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Old 08-12-2002, 03:09 PM   #1
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Talking Report on the New Orleans Saints

TITLE:New Orleans Saints Lose First PreSeason Game to the Houston Texans

Yes thatís right they lost their first preseason game to the new expansion team, the Houston Texans 13-10 in New Orleans.

The Saints played before a home crowd of 67,356. Great turnout, but otherwise a disappointing night for the fans watching their beloved team.

Quarterback Aaron Brooks played 1 Ĺ quarters, completing 8-of 14 passes for 79 yards. Back-up QB Jake Delhomme was 9-of 12 for 92 yards. Not bad for either.

Are the Saints moving forward or backwards this season? There is a good argument for either side. The Saints finished the 2001 season 7-9, tied for third place with the Atlanta Falcons. Both teams were big disappointments last season, compared to the way they played in 2000.

The Saints won their division against a tough St. Louis team in 2000 and, even won their first playoff game against St. Louis in franchise history, under first year coach Jim Haslett.

Now Haslett is in his third year, and a lot will be expected of him from owner Tom Benson, and the faithful followers of the New Orleans Saints. Haslett was just given a four-year contract extension. I would have waited and see how he does this season.

I have followed this team since they came into the NFL back in 1967. Itís been one big disappointment and heartbreaker for over 35 years.

So are Saint fans excited about the upcoming season? Iím not so sure. They lost two key ingredients that made their defense respectable during the off-season. That being defensive end Joe Johnson and big tackle LaíRoi Glover. Can they be replaced? Well, Haslett will do his best.

They drafted Georgia Bulldog defensive end Charles Grant(6-3-282) and end Derrius Monroe out of Virginia Tech. They also got Travis Carroll, linebacker from the University of Florida. We will have to wait and see how the preseason pans out for them.

Veterans Grady Jackson and Martin Chase are fighting for the spot opposite defensive tackle Norman Hand(6-3-310).

Not only was it bad enough losing two great defensive players, but the Saints let running back Ricky Williams go the Miami Dolphins. Sure they have second year back Duece McAllister out of LSU, but he is really untested. He only gained 91 yards on 16 carries in 2001. Not much playing time. He did run for a five- yard touchdown in their first preseason game of the year Saturday. He had eight carries for 21 yards.

As for Williams, he only rushed for over a thousand yards for two years in a row. I donít care if he has a problem with depression or anxiety I would have kept him.

Iím not through with the bad news. The Saints also lost All-Pro offensive guard Willie Roaf and guard Chris Naeole. But they did add tackle Victor Riley(6-5-328), who came over from Kansas City. They still have the intensed tackle Kyle Turley(6-5-300).

Itís really going to be hard to say how the Saints will do this season. Starting quarterback Aaron Brooks had a great season in 2000, filling in for injured quarterback Jeff Blake, but he wasnít as sharp in 2001. But he is a very talented player who can pass and run. Itís just that his lack of experience and maturity showed last season. He threw for 3,832 yards in 2001, but tossed 26 interceptions. Ouch!

Another loss for the Saints was wide receiver Willie Jackson. He was dealt to the Atlanta Falcons. He caught 81 passes for 1,046 yards last season, and made some big plays. He scored five touchdowns. The Saints acquired Jerome Pathon to try and replace him or add to their passing game.

The good news is the saints still have receiver Joe Horn. He led the team with 83 receptions last season. Pathon only caught 24 passes last season, but he played opposite of the great Marvin Harrison, who caught 109 receptions for over 1,500 yards. Horn is a big playmaker and should be the top receiver to go to this year.

The Saints were expecting rookie wide receiver Donte Stallworth out of Tennessee to be a viable part of this offense, but he was a holdout, and when he did sign he injured his hamstring while performing passing drills. That was his only drawback in college. Getting injured a lot. The Saints also acquired old timer Jake Reed to help out the receiving corp.

Another acquisition was tight end David Sloan(6-6-260) from the Detroit Lions. He caught 37 passes for 409 yards last season. Seven were for touchdowns. Heís a great tight end. The Saints traded their regular tight end Cam Cleeland during the off-season. He stayed injured most the time anyway.

