Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saints Super Bowl Preview

Now that the dust has settled, the initial hangovers have become but a distant headache of a memory and the hype has truly kicked in it's time to turn our attentions to the realistic battles that are going to need to be won if the Saints are to come home with the Vince Lombardi trophy.  In my totally unbiased moments (basically when I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about a Manning Monday) I have thought through the real battles we must win.

1.  It goes without saying but Drew Brees needs to play at or close to his peak for us to stand a decent chance.  I'm thinking the Patriots or Giants games from earlier this season.  If Drew was to suffer a Super Bowl nerve display day, think Jim Kelly or John Elway (early years) to name but a few, then the Saints will really struggle.  It's clear the Saints MVP and leader needs to be at his accurate best for the Who Dat to come out flying.

Drew Brees MVP Super Bowl 
Drew Brees MVP Super Bowl

2.  As per my last point our Saints need to come out flying.  We need to put the points on the board early to steady the nerves and make the Colts play catch up.  Easier said than done but given the past Super Bowl and big game experience many Colts players hold it's imperative we come out fighting in the first to help steady many a young Saints players heart.

3.  Getting to Payton Manning will be key.  As Gregg Williams has identified it doesn't matter whether we get there with a clean sack but we have to let Mr Unflappable himself know that we are there and we mean business.  If that means Bobby McCray paying another $20K fine come Monday morning for late hits then so be it... I'm sure Bourbon Street will be happy to gather the cash in a hat to help out.  Manning will pick us apart if left standing too often.

4.  Jeremy Shockey needs to impose himself.  The big man truly is the Saints talisman and when he is in the game he gives opposing D's a heck of a headache.  With all the other weapons on the Saints O the presence of number 88 frees up space for the likes of Bush and Thomas in the flat given the mismatches it causes.  I for sure will feel more confident if Jeremy Shockey is out there running routes from early as he can make a physical and emotional difference.

5.  Jonathan Vilma, Darren Sharper, Roman Harper, Will Smith, Tracy Porter... heck they'll all have to play out of their skins.  The D needs to be aggressive, strip some balls and hope they can throw Mannings reads off enough if we are to have a better than evens chance.  

6.  Thomas Morstead to continue his great kick offs and punts and Reggie Bush and Courtney Roby to continue making good yardage on their returns.  The play of the special teams and the field positions they leave the O and D with respectively will be all important.

That may all seem negative but if I was a bookie I would be giving the Colts the better odds because I think they are that little bit better all round.  That's tough for me to say but it's the honest truth.  We will need to put in an A-team performance across the board.  That said it is well within our capabilities to do so and Sunday night will be a time for hardcore mental strength.  Yes they can do it, yes they should believe, yes they will!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What a Bittersweet Week

You wait 32 years for this moment to come along and you go and suffer another major problem with your back and can't walk again.  Well that's my story anyway.  

I loved Sunday night in so many ways and no bitching pain in my back was going to stop that (well except when I jumped up in the air when Vilma picked Favre and remembered my back was part broken and ended up collapsed on the floor).  The game was total tension throughout and I'm just glad I dosed myself up with painkillers as I was half floating all the way through.  Not sure I could have taken it without. 

I would like to thank the following people in order for making Sunday night the best night ever:

Brett Favre
Adrian Peterson
Brad Childress

No seriously our boys were fantastic and they all deserve all the plaudits for a great team effort.  The D were absolutely brilliant with Sharper, Vilma, Fujita, Harper, Hargrove... the list goes on.  The O stuttered but did enough to get it done against a great D with Pierre Thomas making his moves at all the right times.

I'm just so happy for the whole city and region to see our boys in the Super Bowl.  It's going to be a hell of a great time.  In the meantime I'm off to see the surgeon tomorrow to find out what's gone wrong with the old back and am back stuck in bed again.  At least it affords me the company of mates who keep coming round with beers to take my mind off things (or to talk continuously whilst I'm trying to type this - cheers D.May).  And we've all got the great promise of a Super Bowl in under two weeks.  As ever in life you take the rough with the smooth and nothing could be better to keep you focused than a Saints Super Bowl!! 

