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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Q&A with Mike Detillier - Saintsreport.com Draft and Player Analyst | 7/06/2005 Handle: RJ in Lafayette From: Lafayette Mike, Some questions: (1) What do you expect from Devery Henderson this year? And if Devery just continues to struggle at receiver, ...

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Old 07-07-2005, 08:24 AM   #1
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The Latest "Ask Mike"

Q&A with Mike Detillier - Saintsreport.com Draft and Player Analyst | 7/06/2005

Handle: RJ in Lafayette
From: Lafayette

Mike,

Some questions:

(1) What do you expect from Devery Henderson this year? And if Devery just continues to struggle at receiver, could be play running back?

(2) I have never understood why the Saints don't use Deuce more in the passing game. Why don't they?

(3) Watching Ed Orgeron, I have wondered whether LSU might have looked seriously at Orgeron had Saban left LSU earlier when Orgeron was available, and I think Orgeron would have been an incredible fit at LSU. Your thoughts.

(4) Going into the 2005 NFL season, what teams do you think are the most overrated?

(5) I think the Saints' biggest weakness is defensive tackle. Why didn't the team do more to address this position in the offseason? And how good do you think our defense could be if we could add a quality DT?

(6) Care to take a stab? Assume we stay pat at linebacker, who will be our starting linebackers in September 2006? And how good will that unit then be?

(7) With evaluating and selecting team personnel, what are the roles of Rick Reiprish and Rick Mueller? And who was really calling the shots when the Saints drafted this year?

(8) In the 2005 draft, I was high on Thomas Davis. What's the early word on Davis out of Carolina?

Mike, as always, your insight is much appreciated. Thanks.

RJ in Lafayette


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From: Mike Detillier
To: RJ in Lafayette
Date: 7/6/05

How are you RJ? ...

1.) Devery is still struggling catching the ball well and to be honest, he needs to make some big plays in the pre-season for the coaches to gain confidence in him. He has battled some minor injuries this spring, but I wrote a column for the Houma Courier a few weeks back and I felt as though the problem with D.Henderson is that while he wants to be a good player, he right now doesn’t know how to be that type of player and he is just not tough enough to be that 1st rate player, yet. It is sort of the same thing that happened to Javon Walker (Green Bay P.) as a rookie and you could tell as a 2nd year guy he was a different player from a confidence standpoint and a toughness standpoint. Just a few weeks back Joe Horn hinted at this when he said that “ Devery has some dog toughness to him, but we just have to find out what type of dog he is.�

That sort of confirms my feelings about Devery that he is just not ready to see extensive playing time and the coaching staff will have to really “coach him up� and elevate his confidence level to get some production out of him this year. He has a lot of talent and speed, but he just has to put those skills to good use and know what to do with his talent. Even more importantly Devery needs to toughen-up and learn how to adjust to a much more physical brand of football in the NFL.

Devery is a wide receiver prospect in the NFL and he doesn’t have the inside power running skills to play halfback in the NFL. He has excellent speed and elusiveness in the openfield, but when he did play some running back in college he seemed to be not very patient with his blockers and would virtually run up the back of his blockers.

2.) R.J. it’s a good question and I hope we see more involvement in the passing game by Deuce. He is a just not a good receiver, he’s an outstanding pass catcher. Hopefully, Mike Sheppard will get him more involved and this team will learn how to run screen passes and passes out in the flat in a better manner. I like you RJ, hope that Deuce McAlister will get more involved, especially when they spread out defenses with the 3-wide receiver sets and Deuce has some one-one-one situations with LB’s or safeties that just can’t cover him that well.

3.) Ed “Ba Ba� Orgeron is a good friend and I have felt for the past few years he was ready to be a college coach, but LSU athletic director Skip Bertman wanted someone with some experience as a head coach and Orgeron doesn’t have head coaching experience.

LSU made a very good choice with Les Miles, and he has the experience and background Bertman and LSU was looking for. Orgeron and Ole Miss are a good fit. It will take him a little while to get things straightened out in Ole Miss( talent wise), but believe me this guy can recruit very, very well and he will have a major impact in the Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee area. Ed has assembled a good staff and they got off to a pretty good start in recruiting in the spring. Orgeron would have been a good fit at LSU, but again Les Miles is a quality coach and he has the head coaching experience and track record the Tigers were looking for to take over Nick Saban.

I really believe that Ole Miss and Orgeron was the right fit for him, just like Miles and LSU was the right fit.

4.) In the AFC I believe that the Kansas City Chiefs will struggle without a big jump talent wise on defense and while I think the Oakland Raiders have upgraded their offense with Randy Moss and Lamont Jordan, they still have an inconsistent QB. in Kerry Collins and their defense is shaky to say the least.

In the NFC, I see some cracks starting to really show in the Green Bay Packers team. QB. Brett Favre will just not be able to pull out games on a consistent basis, like we have seen in the past and their defense is just not very good. The St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks are two teams that you just don’t know what you are going to get out of them and you wonder about their mental toughness. Both teams have pretty good talent, but they don’t play with any sense of confidence. The Atlanta Falcons will still be a good team, but I don’t think they can repeat last season’s performance with that many “Wââ‚ ¬Ã¢Â„¢sâ€? on the scorecard.

