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The NFL is currently pursuing 4 or 5 different investigations. Amid all the draft talk, free agency signings, and recent arrest announcements, as well as surprise retirement announcements, has been a curious lack of information on several ongoing investigations.

All Things Not Bountygate: The Curious Case of Current NFL Investigations

The idea for this post came as I was reading an article by Mike Florio, of PFT:

No resolution of pending investigations before league meetings

Posted by Mike Florio on March 21, 2015, 8:39 AM EDTGetty Images

With four important investigations pending for the NFL, some thought that the league would bury the outcome of each one during the late Friday afternoon hours of the second full day of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

So nothing has been decided yet, and the cases of the Jets allegedly tampering, the Browns allegedly sending text messages to the sideline during games, theFalcons allegedly pumping in fake crowd noise over the span of two seasons, and the Patriots allegedly tampering with air pressure inside footballs during the AFC title game remain unresolved.

Actually, “allegedly” applies only to the Patriots.   Jets owner Woody Johnson committed a clear violation of the tampering policy as it relates to Darrelle Revis, the Browns have admitted that G.M. Ray Farmer sent in-game texts to the coaching staff, and the Falcons have acknowledged that artificial crowd noise was used.

I say 5 investigations, because the Jet’s tampering investigation began in January because of nothing more than Woody Johnson saying that the jets would love to have Darrelle Revis. The next part or what I consider another investigation, came during the high point of pre-free agency itself.

This memo came out to all teams amid a outbreak of supposed deals made between teams and players.

PP-28-13
TO: General Managers
Head Coaches
Player Personnel Directors
FROM: Commissioner Goodell
DATE: March 8, 2013

SUBJECT: Impermissible Activity During the Three-day Negotiating Period for Unrestricted Free Agents

Clubs were advised in PP-26-13 that during the three-day negotiating period for prospective Unrestricted Free Agents, they are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2012 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 12, and that no contract can be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on March 12.

Clubs are further advised that prior to the beginning of the new League Year it is impermissible for a club to enter into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year. Any announcement of an agreement or an agreement in principle by a club or another party, including, but not limited to, a certified agent, player, or media organization may subject the club to a tampering investigation.

Please contact the Player Personnel department if you have any questions

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

The Jets are being closely investigated because the Revis signing came out very quickly after the opening of free agency. Also not clear is whether or not they had the right to negotiate with Darrelle Revis in the first place. He was under contract through 2015 if the Patriots chose to exercise their option.

Many teams also had deals supposedly done prior to the launch of free agency, according to the many twitter post, and most were validated immediately when the signing period opened. Fortunately our own Bountygate, maligned New Orleans Saints were not one of them. In fact the team waited until the period opened before scheduling any visits.

Of particular interest within our division, is the Noisegate investigation of the Atlanta Falcons. Again there isn’t anything to investigate as owner Author Blank has already admitted and apologized for the acts, which went on for 2 seasons. Seems only a matter of doling out fines and/or lost of draft picks.

Our fellow SBNation blog the Falcoholic, has several post you may want to visit, both for the insight of the writers as well as the fan reactions.

Report: Falcons Investigated For Fake Crowd Noise:

Arthur Blank: Pumping in Fake Stadium Noise Was “Wrong”:

Why isn’t the Falcons’ fake crowd noise scandal a bigger deal?

And finally our friend Dave Choate’s own post on this very subject.

Falcons noise scandal: The NFL merrily sits on its hands

Along the same lines the Browns have also admitted to sending texts illegally during games.

So why hasn’t anything been announced with the above “investigations”? As the tampering investigations are probably aimed at teams other than the Jets, this one could well be “ongoing”, but the rest should be at or approaching the penalty stages. Also curious is the lack of “media outrage” that went on during Bountygate. Could the leagues weak “evidence” of Bountygate be tempering everyone’s opinions, or is the NFL just lucky, that so much more is grabbing the spotlight at the right time.

And after a flurry of breaking stories following Deflategate, it appears interest has fallen off the SB Champion New England Patriots as well. Why haven’t we heard more on this one. Did Tom Brady do it? Did the Colts frame them?  Was mother nature to blame? Did the ballboy’s bathroom break influence the AFCCG? Wouldn’t we all lie like to know?

So what do you thing friends and foes, (I’ll send post notifications to our fellow blogs)? Is the NFL purposely dragging it’s collective heels, hoping that the more time goes by it will fade from sight. Because believe me fans, the attention span for those it doesn’t effect, personally or as rivals, is a very fleeting thing.

On thing is sure. Some resolution must surely be made before the draft in April.

For all of their surprising late round successes, the Saints have consistently failed themselves by drafting players that were too raw and underdeveloped to contribute on the field, this has to change in 2015.

