The Saints Go Marching On…

About a week ago when Sean Payton returned to the Saints as the head coach, the first thing he did was to fire defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo. The Saints’ defense was a mess last year to be sure; however, I wonder how much of that was “coaching” and how much of that was due to those dreaded “distractions” teams always worry about. Anyone who was paying any attention at all to the Saints’ situation last season knows that “chaotic” would be a reasonable adjective for what was going on there.

Having said all that, the numbers for the Saints’ defense simply cannot stand even the slightest scrutiny without reaching the conclusion that “something has to change here”. Part of that change was jettisoning Spagnuolo and another part of that change was the announcement that the Saints would switch to a 3-4 defense next year. Here is a flavor of how bad the Saints’ defense was in 2012:

    Allowed 440 yards per game (worst in the NFL)
    Allowed 148 yards per game rushing (worst in the NFL)
    Allowed 5.2 yards per rushing attempt (worst in the NFL)
    Allowed 7.9 yards per pass attempt (worst in the NFL)
    Allowed 6.5 yards per play (worst in the NFL)
    Allowed more first downs than any other defense
    Allowed 28.4 points per game (next to last in the NFL)

Unless you were the mother of one of the defensive players, you would look at that list and have to conclude that it was an amazing display of ineptitude.

I mentioned recently that JaMarcus Russell hoped to make a comeback in the NFL and that he was working with trainers and quarterback consultants to achieve that end. When that announcement hit the streets, the news was that Russell had already begun to lose weight and had gone from 320 lbs. to 308 lbs. Subsequent to that revelation, there are reports in various places – to include NFL.com – that Russell and the NY Jets have had “very exploratory informal discussions”. If that is true, I have to believe those discussions involved the possibility of Russell playing for the Jets. After all, I doubt that the new Jets’ GM wanted to consult with Russell on the subject of North Atlantic Oscillation and its impact on the economies of the northern European tier.

Let me say that I am skeptical about JaMarcus Russell’s ability to return to the NFL and to establish himself as a QB worthy of having been taken as the overall #1 pick in the 2007 draft. Should he do so, I will acknowledge my error; that is what skepticism is all about.

Taking that one step further, I think that the scrutiny he would undergo in NYC is exactly what JaMarcus Russell would not need in order to succeed. If he went to a charity event in NY and consumed anything more than a cup of black coffee, it could wind up as tabloid fodder and speculation about his dedication to controlling his girth. That will not help…

Fans in NY do not even wait for players like Russell to come to town; fans in NY revel in heaping snark on pro athletes. I got this e-mail from a friend who lives just outside after mentioning that Russell was attempting to lose weight and make a comeback. For the record, my friend is a Giants’ fan not a Jets’ fan:

“When the Raiders cut JaMarcus [Russell] in 2010, he was the biggest bust in the history of the NFL Draft. When he weighed 320 lbs., he had the biggest bust in the NFL.”

    Memo to JaMarcus Russell: If you get any offer to sign with any NFL team outside of NYC, take it. Come to think of it, add Philly and Cleveland to that list.

Earlier this week, Dwight Perry had this item as the first entry in his Sideline Chatter column in the Seattle Times. Indeed the opening question here is a fair one…

“Is any sport safe from the scourge of performance- enhancing drugs?

“Olympic gold medalist Jim Armstrong of Canada will be suspended for 18 months after testing positive for tamoxifen, a breast-cancer drug that serves as an estrogren-blocker.

“Who’s Jim Armstrong, you ask? He’s a Paralympic curler.”

According to a report on CBSsports.com, today is a deadline in the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes by the NHL to Greg Jamison who used to be the CEO for the San José Sharks. According to this report, Jamison needs to have the money in hand to purchase the team by midnight tonight or the current lease arrangement that the Coyotes have with the City of Glendale, AZ will expire. Compounding the problem is the fact that there is a new mayor in Glendale who does not think that a sweetheart deal for the hockey team is a key priority for that municipality.

The ESPN.com reporting on this story says that there is another consortium poised to buy the Coyotes in the event that Jamison cannot come up with the money by midnight tonight. Nonetheless, there is no way to know if the city would negotiate a deal with the new consortium that was sufficiently favorable to the new owners and at the same time sufficiently less generous than the previous deal so as to provide political cover for the local pols.

Stay tuned; there is more to come on this matter… Please recall, the original owner of the Coyotes had an offer to buy the Coyotes several years ago from a Canadian who did not need any other investors to close the deal but the NHL refused to approve the deal because they “suspected” that the new owner would move the team of “Southern Ontario”. That move would have reduced the “national footprint” that the NHL continues to think is important to them despite the fact that northern teams produce far more revenue for the league than the so-called Sun Belt teams.

Finally, here is an item from a recent column by Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“Parting thought: The NFL is considering changing its Rooney Rule after not one of the eight new head coaches or seven new general managers recently hired was named Rooney.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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Comments

  • Doug  On February 1, 2013 at 7:06 am

    I think JaMarcus Russell was around 240 when he was playing for Oakland, so he only has to lose 70 pounds. Assuming he is as dedicated as he claims, this is doable over time. I cannot imagine any team (including the Jets) giving him a guaranteed deal before he returns to game day physical condition. I am not sure they should even allow him to workout at their facility until he sheds a substantial amount of that weight. In spite of the obscene amounts of money in the NFL, these guys are still watching their risk/reward numbers very closely. It seems to me Russell is a very high risk project. To himself as well as the Jets.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 1, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Doug:

      I recall Russell playing heavier than 240 with the Raiders – but he was hardly an icon of fitness in those days. If he gets himself down in the 250 range AND can demonstrate reasonable cardio fitness AND can convince a team that he is willing/able to put in the time to pick up the intellectual part of playing QB, he might then get a small signing bonus with a team. Guaranteed money is out of the question; he got $31M guaranteed from the Raiders and he is the poster-child for why there is a rookie salary scale included in the current CBA.

  • Doug  On February 1, 2013 at 7:33 am

    It does not seem that long ago that Ed Koch was on TV, standing on a huge map of NYC, explaining the route for the NYC Marathon. He, along with Fred Lebow, is the reason that event is so popular today. I was there in 1983 for the marathon, in the rain, and had a chance meeting with the mayor. NYC moves on quickly and will not likely miss him, but no one ever loved the city as much.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 1, 2013 at 9:46 am

      Doug:

      I wonder how many of the current denizens of NYC recall that it was Ed Koch who saw the city through financial times that had it on the brink of bankruptcy and default?

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