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Danno 01-09-2005 08:35 AM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
CHANGES ON THE WAY
After another disappointing season, Saints coach Jim Haslett isn't likely to accept the status quo

Sunday, January 09, 2005
By Jeff Duncan
Staff writer

Continuity and stability were the buzzwords for the Saints last offseason. But a mainly status-quo offseason resulted in yet another 8-8 season.

Clearly, status quo won't cut it this spring. Changes, as coach Jim Haslett insisted Monday, must and will be made. How extensive the changes are, on and off the field, remains to be seen.

Haslett huddled with General Manager Mickey Loomis in lengthy postseason evaluation sessions all week in an effort to hammer out an offseason game plan. Neither Haslett nor Loomis has revealed details of their plan. But in conversations with numerous team sources, a picture is starting to emerge.

One primary objective of the plan is to restructure the football operations, in particular the personnel department. Coaching changes also appear to be imminent. Several coaches on the offensive staff, including coordinator Mike McCarthy, quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard and offensive line coach Jack Henry, could be headed elsewhere. That could require Haslett to make the most important staff hire since selecting Rick Venturi as defensive coordinator in 2002.

In return for the overhaul, Haslett is seeking a two-year contract extension, the idea being to end the relentless speculation about his job security.

If Haslett is not appeased, he could force owner Tom Benson's hand. A buyout could be negotiated. That possibility, though, appears remote as both Loomis and Benson appear willing to work with Haslett.

Team officials expect a decision to be made by Benson as early as Monday.

Once Haslett's future is determined, the brain trust can turn its attention to the roster.

Thanks to Loomis' prudent accounting, the Saints are in good shape against the salary cap for a second consecutive season. They are projected to enter free agency at about $20 million less than the projected $85 million salary cap.

Much of that money will be dedicated to long-term extensions for running back Deuce McAllister and possibly wide receiver Joe Horn, as well as re-signing priority unrestricted free agents Jay Bellamy, Steve Gleason, Jason Craft and Tony Bryant. Restricted free agents James Allen, Mel Mitchell and exclusive rights free agents Howard Green and Talman Gardner also must be offered contracts.

Signing McAllister and Horn, two of the team's most productive and popular players, are top priorities. Both players have indicated a desire to remain in New Orleans. Both are grossly underpaid by market value, and should demand lucrative deals. ...

Releasing veteran wide receiver Jerome Pathon, who is due a $2.5 million base salary and $650,000 roster bonus this spring, would clear $2.3 million.

The Saints could clear more by releasing or restructuring deals with veterans Ashley Ambrose ($1.8 million), Derrick Rodgers ($1.7 million) and Orlando Ruff ($1.2 million).

The Saints also must decide what to do with defensive end Darren Howard. At one time team officials were resigned to letting Howard leave in free agency. However, the five-year veteran played so well late in the season that the team is re-evaluating his situation. ...


...
On offense, retooling the line is the top priority.
...
Don't expect Riley back.
...
The development of Henderson could cost Pathon his roster spot.


It's a decent year for two of their primary areas of need: linebacker and offensive line. Tackles Jonas Jennings, Floyd Womack, Kareem McKenzie and Floyd Womack are on the market. Linebackers Kendrell Bell of Pittsburgh and Edgerton Harwell of Baltimore will be top prospects.

...

The draft grows deeper by the day as several underclass prospects declare their eligibility. This year's class is top-heavy in defensive linemen, running backs and receivers, all areas of strength for the Saints. That could push a top cornerback, linebacker or offensive linemen to them at No. 16.


Free agent acquisitions Brian Young, Aaron Stecker and Jamar Nesbit played key roles and were solid additions to the locker room. Ditto for Jason Craft, who was acquired in a trade with Jacksonville.
Jeff Duncan can be reached at jduncan@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3405.

Entire Article,,,

http://www.nola.com/saints/t-p/index...5477253230.xml


JKool 01-09-2005 12:30 PM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
Nice post Danno. Good find.

I\'m ready to buy into the hype for next year! I\'m excited - genuinely.

saintfan 01-09-2005 01:55 PM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
I think Haz wants to see changes in how the personell is handeled -- or who\'s handeling it. He\'s taken the critisism for every move this team has made, but we might be about to learn that it wasn\'t Jim pulling those strings.

bayouking318 01-09-2005 02:06 PM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
It would\'ve been a better read if it mention the firing of Venturi ;)

WhoDat 01-09-2005 04:44 PM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
Quote:

Continuity and stability were the buzzwords for the Saints last offseason. But a mainly status-quo offseason resulted in yet another 8-8 season.

