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New Orleans Saints mailbag: Can the Saints survive without Mike Bell, Charles Grant and Scott Fujita?

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; By Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune March 19, 2010, 12:41PM Scott Threlkeld / The Times-Picayune How will the New Orleans Saints survive running back Mike Bell? Thanks for all the questions that flooded the New Orleans Saints mailbag over the last ...

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Old 03-19-2010, 09:29 PM   #1
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New Orleans Saints mailbag: Can the Saints survive without Mike Bell, Charles Grant and Scott Fujita?

By Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune
March 19, 2010, 12:41PM
Scott Threlkeld / The Times-Picayune
How will the New Orleans Saints survive running back Mike Bell?
Thanks for all the questions that flooded the New Orleans Saints mailbag over the last 24 hours. Keep 'em coming, and we'll do our best to answer as many as possible over the next couple weeks. And stay tuned this afternoon for a video installment, where I answer some of your questions without all this pesky typing. You can always submit your questions to saintsmailbag@timespicayune.com.

Q: Hey, Mike, I heard a bunch of people say the reason why we saw less of Bell and why he received a low tender was because he ended up in Sean Payton's "doghouse." We all know about the cleat incident captured by NFL Films during the Super Bowl for example. If you had a choice knowing what we know about Bell and what the stats say about Fargas, who would you sign? Scott Vierck, Plano, TX.

A: Hey Scott, there's a good chance the Saints might head into next season without either guy, and it's not because Bell is in the "doghouse." It's more about how much money they want to invest in their No. 3 tailback, especially considering they like their No. 4 tailback Lynell Hamilton an awful lot (see next question.) The Saints are being very skimpy in their spending this offseason, and tailback is a deep position where they're already spending big bucks on Reggie Bush and will likely sign Pierre Thomas to a long-term extension. If they feel like they have to save a million here and a million there, I can understand why they'd let Bell go. And there's been no word yet on a Fargas contract, so it's possible he wants more money than teams have been willing to pay so far. He's not out of the picture yet, but they won't overpay for him either.

As for Payton yelling at Bell on the sideline for wearing the wrong spikes when he slipped at the goal line, that seemed like a heat of the moment thing. It's not like Bell had a wide open hole to run through, and Payton was later filmed saying it was his own fault for the shoes not being checked. Regardless, that alone wouldn't be a reason to get rid of a guy. And the Saints did offer Bell a one-year tender at $1.176 million, so they didn't exactly shove him out the door. ... There's still an outside chance they could choose to match Philadelphia's offer of one-year, $1.7 million with $500,000 guaranteed. But at this point it sure looks like the Saints are willing to move on without Bell.

Q: What is your assessment of Lynell Hamilton? Christy, Marrero.
A: I like what I've seen of Hamilton during the last two years on the practice field, preseason and in a few real-game cameos, Christy. He certainly passes the eyeball test at 6 feet and 235 pounds, and he's powered his way through a few piles. I think the Saints would be comfortable in using him as a short-yardage runner to spell Bush and Thomas and maybe even use him as a "closer" late in games like they did with Bell last year. I don't know if he'd be ready to handle 15 or 20 carries as the featured runner if Thomas went down with an injury though. That's an area where Bell was clearly a great asset early in the year. But he definitely seems to have earned an expanded role in the Saints' offense, which is a big part of the reason why they might let Bell go. They'll also bring in at least one more runner to compete with all those guys and add depth, either through free agency, the draft or both.

Q: Hi Mike, I want to ask if you are concerned about the defense front seven? Before losing Fujita and Grant, I thought that the Saints needed a big run stuffing DT (perhaps even Cody) to rotate in on run downs, a good young pass rushing DE so that we do not have to rely so much on the blitz, and a good young OLB to rush the passer better when we do blitz. The need to improve at DE and OLB is now even greater with Fujita and Grant gone. Yet, we need a big run stuffing DT more than anything given the weakness in stopping the run last year. Just my opinion, but I would have signed a big DT free agent that could rotate in on run downs and used number 1 and 2 draft picks on the best available DE and OLB. I am concerned that we will not be able to get impact players to fill all of the needs at DT, DE and OLB through the draft. The draft may supply two of the needs but not all three. Do you agree? George.

