Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
A Roman general in the time of Caesar had a motto - "If it is possible, it is done. If it is impossible... it will be done." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I live by. -- Evel Knievel
The 2012 Saints are Evel Knievel trying to jump his motorcycle over 50 school buses. It’s either the coolest thing you’ll ever see or complete disaster. I’m convinced this season has only two endings for the Saints. A few weeks ago I was thinking maybe 2012 would be a bloody street fight where Drew Brees and the offense drag them to 10-6.
After the San Francisco 49ers ripped the Saints guts out in January and threw them into the worst off-season in the history of football this story can’t have a so-so ending.
Either Drew Brees is getting handed the Lombardi trophy from a suicidal Roger Goodell in the Superdome or by December we just want 2012 to end as quickly as possible so we can put the nightmare behind us.
No middle ground.
This is one of those sports moments where it’s all or nothing. Think 2006 when Nick Saban chose Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees. To put it simply Saban wasn’t in a win-win situation. He chose poorly and the Dolphins are still a dumpster fire six years later.
Don’t kid yourself and pretend we won’t have to listen all year to talk of bounties, suspensions, intent to injure, wire tapping allegations, and perhaps an un-sourced report on ESPN Outside the Lines of Mickey Loomis killing a hobo.
Believe me when I tell you this: You don’t want the bounty talk to stop.
If the national media isn’t talking about the Saints, bounties and Sean Payton it means the Saints are irrelevant in 2012.
If anything I want MORE bounty talk. I want the Saints to roar out the gate and Pete Prisco of CBSportsline.com to post the column he probably already has written that Roger Goodell didn’t punish the Saints enough because they are 5-1.
I want Skip Bayless to stop talking about Tim Tebow for 45 seconds to explain why Aaron Kromer needs to stay the head coach even though Joe Vitt’s suspension is over because why mess with something that is steam rolling teams?
The #1 sign things are going really well for the Saints in 2012 is when you go to ProFootballTalk.com and Mike Florio has a story speculating Sean Payton is communicating with the Saints because HOW COULD THEY BE SO FANTASTIC WITHOUT HIM? I have October 18 in my pool.
I can’t wait for 2012 to start because we will likely never see something like it again. The Saints are a legit Super Bowl contender heading into a season where they will have two different head coaches, a couple key defensive players suspended for either all or part of the season, and Sean Payton will be MIA for all of it. Oh and the only thing people seem to have stronger opinion on than how the Saints will do is who should be president. Are they doomed to fail without Sean Payton? How the hell can a team win a Super Bowl having two coaches?
The Saints were warm and cuddly in 2009 and America loved them, but after this off-season that’s over. Most of America probably thinks the Saints are bounty-loving criminals and deserved what they got. It’s probably for the best as I really didn’t want the Saints becoming a national bandwagon team like the Patriots, Cowboys, or the Packers. There is still something really cool about bumping into someone wearing Saints gear around the country and having a 98% chance they have a family connection to New Orleans.
I have yet to meet someone wearing a Saints shirt who says, “ I’m from Iowa and I just saw Drew Brees on TV and decided they were my team.” It’s better that way. The Saints are a New Orleans thing.
I’ll go on record as saying after how the NFL treated the Saints this off season I’ll gladly sit through the next five years being mediocre if it means Drew Brees gets the Lombardi trophy from Goodell next February. It would be that sweet.
So you still want my prediction? 2012 is all or nothing. Deal with it.
Sean Payton sabbatical spot of the week: Argentina
New feature this year! We’ll guess where Sean Payton might be spending his time every week. Up first is Argentina. Did you know they have a 97.6% literacy rate? It means the average Argentinean citizen has a better chance of reading a defense than Tim Tebow or Mark Sanchez.