Saints Need To Select Polished Over Potential In This Year’s Draft

I try not to worry about sports much, especially the New Orleans Saints, which are held closest of all.  I do find myself concerned going into the 2015 NFL Draft, though.  It’s been said quite often this offseason, and it’s true, that this is the most important draft class of the Sean Payton era in New Orleans, eclipsing even his inaugural draft in 2006.  The 2006 draft shaped the beginning of the Payton era leading into the 2009 Super Bowl season and 2011 record setting season.  The 2015 draft will shape the final stretch of Drew Brees’ stellar career and perhaps go to lengths in continuing it.

Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have drafting patterns that they have followed since joining together in 2006.  Their habits have been protected by early, mostly unduplicated success, in taking on project players that played far beyond any of the potential seen in them by most other franchises or experts.  All-Time Saints great wide receiver Marques Colston is the prime example for this.  Loomis is still considered a genius for selecting the unheralded Colston in the 7th round of the 2006 draft, as Colston turned into Brees’ top target and the Saints’ best receiver in franchise history.  Even current starting offensive tackle Zach Strief was selected in the 7th round of the 2006 draft.  Not bad, Loomis.

The concern comes in when you realize that for every Colston is a Mike Hass and an Adrian Arrington.  For every Strief is a Matt Tennant and a Tavon Rooks.  Like most franchises of course, there are far more busts and reaches under Loomis and Payton than there are “diamonds in the rough”.  Mostly there’s just a lot more rough in said rough.  Loomis has made his name with the selections of Marques Colston, Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks, and Jimmy Graham, but his best talents are in economics, not talent evaluation.

I’m not as concerned about the Saints drafting a player that simply doesn’t pan out, it’s mostly concerning that the player doesn’t pan out because he wasn’t ready, that he never saw the field because he was injured before he was even drafted.  It’s concerning that a pick turns into a bust because the Saints drafted him into a position to fail, another project with potential and raw talent, drafted to a franchise that is consistently playing for now rather than building for the future.

The Saints under Payton and Loomis have drafted physical freaks of nature with alarming injuries like Greg Romeus and Ronald Powell in recent years.  They’ve drafted workout warriors like Martez Wilson and prototypical specimens like Stanley Jean-Baptiste to their detriment.  The Saints have drafted these players perhaps thinking that they’re getting a steal on players that would have been, or once were, first round prospects, but injury or questions about their readiness at the NFL level came into question.

The Saints need football players.  Honest-to-goodness football players that are ready to contribute in Week 1, not raw, untapped potential.  The Saints have neither the time, or the coaching apparently, to see this questionable potential through.  It’s here that Jeff Ireland and the Saints scouting staff are most in the spotlight, or under the microscope.  The pressure is on these new talent evaluators to really hit on the majority of these picks, as poor drafting has crippled the depth of the Saints, as currently constituted.

As for those amazing undrafted free agents like Pierre Thomas, and to a much lesser extent Chris Ivory, the Saints and the fans would be wise to expect less from that pool of talent.  The Saints desperately need pass-rushers, coverage linebackers, and interior linemen, and the UDFA pool is not an ideal place to search for that type of talent, Junior Galette not withstanding.  Expectations need to turn from anticipating so much from sub-fifth round picks and UDFA’s, and beginning to demand more from the front office, scouts, and coaching staff with selecting players in the first two days of the draft.

The Saints need to draft based on the production the player had on the field, not the potential that is seen in him.  A player can have a crossfit chiseled physique with unbelievable speed and length, but it’s worthless without a polished game to back it up on the field.  The Saints need leaders, they need developed talents that are ready to grind through a 16-game season, the Saints need help.  Ironically, the only ones that can help the Saints are the Saints themselves.

Not every pick needs to become an All-Pro, but the majority need to become dependable, consistent players on this team.  The time for projects and potential is over, it’s time for substance.  Take a guy you know can play, that can contribute.  I’m fairly confident the Saints are ready to change philosophy in 2015, as they’ve made substantial, fundamental changes already this offseason.  Can the Saints actually pull this off?  Well, that remains to be seen, and we will all be watching closely.

Latest draft

2014 Draft Class

 1 20 Brandin Cooks, Wide Receiver

2 58 Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Cornerback

4 126 Khairi Fortt, Linebacker

5 167 Vinnie Sunseri, Safety

5 169 Ronald Powell, Linebacker

6 202 Tavon Rooks, Offensive Tackle

Analysis: With their first pick in the 2014 draft, New Orleans picked up where it left off in 2013: Brandin Cooks is going to fit beautifully in Payton’s offense and is likely to be a starter from day one, alongside Marques Colston and Kenny Stills. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste is likely going to be a backup for most of the season, barring any injuries in the secondary. If history repeats itself - and Saints fans hope it doesn’t - one or two of the draftees will not play in a single game this season. My money would be on linebacker Ronald Powell, who has a history of knee injuries and was a bit of a gamble in this draft.

The Gem: The explosive, multitalented Brandin Cooks will quickly make Saints fans forget about the lethargic offense of 2013.

