Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Column is Posted


I wrote about lessons we can take from the Super Bowl teams. 



Stew will be the MLB.  Spoon will be the WLB.  SAM is up for grabs.  I know many of you want Jordan back on the field.  Spoon didn't make many plays on the weakside, but he also had really bad MLB play that affected him.  Sean McDermott likes Spoon a lot.  He expects big things from Will in 2010.

Spoon will get to spend the offseason really learning the defense.  This year he had to learn on the fly.  Next year he'll know the playbook inside-out.  He'll get to go through mini-camps with his teammates.  Same for Training Camp.  Spoon can find a comfort level.  Guys generally make plays for a couple of reasons.  First, they are in the right place at the right time.  Jordan had the ball come right to him on his INT vs the Panthers.  Any player could have caught that ball.  Second, players know exactly what it going on with the players around them, both offense and defense, and they can anticipate plays and get to the right spot. 

I'll be shocked next January if Spoon has no INTs or FFs or sacks.  He has proven to be a good playmaker for most of his career.  One area where he did help us was in coverage.  I don't think enough people give him credit for how well he did against TEs.  Jordan struggled vs TEs.  Remember how they ate us up early in the year?  Akeem showed real potential this year, but he does need to get more consistent.  I'd love to see him as a backup this year and as a starter in the future. 


RE:  Myron Rolle

We seem to prefer playmaking Safeties.  Rolle I think had only 1 INT and 1 FF at FSU in 3 years as a starter.  Smart.  Big.  Pretty good athlete.  Talented.  Those are good qualities.  The lack of production doesn't make sense for a guy with his potential.  You do wonder if he's committed to football or if his other interests, while noble, are a distraction.  The Eagles will meet with him at the Combine to try and decide if this is a case of a guy who will be a much better pro than college player.  Maybe McDermott will covet having a super smart guy back there to run the defense. 

RE:  Eagles/Saints

Andy can be every bit the gambler Sean Payton was in the SB.  Andy went for it on 4th down inside his own 35 this year.  Andy is the king of onside kicks.  We used to run a good amount of fake FGs when Koy was the holder.  We've done all kinds of aggressive, creative stuff. 

Donovan vs Brees...not much to say.  Donnie is streaky.  If he had ever played really well in a SB we'd have won by 3 TDs.  Brees is reliable.  That is a big advantage for the Saints.  No question about it. 

The Saints had a great year.  Before we hail them as the best team ever, though, let's examine the whole situation.  10, 7, 8, 13.  Those are the win totals for Brees/Payton in New Orleans.  This isn't a juggernaut organization that we all knew was going to finally break through and deliver.  That's the way most people felt about the Colts in 2006.  The Saints had a lot of stuff go right this year.  How many INT-TDs did Darren Sharper have?  How many unbelievable catches did Devery Henderson and Marques Colston make?  And so on. 

The Saints played great this year, but I do wonder if they can sustain this.  I've been trying to think of a team that the Saints remind me of and no one is a great fit.  The 1986 Giants are a bit similar.  The coach and QB had been together for a few years.  There was some success, but not a clear path that pointed to elite status.  Parcells is a button-pusher.  He finally got the right group of players and everything he did worked brilliantly.  Payton is a Tuna protege, from their time together in Dallas. He also plays mind games with his players.  You could say that he pushed the right buttons this year.  Obviously the Giants had an elite defense and effective offense.  The Saints are the opposite in that regard. 

The Giants were good, but not special the next couple of years.  They couldn't regain the magic of '86.  They did go 12-4 in 1989 and then broke through and won another SB the following year.  I won't be shocked to see the Saints dip down to 8 or 9 wins next year.  Payton knows that complacency is their biggest enemy.  He'll take steps to try and prevent that situation.  You just don't know how the players will respond to what Sean does this time around.  You also can't forget the NFC South curse.  No team has repeated as Division champs since it was formed in 2002.  Can the Saints even repeat as winners of the NFC-S?

I do think very highly of Brees and Payton.  I know those guys will do everything in their power to keep the team playing great football. 


izzylangfan said...

Sean Payton's call for the onside kick to start the second half took guts. And perhaps it was out of the trust the coach showed the team that it responded the way it did.

However, Sean Paytons call to go for the TD at fourth and goal to go from the one is the propper call almost every time. You have an excellent chance to make the touchdown and if you fail you are still in pretty good position to get a good result from a number of outcomes. It is one of the worst calls in the league that so few coaches do not go for it on fourth and goal inside the five. If Andy or most any other coach went for it on every occasion he would come out better then they do.

Dominic said...

Tommy, once again, a pleasure to read the pe.com article. The point about McD growing into his skin as a defensive coordinator was great and I really hope his development is akin to Gruden's. I hope Dick Jauron will be able to help our secondary in the same way that Bill Callahan was able to help the Jets O-line. Sometimes, failed head coaches need to get back to their bread and butter.

Thanks for the response about Myron Rolle too. I went a rival high school of his, so I got to hear everything about how he was the #1 recruit in the nation. I was kind of surprised that with that kind of talent he was just a "good" player instead of a superstar or a flameout. In his high school, he was known as a bit of a prima donna. He's also kind of old, he was a year behind me in school but a year older, which means that he turns 24 this year.

Anyways, I was wondering if you knew anything about the Marty - Andy playcalling relationship. I seem to remember when Marty took over the playcalling late in '06, it that we ran the ball a heck of a lot more. But even though Marty still calls the plays, over the past two seasons, the playcalling has definitely taken a more aggressive bent.

Myron said...

Tommy, the point I was trying to make about the Saints was that ever since the 2006 season when Drew Brees came to New Orleans and Sean Payton was instated as HC, it was obvious to everyone that they had an *elite* offense on that team, and would have an elite offense for years to come as long as Brees stayed healthy. He's arguably one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. His accuracy and decision-making are unparalleled.

