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Danno 03-15-2005 03:54 PM

Another Detillier Houma article (good)
By Mike Detillier

As for the New Orleans Saints, you have to give them credit.

In this space just last Sunday I was critical of the way the team seemed to barely get out of the free-agent blocks, but you have to give credit, where credit is due.

This football team has shown more aggressiveness to acquire players in the past week than we have seen in any other time since Randy Mueller was calling the personnel shots.

The Saints initial plans were probably more geared toward signing a quality middle linebacker.

They were eyeing Washington Redskins middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, who signed early with the New York Giants, but they have made a quick turn and made some very positive moves to upgrade this football club.

Veteran offensive lineman Jermaine Mayberry brings a tough, aggressive run blocker to the team and he also brings some needed leadership skills.

Mayberry was a very good left guard for the Philadelphia Eagles since taking over that starting role in 1999, but the big question is if he can play right tackle.

The Saints say he can, and he has said he thinks he can.

But I wonder if they have a plan to keep him at left guard and either put veteran Spencer Folau at that spot or draft a young right offensive tackle with one of the early round selections to start, or at least compete for, a starting job.

Many players on the Saints football team felt as though Folau should have been inserted into the starting lineup at right tackle early in the 2004 season when it was obvious that Victor Riley’s work ethic and lack of concentration was hurting this team at critical moments in games.

The addition of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer free safety Dwight Smith is an excellent pick-up for the Saints. Smith brings to the table cornerback-type cover skills, compiled in a compact size at free safety.

The former Akron All-American cornerback is a ballhawk and he is a definite upgrade over Tebucky Jones at this spot.

While Smith is a good cover man, he is also known for his hard hitting ways and he is a very aggressive run-support defensive back.

One coach who is quite familiar with Smith says that he thinks the Saints will have a top-flight free safety, if he can keep himself out of trouble off the field.

"The Saints got a real good football player in Dwight Smith," the veteran NFL defensive coach said. "This guy is tough, a perfect fit in the Saints defensive scheme and he matches up well in one-on-one coverage assignments. When the ball is up in the air, he thinks it’s his, and he is good at coming up and making a big stop against the run also. He really isn’t a bad guy off the field, but he grew up in a tough environment and for whatever reason or reasons, he has a tendency to have trouble follow him around. For his sake I hope he can stay away from that element in New Orleans, because if he does, he will make a big difference on that team."

The Saints have not only added those two starting type players, but they have also re-signed some quality depth at defensive tackle in Howard Green and cornerback Jason Craft.

The Saints also added former Tennessee Titans tight end Shad Meier to the lineup. To me this signals the probable end of the road for Boo Williams in New Orleans.

Meier is a good athlete, who is a huge target to find downfield as a receiver. He has good run after catch skills, but he needs to upgrade his overall blocking skills to reach his full potential in the league. The former Kansas State standout is also a good special teams performer, just like Dwight Smith, and while he is not nearly the athlete that Boo Williams is at tight end, there is no way possible he can make the same amount of mental mistakes out on the field.

With all these personnel changes, in my opinion, the best way for the Saints to move from the middle of the pack to one of the better teams in the NFC is to develop some of the young players already on the squad.

For all the hoopla over the signings of Mayberry, Smith and Meier, and the possibility of additional draft picks or players via a trade, the Saints could make a major move by properly coaching-up and motivating the likes of defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan, wide receiver Devery Henderson, outside linebacker James Allen, middle linebacker Courtney Watson, defensive end Will Smith, offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb and wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth.

Those seven players will have to be keys in order for this team to make a move to the top of the division next season.

For the Saints, more changes seem to be right around the corner. ...

Wouldn’t it be nice to see Florida middle linebacker Channing Crowder and Oklahoma right offensive tackle Jammal Brown on the Saints roster?

Yes, we all have been critical of the Saints and some of their moves or non-moves, but give general manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Jim Haslett credit for jumping into the big poker game the NFL calls the free agency period.
One veteran sports agent, who has worked contract deals for well over 150 players in the NFL, says the Saints do have an "ace" in the deck when it comes down to recruiting players to the Crescent City.

"The Saints have underachieved the past few years and I can’t put my finger on one particular element why, but I can tell you this, Jim Haslett is one of the best recruiters in free agency in this game" the agent who asked not to be identified said. "Haslett does a great job when players arrive in New Orleans and he makes them feel right at home. He is one of the very best in this business in that category. I would put Haslett right up at the top with Steve Mariucci (Detroit Lions), Jim Mora (Atlanta Falcons), John Fox (Carolina Panthers) and Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals) as the top recruiters. Now, that does not always equate to signing a player, because money, opportunity, being closer to family and their home and yes, some look at getting to championship games and Super Bowls come into play, but Jim is a great recruiter. Players respect him because he gets to know them personally very well, and he is a former player and understands their concerns. He puts them at ease almost right away and very few pro guys do it as well as Haslett. I think he learned that from his days in Oakland with Al Davis. Davis does the same sort of things out in Oakland, and Jim has picked that trait up from him.

Mike Detillier is an NFL analyst based in Mathews.

[Edited on 15/3/2005 by Danno]

saintswhodi 03-15-2005 04:01 PM

Another Detillier Houma article (good)
You mean Mike put away his agenda to give the Saints some credit? Wasn\'t I told he would never do that and has a vendetta against the Saints? :o

Danno 03-15-2005 04:16 PM

Another Detillier Houma article (good)

Wasn\'t I told he would never do that and has a vendetta against the Saints? :o
And you were told that if he does credit the Saints with anything you can bet you\'re last beer its probably deserved.

And I believe you were also told he\'s basically a hack by people in the know.

saintswhodi 03-15-2005 04:27 PM

Another Detillier Houma article (good)
Wow. I don\'t know whether to hate the guy or applaud his knowledge. I guess he is just a reporter with an opinion like anyone else after all. Imagine that. Guess I better form my own opinion then and not listen to what others who have their own agendas try to tell me. ;)

Danno 03-15-2005 04:50 PM

Another Detillier Houma article (good)

Wow. I don\'t know whether to hate the guy or applaud his knowledge. I guess he is just a reporter with an opinion like anyone else after all. Imagine that. Guess I better form my own opinion then and not listen to what others who have their own agendas try to tell me. ;)
Sounds like a winner to me.

saintswhodi 03-15-2005 04:53 PM

Another Detillier Houma article (good)

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