Ugh: With the great success they’ve had with Mark Ingram and Roman Harper, the Saints decided they needed another Bama player in Vinnie Sunseri. All joking aside, this was a baffling pick: safety wasn’t a position of need for New Orleans. The Saints can only hope to have somehow gotten a steal.

Grade:The jury is obviously still out, but this group of draftees has its work cut out for it if they’re going to match the early production of the 2013 class.

Saints Wisely Avoiding Past Stars In Free Agency



Nostalgia.

It’s great for the fans, but nostalgia will kill a sports franchise.

Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints have been victims of nostalgia in recent seasons, attempting to resurrect the careers of wide receiver Robert Meachem and, most recently, center Jonathan Goodwin.  Payton, like many coaches before him, had tried to use former stars as crutches when new players were needed.  These players were productive stars in the past and there was hope that they still had “a little gas left in the tank” in order to provide a stop-gap solution a good price.

The Meachem and more notably, Goodwin acquisitions proved to be more of a sad realization of diminished skills and diminished returns, than a return to form.  It is perhaps these examples that have led the Saints front office to avoid recent free agents that have that nostalgia factor.  Three notable former Saints were/are free agents this offseason, and the Saints have avoided bringing them back into the fold, despite all three fulfilling areas of need.  They are:

RB - Reggie Bush - Saint from 2006 - 2010

WR - Lance Moore - Saint from 2005 - 2013

G - Carl Nicks - Saint from 2008 - 2011

All three of these players had seen their greatest career successes in New Orleans and all three were fan favorites (yes, even the maligned Reggie Bush).  Even though Bush recently signed with the San Francisco 49ers, he was expected to visit with the Saints and some fans were actually excited about the prospect.  Again, nostalgia.  Both Moore and Nicks are available, and again, there are segments of fans that want to bring back that nostalgia, but the Saints are wise to avoid the mistakes of the past.  The Saints actually seem poised to look toward the immediate future rather than the glories of the recent past.

When DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews joined the Philadelphia Eagles as free agent running backs last week, many Saints fans saw this as an opportunity to pine for the release or trade of former Saint Darren Sproles, in order for Sproles to return to the Saints.  Nostalgia, rearing its head again.  For as many great moments as Sproles created as a Saint, he also faded for long stretches, especially as the season went on.  He also has done this in Philly.

The Saints turning their focus to the younger, albeit more expensive, CJ Spiller shows a smarter change in philosophy, eschewing nostalgia for common sense.  There will be better options in the draft than Lance Moore at WR and Carl Nicks at guard.  Those options may not immediately be as good as these former Saints in their prime, but these former Saints are obviously far past their prime anyway.

I can’t wait for Bush, Moore, and Nicks to all return to the Saints, to be inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.  As players though, their time in New Orleans, while great, had run its course.  Thankfully, the Saints have realized that you can’t move forward if you’re constantly looking back.

Nostalgia.  There’s a place for it, and it’s not on the current roster.

The New Orleans Saints are having what could be mildly described as a tumultuous offseason, with big trades and cuts galore. Another big decision is how the team will deal with one of its longest-tenured pillars: right guard Jahri Evans.

What Should the Saints Do With Jahri Evans?

Some would say that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis have already gone too far this offseason. The Saints traded their Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks, in the very prime of his career, for an oft-injured although talented center in Max Unger and a first round pick. They followed that up by trading wide receiver Kenny Stills who, apart from rookie wideout Brandin Cooks, was one of the team’s rare bright spots in an otherwise lackluster 2014 season. For Stills, they got another oft-injured player in linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third round pick from the Miami Dolphins.

Those are just two of the many moves New Orleans has made so far and with the 2015 season not starting until September, you can bet that there are more transactions to come out of the brain trust at 5800 Airline Drive in Metairie.

One of those transactions will almost certainly involve Pro Bowl right guard Jahri Evans. There have been numerous reports about Evans, some stating that the Saints were shopping him around, others that they were going to outright cut him. Given that New Orleans was able to trade left guard Ben Grubbs to the Kansas City Chiefs for a fifth round pick (by the way, how did they manage to get a draft pick out of Grubbs?) some are now assuming that Evans might be in for a contract restructuring.

Well, let’s take a quick look at some of Evans’ numbers on and off the field at this juncture in his Saints career.

1) Jahri Evans’ Off-the-field Numbers

-          Base salary for 2015: $6,800,000

(This is the money guaranteed to Evans in 2015)

-          Cap Number for 2015: $11,000,000

(This is how much Evans counts in the team’s total salary cap, aka his “cap hit”)

-          Dead Money for 2015 (prior to June 1st): $5,000,000

(This is the money the team would have to pay Evans should they trade or cut him before June 1st)

-          Dead Money for 2015 (after June 1st): $3,500,000

(This is the money the team would have to pay Evans should they designate him as a June 1st cut. Note that the dead money would still be $5,000,000 if Evans is traded, even after June 1st).