Big love fellow Who Dats!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saints Championship Game Injury News

It's almost NFC Championship Game time people and the Saints have some concerns about some key personel with Jeremy Shockey chief amongst them.  The big man has been struggling with the knee injury which so clearly troubled him during the Divisional Playoff victory against the Cardinals last Saturday.  His status is officially rated as questionable.  The loss of the big man will be a big blow given the strength of the Vikings front four as well as the fact he is something of a Saints talisman.  Let's hope we over come.
Jeremy Shockey Injury
Jeremy Shockey Injury Doubt

Come on the Who Dat Nation.  Here's the complete injury list:

Malcolm Jenkins Saints CB: Hamstring  injury, game status questionable. He did not participate in practice this week.

Jeremy Shockey Saints TE: Knee injury, game status questionable. He did not participate in practice this week.

Jonathan Goodwin Saints C: Knee injury, game status probable. Full participation in practice.

Bobby McCray Saints DE: Back injury, game status probable. Full participation in practice.

Robert Meachem Saints WR: Ankle injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Darren Sharper Saints S: Knee injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reggie Bush Saints Highlights 2009 and 2010

The Reggie Bush Saints Highlights reel just continues to grow thanks to his ability to get it done when it matters most.  After having to put up with the continued debate about his contribution to the team it's great to see the incredible athlete just gets on with his game and let his feet do the talking where it matters most... On the field.

Reggie Bush Saints Highlights Vs Cardinals in 2010 Playoffs

That touchdown run against the Cardinals was just unbelievable.  It reminded me of a classic Walter Payton run from many years back although thankfully for the Saints our Reggie was able to go north to south with his rather than just east to west.

It just goes to show you can never keep a great athlete down and all season he's been promising to do that.  When he then took that punt return 83 yards it was like a re-run of the return against the Vikings last year.  He suddenly put those after burners on and you knew there wasn't a cats hell in chance any Cardinal was going to catch him.

That's not the only game that Reggie has shown his class in this season and yet you always get the moaning fraternity who say he doesn't play enough downs.  That has never been his game and who really cares so long as he delivers enough on the percentage of plays that do go his way?  Right?  Right!

Reggie Bush Touchdown Leap Vs Dolphins

I just hope we can find a way to re-sign him next year as he brings that X-Factor to the Saints team that makes opposing Defenses have to properly account for him everytime.  That frees up more space for others and so, in many ways, he contributes even when he's barely factoring in the ball handling.

So let's just hope the Reggie Bush Saints Highlights reel continues to grow for some time as we're better off with the speedster than without him.

Saints NFC Championship Game

The Saints demolished the Cardinals on Saturday night en route to only their second NFC Championship of all time... And I can barely remember a thing about it!  I know I was off my seat more times than a man with piles on an ice cold wooden bench but for the life of me I can't piece it altogether because I quite simply lost all control of my actions and drank like a fish for I was so ecstatic.  I'll make it up to my liver in the week but for now I just want to enjoy this moment ahead of the Saints NFC Championship game against the Vikings.

What I believe happened is that the Saints played the game of their lives to demolish the Cardinals and stick two fingers up to all those doubters out there.  I remember Jeremy Shockey limping his way to a touchdown being the warrior he is, Lynell Hamilton driving for a short yardage thouchdown, Sharper either taking a pick or a fumble recovery and more importanly the D playing an absolute stunner at times and getting to Kurt Warner more than even my optimistic part of the brain would have predicted.

I loved also Reggie Bush running to an incredible touchdown and returning a punt to the house to shut up all those doubters who always go on about the number of downs he plays.  Who cares?  He's a luxury player who we can afford to use as we choose given the other options on the team.  When he is called upon he is ready to deliver at any given moment and thanks to some inspired moves he managed to do it when it counted most.  Let's look forward to more of the same next week 

I am going to watch the game back tonight and enjoy it all over again without the faintest idea of how it all pieced together.  And I am going to watch it with a big smile on my face because the Saints are entering the NFC Championship Game on Sunday with the best team in our history and with every chance of going all the way.  I cannot wait!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saints Injury Report for Cardinals Game

Here's the latest Saints injury news for the Cardinals game.  It's great to see the overall numbers reduced so clearly the time off has helped with general team conditioning.  Let's hope it makes all the difference come Saturday.

