New York Jets (4-3)
12. Houston Texans (4-3)
11. Baltimore Ravens (4-2)

KATE UPTON ALERT!


10. Detroit Lions (5-2)
9. San Diego Chargers (4-2)
8. Buffalo Bills (4-2)
7. New York Giants (4-2)
6. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) - Here's your "WTF?!?" of the week.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)
4. San Francisco 49ers (5-2)
3. New England Patriots (5-2)
2. New Orleans Saints (5-2)
1. Green Bay Packers (7-0)

Friday, October 21, 2011

E-mail Roundtable: Losses make us forlorn!



Ralph Malbrough:
Listen, to me it says alot about the Saints that they had 4 turnovers, lost their coach, let Earnest Graham run for 100 yards, and yet still were in position to win. They were a train wreck and still almost won.
They'll be ok but they do have a couple issues.
1. Kevin and I chatted on the phone about Olin Kreutz and I asked, "What if the Saints looked at him and said. Yeah he is struggling in Chicago but their line sucks. But him between Evans and Nicks and he'll be fine." Not bad theory but in practice it's a fail. Teams will figure it out if they haven't already.
2. Defense is a blitzing team that can't get sacks. Bad. Gregg Williams ain't changing so I'm not sure what changes they can make except hope it gets better and hope is not a plan.
And by the way, I thought the first down play calling in the second half was awful. The Saints ran up to gut against a defensive line that was whipping them.
Just because Drew Brees didn't get sacked doesn't mean the line didn't play like crap.
3. Saints can't afford to have a bumpy month because the 49ers are winning 12 games with their defense and schedule.

Wang:
Absolutely BRUTALLY demoralizing loss. I haven't done shit today except mope, and that's how I plan to spend the rest of my day. I hear you about "Yeah, but they still almost won" but there are no moral victories, and even if there were, I don't see anything about yesterday that would qualify. The Saints got their asses handed to them in all facets of the game by a team that's mediocre at best. Division game, 3rd straight road game, pissed off opponent looking to bounce back from a trouncing, I don't care about any of that stuff.
I think I'm finally ready to come over to the dark side (and/or jump off a bridge) about the defense. I've been trying to defend them and stay optimistic that they'll get better, but I'm just about done. They're not gonna get any better, not without yet another infusion of personnel. And I don't trust them to hold anybody, ever. You guys were right all along. We got sold a bill of goods on the so-called "new and improved" defense. They're slow, old, undisciplined, weak, and soft. Tracy Porter flat out blows at this point. The linebackers are atrocious. Roman Harper isn't even very good at Roman-Harper-stuff lately. There are no pass rushers on this team. None.
Kreutz is terrible. Absolutely wretched. Complete whiff of an acquisition and he ought to be not just benched but released. Give me Brian de la Puente over this guy, if you refuse to play Tennant.
Lots of people blaming the offense this morning and trying to absolve the defense. Sure, turn the ball over 4 times and only score 20 while not running the ball for shit and you don't stand a chance. I get that. And it certainly wasn't a good day for the offense either. Plenty of blame for everyone yesterday. But that speaks to the larger issue, no? We're right back to 2008 where if Drew isn't 100% supernatural and the offense doesn't put up 30+, we've got no chance because the defense is all-but-fucking-helpless out there.
The good news is that I do think the offense will continue to put up 30+ more often than not, and I still fully expect the Saints to win 10+ games and the division. But the defense is circling the drain. Most of the time it looks like they're just hanging on for dear life out there.

Ralph Malbrough:
Wang, I'm not into moral victories either. I guess the only point I'm making is Saints dropped a big fat F- on the road against the second best team in the division and still almost won which means the division is shit.
I want different guys to bitch at on defense at least. Play Wilson more, play Gallete more. I also think it may also be a case of the NFL figuring out Gregg Williams. As Mike Lombardi says, "The Saints need Gregg Williams to have a great game plan to succeed because their personal is average at best."
Your point on Porter is dead on. Jesus, he looks like Ashley Ambrose on his second tour with the Saints. Old and slow. Just because he is young doesn't mean his body isn't shot.


