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...

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