Here's the complete Saints Cardinals injury news:

Rodney Leisle  Saints DT: Knee  injury, game status probable. He did not participate in practice this week.

Bobby McCray Saints DE: Back injury, game status probable. Full participation in practice

Pierre Thomas Saints RB: Ribs injury, game status probable. Full participation in practice

Malcolm Jenkins Saints CB:
Hamstring injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Lance Moore Saints WR: Hamstring injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saints Cardinals Preview

With the big game fast approaching my nerves have steadily grown through the week so to keep my mind at rest I'm going to be positive and give you my top 10 reasons why the Saints are going to beat the Cardinals on Saturday.

Saints Cardinals Preview Picks

1.  Drew Brees is the best Quarterback in the NFL.  I don't care where the official MVP award went because here's a fact for you, there is no Quarterback in this league that I would rather have under center than the Saints QB.  The MVP award is just a popularity contest anyway.

2.  The Saints will jump out to an early lead and stay there.

3.  The Saints will maintain that early lead because the Defense will be able to play their natural aggressive game.

4.  The aggressive natural game will be dialled up because most of the Saints DBs are back to full fitness which has not been the case since the Dolphins game way back in week 7.

5.  Kurt Warner will become a Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove breakfast on 3 occasions as Gregg Williams goes for an all out blitz package.

6.  Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Jeremy Shockey, David Thomas and Devery Henderson will find all kinds of holes in the Cardinals zone D.

7.  Reggie Bush will break two big runs and one big punt return.

8.  The Drew Brees chant will inspire the Saints to such a degree that many Cardinals players will feign injury rather than dare run out on to the field.

9.  The Saints crowd will make so much noise that the Super Dome roof will fly off into the night sky.

And finally,

10.  Peace on Earth will be declared and all man kind will rejoice by getting together at Baskin Robbins for a double chocolate fudge Sunday and to watch reruns of Mash.

OK I'm clearly too nervous to make accurate predictions and have resorted to wishful thinking.  Either way I am looking forward to Saturday with the same nervous energy I normally reserve for dentists visits and back operations.  And that's my really great/good/rubbish (delete as appropriate) Saints Cardinals Preview.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

5 Reasons We Should Be Happy With 13 and 3

Now that the dust has settled on the regular season and in the lull before the playoffs begin I thought I would reflect on the season so far with my list of 5 reasons to be happy with the 13 and 3 record.

1.  It's the best record we've ever had!  I couldn't have asked for a better season to watch from my bed and couch whilst recovering from spine surgery.  Talk about great bad luck!

2.  For the first half of the season we looked like the most complete Saints team I've ever seen in 27 years of support (I would say 32 but I don't remember the first 5 years of my life).  Yes the D is not looking anywhere near as good as the early season but we've still got a heck of a chance if we can just get some basics working again... T-A-C-K-L-I-N-G!!

3.  Being 13 and 3 lets us dream that one day we can better the record.  Sure it may never happen in my lifetime but you've got to have goals and if we had have gone perfect I think a lot of people would have settled permanently for living in the past like them dam Dolphins.

4.  Drew Brees was the best QB in the NFL this season and that's the first time you could say that about a Saints QB.

5.  It's been a hell of a party all season and I've enjoyed reading loads of great posts by the likes of Saintseester, Michelle/Saints Rants, Chef Who Dat, Hakim Drops the Ball, Black and Gold Patrol and Moose Denied to name but a few.  I'm sure y'all know about them already but for the odd folk who doesn't they're all are on my blog roll if you want to go read them.