Kevin Held:
Does Payton just hand over the draft reigns to Gregg Williams this off-season? Basically say, "we're going for defensive improvement." And will Loomis sign a LB this off-season? I'm saying off-season because it's patently obvious that these guys are interested in riding and dying with the defense they have.
We beat ourselves in this game, especially on offense. We ran up the middle for nothing so many damn times I thought I was watching Coach Conlin's later Brother Martin teams. BA-ZING!
Long story short: Saints need to skull drag the Colts and Rams. If they can't beat those two teams, we might as well relegate the season to a dogfight for a wildcard birth and a trip to San Fran or some shit.

Ralph Malbrough:
Gregg Williams is AWFUL at personal decisions. If the saints want to rebuild the defense in the drat fine but Williams can't have big say on players.

And listen, they tried to fix the d-line with Franklin/Rogers. And it might be a case of Vilma and Will Smith getting old at the same time. It happens.
Wang, I do think they'll be better than 2008 on defense just because all the blitzing will create some weeks where they get turnovers. And I'm not convinced teams can just cram the ball down their throat.
Besides Patrick Robinson is anyone on defense having a good year?

Wang:
Yeah I don't think Gregg Williams ought to be the guy making those decisions, but I'm not sure it ought to be the regular Saints braintrust either. Sedrick Elllis? Just a guy. Tracy Porter? We'll always have 2009, but he's just a guy too. Malcolm Jenkins? Last year everybody thought he was on the verge of becoming a perennial pro bowler, and by no means have I given up on him, but this year he's looking like just a guy. Cam Jordan? Too early to tell, but I don't have much hope that he's gonna be anything more than just a guy. Patrick Robinson has been looking pretty good so far this year, but time will tell if he's anything more than just a guy. I've defended Roman Harper for 5 years, because he doesn't suck nearly as much as people say, but if you combine his + production as an inside the box guy and his - production in pass coverage, you've got... just a guy. Usama Young? Just a guy. Martez Wilson, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Jon Casillas, Junior Galette, all just guys. Al Woods? Ha!
This administration hasn't drafted for shit on D. I mean we're talking about 3 first round picks, 2 second rounders, 2 third rounders over 6 drafts, and the BEST they've done is "just a guy." (Pending Jenkins/Robinson, I concede that it's too soon to tell there.) Just a guy ain't nearly good enough, that doesn't get the job done. Not with first day draft picks. So I'm not sure who they ought to hand the draft over to and say "Draft us a defense" (oh by the way, without a first rounder) but I don't think he's "in the building."
Hell, for that matter, it hasn't been much better with acquiring vets either. Vilma gave us a couple good years (and I'd make that trade all over again) but he's always been a little overrated, and evidence is starting to mount that he might be done. Alex Brown? Shanle? Fujita? Simoneau? Dan Morgan? (Ha!) Bobby McCray? Franklin and Rogers? All just guys at best. I'd call Vilma a "hit" and I'd definitely call Greer a "hit." (Of course, they kinda lucked into Greer because Ron Bartell wouldn't sign with us.) Sharper was lightning in a bottle for 1 year. (And for that matter, they lucked into Sharper too because Gerald Sensabaugh wouldn't sign here.) Fujita and Shanle maybe qualify as "hits" just for the longevity of their contributions, even though they're average players at best. But there's been just as many if not more misses. And even the hits are just "meh" for the most part.
Honestly I think the whole franchise is pretty much rudderless as far as defense goes. I mean, look no further than the last two drafts. It comes out this week that they had their eye on Adrian Clayborn, but then when Tampa took him they went with Cam Jordan. Could the two players be any more different? And in 2010, they were drooling over Jerry Hughes, but then when the Colts take him, they completely switch gears and go with a corner. I know they'll scream "BEST AVAILABLE PLAYER REGARDLESS OF POSITION!!!" and that's fine and all. But at the same time, it could be taken as an indication that they're directionless. They don't have a firm goal, they're not sure who they want to be or how they want to construct the defense. They just plug in guys and hope for the best.
It's not that they don't try, because clearly they've been trying. Over and over again. But they haven't hit a single home run (except the inside-the-park home run on 2009 Sharper.) It's like the best they can hope for is to occasionally stretch a single into a sliding double.

