Saints – Two Major Areas of Concern

Two weeks into the pre-season games and the two largest areas of concern are 

  1. Offensive Line
  2. Offensive Line
Honestly, my initial thought while watching the game Saturday night was that for the first time in a long time the weakest unit on the field for the Saints was not their defense. Are we talking a hall of fame defense, no, but the product that was out on the field Saturday for the 1st half of the game  was exactly what the Saints have needed for the last two years.

The problem area was without a doubt on the offensive line. Running game was non existent, when you take out McCown’s 25 yards and Grayson’s 16 yard run, you are down to below 2 yards a carry……..When the offensive line was busy not opening holes for the running back they were also not redeeming theirselves when it came to pass blocking.  Although the Texans had 2 sacks there were too many other times when the QB’s were hurried.
Saints O-Line has to step up their game going forward.

Saints O-Line has to step up their game going forward.

All in all it was about as bad an offensive performance as I’ve seen from a Saints team in a very long time, of course this sets off the rumor mill as to what other options are out there that the Saints can sign.

Besides the offensive line the other problem areas were wide receivers and tight ends, I had the impression with Cooks and Snead out of the lineup that the Saints would get a chance to see what Thomas, Coleman and Fleener would/could do. Thomas and Fleener combined for 3 catches for 17 yards, Coleman did manage 6 catches but he would be the first to admit he left a lot of plays out on the field.

Panic Time?
 
Is it time to give up on the season, no, but it is time for the Saints have a sense of urgency. With Payton as the HC and Brees running the offense, there are always options. Using more max protection options in the passing game, putting the best 5 lineman on the field are just two of the scenarios. Like I said earlier, it’s too early to give up on the season but you have to believe in the coaches office the priority is fixing the O-Line play.

Next up – Steelers

First pre-season home game is up next.  Steelers have lost both of their practice games as well, losing to Detroit and Philadelphia. Game will be Friday and 7 PM CST.

WhoDat!!!

Bill Stephens, SaintsGab writer, Follow Saints Gab on twitter @SaintsGab

Keenan Lewis Opens Up About Release from the Saints; Relationship w/ DC Dennis Allen

keenan-lewis

The Saints released cornerback Keenan Lewis Friday night, but Lewis told ESPN’s Josina Anderson he “seen it coming,” Julie Boudwin of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

In a lengthy, exclusive phone conversation with Anderson, Lewis opened up about being released by his hometown team, his injuries and his relationship with defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.

“They went in a different direction and it is cool with me. I still have a lot of football left in me. I’m just excited. I’m just fortunate that I had an opportunity to show the youth in New Orleans (that you can accomplish) whatever you set your dreams to. . .This is not the end of me,” Lewis said, according to Anderson. “I’ll be somewhere playing and I’ll give them 100 percent effort. This just motivated me. Like, you always want to prove that they made a mistake. That is something that I really want to do. I’m just excited that I had the opportunity to play for coach (Sean) Payton and the organization and my city that I love…But it’s business. They have to move on, and I have to move on.

“My main goal now is to (play for a team) that recognizes my talent and that is excited to have me; and I will take off from there…I know when I’m right, in the right city, I will be one of the best in the league. Like I know that. I’m confident in all that. I would just like to show them that they made a mistake. People have done it before. You look at (Darren) Sproles’ situation. You look at Malcolm Jenkins’ situation. Those guys left, but people doubted them, and they turned into Pro Bowlers (after they left New Orleans). So, I’m going to use them and their approach. Like there is no bad blood. I respect that. Like I said, Dennis Allen, who is the new defensive coordinator, he has his particular guys. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of his guys.”

Lewis started training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and although the team activated from PUP on Aug. 3, he practiced just one day and has been sidelined ever since.

Lewis told Anderson he’ll be healthy within the next two weeks and then he’ll be ready to contribute to a team that wants him.

“I strained a muscle in training camp. I strained an adductor muscle in training camp. Only thing I asked from coach (Sean) Payton is, and the organization is, give me an opportunity to play at 100 percent. Not even 100 percent, let me play at 90-95 percent healthy, so that I can show people I’m on the same level with those people being mentioned…Like there are some days I never slept in the summer and days I went without sleep because I was worried about getting better. That’s the only thing I want to do is help my team win and showcase my talent, my hard work and my grind on getting better. So when I did that, we had problems because they wanted to rush me out there and play like at 50-60 percent. I did that (before). I played with two labrums…I had to get both of my labrum repaired in December. So I had to get that fixed. Also, I played with a knee the size of a bowling ball for y’all, so I think it was only fair that they give me the opportunity to get healthy,” Lewis told Anderson.

“Like I know preseason is very important…but I am trying to be ready for when it counts…Unfortunately, they didn’t want to wait the two weeks that I need to get myself all the way ready. It’s cool. Now i will go and help (another) team. I’ll just wait to my number gets called.”

Saints Top Draft Choice DT Sheldon Rankins Has Broken Fibula

 Sheldon Rankins

The Saints got awful news today about their top draft choice, as first-round defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins has been diagnosed with a broken fibula, an injury that occurred Monday during training camp practice in West Virginia.