5.) I agree with you and hoped that they would add some talent at defensive tackle, but it just didn’t happen. It is the one area that really concerns me on defense. I do believe you will see Darren Howard playing more at tackle, but he just doesn’t have the bulk to play that spot on an every down basis and he has sustained quite a few of injuries and inside you take a ton of shots.

I know they are hoping that Johnathan Sullivan will come around, but that is a big if.

Every team has a spot that is a bit shy of talent when they open training camp and right now I would say that defensive tackle is that spot on defense for the Saints.

I really believe that if you gave the coaching staff some truth serum a very athletic big man in the middle who could rush the QB. and collapse the pocket would be the ideal partner for Brian Young. Sullivan has athletic ability, the size and the inside pass rush potential to be that type of guy, but he seems to not give a damn about playing for this team, right now.

I see Howard Green and Brian Young as the starters with Darren Howard seeing some playing time at tackle. It will be interesting to see if Willie Whitehead is back 100% healthy, if so this would be a big help inside and that would really bolster this squad.

Rookie DT. Jason Jefferson has a real shot to make a run at the final 53-man squad, especially if Sullivan doesn’t come around. Jefferson is not a great pass rusher, but he does excel against the run. They key at defensive tackle is good health for Howard (in certain situations playing inside), good health for Willie Whitehead and what if anything will motivate J. Sullivan.

6.) I believe that the starting three will be the same three that ended the season, James Allen at strong side, Courtney Watson at MLB., and Colby Bockwoldt at weakside. What could change that would be if the team and veteran LB. Anthony Simmons would come to terms. He wants a much bigger deal than the Saints have offered, but I don’t see many, if any teams that are beating down his door at this stage.

The intrigue for me is just how quick rookie Alfred Fincher will catch on at middle linebacker.

To be honest the threesome of Watson, Bockwoldt and Allen have speed and athleticism and they play all-out. I like that sort of enthusiasm and quickness of the three guys especially with plays run to the edge. If that unit has a weakness it could well be teams who try and pound the ball in-between the tackles on them. This is not a big unit and they all need to improve on taking on and shedding off blockers quicker at the point of attack.

7.) Personnel wise, through the draft and free agency Rick Mueller has plenty of say on who is brought in and he is the teams’ talent evaluator. They do have a sort of decision making process via committee with Mueller, Haslett, Rick Reiprish and Mickey Loomis making the final call, but Rick is the most influential evaluator.

I really like Rick Reiprish. He does a very thorough job scouting talent, he’s experienced and he works well with the coaching staff to get them the “rightââ ‚¬? type players that will fit a certain team or scheme. I really believe that Reiprish and Russ Ball, are the two real bright spots in the Saints front-office right now, football wise. Reiprish must feel pretty lonely in the Saints’ offices since the scouting department has left him one of the few scouts left around from last year.

8.) RJ, the Panthers are thrilled with Thomas Davis. He’s an impact performer, no doubt about it. I think he’s better at safety, but he could well end up at outside linebacker. His best position would be at strong safety, but the Panthers signed veteran Mike Minter to a long term deal just a few weeks back. The Panthers love his athletic ability, his speed and his ability to just “Thumpââ ‚¬? the hell out of opponents.

He’s a defensive playmaker and they are just trying to find out where he will make the biggest impact this season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move Thomas Davis around quite a bit this season in order to get him in spots to make plays and maneuver some turnovers, which could well be more at linebacker, especially with Mark Fields out this season.

I have been told by at least three Carolina sources while they are thrilled with Davis and they believe he will be an impact performer the Panthers would have selected OT. Jammal Brown, who the Saints picked, if he was available in Round #1.

Take Care R.J. and thanks for the nice words.


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Name: Frank Leon
Handle: Editor
From: Mobile, Alabama

Mike,

How do you see the NFC South stacking up this year? If the Saints don't win the Division, do you predict they will be competing with for the Wildcard?

Thanks, and best wishes for a successful season,

Frank Leon


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From: Mike Detillier
To: Frank Leon
Date: 7/6/05

Hey Frank, I have said and written this since draft day 2005, but the NFC South in my opinion, is the toughest in the NFC. I do believe that healthy the Carolina Panthers are the best team in the division, talent wise and coaching wise. They also play a third place schedule and that is going to be quite different from the 1st place slot they got last season.

Injuries and injuries to key personnel devastated them last season, but they seem to have most of their injured back healthy, ( with the exception of RB. Stephen Davis). They have acquired quality starters like OG. Mike Wahle, CB. Ken Lucas, FS Idrees Bashir and they had a good draft selecting S. Thomas Davis, RB. Eric Shelton and OG. Evan Mathis.

They do open the season in a tough manner, New Orleans and New England, but the schedule is laid out much better than the one they faced last season. All in all, they are a good team, hungry to get back into the playoff picture and very well coached. I give them a slight edge over New Orleans for the NFC South title.

I like New Orleans for the 2nd slot in the South and I really believe they will get into the playoffs as a wildcard. This team has been inconsistent over the years, but I like the confidence they displayed late last season and I really believe the changes on the staff (especially at offensive coordinator) will help out. The main reason I see the Saints as a real tough team this season is the improvement they should have on defense.

They will have CB. Mike McKenzie for a full season, provided he stays healthy. FS. Dwight Smith is a huge upgrade over Tebucky Jones and the linebacker group of Allen, Watson and Bockwoldt will have a year of seasoning and experience under their belts.