Summary

Jahri Evans’ $11,000,000 cap number ranks second on the New Orleans Saints roster only to Drew Brees’ frightening $26,400,000 (hey, it’s a quarterback league!) This high a number for a somewhat declining right guard (injuries or not) leads me to think that New Orleans will not opt for the status quo when it comes to Evans’ contract.

Should the Saints trade Evans, they’ll still have to pay him $5,000,000, while saving $6,000,000 in salary cap money. If the team however cuts him prior to the NFL’s June 1st cuts date, it would amount to the same thing, with no real financial benefit, whereas in a trade they could potentially get “something” back as was the case for left guard Ben Grubbs.

On the other hand, should the Saints designate Evans as one of its two allowed “June 1st cuts” and release the veteran after that date, the team would reduce the dead money owed to the right guard by $1,500,000 thus saving $7,500,000 in cap money instead of $6,000,000 which isn’t insignificant. If you would like to take a look for yourselves, these numbers are compiled here at overthecap.com.

2) Jahri Evans’ On-the-field Numbers

Although they have their flaws, I am a proponent of Pro Football Focus methods when it comes to approximating individual NFL players’ level of play. Here’s a quick look at Evans’ number in 2014 and an overall look at the trend in his play the past 6 years.

-          2014 (These numbers include 78 NFL guards with a min. of 297 snaps)

-          Overall: -6.5 (46th)

-          Pass Protection: -17.7 (77th)

-          Run Blocking: +9.6 (11th)

-          Snaps: 1158 (1st)

Summary

2014 was rough year for Evans when it came to what the Saints do most, which is passing the ball. Evans to his credit however, played the run extremely well and despite reports on a wrist injury, he played the most snaps of all 78 guards included in the PFF ranking, showing that he is still tough and durable.

2009-2014 Overall PFF Ranking (NFL Guards)

-          2009: +42.0 (1st)

-          2010: +6.3 (30th)

-          2011: +17.2 (9th)

-          2012: +18.9 (8th)

-          2013: +11.1 (17th)

-          2014: -6.5 (46th)

Summary

Evans has had a stellar career in New Orleans, and in the past six seasons, only in 2014 did he have a negative PFF grade. Last year’s precipitous decline could simply suggest that his bad play was indeed due to injuries, since it has all the looks of an anomaly.

On the other hand, one could think that Evans who turns 32 in August, is now entering the twilight of his career and will never regain the form of his past years. Or worse, he could actually go further down in productivity from here.

So Um, What Are You Saying?

The Saints have four options right now when it comes to Jahri Evans: they could either trade him, cut him now (which wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense unless they immediately need the cap space to sign more free agents), designate him as one of their two June 1st cuts in order to lower the dead money attached to his contract and recoup more cap money, or restructure said contract.

New Orleans has to weigh several things here: the first being whether they can afford to lose both of their guards and completely retool their offensive line, a unit that is vital to Sean Payton’s offense and to the health and success of quarterback Drew Brees. Secondly, if they want to keep their longtime right guard, New Orleans has to decide whether they are willing to add more weight onto their future salary cap by restructuring Evans.

My opinion is that losing Evans this offseason would fit right into the mantra that it’s “better to let go of a player a year too early than a year too late.” Although history doesn’t show that he is as high a liability as he was in 2014, Evans is definitely on the downside of a great career and unless he is willing to take a fairly significant pay cut, the Saints should either keep trying to find a trade partner for him or cut him post June 1st.

With more draft picks (nine) than they’ve had in over 10 years, New Orleans could find its right/left guard of the future in the draft, be it early or even in later round as they once did Evans himself (4th round pick in the 2006 NFL draft). With Tim Lelito capable of manning one of the guard positions, tackles Terron Armstead, Zach Strief and newly-acquired center Max Unger, the Saints could still have a fairly productive offensive line to lead them to a successful 2015 NFL campaign and even beyond. With the draft around the corner, if Evans hasn’t been involved in a transaction by then, the Saints’ selections could give us an early indication of their thinking regarding their Pro Bowl right guard.

From Mike Triplett at ESPN.com: Loomis reiterated that the Saints have a plan for trimming the estimated $25 million in salary-cap space that will be required over the next three weeks. Although Loomis didn’t specify that plan, a huge part will include converting roster bonuses into signing bonuses with players like Junior Galette, Jairus Byrd, Jimmy Graham and Curtis Lofton. That simple tweak could save about $20 million right away, shifting those cap costs into future years. “I wouldn’t call it easy, yet we know what our plan is,” Loomis told The Times-Picayune. “And we’ve known what it’s going to be for quite some time — in terms of just getting under the cap.”

