Aug 30, 2010

Saints Defeat Chargers, Look to be in Mid-Season Form

It didn't take long for the Saints to start to resemble last year's explosive team. After a dominating performance last week against Houston, the Saints continue to look impressive as they defeated the Chargers 36-21. What was most impressive is that the Saints outgained San Diego 552-323 in total yards, in a game that the starters played into the second half.

Here are some other thoughts on the 3rd preseason game:
  • There are no more questions. Chris Ivory, you have made this team. Ivory runs hard and then showed in the second half that like Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, he is a threat to bring it to the house at anytime from anywhere on the field.
  • Patrick Ramsey played well and the race for Drew Brees' backup is still too close to call. I wouldn't be surprised if the Saints kept both Ramsey and Chase Daniel, with Ramsey getting the early nod as #2 QB. He has a stronger arm and brings more veteran intangibles to the table than the second-year Daniel.
  • Ladell Betts and DeShawn Wynn saw their first action in the black and gold, but neither was overly impressive in limited action.
  • The Saints had Adrian Arrington try his hand at returning punts. He didn't look all that comfortable, but it shows that the team realizes they will likely be keeping him around. As the #6 WR, he'll be inactive on gamedays, but he's one injury away from having to suit up and you want him to be able to do multiple things for you, not sure play receiver.
  • The reason Arrington is only #6 WR right now is that Courtney Roby is also having a solid preseason. Along with being one of the better all around special teams on the Saints, Roby is showing more as a receiver this preseason, and the Saints should have confidence inserting him into the lineup there.
  • David Thomas hasn't racked up much on the stat sheet this preseason, but the more I see him, the more I enjoy watching him play. He genuinely seems happy to be playing football and give 110% on every play.
  • Some guys have all the luck (or is it just skill), huh, Devery?
  • The Saints defense doesn't look much different that last year either. They can still get the takeaway, but they'll also give up some yards here and there and blow an assignment as well. Who's fault was the Chargers' second TD with the receiver wide open in the corner of the endzone?
  • The coverage units were better this week, save for one return, but now the biggest area the team needs to address is penalties. Leigh Torrance is lucky he got the pick-6 late in the game because before that he was a penalty waiting to happen. Two on the same play, just before his interception.
  • The Saints still have some really tough roster decisions, especially at defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker and safety.
The Saints will finish the preseason this Thursday at the Tennessee Titans.

Aug 25, 2010

Saints Start the Cuts

The Saints have started making cuts to their roster. Yesterday, they released LB Troy Evans, WRs Mark Bradley and Rod Harper, G Tim Duckworth and CB Danny Gorrer.

None of these are major surprises, but Evans was a major contributor on the team the past couple of seasons, especially on special teams. With the poor special teams play in the first two preseason games and the depth at LB, the Saints are giving him a chance to latch on with someone else in the middle of the preseason.

Rod Harper was a fan favorite last preseason, but he hadn't done much this year. Bradley was brought in during the preseason, but I don't think he's seen the field in two games. Gorrer had little chance to make the team and Duckworth was also stuck in a numbers game along the o-line. His spot has been taken by rookie G/C Mark Tennant.

