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USA Today's Saints team report

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Inside Slant Saints coach Jim Haslett has been an extremely busy man lately. In addition to spending several days in Mobile, Ala., scouting talent at the Senior Bowl, Haslett filled two openings on his coaching staff and began a search ...

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Old 02-04-2005, 10:42 AM   #1
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USA Today's Saints team report

Inside Slant
Saints coach Jim Haslett has been an extremely busy man lately.
In addition to spending several days in Mobile, Ala., scouting talent at the Senior Bowl, Haslett filled two openings on his coaching staff and began a search for an offensive coordinator after Mike McCarthy departed after five seasons with the team.

McCarthy, who was hired by Haslett when he became the Saints' coach in 2000, left to join the San Francisco 49ers and first-year coach Mike Nolan on Jan. 27.

The Saints offered the position to former Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach Marc Trestman, but he accepted a job as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina State just one day after McCarthy's hiring was announced by the 49ers.

Haslett then received permission from the Denver Broncos to speak with running backs coach Bobby Turner about the vacancy. Turner interviewed with the team on Feb. 1.

The 55-year-old Turner is the most tenured coach on Mike Shanahan's staff. He has been with the Broncos for the past 10 seasons and was part of Super Bowl victories in 1997 and '98.

Saints quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard is also a candidate for the position.

There was considerable speculation about McCarthy's impending departure in the weeks before it became official as media and fans wondered if he had fallen out of favor with Haslett.

But McCarthy, who also interviewed with the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars, said it was simply time for a change of scenery.

"It was just my time to go," said McCarthy, who turned down Haslett's offer of a two-year contract extension last winter. "I had my time here — five good years. This decision was based on personal growth, both professionally and financially."

During McCarthy's five-year tenure, the Saints enjoyed the most prolific stretch of offense in club history. They set 10 team records and 25 individual records, and the offense featured a 1,000-yard rusher and at least one Pro Bowl representative each of the five seasons.

NOTES, QUOTES

—The Saints added two NFL coaching veterans to their staff on Jan. 28 with the hiring of Willy Robinson to the newly created position of senior assistant/defense and Johnny Roland as running backs coach.

The hiring of Robinson, who was the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers last season, raised some eyebrows. But General Manager Mickey Loomis said Rick Venturi, whose defense ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed in 2004, will remain the coordinator of the unit.

Robinson is expected to work with the defensive backs and help compile the weekly game plan. Before coaching in San Francisco, the 48-year-old Robinson coached defensive backs with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"We were looking for a coach who could bring a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience," Haslett said. "Willy gives us another set of eyes, and he has been involved with defensive game-planning in the NFL for almost a decade. His contributions to our staff will be as an adviser for every position group, particularly the secondary, and as a top assistant to Rick."

Roland, who spent last season with the Green Bay Packers, has coached Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, Jerome Bettis, Wilbert Montgomery and Neal Anderson in 26 seasons as an NFL assistant. Both of his Packers starters last season — running back Ahman Green and fullback William Henderson — were chosen to the Pro Bowl.

—Negotiators for the state and the Saints wrapped up their first round of closed-door talks on Jan. 26 without resolving any of the issues standing in the way of keeping the team in Louisiana through 2025.

Dome spokesman Bill Curl said the two sides met privately for two days for a total of seven hours but no major issues were resolved.

"No firm timetable has been set for the conclusion of negotiations," Curl said. "Both sides have expressed the desire to reach a prompt conclusion. Numerous substantive issues were addressed."

He did not say what those points were and also refused to say when more talks are scheduled. He said Saints owner Tom Benson and Gov. Kathleen Blanco did not attend the first two days of talks.

—Ben Dogra, the agent for two-time Pro Bowl running back Deuce McAllister, said he plans to call Saints GM Mickey Loomis after the Super Bowl to begin preliminary contract extension talks.

McAllister has one year remaining on the contract he signed as a first-round draft pick in 2001, but he has said that he would like to get a new contract done during the off-season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not adding a defensive coordinator, Rick (Venturi) is our defensive coordinator. This is an opportunity to add a veteran coach who has a lot of experience, a guy that has a lot of knowledge and has been in the league for a good amount of time and had success." — Saints GM Mickey Loomis on the addition of former 49ers defensive coordinator Willy Robinson to the coaching staff.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

After finishing last in the league in total yards allowed and giving up more than 400 points, the Saints will likely make some big changes on defense this offseason.

While the defensive line was considered the strength of the unit, the linebackers and secondary came under much scrutiny this season. But a young group of linebackers — including third-year pro James Allen and rookies Courtney Watson and Colby Bockwoldt — played much better toward the end of the season.

That left the back end of the secondary as a source of concern, considering free safety Tebucky Jones and strong safety Jay Bellamy have not been big playmakers the last two years with only five interceptions between them in 32 games.