There are certainly some concerns at defensive tackle, but you won’t find a better group of defensive ends in the league when you stack up Charles Grant, Darren Howard, Will Smith and Tony Bryant. Expecting a better pass rush and more ballhawk-types in the secondary like McKenzie, Fakhir Brown, Dwight Smith and the rookie Josh Bullocks this could set up the offense much better this season due to an increase in turnovers.

Having a better run defense unit on defense, along with a healthy Deuce McAllister and Aaron Brooks playing with more consistency and confidence in the play-calling will have this team in the playoffs.

I rank Atlanta a close 3rd. I know that Mike Vick is terrific and they are improved on defense, especially with the acquisition of Ed Hartwell at MLB., but it won’t be nearly as easy as is was last season. This team won 6 games last season by four points or less last and normally the worm will turn on some of those type games the following year. Last season they played a fourth place schedule and this year it is a 1st place schedule. The first seven games of the year are against Phil. Eagles, Seattle, Buffalo, Minnesota, New England, New Orleans and the N.Y. Jets.

That’s tough..

Mike Vick’s style of play also would open himself up for potential injuries. He did start 15 games last season, but he is so out in the open running the ball and that leads itself to some potentially real nasty hits. I see them making a strong closing finish, but I just believe that an early tough schedule and some lack of quality depth at crucial spots will have them in the #3 spot when it is all said and done. I know that is going against many of the other guys who predict the league, but that’s my opinion on what will happen to Atlanta.

That leaves Tampa Bay for fourth. If this team does not get off to a good start, it could be a very difficult year for Jon Gruden in Tampa. They have mishandled the salary cap in an awful way and basically with the exception of rookies like RB.Cadillac Williams and LB. Barrett Ruud, this is the same team from last year with some major losses on defense like LB. Ian Gold, FS. Dwight Smith and DT. Chartric Darby. They can still the rush the passer in a 1st class manner, but they just can’t consistently stop teams from running the ball on them. Offensively Cadillac Williams and Mike Clayton will be “showstoppers�, but their offensive line is just not a good unit.

P.S. Just look how they finish the 2005 season. The final five games are against New Orleans, Carolina, New England, Atlanta and New Orleans.

This is how I see the finish:

1. Carolina- 10-6
2. New Orleans- 9-7
3. Atlanta- 9-7
4. Tampa Bay 5-11

Take Care Frank…


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Name: Terry Hardy
Handle: RadioMan II
From: Gulfport, MS

Mike, Always enjoy hearing and reading your stuff. I, along with everyone miss not hearing Buddy D’s voice on the air talking about the Saints and the second biggest loss is not hearing you talk about the NFL and college football on a regular basis in the off-season ( I do enjoy your time with “the Big Chief� on Sundays), but I am surprised to not hear you more on WWL-Radio with Bobby Hebert. I have to say that I just don’t listen regularly anymore and I don’t have to explain why. I hope your status with the station changes during the season…

I heard you a few nights back with Todd Wright on ESPN Radio and you predicted that the Saints would make it to the playoffs. How do you think Buddy D. would react to your prediction?

Do the Saints still have any interest in Anthony Simmons, the linebacker released by the Seattle Seahawks?

I read one of your Houma Today columns ( I do enjoy reading the column) on Sundays and you predicted Texas to win the national championship this season. Mack Brown has never been able to break through with a national championship season, why this year?

I have talked to you on the phone and you are convinced Jonathan Sullivan will come to camp out of shape and that he will not make the team this season. Do you see the Saints trading him off late in the pre-season to a team like-oakland Raiders?

What is your take on WR. Roscoe Crosby?

Thanks for answering the questions here on the SaintsReport..

P.S. I have gotten to know through a friend who went to college with one of the scouts for the Saints who quit to take a job with another team and he tells me it’s a lot worse there than most people would ever think of in the Saints camp. He told me he really respects your opinions quite a bit and I was surprised to hear someone in the football business talk that well about someone who is in the media world.

One of the interesting things he tells me is that General Manager Mickey Loomis spends most of his time trying to get on Tom Benson’s good side and trying to squeeze dollars everywhere he can. He told he knows little to nothing about football and the scout told me a story about how much of a big deal Loomis made about saving Benson all kind of travel money when they went to Oakland last season. He also says that Loomis is constantly on the phone with the manager of WWL-870 complaining about what you and Buddy D. use to say about them during the past seasons. How sad it is for someone to waste his precious time with a station manager about comments everyone else is making instead of worrying about trying to get this team better. I guess some of these other broadcasters who say things similar work at stations they can’t pick up unless you are in a car in Metarie. He also says that they make it a great effort to make sure people who play along with them-get the guests and info on the team and that if you don’t “kiss-up� it will cost you. I now know how some people in this business get those great guests and get certain jobs. Keep up the great work…


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From: Mike Detillier
To: Terry Hardy
Date: 7/6/05


Radio Man II, I appreciate the kind words. Yes, it will be a different this year without Buddy giving his take on the football world.