Saints bloggers
Saints bloggers are Star bloggers
Now the regular season is over I am getting confident again about the playoffs.  I think the time to regroup and recharge will end up doing the team good.  If anything it may just focus a few minds on what is at stake now the hype has died down.  Here's hoping!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Saints Vs Panthers 4th Quarter

Welcome to the who cares bowl.  The Panthers lead the Saints here in the 4th Quarter 23 to 10 although with most of the Saints 2nd stringers on display is it any wonder.  At least some of these guys are showing a passion for the tackle on the D.

Highlight of the 4th Quarter comes as Jonathan Casillas jacks up the Panthers return man after the Saints fail to do much on O and punt away.  Great hit by the rookie.

Julius Peppers makes a great interception grab as Mark Brunell went to throw a screen pass after a long Saints drive down to the Panthers 20.  A shame as the drive was again a nice mix of Mike Bell and Lynell Hamilton runs and short grabs out of the back field.

And that's about it as the Panthers end up with the win 23 to 10 and the Saints finish the season 13 and 3 after a 13 and 0 start.  Whilst you can discount today's game from any real record those previous 2 losses sure loom large in the brain ahead of the playoffs so the boys in black and gold face 2 weeks of prep, game film and hard drilling to turn their end of season form around. 

Can they do it?  Course they can.  They are the New Orleans Saints and I love em.  This is still our year!

Saints Vs Panthers 3rd Quarter

The snoozefest continues as the Panthers kick a field goal early in the 3rd.  The Saints D is tackling a bit better today which is nice to see at least.  Anthony Hargrove filling the middle nicely and some better gang tackling all round.

Saints 3 Panthers 20

A Robert Meachem fumble on the next drive leads to another Panthers field goal.

Saints 3 Panthers 23

Saints drive 80 good yards for a Lynell Hamilton touchdown.  It was a nice mix of short yardage passing by Brunell, a pretty lucky Robert Meachem unnecessary roughness penalty and some nice running from Hamilton and Mike Bell.

Saints 10 Panthers 23

Saints Vs Panthers 2nd Quarter

The Saints start the 2nd Quarter by running the ball all out with Hamilton and Bush combining.  The drive stalls when the Saints fail to convert on 3rd down.  Garrett Hartley will try from 35 yards and makes it.  Shame he didn't have that in him last week.

The Panthers next possession sees Moosie boy Mohammed beat 4 Saints players as they try to make tackles.  So much for the early optimism that we remembered how to tackle.  The D redeems itself though with some more aggressive tackling and pursuit to stop the Panthers on next few downs to give the Saints the ball back at the Saints 41 or so.

The Saints do nothing on the next possession and I'm loosing the will to continue writing about this.

The teams then swap possessions a few times in this snoozefest before Moore drives the Panthers down the field just before the half and throws a 30 yard TD to Dwaine Jarrett.

Saints 3 Panthers 14 

Courtney Roby fumbles the ensuing kick off which the Panthers recover and Roby is hurt during the play which is not a good sign.  Is Courtney Roby injured for the playoffs?  Let's hope not as he has had an excellent season.

The Panthers kick a field goal to extend the lead before half time.

Saints 3 Panthers 17

Saints Vs Panthers 1st Quarter

The Saints fly into Carolina today with home field advantage secured throughout the playoffs courtesy of the Vikings choking even more than we have at this vital juncture in the season.  It makes this game something of a meaningless contest for the Saints in so far as Drew Brees is sitting it out along with any number of Saints starters.  So the point of today is to see how the second stringers get on whilst resting the heart ahead of what promises to be an agonising game in 2 weeks.

The Panthers take the opening kick off and will start at their own 32.

1st down Panthers.
Jonathan Stewart takes the opening hand off and runs into the Saints front 4 for a gain of 1.  2nd and 9.
Stewart takes the next hand off makes a simple cut back and runs the length of the field for a touchdown of 67 yards.  The Saints D over pursued the play and were left embaressed.  Oh dear.  Looks like it's going to be more of the same today.