Ralph Malbrough:

Yeah the defense acquisitions have been mostly bad. By the way Jerry Hughes is a big pile of fail right? At this point who's the best player on this defense through 6 weeks?
I have no idea really as no one has stood out except Robinson.
I do think they will be able to create a pass rush at home. They did against the Bears and late against Houston. Their pass rush is alot like the Bears offensive line. Cutler gets protection at home(Like last night) but get that shit offensive line on the road in a full stadium and it falls to pieces.
Saints defense might be the same. A loud Dome crowd, o-line has to go silent count, etc. At least at this point it's the only hope I got Wang.
#hopingformiracle

Wang:
Junior Galette!!! Heh. Yeah, I guess it's gotta be Robinson so far. Hell, he's got 2/3 of the whole team's takeaways. So... uh... yeah I guess it's him. Him or Shanle.
The whole Payton thing has the potential to be a big, BIG deal too. 8 weeks before he's even able to get up on crutches? Ouch. That's mid December, and even then they might not want to risk Payton being on the sideline if he can't move and get out of the way when another play comes his way. He gets rolled up on again and it could cripple him for life. So where does the buck stop on the sideline now? Who's in charge down there with Payton in the booth? Gregg Williams? Drew Brees? Maybe I'm overreacting, but I think potentially it could be almost as big as losing an actual player. An important one. And that's just on gamedays. He's not gonna be able to crack the whip at practices either. The lack of mobility could be a huge limitation as far as being able to monitor players' performances effectively during the week, and of course that's what a lot of his gameday decisions are based on. Etc. etc. etc. It could be a huge hinderance to his effectiveness as a head coach, in lots of different ways. And don't even get me started on the V word.

Yesterday did one hell of a number on me. My head is exploding over here. I'm all "OH SHIT!!!" about EVERYTHING right about now.

Ralph Malbrough:
Payton issue is HUGE DEAL. I think the biggest thing I worry about Wang is when the Saints are struggling and he is in the booth and not on the sideline and can't go over to the o-line and communicate to them about a blitz pickup, chew ass, etc. It's a huge deal but I think having Brees makes a huge difference. I think Brees can sort of do the whole Peyton Manning QB/coach thing at least on game days as far as sideline stuff for the offense.
The more I think about it though the more it worries me. The over/under on how many games Payton is on the sideline the rest of the year is 1. I'm taking the under.

Kevin Held:
You know how you're always talking about "the little signs from the football gods" or how certain teams "get the lucky bounces or the right calls at the time"? I think/fear we'll be looking back at Jimmy Graham getting shoved out of bounds into Payton's knee as a turning point.
/unsubstantiated rabble'd
Dave Cariello:
Saints are fucked....