1.) Buddy D. would certainly disagree with me on picking them to get to the playoffs- I know that for sure. We rarely disagreed on football issues, but he and I differed on the feeling I have that the talent level in the NFL is so close that teams can change quickly in a year. I am of the belief that the way the league is today fortunes can change quite quickly with key acquisitions and a favorable schedule. Buddy was more old school that teams just don’t change very quickly. I would always explain to him how does a team like San Diego, who had the 1st choice in the 2004 draft, develop into a 12-4 team in one year? He would always laugh and tell me, key personnel pick-ups and schedule, right? Buddy would disagree with me, but he would always listen and respect my opinions, just like I respected his. I wouldn’t predict it if I didn’t feel strongly about it.

2.) I think the Saints still have interest in Anthony Simmons, but at the right price. Simmons still wants to be paid like he was a few years back and no one is going to give him that sort of dough right now. There is also some concern about a wrist injury, but Simmons is finding out that there are not many teams willing to carve out a huge contract deal for him. The same thing is happening right now to former Raven standout Peter Boulware. It is an interesting situation to keep an eye on as training camp nears, but for the right price I believe the Saints would still want to acquire his services. Right now, Simmons may just be waiting to see if a team gets desperate for help at linebacker either due to an injury or perceived lack of talent and makes him a better offer than in the past. I still believe Anthony is a good football player, but he needs to be handled just right to get the very best out of him.

3.) I just believe the set-up is right for Texas to win it all this season. I know most people are predicting USC to win it all again, but the major losses on the coaching staff and losing top people on defense, right up the middle, like Mike Patterson, Shaun Cody, Manuel Wright and MLB. Lofa Tatupu will have them not quite as tough as they were in the past. They will be very good, but those two major factors have me thinking that the Trojans won’t repeat.

Texas has the most exciting QB. in the college football in Vince Young. The UT offensive line is one of the best in college football and they have some outstanding talent at running back with Selvin Young and at WR. with Limas Sweed. TE. David Thomas is another very strong receiving threat. They need to develop a better and more consistent passing game, but this club will put a lot of pressure on opponents, especially trying to slow down QB. Vince Young.

On defense, they are strong up the middle with Rodrique Wright, Larry Dibbles and Frank Okam and Aaron Harris at MLB.. The Longhorn secondary is loaded with big tall athletes, with outstanding speed ( especially S. Michael Huff and CB. Cedric Griffin) and they have an excellent punter in Richmond McGee. The biggest acquisition is getting former Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik to run the defense. He is a 1st class quality defensive coach and he will make this unit a much more aggressive outfit. There are some tough games at Ohio State, playing Texas in the Red River Shoot-out and playing at Texas A&M late in the year, but I just believe that this is the year for Mack Brown to win it all. Returning 16 starters gives this team a lot of experience and beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl gives them some real confidence going into the year. A key this season is beating OU, something they just have not been able to accomplish the past five years.

4.) Yes, I do expect that Johnathan Sullivan will not report to camp in shape and that they will eventually cut their ties with him, but they can’t trade him. No team will pick up that type salary. If they have an interest they will just sit back and wait for the Saints to cut him loose. One team that I am sure would make a play to pick him up on the waiver wire would be the Miami Dolphins. Nick Saban always liked him at Georgia and while he thought he was too heavy a player, he liked his overall football skills. I expect the Saints to cut him and another team will pick him up and re-work his contract.

5.) WR. Roscoe Crosby is an interesting prospect. He was considered one of the best wide receivers in the prep ranks coming out of high school and he had a super freshman season at Clemson before giving baseball a shot and undergoing arm surgery. Crosby has good size (6-2 and 210) and he runs in the mid-4.4’s. He is strong for a receiver and has very good eye-hand coordination. He also runs with the ball very well after the catch. He is still rough around the edges as a route-runner and he is a bit of a “repsâ⠬? type guy to pick up new assignments. He has been through an awful lot in his personal life and he seems to really have a lot of “want toâ€?. He is a developmental prospect at receiver, but he has a lot of physical ability and he seems motivated to make the most of his opportunities. New Orleans, Carolina, Atlanta, Green Bay, Philly Eagles and San Diego have all taken a long look at him. I expect some team will take him with a 6th or 7th round choice in the supplemental draft.
Take Care and I appreciate the kind words.


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Handle: Chairman_LMAO

Hi Mike.

I think I have come to the conclusion that I expect the Saints to dominate this year on special teams. Specifically coverage and return units. Do you agree? Do you expect the Saints to be more aggressive this year than in the past in terms of trying to block punts and kicks? We know Gleason is capable of getting after punters, and I've read that Bullocks is as well. Do you think the Saints will try to take more advantage of this and send them after the punter frequently? Do you expect there to be better lanes for the punt/kick returners? And who do you think those returners will end up being?

How do you see the tight ends shaking out, and do you think the tight ends will be a significant aspect of the passing game this year? Is Eddie Boo gonna make it, or should those of us who are still holding out high hopes for him go ahead and move on?

What, if anything (being as it's still really early) is your read on Sheppard as an OC? It's funny... it seems as though McCarthy from week to week was taking heat (granted, from laymen such as myself) for either taking what looked to be a scattershot approach to offense --or-- doggedly sticking to a set "plan" despite substandard results. But regardless of which rap was making the rounds on a given week, the common thread seemed to be that he was not making efficient use of the tools at his disposal. Do you think those perceptions were accurate? And do you expect fans to be happier with the offense under Sheppard?

Is Deuce "back?"

