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WhoDat 02-11-2003 08:13 AM

Keith Brookings is likely to be named a franchise player by his team or at least tagged in some way so that the Falcons can retain some rights to him. Marvin Lewis is expected to make a serious push to keep Spikes in Cinci as well. With the two marquee middle linebackers not likely to be available... who do the Saints look to now to fill that rather large void?

lumm0x 02-11-2003 03:00 PM

Claibourne is a first round top 10 pick that was the Butkus award winner coming out of USC. He started with Detroit as a OLB but was moved last season to MLB and played much better. From what I have read and a little bit of what I have seen, he is a big, athletic backer similar to a Jeremiah Trotter mold, but is working to improve his instincts and ability to sniff out the play. He lacks Charlie Clemons pass rush ability but is better in coverage and a better tackler.

Just a word of note KFFL is saying that Cincinnati is only transition tagging Takeo Spikes, giving them only the right to match qualifying offers, at worst he gets $4.85 M on a one year deal. That means he fair game for contract offers and Cincy can only match to keep him with no compensation if he leaves.

WhoDat 02-11-2003 03:47 PM

Interesting. I didn\'t know that about Spikes. Then he is definitely the guy the Saints need to go after. I had forgotten about Chris Claiborne, but he is a good backer. If I could pick between the two I would be decidedly in favor of Spikes, but Claiborne is a solid MLB also. What are the odds that the Saints are going to pony up and get either of these guys?

BuffordT 02-11-2003 05:08 PM

Food for thought - Was the problem with Clemons really due to his lousy play, or was it that we had a very poor pash rush and secondary? Wasn\'t the heavy lunch bunch put together to free up the LB\'s for pass rush and playing the run? I just can\'t get myself to believe that a guy is totally at fault for the drop off in performance that he had. Granted, he does get caught out of position occasionally.
If the Saints are going to a 3-4 this year, it would be perfect for Clemons. Just my two bits.
I agree with Claiborne, but I think which ever LB we go after, we are going to have to bring our wallets.

D_it_up 02-11-2003 05:25 PM

Buford T, you couldn\'t have said it better. I can name you four players off the top of my head who had sub-par years because of the \"hype\" brought on by the defensive tackles at the beginning of the season. Those four players are Charlie Clemons, Sammy Knight, Darren Howard, and yes...even the rookie, Charles Grant. Think about what Grant and Howard could have accomplished had they some help pushing the O-line from the \"happy meals\" Hand and Jackson. Both would probably be in double-digits in sacks, and Grant only played portions of games. Clemons would have had more tackles and a few more sacks because he would have holes opened for him by the D-line. Sammy Knight would have possibly had more picks and less tackles, because the opponents wouldn\'t have been able to get as far downfield, so they would be forced to throw more. Plus, when Sammy was constantly playing more of a linebacker, he couldn\'t drop into pass coverage as much. That was possibly the worst display of a Saints defense for a season since I started watching them back in \'86. There are so many shoulda, coulda, wouldas, but nothing can be done about it now. Still there are some major questions at linebacker. I just don\'t think it\'s all Charlie Clemons fault.

BuffordT 02-11-2003 05:33 PM

Agreed, D.
Sammy is a John Lynch style player: Stuff the run, opportunistic in pass coverage, fair at man to man. You can\'t expect him to do what he did last year. I think they are using Clemons and Knight as goats. It just seems that rather than playing to the players strengths, the D is trying to get them to play outside of their ability to fit a new purpose. Keith Mitchell was run out of town because he didn\'t fit the mold, yet Carolina used his strengths to their advantage.
I would like them to sit back, watch the film on when Clemons had 13+ sacks, and see what prevented him from getting there again in 2002.

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