Aug 23, 2010

Saints Beat Texans in Preseason Week 2

The Saints played their first home game since winning the Super Bowl and defeated the Houston Texans 38-20. There were a lot more positives to take away from this game than last week's:
  • Chase Daniel is making a case for the #2 QB job. He played most of the game and completed 15/21 passes for 182 yards, 3 TDs and 1 Int. Besides the interception, which was a terrible decision, he looked great. It's surprising that Patrick Ramsey didn't even see the field, but I guess the coaches wanted to see what Daniel could do and he delivered.
  • Adrian Arrington is making the WR cuts really difficult. Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore have the top four WR spots nailed down. Arrington is competing for the 5th spot with Courtney Roby, but Roby brings much more to the table via special teams. This will force the Saints to consider keeping six WRs.
  • The backup RBs continue to impress. Both Chris Ivory and P.J. Hill once again showed that Lynell Hamilton's injury may not hurt the Saints. Ivory runs hard and Hill contributed on offense and special teams. Unfortunately, Hill suffered an injury and was placed on season ending IR today. The Saints have signed DeShawn Wynn to take his roster spot, so just when you think the backup RB spot is in good hands, there's more uncertainty now.
  • Pierre Thomas may be the best RB in the NFL on the screen pass. How many times has he taken a screen to the house in the past two years? He did it in the Super Bowl and he did it again this week.
  • Reggie Bush is running like a man possessed. He looks like he has set out to earn the $8 million that many feel he is overpaid to earn this year. On the Saints first drive, I was seeing #5 running for the Trojans, not the indecisive #25 of the Saints we've seen in the past.
  • The Saints forced two Texan turnovers so Gregg Williams won't have to make them do extra work this week. On special teams, there's still some work to be done on coverages and thanks to Trindon Holliday still having trouble holding onto the ball, one of the turnovers came on a return.
  • On defense, Sedrick Ellis and Troy Evans each recorded a sack but Anthony Hargrove still gets stupid penalties. Two weeks in a row, he's been flagged for something.

Aug 18, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

You want two hours of fun, go see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I saw it last night and had no expectations going in. I had never seen or read any parts of the graphic novels that the movie is based on and had only seen the trailer.

I actually thought I wouldn't like it, but only minutes into the movie me and the group of friends I was with were laughing and the laughs kept coming. There was subtle humor, outrageous situations and great music.

Scott Pilgrim is a fun flick and while it may not be for everyone, if you grew up in the Super Mario Brothers generation, you will like this movie.

Aug 17, 2010

Saints Sign Ladell Betts

The Saints have signed RB Ladell Betts to replace the injured Lynell Hamilton. I'm not sure what Betts has left in the tank. He's about to turn 31 and is coming off of a knee injury, but he will battle P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory for the 3rd RB spot. It will be interesting to see how Betts looks with the Saints and if the 3rd RB job comes down to special teams ability. Betts was a kick returner early in his career, but what can he give the Saints at this stage of his career.

In a surprising move, the team cut WR Larry Beavers to make room for Betts on the roster. You may have last seen Beavers returning a kick 94 yards for a touchdown against the Patriots last week, or you may remember him for muffing a punt but recovering it in that same game. With his kick return TD, many fans were giving him a roster spot similar to the way Rod Harper earned his way onto the team last year with his punt return ability. I guess the Saints didn't see much from Beavers in practice.

Aug 13, 2010

Saints Kickoff Preseason

The Saints kickoffed their preseason schedule last night at New England and fell 27-24 to the Patriots. There were highs and lows for the Black and Gold and definitely lots of areas to improve.

But that's what the preseason is for. There's a reason the season doesn't start in December. Here's a look at what stood out to me based on the first preseason game:

  • The starters put together a 10 minute, 20 play scoring drive, but it didn't happen until their 3rd possession. This forced the starters like Drew Brees and Reggie Bush to play a little more than Sean Payton anticipated. Hopefully, this doesn't go back to the old trend of the Saints being slow starters.
  • Garrett Hartley did a solid job filling in for Thomas Morestead when the punter hurt his shoulder, but you don't want your starting kicker to have to kick FG/PATs, kickoff and have to punt. That's a lot of work for one guy's leg. If Morestead missing some time, look for the Saints to bring in another punter as a camp body.
  • Besides Morestead, the Saints seemed to have come out of the game relatively healthy.
  • Larry Beavers is making some noise for a roster spot. His kickoff return for a touchdown in the second half will make the coaches notice him more, but his bobbled return later won't. He's got an uphill battle, but being a good returner in the preseason last year helped Rod Harper make the team.
  • The Saints will probably be OK at running back, even with Lynell Hamilton's injury. P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory looked solid, and I'd like to see more from them in the next few weeks.
  • Tackling and coverage (special teams and in the secondary) was poor. This is the first game and there wasn't much, if any, scheming taking place, so coverage isn't as big a deal as the poor tackling on defense. The special team coverage left a lot to be desired.
All in all, not great, but not terrible either. The guys fighting for a roster spot (like Adrian Arrington and DeMario Pressly) made some plays but overall, the team has work to do. I think a game like this is exactly what Sean Payton wants at this time. Sure, these are the Super Bowl champs, but he can point out a lot of things that need work. I hope to see some improvements by next week's game against the Houston Texans.