Is there a capable reserve quarterback currently on the Saints' roster? I ask because what I really want to know is what is your feel for the reality of the Haslett/Brooks relationship these days? As always, there have been conflicting reports about McPherson's early showing, and Brooks' reaction to his presence on the team. I don't think anybody (here at SR.com) has much confidence in Bouman and Kingsbury. Now before I get myself in trouble... I think everybody knows that Brooks is this team's best option right now, whether they like it or not, and calling for a change at QB is just not realistic right now. But there's obviously a lingering frustration with Brooks among many, and my perception is that Haslett is one of them. There has been speculation that since "that guy from UL who shall not be named" left for Charlotte, there have been times when Haslett's frustration has occasionally reached a point where he at least might have been considering making one of those "light a spark" type moves, only to realize that, given his other options, that would be like going for 2 several times in the first half. I'm pretty sure that all but the most agenda-driven of Saints fans are hoping that Brooks has an MVP-caliber season, because that's what would be best for the team. But, for the sake of argument, what happens if it doesn't work out that way? If Haslett (assuming my perceptions are accurate) again reaches that critical level of frustration with the QB play, what (if anything) do you think will happen? And, heaven forbid, should Brooks go down for any reason, will we see Bouman? Or will we be in for a surprise?


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From: Mike Detillier
To: Chairman_LMAO
Date: 7/6/05

Chairman, I think the one area that has been consistently very good on the Saints team has been on special teams. Al Everest is a very good coach and he gets the most out of the players on the team. As for blocking punts that a lot has to do with the blocking schemes of some of the opponents they play. Everest will pick up a weak link somewhere and they possibly could be more aggressive going after the punter this season. Gleason, Mel Mitchell and Fred McAfee are very good special team guys and good athletes like an Alfred Fincher or a Josh Bullocks could really excel in that department. James Allen is also a good special teams performer. The Saints work awfully hard on kick blocking, but you must be able to break down an opponents’ weak link to get that key play. Better athletes on special teams always give you a better shot to make a big play and I see better athletes on that unit.

Coach Everett always tells me that you are only as good as the players you have and this special teams unit has some real good athletes to work with.

I see Michael Lewis and Aaron Stecker as the return men this season.

It’s a critical year for Boo Williams, no doubt about it. It has nothing to do with talent. He has excellent athletic ability and he is quite effective when he has focus and he has the ball in his hands. What drives the Saints crazy is that Boo seems to lose his playing focus and either makes an assignment mistake or he drops an easy throw. He never was a good blocker and I don’t expect that to change, but in 2003 he was really a factor as a receiver and runner after the catch. His focus to details will be the key. Just have a feeling Haslett is about at the end of the rope with him if he doesn’t stop making critical assignment mistakes.

Unless things turn around for Boo I see the Saints tight ends as Ernie Conwell, Shad Meier and Zach Hilton. If there is a 4th guy it would be Haslett’s designated blocker-Lamont Hall.

In a nutshell, it’s all up to Boo to make it work here.

To be honest I don’t see the Saints tight ends as being prime receiving targets in the passing game. They talked about it quite a bit under Mike McCarthy, but with the exception of Boo this unit is more known for their blocking exploits. One thing I would like to see his better use of Z. Hilton in the passing game, especially in the red-zone or near the goalline. He is a huge target to find when the field shrinks.

I am encouraged about what I see and hear about Mike Sheppard. They haven’t played a game yet, but the players seem to be more comfortable under his system. I don’t like to constantly get after McCarthy, but I was never overally impressed with his scheme and his play calling. He just seemed to try and make this game too complicated and it’s not rocket science. I agree with you that he was “bullheaded⠢‚¬? about keeping a gameplan in place, even though you could see it was not successful out on the field.

It will be easier to gauge Sheppard once the games are played for real, but what I see and hear encourage me.

Deuce is healthy and that is the key. He always has been motivated and this guy comes to play and play hard each and every week. I expect a huge year out of Deuce. Hopefully Deuce’s agent and the Saints can come to contract terms before the season and this issue is off the board. He is the teams’ star player and to be honest he needs to be paid in that manner. I know others would want to keep this money to get other players, but I am of the belief that when you have a young talent, who is just reaching his prime as a pro player, you must do what you can to keep him on the team. You know what you have in Deuce and future speculation on what you might get with the money saved is not real smart for this team.

You make a good point that Aaron Brooks is the teams’ best option at quarterback on this team. I do feel at times Haslett would have maybe pulled Brooks, but he doesn’t have total confidence in Tood Bouman and we haven’t seen Kliff Kingsbury play with the Saints. Bouman is just not a good enough passer, accuracy wise, to play on a consistent basis in the NFL. He is a sparkplug type guy that can eat up a team if he gets hot, but that doesn’t happen much. He is such a streaky guy that you can’t count on him to pull out games on a consistent basis. He just doesn’t have the touch and accuracy skills that you want in a starter.

Adrian McPherson is just a young pup. He’s a talented young pup, but he needs NFL seasoning and time to develop his overall skills and he will not challenge Aaron Brooks for the starting job this season. McPherson is quite talented and he is a strong-armed passer with excellent mobility skills, but the NFL game is far different from Arena ball and college football when it comes down to the speed of the game and how talented the defensive players are. In college and in the Arena League the defensive talent level is different and a bit scattered around. That is not the case in the NFL. It will be interesting to watch him develop and play during the pre-season. The measuring stick will be just how quickly he catches on to the NFL game. In my opinion he is a developmental QB., who will need some seasoning, but he has an awful lot of talent to work with.