Bellamy turns 33 in July and is also an unrestricted free agent, which means the Saints might make a strong effort toward upgrading the safety spots in the coming months.

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

QUARTERBACK: Starter — Aaron Brooks. Backup — Todd Bouman.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters — RB Deuce McAllister, FB Mike Karney. Backups — RB Aaron Stecker, RB Fred McAfee.

TIGHT END: Starter — Ernie Conwell. Backups — Boo Williams, Lamont Hall, Zach Hilton.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — Joe Horn, Donte Stallworth. Backups — Jerome Pathon, Talman Gardner, Michael Lewis, Devery Henderson.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LT Wayne Gandy, LG Kendyl Jacox, C LeCharles Bentley, RG Montrae Holland, RT Victor Riley. Backups — T/G Spencer Folau, G Jamar Nesbit, T Jon Stinchcomb.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LE Charles Grant, LT Brian Young, RT Howard Green, RE Darren Howard. Backups — DE Will Smith, DT Willie Whitehead, DE Tony Bryant, DT Johnathan Sullivan, DT Rodney Leisle, DL Kenny Smith (injured reserve).

LINEBACKERS: Starters — SLB James Allen, MLB Courtney Watson, WLB Colby Bockwoldt. Backups — MLB Orlando Ruff, SLB Sedrick Hodge, WLB Derrick Rodgers (injured reserve), MLB Cie Grant (injured reserve), WLB Darrin Smith, MLB Roger Knight, WLB Terrence Melton.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — LCB Mike McKenzie, RCB Fakhir Brown, SS Jay Bellamy, FS Tebucky Jones. Backups — CB Fred Thomas (nickel), CB Jason Craft (dime), CB Ashley Ambrose (injured reserve), SS Mel Mitchell, FS Steve Gleason, CB Monty Montgomery.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K John Carney, P Mitch Berger, H Todd Bouman, LS Kevin Houser, PR-KR Michael Lewis.
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Old 02-04-2005, 10:47 AM   #2
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USA Today's Saints team report

Venturi is our coordinator.
:casstet:
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Old 02-04-2005, 10:49 AM   #3
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nice to read here rather than scanning around the net, tks.

---an uncoordinated coordinator at that
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:06 AM   #4
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The hiring of Robinson, who was the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers last season, raised some eyebrows. But General Manager Mickey Loomis said Rick Venturi, whose defense ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed in 2004, will remain the coordinator of the unit.

Robinson is expected to work with the defensive backs and help compile the weekly game plan.
Haslett\'s off-season analysis of the Saints is starting to come in to foucs a little more.

Let me all tell ya\'ll something:

For all of you that might think Venturi is the D-coordinator in \"name\" only and someone else is going to be calling the defense. DON\'T BE FOOLED!!

Haslett usually shoots it pretty straight every year and usually what ever he says is what he does.

Haslett tells us every year what he thinks the problems are on defense and what he\'s going to do. And he holds true to his word.

He told us the Ray Lewis\' of the worlds don\'t grow on trees and he felt comfortable in starting Orlando Ruff. And what did Haslett do? He started Orlando Ruff and left the MLB positon unaddressed!!

He told us he was fine with Ashley Ambrose and Fred Thomas as the starting CBs. And true to his word, they played the entire 2003 season and they got killed.

He told us the last couple of years that Venturi was one of the best defensive minds in the game. What happened? Venturi was still the coordinator and we finished 32nd in defense.

And if Haslett tells you Venturi is going to be the man calling the shots this year...you had better believe him.

While the defensive line was considered the strength of the unit, the linebackers and secondary came under much scrutiny this season. But a young group of linebackers — including third-year pro James Allen and rookies Courtney Watson and Colby Bockwoldt — played much better toward the end of the season.

That left the back end of the secondary as a source of concern, considering free safety Tebucky Jones and strong safety Jay Bellamy have not been big playmakers the last two years with only five interceptions between them in 32 games.

Bellamy turns 33 in July and is also an unrestricted free agent, which means the Saints might make a strong effort toward upgrading the safety spots in the coming months.
So, addressing the saftey position is where Haslett is headed.

Sure, we need an upgrade at safty. But he might want to think about the LINEBACKER positon. Courtney Watson may go on to do great. But, I\'m FAR from being sold on this kid.

And I\'m FAR from being sold on James Allen.

And I\'m FAR from being sold on our DT Brian Young.

There\'s bigger needs on defense than safety, IMO.

And I think Haslett is making a mistake here.

But he always does when it comes to the defense.