Aug 11, 2010

Hornets Wheeling and Dealing

New Hornets GM Dell Demps wasn't kidding when he told Chris Paul that they had a plan and had some trades in the works. The team pulled off two of those trades today. Dare I ask what's next?

The first trade involved four teams. The Hornets received Trevor Ariza, the Rockets got Courtney Lee, the Nets received Troy Murphy and the Pacers got Darren Collison and James Posey. Basically, the Hornets traded Collison for Ariza and forced Indiana to take on Posey's contract in the process. It's tough to give up such a young, promising point guard in Collison, but if the Hornets have to convince CP3 that they are in it to win it the next two years, it'll take moves like this.

Not long after the four-team deal was announced, news broke that the Hornets weren't done. They sent the disappointing Julian Wright to Toronto for Marco Belinelli. Wright was given opportunities to succeed in New Orleans and never took advantage of it. He's got all the athleticism in the world, so a change of scenery might be good for him. His fate was probably sealed with he refused to play in Summer League. I don't know much about Belinelli, but anything he gives the Hornets will be more than Wright did the past few years.

So CP3, what do you think?

Saints Suffer First Training Camp Injury

The Saints have been lucky thus far in training camp with injuries. Jeremy Shockey bumped knees with a teammate and Reggie Bush sat out a practice with dehydration. Other than the guys on the PUP list, the team is relatively healthy.

But today they suffered their first "major" injury when Lynell Hamilton hurt his knee during practice with the Patriots. Early reports are that it's serious and he'll miss the season. This may not be a huge blow to the team, but Hamilton was set to take over Mike Bell's role as the power runner and #3 RB.

Look for the Saints to bring in another RB for camp. The new guy may not make the roster though, as P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory have had their moments at RB in camp so far. The team did bring Ladell Betts in for a workout earlier in camp, so he may be the logical addition.

Aug 10, 2010

NBA Schedule Released

The NBA released its schedule today and the Hornets open the season against the Milwaukee Bucks. Here's a nice breakdown of the Hornets slate of games and here are 20 games to watch.

Saints visit the White House

In case you haven't heard, the Saints are the Super Bowl champions! Yesterday they had their visit to the White House, and it's still surreal to see the Saints recognized as the champions of the NFL. Well, enjoy this one last moment Saints fans because now that the White House visit has been made, it's time to put the 2009 season to bed. The Saints have started training camp for the 2010 season and will open the preseason Thursday night against the Patriots.

But before you move onto 2010, you can relive the White House visit below:

Aug 9, 2010

Congratulations City Champ!

The first true New Orleans Saint has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Congratulations Rickey Jackson!

Aug 4, 2010

Lost Spoilers?

It's crazy that Lost ended months ago, yet there's still news and "spoilers" coming out about it. How can there still be spoilers with a series that is complete?

Well, the upcoming DVDs will have loads of answers and even an epilogue section with Hurley leading the island, called New Man in Charge. Some people on the Web have seen this epilogue and you can find a recap of it, if you look hard enough. I started to read it, but then realize that this is the last episode of Lost we'll ever get. Why would I want to spoil it?

There's also talk of another DVD extra where Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse basically provide answers to some of the lingering island mysteries. I'm not sure if this is just a rumor or if it has been confirmed yet, but I hope it's true.

Lastly, it looks like Man in Black had a name all along. My guess is that the creators had a name for him, but then when they didn't reveal it right away they noticed how much fans grabbed hold of the fact that they didn't know his name and it became one of the shows big mysteries. My thinking is that they were having fun with us and decided to hold it back. Well, if you'd like to know his name, you can check it out here.