It just will be tough to pull Brooks unless he is having an awful game because of the fact that you just right now don’t have that quality back-up to replace him.

One of the faults about Jim Haslett as a head coach is that he is not very quick to pull a player out of the lineup, even if it is obvious that he needs to be replaced. We all know about the Jake Delhomme situation a few years back when it was obvious that Aaron Brooks was just not near 100% healthy and was struggling. Last season when RT. Victor Riley was making one mistake after another he left him in the lineup. He could have put in Spencer Folau, who started for this team in the past and is better suited to play on the right side, but he didn’t make the pull when a few offensive linemen thought the move should have been made.

During training camp last season Haslett told me how much he was impressed with CB. Fakhir Brown , but when the season started Brown was on the bench and Ashley Ambrose and Fred Thomas was starting. He finally made the move when it was obvious that neither one was doing the job properly. Many on the team felt it was old school politics that kept him out of the starting lineup.

We all saw veterans like Orlando Ruff, Derrick Rodgers, Sedrick Hodge and even Roger Knight start at linebacker, but they were not pulled until those guys got hurt for the young kids. James Allen, C. Watson and Colby Bockwoldt were put in the starting lineup and they did a solid job, but they probably would not have gotten that shot until the injuries started to put them down.

I really believe that Jim Haslett has a lot of good qualities as a head coach, but I really believe that some of his non-moves have eaten away at some of his credibility in the lockerroom. We all know that Jim talks more than he should and he has to watch out for that sort of thing because it will eventually get back at you, but not pulling certain players when it was obvious that they were not doing their jobs has indeed been a big negative for him.

To answer your question for the talent on this team today Haslett and Aaron Brooks are locked together, for good or bad or until Adrian McPherson comes around as a player and that won’t be this season.


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Name: Tom
Handle: Cha-Ching
From: Lafayette

Mike,

Barring injuries, who will be the odd man out on the receiving corps now that Az-Hakim has signed on? Lewis? Gardner? Do the Saints keep 6 receivers? How do you see them using Hakim, and still give the other receivers their share of catches? Finally, who do you think will return kicks and punts?

Are you going to publish a fantasy guide this year?

Thanks for all you do at SR.com

Tom


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From: Mike Detillier
To: Cha-Ching
Date: 7/6/05

Tom, that’s a good question. Normally you would want to keep five so Joe Horn, Az-Hakim, Donte’ Stallworth, Devery Henderson and Mike Lewis would look like the five. Just remember that injuries have a way of undermining depth, so that could well change the five players, but it looks as though those five would get the nod.

Talman Gardner is going to have to break through this season if he wants to stay on this team. He physically has the gifts to be an NFL receiver, but he just as not shown he can catch the ball in a consistent manner. To be honest he needs to do more with the opportunities he will get in pre-season games to make this team. He is better “handsââ ‚¬? guy now than when he first came into the league, but he is in for a huge fight to make the final 53 unless there is an injury.

The surprise guy could well be Nate Poole. This guy has always been a fringe player in the league, but he has good size, he runs good routes and he is sure-handed.

Hakim is best as a slot-receiver in 3-wide receiver sets. He was brought in for this purpose, along with giving some veteran depth behind Horn and Stallworth. He is a very good #3 receiver in the league. The problem in Detroit was that they signed him to be a starter. The really top-flight starting cornerbacks ate away at his strength (which is his quickness) and they physically got after him and knocked him off his routes quickly. In the slot he is going against a teams’ 3rd or 4th option at cornerback and those guys won’t be able to guard him as consistently and he is going to make some big plays for the Saints.

I really don’t know if they will use Az-Hakim to return kicks. Michael Lewis and Aaron Stecker do a very good job in that department. Hakim really didn’t return punts or kicks for the Lions last season. Those duties were handled by Eddie Drummond and he was terrific for Detroit last season. We will just have to wait and see if the Saints put him as a returner, but Michael Lewis will be hard to unseat at that spot. Again, he is a good insurance policy incase M. Lewis would suffer an injury.

Tom, I just really don’t have the time to do a fantasy book. Really wish I did, because I enjoy process. Take Care and thanks for the kind words.


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Handle: Condor 63
From: Birmingham, AL

Mike, I was wondering what your take is on the Saints officials and how they view draft analysts such as yourself and what comments they may give if any on the draft grades they get? Do you find this attitude is in line with what you see with other clubs or does it differ in some way?

Also I'm interested to know what type of relationship the various draft analysts have with each other. Is it a friendly rivalry or nothing but cutthroat competition among a group of marauding bloodthirsty pirates? If you don’t mind saying, who are some you especially respect in the business?

Thanks for all the hard work you do for us on SR.com!


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From: Mike Detillier
To: Condor63
Date: 7/6/05

Condor , The Saints are like just about every other team when it comes down to comments about draft choices and how “othersââ ‚¬? think they stacked up. They don’t like to be criticized, just like every other team. On thing I have learned throughout the years is that selecting players, just like signing free agents are people ( who are going to make mistakes) making judgment on players who are either going to make good on the selection or fall by the waist side. It is humans judging humans and people make mistakes, on both sides.