The report says that the first Saints pick is seeking a second opinion but appears to need surgery. Typically, fractured fibulas are not season-ending but sideline players for more than a month.

The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Rankins was drafted 12th overall out of Louisville. He’s among several players New Orleans acquired in hopes of improving a defense that ranked second-to-last in the NFL the past two seasons.

First Look – Predictions for 2016

You’re thinking….we haven’t had a pre-season game and this guy is already making predictions. The predictions below are based on the Saints offense by and large doing what they usually do (score points and win the time of possession) and the defense being a middle of the pack defense. As I’ve said before , if the Saints can field  just an average defense , they should be in the hunt for the playoffs.

That said, check out the predictions and let me know what you think in the comments sections below. Be kind.

10881221_59FIFTY_NFL13ONFSALUTETOSERVICE_NEOSAI_TEAM_3QL

 

DATE OPPONENT Observations Prediction
Sun, Sept. 11 vs Raiders This is a tough way to begin the season. Up and coming team on both sides of the ball. Will be a great test for the Saints on offense and defense but we will see if they are up to to it.    W 1-0
Sun, Sept. 18 at Giants Giants have a new head coach, it will be interesting to see if the Saints are going to be able to win on the road this year. Squeaker but I’m going with the Saints on this one.    W 2-0
Mon, Sept. 26 vs Falcons Prime time at Home against the Falcons. Tough interdivisional matchup against the hated Dirty Birds. Gotta go with the WhoDats    W 3-0
Sun, Oct. 2 at Chargers If the Saints do manage to go 3-0 to start the season, this has all the markings of a “gotcha game. On the road heading into the bye week……    L 3-1
BYE
Sun, Oct. 16 vs Panthers Coming off the bye has usually been good to the Saints but this year they are facing the Panthers. Home Game two weeks to prepare. I’m going with the Saints.    W 4-1
Sun, Oct. 23 at Chiefs Tough road game against a good KC team. Saints could possible have a letdown after an emotional win in Week 6     L 4-2
Sun, Oct. 30 vs Seahawks Seahawks, Jimmy comes home, This will be a game where the Saints need to make a statement if they are for real this year. They are and They will.    W 5-2
Sun, Nov. 6 at 49ers This looks like a winnable road game now. I’m saying it will be a winnable road game in November.    W 6-2
Sun, Nov. 13 vs Broncos Defending Superbowl Champs at home. It just doesn’t get any better than this. With Denver’s QB situaltion this will be the lowest scoring game of the year.    W 7-2
Thu, Nov. 17 at Panthers Prime time at the Panthers, Tough divisional road game, I’m trying but I don’t see our guys coming out with a “W” in this one. L 7-3
Sun, Nov. 27 vs Rams For whatever reasons playing the Rams in St. Louis has not worked out very well the last few years. This year it’s the LA Rams in the Dome….Saints win. W 8-3
Sun, Dec. 4 vs Lions Looks like a down year for the Lions, but they still have Stafford and he’s capable of a big game any week of the year. I’m thinking the Saints take this one. W 9-3
Sun, Dec. 11 at Buccaneers Tampa Bay gives our Saints fits every year, won’t be any different this year. L 9-4
Sun, Dec. 18 at Cardinals I can’t imagine a tougher job than going into Arizona and coming out with a win this year in the regular season. Not saying it can’t be done. L 9-5
Sat, Dec. 24 vs Buccaneers Tampa Bay two out of three weeks. Have to win this one, The Saints will. W 10-5
Sun, Jan. 1 at Falcons This could be for the division or for a wild card spot.Huge game. Saints Win! Saints Win! W 11-5

 

WhoDat!!!

 

Bill Stephens, SaintsGab writer, Follow Saints Gab on twitter @SaintsGab

Saints With Interest in Making a Deal for Cowboys OL Ronald Leary

Ronald Leary

Although the Cowboys insist they are not shopping offensive lineman Ronald Leary, it doesn’t mean that others aren’t pursuing him, Marc Sessler of NFL.com reports.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that fans should “keep an eye” on veteran guard Ronald Leary. Per a source informed of the talks, the Saints have pursued the experienced Cowboys blocker to no avail over the past few months.

Carrying a base salary of $2.553 million this season, Leary becomes a free agent in March. At age 27, he still has plenty of football left and could help lineman-needy teams. The question boils down to what the Saints can offer in return. The Cowboys need quarterback help, but New Orleans can’t offer much in that category. The other option would be a defensive lineman — or maybe a draft pick.

The Saints could use Leary on an offensive line that was average at best a season ago, now the big question is if they can find a way to broker a deal if he’s truly available for the right price.

Football season is closing in, and don’t forget to grab a Ladbrokes promotional code and get on board for what should be an exciting 2016 season for the Saints and the rest of the NFL!