Tackling woes

In 2014, the New Orleans Saints defense missed many tackles on a weekly basis. Even without a better pass rush and substantial improvement in coverage, better tackling would make the defense less susceptible to back-breaking plays.

In 2014 the Saints defense finished last in tackling efficiency! Basically, our guys squandered many opportunities to stop opposing offenses. According to Pro Football Focus, the Saints defense missed 148 tackles in 1092 snaps, about 13%. I was able to find that inside linebacker Curtis Lofton led his position with 22 missed tackles at a rate of 1 missed every 7.5 attempts. By comparison, James Laurinaitis only missed 4 but tallied to more snaps than Lofton. Cornerback Keenan Lewis missed 10 tackles coming at a rate of 1 miss for every 5.2 attempts. The back end of the defense was left virtually unprotected as safety Kenny Vaccaro missed 19 tackles at a rate of 1 miss for every 4.5 attempts. The surprise statistic of my fact finding mission was that the Saints special teams units was middle of the pack at 18 missed tackles, the exact same as Super Bowl participants the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. The Saints special teams unit is comprised of (hopefully) potential starters, so all is not lost.

The changes must begin now! The coaches may need to take a page from the youth football leagues and work on tackling with the players. As silly and simple as my theory may be, the league could help alleviate two major problems by embracing a return to fundamentals. The fact that tackling can be practiced without pads or full contact seems to make the suggestion reasonable. In particular, I’d love to hear that the Saints defensive players are working with coaches to get the tackling under control. So, if you’re reading this Kenny V, Mr. Lofton, and WestBank, please get back to basics and start taking advantage of the tackling opportunities!

It ain't over till....

Listen, I get it. You’re disappointed and feeling gut punched right now. But, it really isn’t over yet. So, here’s a little something to wrap your heads and spirits around. Since the beginning of the 21st century only two #1 seeds have won the Super Bowl. The 2003Patriots and and YOUR 2009 Saints. Six of the past thirteen Super Bowl champions have been a 4th seed or lower. Including the last 3 consecutive Super Bowl winners

 The 2010 Packers, 2011 Giants, and 2012 Ravens were no better than the 2013 Saints during the regular season. Don’t let yourselves get caught up in some false idea of what a championship caliber team looks like. Instead, try a little good old fashioned "I believe"like our very own vjdancer.

Until all the games are played and the Saints aren’t Super Bowl champs - I will believe it’s possible.

You never know. You might get surprised. Just like the fans of some of the teams above.

Kenny Vaccaro Has Personal Vendetta Against Cowboys

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Saints safety and Texas native Kenny Vaccaro remembers how the Cowboys expressed some interest in drafting him last year and then later decided to pass on him. Vaccaro describes what happened during the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, “My agent was like, ‘Hey, the Saints about to take Kenny, y’all gonna make a move?’” To which Vaccaro said the Cowboys replied, “‘Nah, we don’t move up for safeties.’”

New Orleans Saints are an Elite Franchise

Kevin C. Cox

"Shook Ones" 
Yeah, they’re scared to death, scared to look, they shook…. 
Cause ain’t no such thing as halfway crooks Who Dats!

By BewareofDog

After all the bed-wetting and diaper-crapping that went on after the loss to the Seahawks, you’d think the Saints had lost their 8th straight game and were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Might as well trade Brees while we can still get some value for that effin’ midget and get ready for the #2 pick in the draft behind Atlanta or Houston. Damn, Saints. They couldn’t even get that right. Letting the Falcons have the #1 pick.

Wait….oh, the emergency is over? They crushed the Panthers and all is well? Okey dokey.

Don’t understand it though. I NEVER worry about a Saints loss. EVAH. I can’t. It’s impossible. Mainly because I understand that I’m lucky enough to be the fan of a football that is one of the VERY BEST in the NFL and has been for quite a while. A bad loss here and there during the regular season is not going to change that or shake my confidence in this team.

I don’t subscribe to the whole victimology/underdog status that some Saints fans readily embrace. It’s a huge part of the reason why some fans can’t really enjoy what is in factThe Golden Era of The New Orleans Saints. I’m not going to tell someone else how to be a fan of the team, but I sure don’t roll with that line of thinking. It’s too tiresome. You’re WAY UP after a victory and then way down in the dumps and ready to be fitted for a straightjacket after a loss.

And you’re scared ALL the time. Before EVERY game.

"Ooooh, this team scares me."

"I’m so worried about this game."

"It’s a trap!"

I’ve seen Cowboys and Falcons fans who show more intestinal fortitude toward their respective teams than some Saints fans. Of course, being a Cowboys/Falcons fan is an exercise in futility and are also textbook examples of a delusional mind in action. But, whatever gets them by right?

Pardon me, but, I’m a fan of the New Orleans Saints. One of the top franchises in the NFL and an Elite football team for almost a decade. They have also been a winning franchise for the last three decades.

That’s right, I said DECADES.

