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GumboBC 03-27-2005 11:15 AM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?
Over the past 4-years we’ve watched the Saints miss the playoffs. We’ve seen the offense go from one of the highest scoring in the league to one that really seemed to be struggling. And, of course, we watched a defense over the past 4 years that couldn’t stop anyone.

Much of the blame must be placed on Jim Haslett. Say what you want about Haslett but he is the head coach and it’s his responsibility to get this team to the playoffs. Sure, Haslett might not be responsible of acquiring all of the personnel, but it is his job to get the most out of the players he’s got.

Now, some might be of the opinion that Haslett has one of the most talented teams and this club has underachieved more than any other in the NFL. Maybe that’s the case for the offense. But there have been several weak areas there too. Neither OT has played very well. Gandy nor Riley has ever been strengths when it comes to pass blocking.

And the receivers, besides Joe Horn, have never been a strength of this team. Stallworth has never lived up to his potential. Between his injuries and his inconsistent ways, Stallworth has been as much of weakness as he has been a positive for this offense.

Also, the tightends have been as inconsistent as any group on the field. Boo Williams has shown flashes but he’s also shown why he can’t be counted on.

So, while many might see great talent that has be squandered on offense, I see many weak areas.

Then when it comes to the defense, I think this unit should have played better. And I think much of their failure is due to DC Rick Venturi’s scheme. Still, I don’t think this defense has had the talent to finish any higher than middle of the pack.

I think Haslett takes too much blame for not coaching up the talent we have. I believe that there simply hasn’t been that much talent on the team. Not enough to be a consistent playoff team anyway.

Still, it’s Haslett’s job to get this team to the playoffs. And until he does there are going to be many unhappy fans as long as he is the coach.

There have been a couple of good moves this off season. Some of the young players really stepped their game up towards the end of last season. If Haslett can somehow get a playmaking linebacker for Darren Howard, this might be the year Haslett silences some of his critics.

JKool 03-27-2005 12:29 PM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?
This is a difficult argument to make. Here are some initial responses:

(1) Haz has not always had a bad OLine. In fact, Gandy and Riley were not always our OTs. Guys like Willie Roaf, Spencer Folau (before injury), and Kyle Turley have all been OTs for this team during Haz\'s tenure. Thus, I think it is a hard argument to make that the OLine has hurt Haz\'s reputation and ability to make the playoffs (at least until this year and maybe last year).

This goes against the argument, in general.

(2) Why do people think this team has so much talent? I asked bignic this the other day, and I got no response. Sure, I think this is a talented team, but I don\'t know why I think that. They are a consistently .500 team. There are some guys with some obvious talent, like Charles Grant, Mike McKenzie, Charles Bentley, and Joe Horn (at least in my book), McAllister (at least in the first few seasons) but after that how talent are our boys?

This certainly weighs in favor of Billy\'s argument if it turns out that we don\'t really have that much talent.

Furthermore, I certainly think there is reason to believe we have some potential, but talent? I guess, I don\'t know what I think about this.

(3) This whole Stallworth being inconsistent thing I think is overrated. Stallworth will be entering his fourth year and second injury free season (crossing fingers) this season. Why should this matter? Well, there is usually (usually people, I said usually) a 3-4 year learning curve for WRs in the NFL. That is, most guys playing WR don\'t blossom into really productive starters until their 3 or 4 year on an NFL team. For Donte, including his injury time, this will be roughly his 3rd year. I expect good things from him. This last season, I saw him make some tough grabs, take a couple of big hits (and hang on to the ball), and he\'s started finding his way open more often. I\'d like to hear some argument that he was that inconsistent this year before I make a decision, but I think we\'ve got good reason to think that our WR position will be pretty good this year.

Granted, that doesn\'t affect Billy\'s argument regarding Haz, but it was related. ;)

(4) I agree that Haz has been cursed with some serious bums on defense. However, if you take any of the rumors to be true then this is in part on Haz - he is the guy who appeared to WANT T-buck and Sully. Yikes. How can he not take some blame for this defense being what it is? Furthermore, he certainly saw guys like Bockwoldt and Allen in practice and didn\'t think they should be on the field? Isn\'t that at least in part Haz\'s fault?

I guess, I agree that the defense has a lot to do with our .500 performance - at least as much as Haz, if I had to guess. However, I don\'t see that that alone exhonorates Haz from a good deal of blame for our substandard performances.

saintswhodi 03-27-2005 12:34 PM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?
Fine, fine points Kool. :thumbsup:

jbutts 03-27-2005 01:48 PM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?
This is not to disregard the statments made before, as they are quite valid and in many cases true.