Clearly, status quo won\'t cut it this spring. Changes, as coach Jim Haslett insisted Monday, must and will be made.
I have to say that I\'m split on this. I\'m glad that changes will be made. That Jim realizes that gives makes me happy. Of course, this is not something different than what we\'ve seen every other offseason - a new philosophy and new promises and plans about how fix the problems. I believe that the Saints will never be successful so long as they make changes in scheme, strategy, personnel on and off the field, and attitude every year. I guess I\'m happy to hear it, but I still have reservations.

Quote:

Several coaches on the offensive staff, including coordinator Mike McCarthy, quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard and offensive line coach Jack Henry, could be headed elsewhere. That could require Haslett to make the most important staff hire since selecting Rick Venturi as defensive coordinator in 2002.
I\'ll go on record right now and say that if McCarthy leaves and Venturi stays, this team will get worse before it gets better. I don\'t like this at all.

Quote:

In return for the overhaul, Haslett is seeking a two-year contract extension, the idea being to end the relentless speculation about his job security.
Please God, no. Benson - make him prove it. Don\'t make the same mistake you made with Brooks... again.

FireVenturi 01-09-2005 05:59 PM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
Quote:

It would\'ve been a better read if it mention the firing of Venturi ;)
WURD :D :D :D :D

GumboBC 01-09-2005 07:27 PM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
Changes. Yes, I think SOME changes need to be made.

Starting with Venturi. The defense started playing much better once they got away from playing that read and react crap.

In fact, the defense started looking downright dominant.

I\'ve always hated that read and react defense. It was rumored Venturi was no longer calling the shots on defense.

I think a change there might be good. But if Venturi was calling the shots the last 4-games, I can live with him coming back.

Mike McCarthy.. There\'s nothing wrong with him. It\'s not his fault Deuce got hurt or the offensive line couldn\'t block. I see nothing wrong with his playcalling.

What we really need are a couple of more \"football\" players on defense and we need to rework our offensive line.

Believe me. Coaching isn\'t going to make our offensive line good.

And coaching alone isn\'t going to make our defense as good as it needs to be.

Coaches change all the time and more times than not it doesn\'t make much of a difference.

PLAYERS, NOT COACHES, WIN BALL GAMES!!

Parcells will tell you the same thing.

The Patriots aren\'t winnning games by coaching alone. They are an extremely talented team.

As a matter of fact, NO TEAM is winning on coaching alone. It\'s about 75% players and 25% Coaching.

I have spoken :cool:

ScottyRo 01-09-2005 08:47 PM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
Quote:

Mike McCarthy.. There\'s nothing wrong with him. It\'s not his fault Deuce got hurt or the offensive line couldn\'t block. I see nothing wrong with his playcalling.
How can you not see what so many of the rest of the fans are seeing? Deuce\'s injury has nothing to do with this conclusion. First of all, he sux at calling plays whether Deuce is in or not. Secondly, he has sucked the last couple years - or at least it has become more pronounced lately.

kevinn1972 01-09-2005 09:16 PM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
I\'m with Scotty on this one. While McCarthy may be a decent coordinator, I believe his influence has gotten stale here. I don\'t know if he\'s gotten into a rut or what, but it seems like that\'s what it is. This offense needs an injection of new blood, somebody who has a similar offensive philosophy but also has some original ideas. Call me crazy but what would you guys think of Sean Salisbury as QB coach and Jim Fassell as OC if he doesn\'t get a head coaching gig? I know Dennis Green was pretty high on Salisbury before this season and he came pretty close to leaving ESPN. And Fassell did pretty good calling the plays for the Giants. Think about it, Brooks is just as good as Kerry Collins ever was and we have a better receiver corps than NY ever did while he was there. Just a thought......

[Edited on 10/1/2005 by kevinn1972]

bayouking318 01-09-2005 11:15 PM

Changes on the Way (TP must read)
 
I just have blame McCarthy for the mistake he made for the 1st half of the season with two tight ends and no fullbacks. It seems like he finally realized that the TE couldn\'t run block or be effective in the passing game, but I don\'t believe he need to be fired.


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