It’s weird how some fans spend so much time yapping about losing seasons, paper bags, and the pain of horrible, debilitating, losses to certain franchises which have left them scarred for life and those things are nothing more than distant ghosts from the past. Ghosts that some folks just can’t seem to let go and make it a constant part of their present day lives as Saints fans. And they’re so busy being full of angst that they haven’t noticed how good the Saints have been for quite a while now.

Did you know that the Saints are a WINNING franchise since Tom Benson took over from John Mecom?

Read rest of this interesting article: http://www.canalstreetchronicles.com/2013/12/15/5211606/new-orleans-saints-elite-franchise

Saints status

 New Orleans Saints (6-1):

Despite their 35-17 rout of the Buffalo Bills in Week 8, the Saints were not pleased with their own performance, which included nine penalties, timeouts wasted due to personnel issues, two missed field goals, and four sacks allowed. By the end of the week, the Saints had fallen slightly in the rankings for Defense, Passing, and Rushing; though they maintained their position in regards to overall offense. The BroncosPackersLions,Chargers and Eagles remain ahead of the Saints in the rankings for total offensive yards; with a huge game by Calvin Johnson pushing the Lions up the ranks, and past the Saints for the second-most passing yards in the league. In the NFC, the Seahawks, Panthers,Jets, 49ers, and Packers currently rank ahead of New Orleans defensively. In the conference standings, only Seattle (7-1) has managed — after scraping a win from the Rams — to hold on to a better record than New Orleans (6-1).

The Saints have only lost the ball seven times this year, which is the second-least number of turnovers given away by any team in the NFL thus far (Indy is at 6). Having taken the ball away from other teams sixteen times, New Orleans is ranked No.6 in the league on take-aways. Overall, these numbers result in a +8 turnover differential for the Saints, which is No.4 in the league, behind only Kansas City (+12), Seattle (+9) and Dallas (+9).

As far as punting goes: despite New Orleans being ranked No.8 in yards allowed after a punt, Thomas Morstead has the third-best average net yards-per-punt in the NFL. Had one of his punts been stopped at the one yard line — as it should have been, were it not for a failure on the part of Corey White — he would have maintained his No.2 ranking, and been closing in on the top spot in the NFL. Garret Hartley, on the other hand, dropped to a 78% success rate on field goals this year, after going 0/2 in the Superdome this past Sunday. This ties him as the 25th most accurate kicker (of 33) in the NFL for the 2013 season.

This Sunday, the Saints head to New Jersey to take on the Jets, who are coached by Rex Ryan, brother of New Orleans Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan. Although the Jets offense is only slightly better than Buffalo’s, the men in green have had a much more dominant defense this year. This will be the first time New Orleans faces a defense which is ranked higher than our own, which will only be magnified by temperatures in the upper 40’s at the Jets’ home stadium. However, if they remain focused, the Saints should be able to provide Rob Ryan with his first NFL win over his fraternal twin.

[Current Jets Rankings: Offense - 17th; Defense - 6th; Passing - 22nd; Rushing - 13th]

Saints biggest needs for 2015

3. Interior Offensive Line

I know some draft analysts (Kiper) have projected the Saints to take an Offensive tackle in the first round, and though I can understand the reasoning, I think they’re looking at the wrong part of the line. Perhaps one of the biggest positional drop-offs from 2013 to 2014 was guard play. In 2013, the Saint’s boasted two Pro-Bowl guards who largely held their own throughout much of the season. Thus, last year the major concern was the Left Tackle spot, from which current Chicago Bear Jermon Bushrod departed. After theCharles Brown experiment was done away with, Terron Armstead filled in and has established himself as a solid starter at the position. Indeed, he is only improving over time and could definitely be a young centerpiece of the line of the future. With Armstead alleviating some Tackle concerns and Zach Strief resigned, anxiety only remained over the Center position going into 2014 and was pegged by some (myself included) as the biggest wildcard on offense. However, little did we know, it was the Guards who would struggle just as much if not more.

Both Ben Grubbs and Future Saint’s Hall of Famer Jahri Evans' play have deteriorated over the last season (and some might argue over the last two seasons despite their Pro-Bowl designations). To make the situation more pressing, the Saint's guards are getting paid with the best of the them at the position and are thus falling far short of their contracts. Both player's contacts end after the 2016 season leaving the team on the hook for two more years. Considering the cap pressure however, it is possible that the team may part ways a season early to find some cap relief. Thus, the Saints need to start looking past their aging line to the future.

