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CheramieIII 01-24-2006 08:59 PM

Team Report!
Saints Team Report

By Mike Triplett
New Orleans Times-Picayune


Sean Payton was the best choice to become head coach, for two main reasons: First, his specialty is quarterbacks, a position that will be critical for the Saints, especially if they draft Matt Leinart or Vince Young as expected; second, he promises to bring discipline to a team that has annually ranked among the league leaders in penalties and turnovers. Payton spent the past three years under Bill Parcells in Dallas. The Saints would be thrilled if the 42-year-old Payton comes in and runs a tight ship the way Parcells does while coaching his offense the way Jon Gruden, Andy Reid and Mike Holmgren do. Like those other successful head coaches with offensive backgrounds, Payton plans to call his own plays. As an offensive mind, Payton is not a Parcells clone. The two reportedly butted heads at times in Dallas, because Payton wanted to open things up and get creative while Parcells wanted to keep things simpler and straightforward. In his career, Payton has been credited for getting the most out of his quarterbacks, including Drew Bledsoe and Vinny Testaverde in Dallas and most notably, Kerry Collins with the Giants. The Saints might be tempted to keep QB Aaron Brooks to see if Payton can turn his career around. More likely they'll draft a quarterback and sign a veteran who can start until the rookie is ready. Depending on who the starter is, they have enough talent to be one of the top 10 or 15 offenses in the NFL, as they were for most of this decade before collapsing in 2005. And their defense actually improved in 2005, with emerging stars like E Will Smith and S Dwight Smith leading the charge. Of all the teams with job vacancies this year, the Saints stood out as one that could most quickly return to 8-8 or 9-7 and give a coach a chance for early success. But with the expected quarterback change and with many of the key starters pushing 30 and over, the Saints will have to do a great job in the next couple drafts and free-agent periods to avoid a rebuilding project.


This will be a crucial offseason for third-year LB Courtney Watson, who missed the last two months of 2005 with a torn knee ligament. Not only must he rehab from the injury, he also needs to develop into the type of linebacker the Saints thought he'd be when they drafted him in the second round in 2004. They've given him every chance to lock down the job, but he was replaced by veteran Ronald McKinnon last year because of ineffective play. The 6-1, 246-pounder has good speed and skill but isn't consistent. He is better in pass coverage than he is as a tackler. And though he has been learning the difficult role of signal caller and "quarterback of the defense," he has not shown an ability to play at full speed. The Saints could afford to upgrade at all three linebacker spots, and the position will be a top priority in the draft and free-agent market. . . . The team is not planning to send QB Adrian McPherson to NFL Europe. McPherson is a bigger project than most rookie quarterbacks, and the Saints figure it's more important for him to spend his first full offseason with his own coaching staff. McPherson, a fifth-round pick in 2005, started only four games as a sophomore at Florida State in 2002, then played in the Arena Football League in 2004. Eventually, it will be important for him to get some on-field experience, and he might go to Europe next year. But for now, it's most important that he learns the Saints' system, especially since the Saints have changed coaching staffs.


A year ago, it seemed as if the Saints were on the verge of releasing DT Johnathan Sullivan, as soon as they could afford to absorb his massive salary cap figure. But the 2003 first-round draft choice finally showed some promise in his third season. Not only does he figure to stay on the roster, but now the Saints must decide whether he can be a full-time starter. Veteran DT Willie Whitehead, who started last year, is an unrestricted free agent. The Saints could re-sign Whitehead and continue with a rotation that includes Sullivan and starter Brian Young. Or they could make defensive tackle a top priority in the free-agent period, figuring Sullivan is maxed out as a second-stringer. More than anything else, the Saints were pleased with Sullivan's attitude last year. He finally cared about football and showed a willingness to work. Teammates and coaches embraced him. And the 6-3, 315-pounder kept his weight down all year, something that had been a tremendous struggle for him in his first two seasons. Sullivan made a half-dozen athletic and agile highlight-type moves that turned heads and showed why the Saints traded up to the sixth overall to draft him.

gfanaticlsu 01-25-2006 11:13 AM

RE: Team Report!
Very interesting

TallySaint 01-25-2006 11:18 AM


As an offensive mind, Payton is not a Parcells clone. The two reportedly butted heads at times in Dallas, because Payton wanted to open things up and get creative while Parcells wanted to keep things simpler and straightforward.
Seems Parcells won this battle. In reading comments from posters at a few Cowboys forums, many were happy to see Payton go because of his lack of creativity and not opening up the Dallas offense. A few did comment that Payton's hands were tied. Interesting.


coastalkid 01-25-2006 11:19 AM

RE: Team Report!
I may be a little out of touch as I have been out of the country for a while now but has anyone got a status on Deuce McAllister's prognosis for return?

CheramieIII 01-25-2006 12:05 PM

RE: Team Report!
Last thing I heard was he would be back next year but probably would not start out at 100%. Here's some information for you:

Deuce News: Deuce out for season
Monday, October 10, 2005 - 05:16 PM

This article appears courtesy of The Times-Picayune

The one player the Saints could least afford to lose, they lost.

Running back Deuce McAllister is gone and, perhaps with him, whatever realistic hopes many harbored for the Saints slinking into the playoffs.
Torn right ACL, done for the year and, if history is any barometer, not the same caliber of runner until 2007. Which means the bad -- a 2-3 record after Sunday’s historically pathetic 52-3 drubbing in Green Bay -- just got a hell of a lot worse.