The biggest problem is when you make a mistake-just say we made a mistake and move on. Sometimes teams keep players around for years and everyone knows they will never play for that team-as starter-type people. Some will argue with you that they can change the guy, but normally it doesn’t happen. Another factor is some in this business don’t want to admit to making mistakes and that keeps them on the good side of the owner. They don’t want the owner asking who made the final decision on a player he spent so much money on.

The “Xââ‚ ¬? factor is why a player doesn’t play well in one spot and then the light comes on for another team. People mature mentally and physically different and this is the factor that teams have to “tryâ⠬? and factor when the selection process is underway.

As for as comments about draft choices the Saints officials react in the same way as others, but this group is very thin-skinned about comments during the season when it comes down to what is wrong with the club. In that manner, very few teams or people who work in the management or coaching departments of others react in the same manner as they do.

Condor, some of the guys today, I don’t know who they are. I get calls and e-mails from some and I couldn’t pick them out of a police lineup. For some, they just try and pick your brain on information you get and contacts they want to have, but right now because of the Internet I don’t know some of them. The Internet has blossomed into a huge information center for draft stuff, but where they are getting the info and how accurate are in question. I know he gets plenty of negative press, but Mel Kiper and I have known each other for many years and he does a good job. I think the biggest criticism given to him and it is legitimate is that he jumps ratings around almost on a daily basis, but he does do his homework and he is very well informed. Nolan Nawrocki, who works for Pro Football Weekly, also does good work and so does draft-scout Frank Cooney.

It’s a little bit of rivalry and business to be honest. Everyone wants to be first to break out their lists, breakout players and info, but it is a mix of both because you are competing in a very congested field and the Internet and the many different sites they have about the draft has become a major factor in this business. What I do is try and give people as much information about potential players before and during the season either through the SaintsReport, the weekly columns I write or on the talk shows so that you can first-hand see that player pretty well before the draft season rolls around and for many they make their own judgment on players.

Take Care and thanks again for the kind words.


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Handle: Cajun Mike
From: Breaux Bridge, La.

Mike...

How do you see the D-Line shaping up?

What about Gandy and his agent stating that he was asked to take a pay cut and Loomis saying that it never happened? Can you shed any light on that?

Is all of the hype on Stinchcomb this off-season, just that - Hype?

Do you see any of the undrafted Free Agents possibly making the team, or for that matter, what about the two DT's the Saints took late in the draft?


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From: Mike Detillier
To: Cajun Mike
Date: 7/6/05


Cajun Mike, I believe the starting four with be Charles Grant and Darren Howard at the end positions and Howard Green and Brian Young at the tackle spots. You will see Howard being moved inside quite a bit more this season and Will Smith taking his place at end position. In pass rush situations D. Howard has been quite effective getting pressure from right up the middle.

Let’s just see what happens with Johnathan Sullivan. The Saints would love to see him develop, but right now, he has to prove it out on the field. Years ago an old scout told me, “ People who are born round, don’t die square�. People’s attitude and work ethic don’t change drastically and I am still not convinced that Sullivan really has the “want-to� right now to be the impact player, he has the talent to be. I just don’t think he will be around as the season starts.

Cajun Mike, knowing Wayne Gandy a little bit I just can’t believe that he would say that, if someone hadn’t told him about taking a pay-cut. In this league I don’t know of a veteran player ( who knows he is in the twilight of his career) that would say a team wants him to take a pay-cut just for kicks. While Gandy’s overall skills have shown some wear and tear, he is a straight-forward guy and a good leader. I certainly can’t see him saying this if this was not told to him by someone in this organization. There have been rumors and columns from some national writers for months saying that Gandy might be asked to adjust his salary or be a salary-cap casualty. This is not being pulled out of the air by these writers and many of them are guys who normally give out good information. Just remember last year someone in this same organization dropped the word-bomb to Peter King that they were thinking about trading or cutting loose Joe Horn.

Asking Wayne Gandy right now to take a major salary cut is not the right thing to do. If you wanted this to occur why not maneuver this sort of deal early in the year when you had options to turn to? This just doesn’t send a good sign to your veteran players.

I really wonder if some of this Jon Stinchcomb-hype is not somewhat related to the Wayne Gandy story. Jon’s a good guy, smart, hard-working and he has gotten much stronger, but I have always been of the opinion that he is best suited to play left guard, not left tackle. Playing and starting at left tackle in this league takes an elite big man. Outstanding foot speed and good body balance are the keys to playing left tackle and there are question marks in my mind if Stinchcomb has the 1st rate skills to play left tackle in this league. Right now I have to see Stinchcomb play that spot for a period of time to be convinced that he can do it. You can’t judge him on his play because he just has not played much football for this team.

Cajun Mike, it is going to be tough for any undrafted free agent to make this team. The coaches have talked about how much they like Notre Dame CB. Dwight Ellick, but more as a developmental player. Ellick has excellent foot speed and catch-up ability, but watching him at Notre Dame, he didn’t have good ball awareness skills with the ball in flight and he gave up a lot of big plays. It may be technique, but he didn’t seem to find the ball real quick in flight once he turned and started to run with a receiver. Dwight could well end up as a developmental squad member or NFL –Europe type player due to his excellent speed and athleticism.

One player I have an interest in is veteran free agent OLB. Levar Fisher. Before he started to sustain some knee injuries in Arizona, he was a very good prospect who combined good speed, a hard hitting manner and a super-quick initial step to the ballcarrier. Injuries have hampered his development, but he certainly has a shot due to the fact that he is very athletic and he has good football instincts. Now, let’s see if he can stay healthy. WR. Nate Poole is another player to watch.