Saints Fans: Bud Light Has Created A Can Just For You

Bud Light Saints Can

With the football season set to kick off in only a few weeks, Bud Light – the Official Beer of the NFL – is once again helping devout fans showcase their team pride by introducing all-new custom cans for its 27 NFL team partners, including ones for the New Orleans Saints!

The cans – which are available now through the 2016-17 NFL season – are draped in Saints colors, feature its logo and will be brought to life through localized, signature sayings that every team’s fans will recognize and embrace.

The distinct packaging is part of Bud Light’s “Beer With Your Team On It” campaign, which will celebrate NFL fandom and passion for Bud Light throughout the season.

What do you think of the Bud Light Saints can?

2016 New Season – New Hope

32 teams began their quest this week for the next Superbowl, but this article isn’t about 31 of them, it’s about the hopes and dreams of the WhoDat nation.

 

After two disastrous 7-9 seasons the Saints are looking to return to not only a winning season but the playoffs as well.

hwl

Let’s Review…
  • In the Saints 50 year history there has only been 10 season’s with winning records, 5 of those have been with Payton as the Head Coach and Brees as the QB.
  • This is the first time since 2006 that the Black and Gold have had two consecutive losing seasons.
  • The last time the Saints went two consecutive years without making the playoffs they came back with a Super Bowl winning season.
Defense:
I don’t think anyone is expecting the Saints to field a top 5 defensive team, anything in the middle of the pack and above would be a huge upgrade. The key for the Saints defense, like any other defense in the league will be if they can produce turnovers.  Last season they tied for 18th in the league with 22 takeaways. The team that led the league in takeaways was Carolina with 39.  At the end of the day, the biggest job for the Saints coaching staff is to change the mindset on the defensive side of the ball. Things to watch for this year:
 
  • In the defensive backfield there will be some new faces and an old one, Roman Harper. I don’t know if anyone is expecting Harper to come in and be the play maker he was in year’s past but one thing that he can bring is attitude. When I say attitude I’m not talking temperament, I’m talking about doing the things that are needed in order to win games. With Harper coming back and a certain CB (whom I refuse to utter his name) who led the whole universe in bone crushing penalties gone, and with the other new faces, the DB’s appear to be upgraded over last year.
  • Linebacker play should improve with the addition of Laurinaitis which gives Anthony less play calling responsibilities and  more of a chance to be a playmaker. The big question with this group is if Ellerbe can come back and play healthy. He’s already proven when he’s on the field that good things happen for the Saints, the problem has been staying off the injured list.
  • The biggest question of all with the defense will be the play of the defensive line. Cam Jordan and then the rest are question marks. Hopefully Farley will come in and play smart and be the run stopper that the Saints need in the middle. Rankins is getting good reviews and if he can pick up the nuances of the NFL game quickly he should be a big plus. The key to the success of the defensive line unit  and maybe to the Saints season is if they can get a consistent pass rusher to play opposite of Cam Jordan.

 

Offense:
In the last 10 years the Saints offense has been ranked in the top 5 of total offensive stats every year except one. In 2010 they were ranked 6th.  Five of those years the Saints have been ranked #1. That covers the what have you done for me lately, the challenges this season are:

 

  • Keeping Brees upright and healthy. The responsibility for this falls on the offensive line. The big question here is about the guard play, Peat and Kelemete appear to be the front runners for the starting positions, but I don’t remember a season in recent memory where the focus was on the guards like it will be this year.
  • Incorporating the newcomers. Last year without Graham the offense was able to adjust and thrive. This year with a new tight end (Fleener) and without Colston, more adjustments will need to be made. With Payton and Brees’s track history of adapting to changes this shouldn’t be an issue. It will be interesting to watch Snead and Cooks and Michael Thomas to see how quickly and how well they mesh as a unit.
  • Find out if Ingram is the Man. What the Saints need is a breakout year from Ingram, who has gotten better but still has not had a breakout year, this would be a good time for the Saints for him to have one.
So there you have it….the kickoff article for the 2016 season. A lot of questions but I just checked the standings and we are tied for 1st…..
WhoDat!!!
Bill Stephens, SaintsGab writer, Follow Saints Gab on twitter @SaintsGab

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QB Brees Sticking to Opening Day Deadline for a New Deal with the Saints

Drew Brees

Like Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis, quarterback Drew Brees expects to have a new contract eventually that will keep him with the team, Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

But, as he told ESPN last week, Brees is sticking by his negotiating deadline of the start of the regular season — Sept. 11 vs. the Oakland Raiders at the Superdome — as he enters the final year of his deal.

“My approach is that when the season is here, it’s all about the season, and I don’t want to be worrying about a contract or anything else,” Brees said Thursday after the Saints’ first day of training camp at The Greenbrier. “My mind will be on the preparation, week to week, on the next opponent. If there’s (a deal) to be done, it’s between now and the season.”

Look for the two sides to keep talking, as the Saints need Brees and vice-versa, and I can see a deal between the two sides being worked out at some point before opening day.

Don’t forget to grab a Bet365 bonus code and get on board as the Saints look to get back to the postseason and reclaim the NFC South title in 2016!