Q: Even though the opportunistic defense came up big many times last year (just look at the trophy), they still weren't very good. The final stats tell the story. There is a lot of room for improvement. How can it get better? Will it get better? Jim Rhodes, Houston, TX.

A: Wow, I guess Super Bowl XLIV is officially in the rear-view mirror, huh? Listen, I understand what both of you guys are saying. The Saints' run defense was extremely porous over the last half of the regular season, and they aren't overflowing with pass rushers. Their defense is far from a dominant unit, but boy, it sure came close once cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter were back healthy down the stretch, which helps to cover up a lot of other flaws.

Without question, I think the Saints need to add young dynamic pass rushers in the draft at either end, outside linebacker or tackle who can immediately contribute on third downs and eventually develop into starters. That should definitely be this team's top priority in the draft. ... But my finger isn't exactly hovering over the panic button.

Remember, Charles Grant didn't play a snap in the playoffs, and they still managed to dominate all three games on defense against three future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. So clearly they can survive without him. And I think Fujita is a very good player who also happens to be one of the best guys I've ever met in this business. But I also think they can move on without him, and maybe even develop one of their young players into an eventual upgrade.

I do expect the Saints to add one or two linemen through free agency, based on what they've been looking at so far, so there will be some depth there. And I expect one or two young players to come in through the draft. So once again, I think their defense will be a better-than-average unit in 2010 led by one of the best defensive strategists in the league in Gregg Williams.

New Orleans Saints mailbag: Can the Saints survive without Mike Bell, Charles Grant and Scott Fujita? | - NOLA.com



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Old 03-20-2010, 07:50 PM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints mailbag: Can the Saints survive without Mike Bell, Charles Grant and Scott Fujita?

YES they will survive without them. they were just as big of a part to the chip as any 1 was but life goes on we'll have to repeat with out them
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Old 03-20-2010, 08:50 PM   #3
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Re: New Orleans Saints mailbag: Can the Saints survive without Mike Bell, Charles Grant and Scott Fujita?

Charles Grant and Mike Bell were none factors the second half of the season and we still won the superbowl. I think we will replace Scott as well so yes we can win without them.
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Old 03-20-2010, 09:47 PM   #4
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Re: New Orleans Saints mailbag: Can the Saints survive without Mike Bell, Charles Grant and Scott Fujita?

It's not a great loss
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:30 AM   #5
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Re: New Orleans Saints mailbag: Can the Saints survive without Mike Bell, Charles Grant and Scott Fujita?

I believe the only loss we will feel is Fujita. Grant really was a no show for the past couple of years and bell is 3rd string. Now, Sharper and Fujita would cause some problems. We can not afford to lose both without someone to replace them. A rookie will not do this time.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:08 PM   #6
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Re: New Orleans Saints mailbag: Can the Saints survive without Mike Bell, Charles Grant and Scott Fujita?

I thought Fujita was great. A loss - for now. But I expect the organisation to replace he and the others in a way to remain effective
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Old 03-23-2010, 01:14 PM   #7
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Re: New Orleans Saints mailbag: Can the Saints survive without Mike Bell, Charles Grant and Scott Fujita?

I believe the huge impact of Charles Grant's loss won't be felt until next year's Super Bowl.

Some players are pointed to as being an "X-Factor".
Grant was our "Juicy Fruit- Factor"!

How do you replace an overweight, under-achieving, oft-injured and grossly overpaid Defensive End that is there to give the "Most brilliant offensive mind in the NFL" the fuel he needs late in the big game?

I just think ya'll are hating on the guy! He was good for something after all.
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