Andrew Juge:
You guys all sound like a whining wife. The Saints just went 2-1 on a 3 game road trip and lost to the Packers. Big deal. 4-2 is an acceptable record at this point. The Packers proved last year it's all about getting hot late. The Saints can win on the road if Brees gets hot. Does the defense blow? Absolutely. Are they going to stay at a .5 takeaways per game ratio? Doubtful. Brees is still healthy and I'll be SHOCKED if they aren't 6-2 in two weeks. Then it's Tampa at home again. They'll be ready for that one. Are you guys still going to be crying at 7-2? It's all about making the playoffs. Sure I'd prefer home games, but none of us should be that picky. Playoffs beat no playoffs. After that, it's all about 1 game at a time.
If the Saints were 2-4 or even 3-3, with @ New England and vs. Atlanta coming up... Then yes, id be panicked like you all. But they're 4-2 with Indy and the Rams. 6-2 doesn't get anymore cupcake. If they lose either, then I'll panic. At 6-2 they'll be in terrific position.
You're telling me down the road you don't think the Saints can win in Detroit, San Fran or New York if they have to? Please. The only team I'm not convinced they can beat is GB and they almost did this year.
Ralph Malbrough:
I really like your grades this week, especially on Charles Brown. I can see why the Saints picked him and also why he dropped to larte 2nd Round. He'll look so good for two plays be mediocre on 3 and awful on 1. I can definitly see how a Saints coach would watch his college film and say, "I'll get him to play consistent."
I'm wondering about Payton's injury and my biggest concern is if he struggles physically in the booth to call plays effectively would he give up play calling duties for awhile? He's said in the past he loves calling plays and would never delegate them. I just wonder if he would be capable of saying, "You know my leg is so fucked at least for the next two or three weeks I'm going to game plan during the week but on game day I'm go to just be like Joe Paterno and oversee everything from the booth."
We really don't have any template for how a team handles this.
Andrew I think you right to say the Saints are in ok shape. The St. Louis game scares the shit out of me though. Their offense is moving the ball and I think they'll still win 3 or 4 games.

Wang:
Vicodin, bitches!

Ralph Malbrough:

Whatever it takes Wang. Do you think at any point the rest of the year someone else will be calling plays for the Saints?


Kevin Held:
As the chief officer of the "St. Louis Bureau" I can assure you that the Rams' offense can't move shit. Literally. They're all about bowel obstructions up here. These cats are fucking useless. Now if Brandon Lloyd shows up in Week 7 and has a good day and helps open things up for the Rams, THEN AND ONLY THEN, I might be worried. I'm more worried about the hapless Colts then the Rams.

Ralph Malbrough:
Wang, has the President of #wegotthis resigned? Great read and I think you have like a 80% chance of being right.
The only argument I can give is I think the 2008 secondary was a crime against humanity
Jason David
Randell Gay
Mike McKenzie
Kevin Kaesviharn
Roman Harper
Josh Bullocks
I'm saying Greer/Robinson/Porter at CB is way better and so is Harper/Jenkins at safety. 2008 defense couldn't do shit and Gary Gibbs bend/don't break was the equivalent of asking to get kicked the balls repeatedly while hoping the person would eventually miss and you could limp away. At least Gregg Williams blitzs will eventually at least I think lead to run of turnovers. 2011 defense can maybe start to create some big plays(not like '09) but something. If I don't see any the next two weeks then I'll admit you are 100% right.
I guess the difference is this year at least I can scream for Jenkins, Greer, Robinson or Harper to make a play. In 2008 we didn't even have that hope. Oh and Brees wants to get paid. I don't think we can underestimate that.

Wang:

Nah, he'll be back I'm sure. He's just confused and irritable right at the moment.
As far as this defense vs. 2008? I'd love to agree with you Ralph, and I definitely agree that there's no reason this team SHOULDN'T be a shitload better than 2008. Problem is, it ain't exactly working out so far....
2008: 23rd in total defense, 26th in scoring defense, 393 points allowed, 30 takeaways (15 INT, 15 FR)
2011: 17th in total defense, 26th in scoring defense, 403 points allowed*, 11 takeaways* (8 INT, 3 FR)
*on pace for that over 16 games
On pace for one third as many takeaways and 10 more points allowed. Over 2008! Yikes!