It may sound like Iím really down on the Saints chances this season. I am not. They have some great talent on this squad, they just need to play as a team and utilize all the talent they do have.

The Saints have a pretty tough opening schedule. They open their regular season Sept. 8th against Tampa Bay in Tampa then they play Green Bay at home, then they go to Chicago for their third game of the season. Doesnít get much easier, then they play Pittsburgh Oct. 6th at home.

The good news is the Saints are in the new division, the NFC South, and the St. Louis Rams are in the NFC West, so the Saints donít even play them in the regular season this year. Great news.

In closing, the New Orleans Saints could very well win their division or very well finish last. You just canít be sure which team will show up this season to play. Iím betting on a 9-7 season. Whatís your bet? See you at the game.
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Old 08-12-2002, 04:07 PM   #2
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9-7 is not a bad call for this team.....I don't see them winning their division, and I see them fighting for possibly the final playoff spot with the Bears and Redskins!
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Old 08-12-2002, 04:47 PM   #3
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Here's the thing with the Saints. QB Aaron Brooks is not happy and in fact publicly angry at the organization for not re-doing his contract which is currently at the NFL minimum or close to it! He does deserve more, he's getting paid a backup's salary. Additionally, McAllister is young and talented but very unproven at the NFL level so let's hope he lives up to their expectations. They are obviously very high on him since they let go Ricky Williams for him.

On the bright side, Haslett is a good coach and his contract extension gives him job security and confidence. At WR, they did lose Jackson, as you said, but Horn can be one of the league's top ten wideouts and Pathon is no slouch, either. Finally, I really like Stallworth who they got out of college. He is a dangerous weapon. So the bottom line is if Brooks can be happy, his play will reflect that and better things will happen. 9-7 or 10-6 is realistic for them.
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Old 08-13-2002, 10:37 AM   #4
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Stallworth has already injuried his hampstring in preseason, and he has a trend of getting hurt as he was injuried every single season in college with the Tennesse Vols.

Once again the secondary for the Saints is outright terrible with the exception of Sammy Knight!

Willie Roaf left the Saints on bad terms, because the rumor was that Roaf's wife got pregnant by Joe Horn...once again that is a rumor, but a rumor that most die hard Saints followers say as true. Actually this has no bearing on their play on the field this season, but it was interesting to find that story out...actually shocking!

Lots of things going on in Saint's land....I don't think I would predict this team to win anything such as a division or a playoff spot, but I feel as though they may compete for a spot in the playoffs...but just won't make it in.

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Old 08-15-2002, 03:15 AM   #5
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Remember that back on April 20th, the Saints made four picks in the draft before the Buccaneers even made one - can't see how New Orleans didn't make up big-time ground on them. With an advantage in youth and speed, the Saints should win the NFC South in its inaugural season, but any stay in the postseason beyond the first round - or the second round at the absolute most - would have to be considered a major surprise.
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Old 08-15-2002, 09:39 AM   #6
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Just because the Saints got 3 drafts picks this season before the Bucs doesn't mean they will be beter this season! It may hurt the Bucs in the future not having those draft picks, but not this season because the Saints are simply just not as good as the Bucs are no matter who they picked up as a rookie in the draft....and the Saint's secondary will prove that to you this year!

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Old 08-16-2002, 03:00 AM   #7
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In addition to not having a first- or second-round pick, the Bucs also lost (via free agency) one of their two starting running backs, plus their second and third wide receivers, resulting in a massive loss of team speed. And don't read too much into the Saints' last two games of 2001; once they lost that game at Tampa in Week 15, the Saints would have needed a mathematical miracle to get into the playoffs, so they just laid down and quit against the Redskins and the 49ers, so their 7-9 final record really doesn't mean much (and of course someone with a moralistic bent might claim that God was punishing them for what happened in that Monday night game at home against the Rams, when their fans threw all that stuff onto the field after that controversial call by the officials!).
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