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Old 02-04-2005, 11:09 AM   #5
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Write this down, for the first time in my history here I agree with you 100% Gumbo. Now, to follow that up, do you still think we should have kept Haslett?
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:17 AM   #6
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Write this down, for the first time in my history here I agree with you 100% Gumbo. Now, to follow that up, do you still think we should have kept Haslett?
Man, you\'re putting me on the spot here. I try and be fair with all the coaches and players...........BUT..........

If Haslett doesn\'t address the linbacker position...then he needs to go.

And keeping Venturi is reason enough to go, IMO.

But, I\'ll see what happens in FA.

Maybe he\'s going to address the linebacker position in free-agency.

To be honest, at this very point in time, I think we will having a losing season next year. Or 8-8 again...

Benson, Loomis, and Haslett continue to baffle me.

But there\'s a lot that can happen between now and training camp.

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Old 02-04-2005, 11:21 AM   #7
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Man, you have your tap dancing shoes on today.

But, if that if as close to making a firm decision as you are gonna get, I will take it. Honestly, I wanted him gone a year ago. But not firing Venturi has to be the dumbest move ever. The Packers D-coordinator got fired last year for ONE PLAY(4th and 26) and made Atlanta\'s defense better as soon as he got there. Not getting rid of Venturi or at least demoting him has to be grounds for immediate dismissal. I have no faith they will pursue the best LBs in free agency, or even ones anyone would normally consider good.
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:31 AM   #8
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To be honest, at this very point in time, I think we will having a losing season next year. Or 8-8 again...
ok-so let\'s trad eup and get a good player-say trade into the top ten and try to get johnson or smith..and then suffer a loosing season where we develop guys and then have another top pick..and then have a great season.

I\'m tired of 8-8 barely making the playoffs but not getting good draft picks.
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:32 AM   #9
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USA Today's Saints team report

So, addressing the saftey position is where Haslett is headed.
Sure, we need an upgrade at safty. But he might want to think about the LINEBACKER positon.
You are preaching to the choir my friend.

Courtney Watson may go on to do great. But, I\'m FAR from being sold on this kid.
And I\'m FAR from being sold on James Allen.
If I had to list our LB\'s in order of how sold I am, I\'d put Watson 1st and Allen 2nd.
Is Ruff better than either? NO
Is Bockwoldt? A 7th round rookie? Yea, right.
Is Hodge? Hardly
Knight? Rodgers? There are pitiful.
I\'m sold on one LB. Courtney Watson. Allen and Colby are keepers, at worst for back-ups. The rest are replaceable with street free-agents as far as I\'\'m concerned.

And I\'m FAR from being sold on our DT Brian Young.
He\'s the only DT I think is worth his weight. Leisle? Green? Sullivan? Bryant? Smith? Whitehead?
C\'mon. Of all the wasted space we have at DT, you state Young as the guy you\'re not sold on?
There\'s bigger needs on defense than safety, IMO.
And I think Haslett is making a mistake here.
But he always does when it comes to the defense.
Correct...
I wanna see 4 new LB\'s, 2 Free-agents and Two Rookies.
I wanna see a decent Free-agent 2-gap DT to team with Bryant.
Then I wanna see a ball hawking Free-safety
Then I wanna see a slobber-knocking strong safety.
Then some young CB to develop.

Draft wish list at 27...
1.OBJ 2.Mosley 3.Cooks 4.Fuller 5.Shazier 6.Nix
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Old 02-04-2005, 11:33 AM   #10
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saintwhodi --

Let me tell you a little story...

For 2 years in a row, I believed our defense was going to be very good.

Year before last we signed Sully and had Grady Jackson as the other DT. Then we already had Charles Grant and Darren Howard.

That sounded like one hell of a defensive line to me.

I knew we needed a line-backer and Haslett beleived in Orlando Ruff. Okay, Haz, good enough for me. I was sold.

But Grady just quit on the team, or something. Howard got hurt. Orlando Ruff couldn\'t get it done. And Ashley Ambrose got burned far too often.

To top that off, Tebucky couldn\'t taclkle a blocking dummy.

But I think half of our starting defense missed over half the year.

So, I gave Ventui and Haz the benefit of the doubt..

Well, then came the 2004 season. Haz drafted Courtney Watson and Will Smith (which was surprising to me) and Haz left the CB position unaddressed.

I thought Fred Thomas would be okay. But I wasn\'t real happy with the way Haz addressed the defense.

But, still, I was optimistic..

Haz made a bunch of promises about the defense.

What happened?

We finished last in total defense..

Fool me once..........shame on you.

Fool me twice.........shame on me.

There won\'t be a third time.... :exclam:

We got McKenzie which was huge.

We still haven\'t addressed the DT position properly, which I think is the most important postion on the entire defense.

We haven\'t addressed the MLB spot properly.

We need saftey help....... I think.

Lot of problems and I\'m not hearing a lot that\'s going to be done about them.

We\'ll see..........

[Edited on 4/2/2005 by GumboBC]
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