Ralph Malbrough:
Wang, I think the next two weeks will tell us a lot as far as the defense. If they can't get right against the Colts and Rams and improve those awful projections then It's 2008 part II.
If they can't hold the Colts/Rams under 20 points and create at least two turnovers per game then daddy will need to buy more crown for the rest of 2011.
Andrew Juge:
It blows my mind that this team only has 3 interceptions. Considering the accuracy problems of Josh Freeman, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Matt Schaub and Jay Cutler, how the heck do they only have 3 picks?!?! Aaron Rodgers was the only guy that was dead on accurate all game long. Schaub was like that for a half. The rest were all over the freaking place. Some of the incompletes we've seen in those games miss their targets by miles. Some of that has been poor luck, some of that has been bad hands by: Jonathan Casillas (at LEAST 2-3 times), Shanle (at least twice), Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins and Patrick Robinson. All those guys have dropped picks this year. Casillas has been hit in between the numbers twice, including once where he juggled it before flipping it to a Texan for a touchdown. I just don't understand that total. It would be one thing if the DB's were getting shredded by superior QB play, but that's not the case. If anything, I think this defense has been fortunate the accuracy of the quarterbacks they've played hasn't been better. I feel like the LSU DB's would have had 8-10 picks by now with the same balls.
I'm going to go ahead and offer that the Saints lack playmaking potential and HANDS on this defense. No one can catch. Sharper's 9 picks, most of which came in the first half of the season, made a HUGE impact in 2009. Jenkins through 6 games now has ZERO. That's the answer to improving this defense I think. Jenkins needs to be less of a headhunter and more of a ballhawk. That's what will turn this thing around. I'm convinced of it. I'm not sure if he's capable of that, and if he isn't, maybe he needs to get moved to SS and we need to find a better ballhawk at FS.

Kevin Held:
HONEY BADGER knows how to ball hawk!
/goes back to work

Ralph:
I'd like to publicly thank Wang for sending me the stat comparing the 2008 and 2011 saints defenses which gave me my Friday column idea. By the way I know it's not Saints related but I'll be so pissed if LSU loses to Auburn because the Honey Badger had to get high. I was so looking forward to reading Peter Finney write two weeks of columns waxing nostalgic about the Bear and Charlie Mac leading up to Sabangedon. Seriously, Pete Finney's book on the history of LSU football is one of my favorites.

Wang:
Well, I'd like to thank the email roundtable for prompting me to look it up. I probably wouldn't have thought to do it otherwise. I was replying to your email when it occurred to me to do that. Can't wait to read the Forecast. And is there a podcast tonight?
LSU's not gonna lose to Auburn. I mean, I can't think of 3 bigger players to lose all at once than Badger, Tharold Simon and Spencer Ware. Damn, that's an awful lot of talent to lose. I'd almost rather have lost Jefferson AND Lee. But LSU will still win, just by half as much as they would have otherwise. And you know Les would rather cut off his own balls than let the suspensions affect the Alabama game. So I suspect this will all blow over by next weekend

Ralph Malbrough:
Just wanted to give you props, and I think LSU wins I just think it's close. The great/awful thing about college football is every game is basically an elimination game. I think LSU/Alabama have looked unbelievably awesome because the SEC is absolute garbage after LSU/Bama/Arkansas.

Kevin Held:
"I think the Saints play mad and run the ball down the Colts throat. You read right, I think the Saints run the ball a lot against the 30th ranked run defense." -Ralph
AH-HA! My mad ranting got to you!!!

Ralph Malbrough:
It did. Of course you know we're both wrong and Payton will be calling 50 passes while in his wheelchair.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chain Gang: Slow linebacker edition




Each week here at Hakim we bring together a group of Saints bloggers to discuss all things Saints during the week. Here is their email chain. This week we had Grandmaster Wang from moosedenied, Dave Cariello , Andrew Juge and Hansdat from Canal Street Chronicles, and Ralph Malbrough from WWLTV.com. Oh and the boss man Kevin Held. This week the guys discuss, if Jimmy Graham can be stopped, will the Saints ever get really good outside linebackers, and is it too soon to worry about home field for the playoffs?

Ralph Malbrough:

Drew Brees drove the Saints 89 yards to a win on the road against a division foe and too many Saints fans are like, "Eh 4-1 is good but they only looked ok!"