From a leadership and motivational standpoint it can be imperative for the coach to acknowledge need and want of all the players on his squad. Blame still need be given, I personally pardon some of Has\'
faults as i believe them to be the right things to say.
It is kind of like the telling mom and dad that the car they just bought you is perfect when it is a smoking piece of garbage. In the parents mind it does everything you need from the car (point a to point b and so forth...) but applied practically to the racetrack it can\'t get off the line.
It is my opinion that Has wanted a fast Saftey and got one. He just wasnt specfic enough. He should have said he wanted Sammy Knight in Rocket shoes.

Danno 03-28-2005 07:00 AM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?
Give this much talent to a real coaching staff and it will freaking explode!

Questioning the talent on this team comes a bit too close to giving this coaching staff a free pass.

NOPE. No way. I think this team has had more talent over the past few years than half this years playoff teams. No doubt in my mind.

Give this staff ANY 22 playes in the league and I think 13-3 is probably the best they\'d ever do, with a little luck.

JKool 03-28-2005 09:50 AM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?

I was really just wondering what makes people think we\'re so talented. I\'m really no asserting that we\'re not, I\'m just wondering what the evidence is.

I agree that if we changed the coaching staff, we would get evidence one way or the other. Of course, sadly, we didn\'t do that. I agree that is a travesty.

Do you really think our defense would be that much better if we merely had different coaches? I guess, the jury is out for me on that one.

Danno 03-28-2005 10:20 AM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?


I was really just wondering what makes people think we\'re so talented. I\'m really no asserting that we\'re not, I\'m just wondering what the evidence is.

I agree that if we changed the coaching staff, we would get evidence one way or the other. Of course, sadly, we didn\'t do that. I agree that is a travesty.

Do you really think our defense would be that much better if we merely had different coaches? I guess, the jury is out for me on that one.
I didn\'t mean we were talented at every position. I meant we have more than our share of highly talented guys. Deuce, Horn, Bentley, Stallworth, Grant, Young, Howard, Smith, McKenzie, AB (yes AB), Lewis, Carney, Conwell, Karney (and before him T-rex).
But there are a few areas where we aren\'t as talented as other teams. Namely the NT, FS, OLB, RT. But every team has a few positions that would be considered B and C (average to below average) players. No team has A-players at EVERY position. My point is simply a good (or even decent) coaching staff can easily win with as few weak spots as we have. Especially if they\'ve had 4 years to address them.

GumboBC 03-28-2005 10:28 AM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?
While this team has great talent at some of the \"glamor\" positions, I think the offensive and defensive lines really affects this team in a negative way.

I think without a strong offensive line ... it really limits what we can do in the passing game. And the running game to a certain extent. I do believe our line has been much better at run blocking than pass blocking. But in \'04 the offensive line seemed to really lack the ability to open up any running lanes and often let defenders come free in to the backfield on running plays.

Ditto for the defensive line. While we\'ve had great pass rushers on the outside, the weakness up the middle (DTs and LBs) have made them not nearly as effective as they could be.

In conclusion. While I agee with Danno to a certain extent, I\'m not so sure another coaching staff would do so much better with Victor Riliey, Wayne Gandy, Brian Young, Howard Green, Colby, Waton and James Allen.

JKool 03-28-2005 10:28 AM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?
Ah, I see. You meant it to be a general point about the overall quality of our team. I do agree.

I didn\'t mean to be cheeky. I have merely been interested in the question - how does one know that a particular player is talented?

There are some fairly obvious answers, but our level of talent gets asserted around here on a regular basis, usually followed by the claim that our team sucky, suck, sucks. That seems inconsistent to me. Thus, I was merely poking around to see if anyone had any suggestions as to how and determine which players were talented.

WhoDat 03-28-2005 10:39 AM

Squandered Talent? Maybe, maybe not?
I don\'t know that it\'s inconsistent. I think it illustrates a pretty clear point. This team underachieves. It\'s been asserted (by many in the media, not just by me or on this board) that the Saints are the most talented team in the NFC South. Who is the only team not to win the NFC South? The Saints. What does that tell you? Either there is a broad misconception about our level of talent (which I personally do not believe), or that this team is simply inconsistent and underachieving. You first must decide which of those you believe. Then you can decide why (e.g. b/c our coaches suck, or our players are all cancers, or the media smokes crack).

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