Granted, no man is an island in a team sport. An argument could be made for the value of others, though it’d be a pretty weak one to make in favor of any Saint after Sunday’s flogging.

But McAllister isn’t just the Saints’ best-paid player. He’s the team’s best-playing player and its most valuable player. And all those who tell you different don’t have a firm grasp of their football senses.

McAllister has been front and center in the miniscule offensive production that the team has mustered this season, pounded to a pulp because help from the passing game has been almost nonexistent, directed toward invisible openings again and again in the name of establishing a running game.

Without him, you wonder what the Saints’ direction will be and how well the team will fare. Because the team wasn’t experiencing much success even with Deuce.

Do the Saints really want to put the ball in the hands, and the burden on the shoulders, of quarterback Aaron Brooks, who has about as much talent as you could hope for in anyone playing the position, but this season has played the worst football of his up-and-down Saints career?
Will they bother trying to do the same things running the ball with Aaron Stecker and Antowain Smith as they did with Deuce, despite the obvious drop-off in ability?

Can the team rely on the defense to keep it close, though early indications are that the defensive stand at the end of last season was an exception, not the rule?

When the answer to every question seems to be “No,� that’s an indication of the expectation for the rest of the year.

The season, unforgiving, will march on. Pitiless opponents, who began marking their calendars with “Ws� where the Saints’ name falls after watching New Orleans shrivel up against the Packers, are even more emboldened today. Because to think the Saints will rally around the injury and pick up the pace is a tad optimistic; apparently, they leave much to be desired in the rally-and-pick-up department.

So, of the good to be gleaned from this, the largest slice is this: At least Deuce got paid before he blew out his knee. At least he was able to cash in on is status as an elite player and classy face of the franchise before the setback occurred.

Because pro football, as we know, is a ruthless business. Despite McAllister’s contributions to the franchise on and off the field -- this season, he became the all-time leading rusher in franchise history and is second in career rushing touchdowns, with 38 -- he’d have had to settle for peanuts this offseason if he hadn’t been able to swing a new deal with the Saints last offseason.
Problem is, at the end of the day, we still must revert to thinking about the season at hand, one that looked messy after Sunday and appears to be a complete wreck now. Team appeared listless and lifeless against a winless team with the best player on the roster in uniform. So it certainly is capable of deflating, drifting away and landing with a thud against some of the better remaining teams, including against Atlanta on Sunday.

The one player the Saints could least afford to lose, they lost.

Everything else might not be far behind.

TallySaint 01-25-2006 12:38 PM

Many fans consider Deuce washed up. It's way to early to tell. He's a good RB.

But there's that possibility that Deuce won't meet our needs in the near future. Smith and Stecker are decent... and my flourish with offensive line help and a new coaching regime. Tough to tell. The RB position is a concern. Certainly Payton and staff will take a close look and shore it up.

Running the ball down defensive throats would be nice. :D


TheDeuce 01-25-2006 01:25 PM

First of all, good read Cher, thanks!


Many fans consider Deuce washed up. It's way to early to tell. He's a good RB.
Agreed. I say we give this guy full support for at least another season. See if he returns to his 2003 form where he was one of the most exciting runners in the league. However, at this point in the franchise's history, with so many other holes on this team, it just doesn't make sense to me to go out and waste cap room or a draft pick on a RB. If he bombs out again this season, then I say we start to look elsewhere for our running needs, but right now, I say we should see if Deuce can bounce back.

Additional note, I was very proud of Sully this last season. I think he showed a lot of heart when he played, and he showed some discipline by keeping his weight down. I think with a new coaching staff, especially one that is supportive and energetic and not full of complete retards, Sullivan will finally emerge into a full-time starter. That's just my opinion, though.

FatiusJeebs 01-25-2006 02:22 PM

I agree with supporting Deuce...but lets be real. Not many RB's have actually come back to FULL form after an injury like his. I with Deuce but....plan ahead and prepare for the worst. This may sound a bit ignorant or naive but.....I thought Anthony Thomas was really good as a Bear... why not work with him? He has only been in the league for like 6 years right? Not old....I remember he was powerful...and ran for 2 1,000 seasons with Chicago. I think maybe we should work with him and Deuce while we address other positions.

jergensl 01-25-2006 02:34 PM

i say cut smith....test out stecker and thomas more....give deuce one more year to prove that he still has it...and draft a rb in the 3rd or 4th round this year

FanNJ 01-25-2006 03:32 PM

Of the backs that were fielded this year the old man Smith looked the best to me. He did run with guts and broke some nice runs, but obviously lacked the breakaway speed that the Duce exhibited in 03'. I'm not sold on Stecker as an everydown back so he does need a complement. I really hope that Duce can return to form but it took two years for Edge to return to pre injury form so I am some what skeptical but still praying.

This years draft will have some quality backs in it and Maybe if the trade down scenerio happens with the first pick the Saints may be able to pick up some defense and a back in the second round. Addai may still be around come the second round but I would rather see maybe Vickers from Colorado, or back hat has sustained less injury. Just a thought.

And to boot isn't Sullivan in a contract year? Maybe he will play his heart out next year, as he did look pretty good when he finally got on the field this year. He was actually in and around plays.

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