Holy Shit people that drive yesterday was fucking epic. And oh by the way the Saints go to Tampa Sunday and can put the hammer lock on the NFC South with a win.

Brees is going want 150 million by the end of the year, pay the man already.

I said it my column but I'll defer to Andrew because he breaks down game tape like a mother fucker. Am I crazy to think the Saints defense is kind of slow especially sideline to sideline? Seems like teams kill them on the edge?

I know it's still early but did maybe the Saints absolutely killled in the 2010 draft and we just didn't know it.

Patrick Robinson with a pick, Charles Brown starts at tackle and Jimmy Graham is the best tight end in football. That's an A+ draft right there.

Wang:

Yeah, that last drive was a thing of beauty. Too bad I was too pissed off at the time to enjoy it. Heh. Great win though. Carolina always seems to have 1 or 2 big plays every time the Saints play them, no matter what. But for the most part I thought the defense did okay considering dual-threat QBs like Cam always give them problems. Plus it was the first time they had seen him. The Saints eventually figured Vick out (for the most part) and I expect them to figure Cam out eventually. Not to the point that he/they don't stand a chance of course, but enough that he'll do worse against us than most everyone else.

I can't bring myself to even pay much attention to the Brees contract. It's gonna get done sooner or later, and I doubt it even gets the least bit contentious. Just wake me up when it's done and show me the numbers. I'm sure it's not even a matter of what Drew's worth, it's just a matter of Loomis figuring out how to afford it without the rest of the team going to shit. I'm sure Loomis would give Drew $30MM/yr if he could, he's just gotta figure out a way to give Drew his $$$ while balancing that with practicality.

I don't know what it is with the defense. On one hand, they're actually not doing that bad overall. But for some reason, when that takeaway mojo ran dry, it REALLY ran dry. And I'm convinced that the Saints are just snakebitten at linebacker. It's not like they don't try. Sure I know everybody wants them to spend a 1st (or 2 or 3 firsts) on a linebacker, and maybe that's the only way it gets fixed. But you can't have first rounders everywhere. It boggles the mind how this team can find tailbacks and o-linemen in the middle rounds or later every damn year, but can't find a linebacker to save their lives. They keep trying and keep rolling snake eyes. They bring in FA LBs every year too, nothing seems to work.

Tampa not having LeGarrette Blount this weekend is a stroke of luck. Got a hunch this one might be easier than Carolina. Not because Tampa's no good, but because I bet the Carolina game left a bad taste in the Saints' mouths and they're gonna be out for blood. And if Carolina plays like they played last weekend, I bet they beat the Falcons and we're really gonna be sitting pretty. Saints could be running away with the NFCS by Halloween.

I'm about ready to punch a referee in the dick.

Kevin Held:

Yeah, that last drive was a thing of beauty. Too bad I was too pissed off at the time to enjoy it.

I'm about ready to punch a referee in the dick.

I think that's what kept me from being all #wegotthis when the drive was going on. I kept fearing a Panther player would piledrive Breesus and the ref would pull a Mike Maretti and just say, "Hey, you can't do that!" but not actually disqualify the dude. BTW...loved the wrestling ref analogy, Wang.

Ralph Malbrough:

Wang, I agree about Saints being unlucky trying to fix the LB spot but I also think the fact they have been so good at finding lineman, RB, WR in late rounds or undrafted has made them reluctant to spend any real money or picks to fix the problem(except Vilma). And they won a Super Bowl with Fujita/Shanle. The only solution/hope in 2011 is Martez Wilson. Maybe eventually he could be decent.

Still I don't think the LB issue is a fatal flaw. Everyone I'm sure has nice plan to exploit the defense and control the clock and all that shit and then Brees drops a quick 14-0 lead on them and the plan is out the window. I think the upcoming schedule is easy so it's a non issue until week 12 against the Giants.

It's 2009 all over again except Saints are playing the role of the Vikings. Minus Brett Favre and horrible coach Brad Childress.