I really like Jason Jefferson, the Saints 6th round pick. He is not a great inside pass rusher, but he is very strong and he does a good job stuffing up the inside running lanes. I really believe he will make a very strong push to make the final 53-man roster. Jason reminds me a lot of Seth Payne, who played and started for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans. His strength is getting a strong push in the middle and clogging up the inside running lanes.

Jimmy Verdon is a bit of a tweener DE./DT., but he has a big heart and good football instincts. The thing that sticks out about him is his motor. He just will not quit on a play and he gives you great effort on each and every snap. He’s smart and he has a great hunger to play in this league. Let’s see if he is strong enough to play the tackle spot or quick enough to play the end position. He looks like a solid developmental type player.


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Name: Keith Hebert
From: Sulphur, LA

Mike -

Since every NFL analyst is saying you shouldn't judge a draft until 2 or 3 years down the road, how about grading the Saints draft from 2002.

Always enjoy your write-ups. Keep up the good work.


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From: Mike Detillier
To: Keith Hebert
Date: 7/6/05

Keith, thanks for the kind words.

I graded the 2002 draft an “Aââ‚ ¬? back then and I would give them that same grade today.

It was Randy Mueller’s last draft in New Orleans and it was his best.

The disappointment to an extent was WR. Donte’ Stallworth. While he has flashed great speed and big-play ability, he has not developed into a consistent top-flight end. His speed and ability to really jet up the field with a catch have been easy to notice, but injuries and his inability at times to play through pain or minor injuries have kept him from developing into the elite receiver the Saints thought they had when they drafted him. He normally catches the ball pretty well, but he does have a tendency to drop a pass because he tries to run with the ball before securing it in.

The one thing I have noticed is that when they get him involved in the game early, he has excellent focus and he does quite well. When the Saints don’t get him involved early he loses focus and he just doesn’t seem to work as hard getting separation from defenders. Hopefully Mike Sheppard will realize this and he makes sure Stallworth has the ball in his hands early in a contest to keep his attention span at a high rate.

I am convinced that DE. Charles Grant will be a Pro-Bowl performer. He is not a great run defender, but he has improved in this area. He excels getting up the field and putting heat on the QB. and disrupting backs trying to be patient running the ball. I love his intensity and desire. This guy has passion for the game and he is always trying to upgrade his overall game. I was not sold on him as a complete player when he came out, but this guy is on the verge of being a “specialâ⠂¬? player.

LeCharles Bentley struggled a bit early on last season at center, but he also is an All-Pro type player. He is big, strong, tough and he also has a mean streak in him. Now, that mean streak has to be curved at bit because you have to keep your emotions in check at center because of all the line calls and reads you have, but he has all the skills you would want in a center. When he loses his temper and his focus on his duties he has a tendency to make a bad snap. He had trouble with the deep-snap last season, but he improved in that area as the season went along. Bentley is an intense guy, who has a 1st rate NFL future. He really was moved inside to center to match-up against Carolina Panther DT. Kris Jenkins. Kris looked as though he was developing into the most dominant inside force two years ago before suffering the shoulder injury that basically ended his season. It will be interesting to see that match-up this season.

A year of experience under his belt and playing more under control will have Bentley in the Pro-Bowl this year.

James Allen is a very athletic OLB., who had trouble with the mental part of the game. Last season the light came on and he played extremely well. He has learned that playing the strongside position a lot of times your duties are to tie up blocks and let others make a play. He still has some problems getting off blocks, but he has improved in this area and he has gotten much stronger. He seems to be on the verge of being a very solid starter strongside after playing a lot of weakside in college. He’s an interesting player to watch this season and I am anxious to see how much better he can get. The area he needs to improve the most is in pass defense, but he shows that potential everyone saw in him at Oregon State. The Saints have learned that he is not a real fast catch-on guy for details and he is a repetition guy.
It seems the more he plays the better he gets and he is not making nearly as many mental mistakes. Solid pickup for the 3rd round.

I really felt as though CB. Keyou Craver had excellent ability and he showed quite a bit of those skills, especially as a rookie, but his off-the-field problems have jeopardized his career. It’s a shame because this guy has the ability to be a solid NFL performer.

I like S. Mel Mitchell. He is a very tough guy and he does an excellent job in run defense. He almost is like a bigger version of Jay Bellamy. He still struggles in man-to-man situations in pass defense, but he does a very good job defending the run. Mitchell is also a tremendous special teams performer. It takes over a year to completely recover from a serious knee injury like he had and this year will be a pivotal season for him, developmental wise.

QB. J.T. O’Sullivan looked like a very solid #2 back-up QB. before they dealt him off to the Green Bay Packers in the Mike McKenzie deal.

TE. John Gilmore and DE. Derrius Monroe were very good athletes who just couldn’t translate athleticism into NFL playing ability. When you pick late you are always looking for those type athletes and Gilmore and Monroe just weren’t football wise good enough to play in this very tough league.

All in all this is a very good draft and the Saints could use a few more like the 2002 draft. Again, was an “Aââ‚ ¬? draft back then and it has translated into an “Aââ‚ ¬? draft on the field.

- Got a question for Mike? Email Mike!


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