Saints 0 Panthers 7

1st down Saints at the 35.
Mark Brunell comes in to make his first start since the 2006 season and completes 3 yards to Marques Colston.  2nd and 7.
Mike Bell takes a hand off and gets hammered for a gain of 1.  3rd and 6.
Brunell drops back and is hit on release so the ball goes incomplete.  Jermon Bushrod again got beat.  4th and 6 so the Saints punt it 51 yards.

1st down Panthers at their own 9.
Stewart up the middle for no gain.
Stewart again but this time drags the pile for a gain of 8.  3rd and 1.
Stewart again on the hand offand just gets it according to the officials only.

1st down Panthers.
Moore to Mohamed and already I can't be bothered to keep this up all the way through the game.  They got a first down out to the 37.

Next set of downs sees a couple of incompletions so the Panthers will punt.

Saints start their next possession at their own 11.
Bell run, Brunell airs his old arm but does not complete although a pen moves the chains anyway to the 21.
Reggie Bush makes a nice run out right for 11 or so.  Brunell then hits Dinkins for a few before setting up a screen to Hamilton that picks up another 1st.

Mike Bell then takes 1 carry a good few before being dropped for a big loss on the next play.  The drive was going so well until then as well.  Reggie Bush tries to convert 3rd and 11 on a draw but the Saints fool no one so punt.

Panthers start at their own 9.  2 carries make 0 yard and brings a big smile to my face.  That smile becomes a huge beaming laugh as Matt Moore rolls out on 3rd and 10, looses his feet and looses control of the ball on his way down coughing it up in the process to Anthony Hargrove who recovers in the end zone for a touchdown.  Well done big man.  That's his 2nd TD against the Panthers this season.  Except the Panthers challenge and win it so ignore the above.  The Panthers punt to Reggie Bush who returns it 30 yards to the Panthers 20 before the zebras pull it back for a blocking pen.

So the Saints start at their own 45 do nothing with it and then punt straight back.

The Panthers start at their own 12.  1st 2 plays and the Saints D looks totally different by gang tackling runners at the line.  Impressive.  3rd and 7, will the Saints hold?  Yes they do as the Panthers run it and Jabari Greer makes a great tackle for only a gain of 1.  Good showing by the Saints D as the Panther punt and Reggie Bush fair catches near midfield.

Brunell rolls out and completes to Dinkins to end the 1st Quarter.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Saints Injury Report for Carolina Panthers Game

After last weeks debacle against the Tampa Bay Bucs the Saints now head into Carolina to face the Panthers in a battle for pride and to restore confidence to the team and fans ahead of the playoffs.  The wheels have come off the team at just the wrong time so if we are to make any progress in the playoffs the Saints need to deliver a commanding performance this week to restore confidence amongst themselves. 

With home field advantage secured thanks to the Vikings also stumbling at just the wrong time the Saints should focus on executing plays to generate some belief and kick start some momentum ahead of 2 weeks sitting on the sidelines.

Here's the complete Saints injury list for the Week 17 clash:  

Lance Moore Saints WR: Ankle injury, game status out. He did not participate in practice this week.

Pierre Thomas Saints RB: Rib injury, game status out. He did not participate in practice this week.

Usama Young Saints S: Abdomen injury, game status out. He did not participate in practice this week.

David Thomas Saints TE: Calf injury, game status doubtful. He did not participate in practice this week.

Scott Shanle Saints LB: Concussion injury, game status doubtful. Limited participation in practice this week.

Darren Sharper Saints S: Knee injury, game status questionable. He did not participate in practice this week.

Jonathan Vilma Saints LB: Knee injury, game status questionable. He did not participate in practice this week.

Sedrick Ellis Saints DT: Knee injury, game status questionable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Bobby McCray Saints DE: Back injury, game status questionable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Jeremy Shockey Saints TE: Toe injury, game status questionable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Jermon Bushrod Saints T: Wrist injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Darnell Dinkins Saints TE: Foot injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Jahri Evans Saints G: Foot injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Randall Gay Saints CB: Concussion injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Jabari Greer Saints CB: Groin injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Lynell Hamilton Saints RB: Shoulder injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.

Jason Kyle Saints LS: Back injury, game status probable. Limited participation in practice this week.