Thursday, December 3, 2015

All I want for New Orleans Saints Christmas is two particular wins

Posted By on Thu, Dec 3, 2015 at 2:36 PM

The Saints line up for a play in 2011 against one of the two teams on their 2015 schedule that still matters.

The 2014 New Orleans Saints were a pretty bad football team, but at least they were enraging, frustrating and interesting. "2014 is the worst," a friend told me more than once. He doesn't say that about 2015, because it's hard to feel enough emotions about the Saints in 2015 even to complain about them.

They aren't just the worst Saints team of the last decade. They're also the least-compelling Saints team of the last decade — maybe of the 21st century. Four interesting things have happened: Drew Brees injured his shoulder; Michael Mauti's punt was blocked and inspired a win over the Atlanta Falcons; Brees' seven touchdowns against the Giants; and the firing of Rob Ryan.

That half of that short list consists of bad things pretty much says all you need to know about the 2015 season.

But two more good and compelling things still could happen. The Saints could beat the undefeated Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and they could end their season by beating the Atlanta Falcons.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Sean Payton's New Orleans Saints enter the wilderness

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 1:59 PM

Sean Payton at Saints training camp during better days.

So much for even temporary Allenmania.

Against the Houston Texans, the Saints' defense was actually a little bit better than it has been for much of the year. They held Houston quarterback Brian Hoyer to 7.4 yards per attempt, which is a lot better than the 8.8 the team has allowed as a whole. It wasn't enough, of course, as the talented Texans' defense mauled a Saints offense that consists of a quarterback and a running back and not much else.

The Saints just don't have many good football players right now. Their much-discussed $33 million in dead cap space seems as good an indicator of what they're dealing with as anything. The Saints have about 75 percent of a football team. They are like a college program on probation.

And it takes a lot of optimism to envision things getting a whole lot better any time soon.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

My prediction for the Saints? Temporary Allenmania!

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 4:32 PM

A while ago — I can give you the exact dates, from my chat archives: October 6 and October 7 — a friend and I talked in fascinated detail about how well the New Orleans Saints' defense was doing on third down. 

"It's the only down we don't give up over ten yards per pass attempt," my friend said.

I said, "Yeah, we're actually good on third downs, when we get them."

My friend said, "Once we get them to third down, man, WATCH OUT!" 

Of course, we were both mostly amused, because the Saints were so bad at everything else about playing defense that their third down success seemed mysterious and inexplicable. Some sort of random deviation. A joke from the football gods.

Imagine my surprise when, after the Saints fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and replaced him with assistant coach Dennis Allen, ESPN's Ed Werder reported: Well. Huh.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Would firing Rob Ryan even matter? What comes next for the New Orleans Saints?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 4:25 PM

Sean Payton masks in the gutter.

Whatever Sean Payton chooses to do with Rob Ryan — and Ryan should most certainly be fired, as morning reports today indicated he was, before Payton dispelled them, for now — the Saints have bigger problems. All of their problems relate to defense. 

In ten seasons since 2006, the Saints have ranked 20th or worse in total defense an astounding seven times. They have ranked 31st or 32nd three of the last four years. It's a situation that never was good and has only gotten worse.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Here's how bad you should expect the New Orleans Saints' defense to play on Sunday against Washington

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 2:23 PM

The Saints' defense performs terribly on the road against Washington in 2008. The more things change...

This has been the week sportswriters have caught up with how bad the New Orleans Saints' defense has been all year — yes, even back when there were happy delusions that things might be getting better.

Today, the always sensible Mike Triplett over at ESPN added more helpful context to the discussion.
The Saints (4-5) are on pace to allow the highest opponents' passer rating of all-time (112.0), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The current record of 110.9 was set by the 0-16 Detroit Lions in 2008.
The Saints are near .500 even though they have the defense of an 0-16 team, basically. You can thank Drew Brees for that, as I wrote the other day

Another excellent way to evaluate the quality of a defense is to look at how many yards it gives up per pass on average. The Saints are historically bad in that number, too — currently they are giving up 8.5 yards per pass. What makes that number even more damning is they've managed it against a slate of offenses that aren't exactly scary.

So buckle your metaphorical chin strap and let's take a look at what horrors the team with the worst passing offense by yards per attempt, Washington, will unleash on the Saints this weekend.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Y@ Speak: forgetting

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2015 at 12:40 PM

As the Bard wrote... I have almost forgot the taste of fears.

There was once a time I'd shiver at the thought of a losing season. Now I've seen true horror: a winless Pelicans, a tortured Saints, and king cake in November. Also: Alabama rolls out the welcome wagon and Mayor Mitch Landrieu rides a bike.

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Thanks to yet another terrible defense, the New Orleans Saints are wasting Drew Brees' resurgence

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2015 at 12:37 PM

Drew Brees takes aim during a 2010 USO tour visit with the US Marines.

Back at the start of the 2013 season, weighted down by rumors that his ability had declined and by his team's lack of talent at receiver, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was struggling. Through the first three weeks of that season, he completed just 57 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of just 79.4, one of the worst in the NFL. The Patriots averaged just 19.6 points per game.

They won all three.

In the past two weeks, after a slow start to his season, Drew Brees has completed 75 percent of his passes for 894 yards with 10 touchdowns, compiling a stunning passer rating of 130.4.  Over the past two weeks, Brees has averaged over 10 yards per pass attempt — the Saints average a first down every time he throws the football. They have averaged 40 points per game.

Despite all this, they are 1-1, with their lone win coming only after Brees threw a game-tying seventh touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants — the only time in NFL history a quarterback had to throw a seventh touchdown to avoid losing.

Brees is in the middle of a career resurgence, much like the one Brady has enjoyed over the past year or so, but while the Patriots parlayed Brady's resurgence into a Super Bowl title, the Saints are wasting Brees'.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

A round of applause for Mark Ingram

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 5:19 PM

I don't dislike Mark Ingram. I think he's OK. Aside from the handful of preternatural running backs out there, and from the really bad ones who can't do anything right, most NFL backs are interchangeable; their success depends on the offensive line in front of them. Mark Ingram was, I figured, just one of those guys.

Halfway through 2015, I've realized he might be something more.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Y@ Speak: All Saints, All Day

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 1:00 PM

This Y@ Speak is full of ghouls 'n' goblins, from Voodoo Fest's Halloween mud monsters to presidential debates and a spooky tale of a team that scores more than 40 points... and loses. Also: The New Orleans Pelicans are off to a rough start, despite the power of candy corn.

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Catch your breath: Here's how good Drew Brees actually was yesterday

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 12:40 PM

While you catch your breath and recover from a hangover you have regardless of whether you drank yesterday, let's talk about two particular Saints players.

You know what they say: There's good news and there's bad news.

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