The national sport of Argentina is pato that is a combination of polo and basketball. Pato means duck in Spanish and in the 1600’s the game consisted of teams trying to carry a live duck in a basket on horseback from town to town. It was a more creative offense than the 2012 Cleveland Browns could ever dream of. Sean Payton will be there coaching a group of fifth graders to a national pato title this weekend with Jon ‘Gru Dog’ Gruden’s help. Also Argentina’s president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is not unattractive. The games
Washington (+9.5) at New Orleans: Here is your goal Aaron Kromer: surpass the total Saints franchise number of interim coach victories. In case you were wondering the Saints have had five interim coaches and they won five games between them so Aaron all you have to do is go 6-0.
I wonder what went through GM Mickey Loomis’ mind as he watched his main off-season strategy for fixing the defense seemingly go up in smoke against Jacksonville.
Chris Chamberlain tore up a knee and was lost for the year, Curtis Lofton got the dreaded high ankle sprain, and Michael Hawthorne tore his meniscus. On the Forecast horrible preseason game scale we’ll rate it a 7 out of 10. I can’t remember a worse injury riddled exhibition game since Jim Haslett’s first game as Saints coach when three starters were lost for the season in the opening quarter. It wasn’t that bad but it’s definitely in the neighborhood.
The linebacker carnage continued in practice when Ramon Humber injured his hamstring. The Saints were so desperate for linebackers they traded a conditional draft choice for Barrett Ruud’s barely above room temperature body and he isn’t even 100% healthy. The Saints were one more injured linebacker from signing Rickey Jackson. Fans love to rip Shanle but he shows up and remember kids 90% of life is showing up. So here’s to you Scott Shanle, you show up.
The injuries on defense worry me. The Saints say most everyone will be ready to go opening week against Washington but I’d believe Mitt Romney telling me he’s voting for Barack Obama before I believe the Saints about injuries.
Maybe it all works out and Lofton and Jabari Greer are healthy and good to go against the Redskins, maybe Will Smith suspension gets put on hold and he plays too and the defense hits the ground running. I doubt it.
History says Steve Spagnuolo’s defense takes time to get going. In his first season in New York everybody talks about how the Giants defense was awesome against the Patriots in the Super Bowl. You know what they don’t talk about? The 80 points the defense gave up the first two weeks of the year.
The good news for the Saints offense is loaded. Even elite defenses couldn’t stop them last year. Drew Brees went 40-of-63 for 462 yards with four touchdowns in the playoffs on the road against a 49ers defense considered the best in football. If the Saints block Washington linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan they’ll probably do whatever they want against a mediocre at best secondary.
Robert Griffin III will look pretty good but make a couple rookie mistakes.
Atlanta (-2.5) at Kansas City: I’ve been reading how hard the Saints schedule is because they have to play the AFC West. Please. The Chiefs according to the Football Outsiders formula using points scored/points allowed said they should have been a four win team in 2011. The Chargers still have Norv Turner and the Raiders still have Carson Palmer. Seems like a big plate of terrible to me. Falcons roll. I’m in a picks pool where you have to rate the confidence of your selections. This is my lock of the week.
Carolina (-2.5) at Tampa Bay: The Bucs have to be better in 2012 right? The thing is their defensive line still is awful and their fans didn’t even sell out the opener. Cam Newton begins the process of passing Matt Ryan as the division’s second best QB.
Seattle (-2.5) at Arizona: I’m a total believer in Russell Wilson at quarterback for the Seahawks. He’s like a super athletic Drew Brees. Everyone making all those Pete Carroll jokes might not be laughing if he stumbled onto a franchise quarterback. I don’t even know who is the starting QB for the Cardinals but I know it’s not Kurt Warner and that’s what matters.
Indianapolis (+9.5) at Chicago: Either RGIII or Andrew Luck is winning opening weekend. Since I think the Saints will beat the Redskins I’m going with Luck here. The Bears defense is old and overrated. Lovie Smith will call a timeout so he can burn a coach’s challenge on the coin toss because the scab referees will probably screw it up. Football is awesome.
Colts 27-24 Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.