With the staple of the Saint’s franchise being their offense, the Offensive line has been their most valued asset second only to Quarterback. It is therefore imperative that Saint’s shore up that line — the interior, in particular, which is most pertinent to said Quarterback’s success. The good news is that of all that has been said of the staff’s inefficiency concerning the development of cornerbacks, the exact opposite can be said of offensive lineman. Under Sean Payton, the Saint’s have excelled at developing lineman at every position on the line, turning overlooked draft picks into All-pros in the interior, and maximizing each players worth in a seemingly endless rotation on the exterior. With this in mind, hopefully the Saint’s can work their magic once again and pluck some late-round picks and develop them into anchors for the future line. I trust no one more than our coaching staff to achieve this goal, and thus find that position to be the most likely addressed in the late-rounds or undrafted free-agency.

Could Carl Nicks Return to the Saints?

I’m semi-wrong sometimes.  In the 2012 offseason, I was tremendously frustrated that the Saints wasted their franchise tag on Drew Brees before inevitably giving him the large contract we were always going to give him and let Carl Nicks walk.  In Nicks and Jahri Evans we had the best pair of guards in the league, guys who had been the thrusting pistons driving the engine of one of the best offenses in league history (I don’t know much about cars).  But Nicks got injured almost immediately in Tampa and ended up playing just nine games there in two years and we signed Ben Grubbs, who made the 2013 Pro Bowl and has been a solid performer for us.

But the fact is that the offense has not been the same since Nicks left.  Brees has been sacked, hit, and hurried more in the last two years than any other time in his Saints tenure, due in part to declined play from the center and left tackle spots (though Terron Armstead has stepped up nicely) and partly because Grubbs just isn’t as good as Nicks was.  The old Nicks is never coming back, but this team could use some quality interior line depth and a familiar face may be just what the doctor ordered.

It’s hard to emphasize too much the extent to which Nicks’s career has fallen apart.  A Google profile now refers to him as a “former football player” and his Wikipedia article makes reference to an imminent but unofficial retirement.  However, Nicks is only 29 years old and is more than two years removed from the toe injury that cost him so much time and is now working out for NFL teams including the Saints.

I know that being chosen over retirement has its pitfalls (remember Olin Kreutz?), but I’m all for it.  This guy was a key part of the the Saints golden era, and at the very least he can restore some order to the clubhouse and remind the guys what it’s like to have a championship mentality.  Also, if he’s moving anything like the Nicks of old, he could be more than a great clubhouse guy and shore up that interior line that’s been declining in recent years.

I’m aware that offensive linemen don’t provide us with the visceral memories that guys at the “skill positions” do, but the thought of having Jahri Evans, Jonathan Goodwin, and Carl Nicks in the trenches together again really lifts my spirits. These Golden Era Saints may be growing long in the tooth by football standards, but I love the idea that one more of the old gang could come home to roost in the city that loves him.

Graham Negotiations...

Jimmy Graham’s Agent Flies To New Orleans To Negotiate With Saints

By David “Satch” Kelly on Jun 17 2014, 2:44p 14

Jonathan Ferrey

Graham’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, flew to New Orleans from Memphis on Tuesday to negotiate with the Saints’ front office face to face, according to NOLA.com. Graham’s hearing is also being held in Metairie, according to the NFL Network, so that may be the more likely reason he flew in. There’s conflicting reports as to why exactly, so we shouldn’t get our hopes up that a deal is imminent. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank will hear arguments from the NFL Players Association and the NFL Management Council to determine if Graham should be officially labeled as a tight end or a wide receiver for franchise-tag purposes. The proceedings will be held privately and it’s unclear how long it will take Burbank to issue a ruling, though one week is a fair guess based on past arbitration hearings.

Sean's drafting record

2010 Draft Class

 1 32 Patrick Robinson, Cornerback

 2 64 Charles Brown, Offensive Tackle

 3 95 Jimmy Graham, Tight End

 4 123 Al Woods, Defensive Tackle

 5 158 Matt Tennant, Center

7 239 Sean Canfield, Quarterback

Analysis: Following their win in Superbowl XLIV, the Saints had a pretty lousy draft. The six players selected played in a combined 171 out of a possible 384 games (44.5%) and started a combined 86 games (22.4%). Two of the six players (Al Woods and Sean Canfield) never played in a single regular season game for the team. To complete the mediocrity of this draft class, four years later, only two of the six players drafted are still with the team (Patrick Robinson and Jimmy Graham).

The Gem: The Saints drafted a relatively unknown tight end from Miami in the third round. He turned out to be the best tight end in the NFL at the moment: Jimmy Graham. It was a bit of a reprieve for an otherwise pretty awful draft.

Ugh: Al Woods, the local product out of LSU was drafted in the fourth round. A wasted pick, as Woods never suited up for the Saints in a meaningful game and is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Grade: Thank God for Jimmy Graham.

Justin Gilbert Visiting Saints

NFL Draft 2014: Justin Gilbert Visiting Saints

By Dave Cariello  @CSCtweet

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

One of the top available cornerbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft will be meeting with Saints this week.

Former Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert will be meeting with the Saints for a pre-draft visit, per his personal Twitter account.