Andrew Juge:

"It's 2009 all over again except Saints"... get about 2% of the turnovers they got back then.

Ralph Malbrough:

I meant as the story line where the NFC storyline in 2009 was The Saints and Vkings and everyone else. Although now that I think of it the Lions have to be in the discussion. They are really good. We have to put their 50 years of suck out of our minds.

Andrew Juge:

A friend of mine was just telling me this morning that he hopes Detroit sweeps Green Bay "for us." My response was that I agree (FOR NOW) just based on the venue if the Saints have to travel for the NFCCG. BUT, on the other hand, by the time it's all said and done, Detroit might very well be the vastly superior opponent by the time January rolls around. Green Bay can't run the ball for shit, and their defense blows. Detroit doesn't seem to have those problems. I'd still rather go to Ford Field than Lambeau, but at the same time, I'm not nearly ready to concede that it won't be in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome anyway. And to that end, right now I'm hoping GB/DET split.

But regardless of the venue, I have to be honest and say I want no part of Aaron Rodgers in January. Even though the Saints kinda sorta held their own against GB in week 1, and I'm confident that it'd be a whole different thing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. But I don't want any part of Calvin Johnson in January either. Shit! Guess I'll have to wait and see how Detroit holds up against us in the regular season before I decide.

One wildcard, you just know Stafford is overdue to go down. It's what he does. I guess the best case scenario is that he holds out long enough to hang a loss on GB before the annual Drew Stanton Experience.

Wang:

21st in total defense THIS year. 30th in pass defense. And who doesn't hold Atlanta to 14 points or fewer this year? Chicago held them to 12 and Tampa held them to 13. Atlanta blows.

Kevin Held:

I keep thinking the Saints ought to skull drag the Falcons, but after the SCAMrolina Scare, I'm still a little leery.

Ralph Malbrough:

Game Prediction

Saints 31-21

I was tempted to predict a blowout but I did that last week and Carolina hung very tough. The saints still haven't delivered an A+ game so it's coming. Maybe next week against Indy on a Sunday Night?

Wang:

I'll go with just a little wider margin. 34-13 or something. I just don't think Tampa is very good. The Saints have somewhat of a book on Freeman, unlike Cam. No Blount, no McCoy. Cross-country travel back from the west coast. And we'll have to see if Vernon Davis was right about Tampa quitting last week. If he was right, I could see them folding up and laying down again this week when the Saints take an early lead. As we Saints fans are all too familiar with, there's a fine line between "Ooooh they're pissed now after having gotten their balls handed to them last week, and will have a chip on their shoulder" and them getting into "Uh oh, here we go again" mode early, at the first hint of adversity.

Also, I'm not sure anybody has any kind of answer for Jimmy Graham, and I think Drew and Payton are slowly beginning to realize that too. I could see Jimmy dropping a buck fifty on 'em, on top of one of those patented Meach/Devery 70-yarders. If Tampa has a chip on their shoulder (and assuming that's even the least bit relevant on the field) I think the Saints will too after coughing up a 2-score lead last week. They're gonna be gunning to put it away early, and I doubt Tampa has the horses to prevent it. And as much as they say they don't give a shit about individual accomplishments and such, it's pretty obvious that they really do, and they go for them. Not at the expense of winning of course, but there's no doubt in my mind that they're gonna want to get Drew his TD pass, his 350 yards passing, and get Jimmy his 4th straight 100-yard game (and will continue to try to feed him for as long as that streak lasts.)

And then there's the whole putting the NFCS in the Figure Four thing. You know they're well of that. They downplay it of course, but you know behind closed doors they realize how huge a win this weekend is. They have the opportunity for an early kill shot, and they're gonna try to take it. No doubt.

GREAT fucking podcast last night. I agree with the A+ on the Malborough grading scale. Y'all some crazy ass crackas

Andrew Juge:

Im going with 37-21 Saints