The real question after the 2006 season to most casual observers was: will their defense match their offense? THe answer in 2007 and 2008 was "no". Despite throwing for career-high yardage (almost broke Dan Marino's record in 2008), Brees and the Saints were held back by their team's atrocious defense which would often allow other elite teams to build insurmountable leads on them. Despite this, they posted .500 seasons and consistently boasted the #1 ranked offense. All it took in 2009 to be a Super Bowl team was the retain the offense of 2006-2008 and add a few elite playmakers to the defense.

So the question for 2010 and beyond is: for how long can they retain their above-average defense to allow their #1 offense the chance to succeed? If they can, I see them as one of the elite teams in the NFL for years to come, and potentially the NFC favorite next year.

Can the Eagles challenge them next year? Of course. But some key players will need to be added next year if the Eagles want to be able to compete with the elite NFC teams (the Cowboys, the Saints, and the Vikings). My point is that these are not flukey teams. The Saints and the Cowboys will continue to dominate the NFC in the next few years.

Stephen said...

When I watch the Saints offense I always marvel at how quickly Brees can make a decision on where to go with the ball and how frequently recievers are running wide open. Makes me jealous. I hated it when we played zone against them this year, it took about 2 plays for me to realize that we were in a world of trouble with that plan.

I think there are really 3 critical plays that tipped the SB in the Saints favor. The first is the Hank Baskett muffed onside kick recovery, the second is the Matt Stover missed field goal (and the decision to go for it in the first place, an ancient matt stover who wasnt good at 50+ FG's even in his prime?) and then the Manning interception. The Garcon drop hurt a ton too, but not as much as the others.

Really this was a fairly close game, Manning was marching them for what looked like the inevitable tying TD when there was a critical breakdown. I'm not sure whether Reggie just failed to undercut the coverage or if Manning simply had a brain fart at a critical moment but it was really an entertaining SB.

Brees had an epic 3 quarters no doubt. Think about this, he went 29-32 in the final 3 quarters, and of those 3 incompletions one was a drop and one was a spike to kill the clock. Stop and think about that for a second. If you discount the drop and the spike, he was 29 of 30 passing over the final 3 quarters. Thats got to be simply one of the most dominating performances in the history of NFL championship games.

Im glad that the Saints won, Brees seems like one of the most genuinely good guys in the league, and the way he's managed to take the cause of New Orleans on his back without making it all about himself is admirable.

frankfurtler said...

First I agree with the respect the SB Champion Brees/Payton deserve, they took over in the big moment. So at the risk of sounding like a hater....
Battling complacency is a great point, that said, didn't S. Payton have a whacky 'Funeral' after the Saints '06 run followed by a 'team building' field trip to a water park during the following TC/pre-season? I can't wait to see what he has in store for the Saints this off-season.

Pitmanite said...

can we now stop calling robert mathis a dominant player? without freeney on the other side of him drawing so much attention mathis disappeared. you can't disappear in the SB when your team desperately needs you after a player like freeney goes down.

Cliff said...

Who called Mathis dominant? I'd say the majority of fans have no idea who he is.

Pitmanite said...

i read tommy's post again and he said that freeney & mathis are one of the greatest duos in recent history, so i guess he technically didn't call him dominant. i guess you can't argue w/ their #s, but i think mathis' numbers are inflated by having freeney on the other side.

i think i was just bored and so fired off a post to stir the pot. i was also hoping to lure tommy into a debate, so i could verbally b*tch slap him and prove my dominance in all things football.

Kevin said...

Before we start loving the Saints too much, let's consider...

- Suisham missed a 25 yard FG that would have iced the game
- Vikings fumbled 5 times + Brett INT AND they still needed to win the coin toss in a home playoff game to win
- They beat Miami after being down 21 when Sharper catches a bouncing ball for a pick 6
- Even in the Super Bowl, they hit 3 FG over 40 yards AND recover the onside kick.

Are the Saints a good team? Yes. Were they also very lucky? Yes. They basically caught every break this year. Will that happen two years in a row when the Saints will have admittedly less to play for? We'll find out.

Heck, in the NFCSouth, no team ever wins the division back to back.

Tommy Lawlor said...

@ Pitmanite...

You will never beat me in a football debate. Never.

Unless you bring up:

* Jamar Enzor - my favorite player in the 2005 draft class. Teammate of Trent Cole's that I thought had some Seth Joyner type qualities.

* Why I swore for years that Peyton Manning would never win a Super Bowl.

* The fact I said Ed Reed was overrated prior to being drafted.

* The fact I mocked the Seahawks for "wasting" a 2nd round pick on Lofa Tatupu.


Kevin said...

On the bright side Tommy, you probably wouldn't have drafted Mike Williams over DeMarcus Ware or Shawne Merriman or spend a 2nd round pick on Jordan Dizon.

Matt Millen FTW!

Brendan said...


With all the talk of Spoon at linebacker, I don't think anyone has mentioned Sean Weatherspoon as an option for linebacker. I'm not very good at projecting linebackers from college to where they'll play in the pros, but he does seem to fit the playmaker/leader personality type that the Birds covet. What do you (or anyone else for that matter) think of him as a possibility for our first pick?

Pitmanite said...

Haha, you know I defer to your expertise Tommy.

I'd be embarrassed if some of the very basic football I've asked you in private messages (mostly on scoutsnotebook) ever became public. I mean having to ask you how many points for a touchdown was pretty bad.

Here's a linke to Mike Lombardi on a possible trade scenario for the Eagles. I'm not a fan of giving up Kolb for S. Rogers straight up but maybe I'm missing something. Thoughts?