Gilbert is one of the top cornerbacks available in the 2014 NFL Draft and is a potential first round draft choice. At 6-0, 200 pounds, Gilbert has good size to match his speed.  The All-American was also a Jim Thorpe Award finalist for the nation’s best defensive back

Super Bowl 2014: Where Super Bowl XLVIII Ranks Among All-Time Worst

Kevin C. Cox

Super Bowl XLVIII provided the world one of the most one-sided football games ever witnessed. Was it the worst Super Bowl ever though?

In  1984, Super Bowl XVIII provided us with the first blowout of the post-merger Super Bowl era. In that game, the Raiders dismantled the Redskins 38-9. The 29 point victory was, at the time, the largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history. Starting with that game, only 5 of the following 20 Super Bowls had final scores within single digits. 1984 through 2003 basically represented the era of the blowout Super Bowl.

Now 30 years later, the world witnessed the third largest blowout in Super Bowl history. Super Bowl XLVIII featured a 35 point win by the Seattle Seahawks over the Denver Broncos, 43-8. In the moment, many will rush to judge this game as the worst Super Bowl ever played, but will that opinion stand after hindsight? Well, there are many Super Bowl blowouts to chose from, but here are my top five worst Super Bowls of all-time. Where will this dumpster fire of a game end up?

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#5 Super Bowl XXVII - Cowboys 52 - Bills 17

In one game, Buffalo lost their starting quarterback, their pride, and their third Super Bowl in a row. Dallas built a dynasty on the back of this performance, scoring the second most points in Super Bowl history and securing the third highest margin of victory in Super Bowl history, 35 points (tied with XLVIII Seahawks). The young and loose Cowboys crushed the tense veteran Bills, and they’d do so again, in a lesser way, just one year later.

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#4 Super Bowl XXXVII - Buccaneers 48 - Raiders 21

This one wasn’t even as close as the 27 point margin of victory indicated. The Raiders were dim enough to run the exact same playbook that Bucs head coach Jon Gruden created, against him, guess how that worked out? Raiders QB Rich Gannon threw 5 interceptions in that game, 3 of those were pick-sixes of 44 yards or longer. This was the first time the #1 offense (Oakland) faced the #1 defense (Tampa) and well, it looks like we know how those match ups work out. This was an absolute laugher throughout, even the Tampa defense thought the game was funny.

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#3 Super Bowl XXXV - Ravens 34 - Giants 7

Giants offensive coordinator Sean Payton oversaw arguably the worst offensive performance in Super Bowl history. To be fair though, both offenses were mediocre, it was Baltimore’s historic defense that ruled that game. Giants QB Kerry Collins threw 4 INT’s against the suffocating Ravens defense, as the Giants could only muster 152 yards of total offense. The Giants’ only touchdown came on a kickoff return following a Collins pick six. That kickoff touchdown was effectively negated by a subsequent Ravens TD on the following kickoff. This was about the most boring football game I’ve ever witnessed.

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#2 Super Bowl XLVIII - Seahawks 43 - Broncos 8

#1 offense in Denver vs #1 defense in Seattle, we all saw how well that worked out in the Bucs/Raiders Super Bowl. Well, this one was worse. Seattle dragged the Broncos’ lifeless carcass up and down the field for 4 quarters. The game became comical early on, even from Denver’s first play from scrimmage, this game was a disaster. Denver looked lost, intimidated, and thoroughly unprepared. Whether Seattle’s performance will lead to a Dallas-like dynasty or a Bucs/Ravens one-off, remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure, Peyton Manning’s going to catch more flak for this loss than any player has ever had to endure. The only thing that can soften the blow is that he’s won a Lombardi, as this loss could’ve put him in the Jim Kelly and pre-1998 John Elway echelon.

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#1 Super Bowl XXIV - 49ers 55 - Broncos 10

I know we’re all “living in the moment”, but look at that score again. This is the granddaddy of all Super Bowl skull-draggings. San Francisco scored eight touchdowns in that game… eight. The 1988 49ers were just about as complete a football team as was ever assembled, and they were the defending Super Bowl champions. Denver QB John Elway (who is a major factor in both #1 and #2 on this list) threw for only 108 yards, no TD’s and 2 INT’s. 49er defensive players said they had to console Elway during the game, as his Broncos were being blown out for the third Super Bowl in the last four years. Denver amassed only 167 yards of total offense compared to San Francisco’s 461 yards. It was as thorough and complete a dismantling of a football team as has ever been witnessed on the world stage. If you could stand the Niners, then maybe you enjoyed this game, I cannot, and I could not. A few teams have been close, including this weekend, but it will take a special effort to eclipse the 45 point margin of victory to complete the biggest dumptrucking in Super Bowl history.

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That’s how I see it, tell us what you think is the worst Super Bowl of all time. Leave us your comments and insight below. Here’s to a much better Super Bowl in 2015, preferably with the New Orleans Saints hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in the end.