Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
Since the Saints are nearly at the halfway point of the 2013 season it’s time to look back at some of my preseason predictions. Where I was right, where I was wrong, and where I was really, really wrong. Let’s go.
Prediction: By mid October it will be clear Kenny Stills is the next great Saints receiver.
You probably think I will rate this pick 100 percent correct but I won’t. Stills has been great the last two games but I was so in love with Stills since the Saints drafted him I thought he was going to be better. He’s having the best season by a Saints rookie receiver since Marques Colston but he is only a role player right now. He’ll be a star, just not yet.
Verdict: 60 percent correct
Prediction: Come next March Jimmy Graham’s contract situation will be messy.
I nailed this one. I predicted 100 catches and 1,400 yards and he was on pace to shatter those crazy numbers. Before he hurt his foot Graham was rewriting the record book not just for tight ends but receiving. If he gets back healthy quickly he still might. Either way his contract negotiations will be very difficult.
Verdict: 100 percent right
Prediction: Luke McCown will play in a meaningful Saints game in 2013
With Drew Brees on pace to get sacked over 60 times it’s a very real possibility. Please don’t let me get this one right.
Verdict: 100 percent wrong so far. Thank God.
Prediction: The Saints have five safeties on their roster and Rob Ryan is going to use them all frequently.
The only thing about this prediction that I missed was the rebirth of Malcolm Jenkins. I thought Roman Harper would be really good and he was until he got hurt but Jenkins has been special in his contract year. Rob Ryan has the Saints playing five and six defensive backs most of the time. On the final play against Atlanta all five safeties were on the field.
Verdict: 90 percent correct
Prediction: By mid November my mom will want a Kenny Vaccaro jersey
Vaccaro looks like a really good pick but he has made his share of rookie mistakes and he does not have enough interceptions to make my mom notice him.
Prediction: Cam Jordan will be most consistent pass rushing defensive end to be on the Saints since Darren Howard.
Jordan has been better than Darren Howard. He’s a more complete player and I’d say he’s the Saints third most valuable player behind Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. Jordan is on pace for 13 sacks and he’s the key to pressure the defensive line brings.
Verdict: 50 percent correct
Prediction: President Obama will declare the New Orleans Saints linebackers a federal disaster area.
This was a complete whiff. David Hawthorne has been a revelation at inside linebacker. He is the player the Saints thought they were getting from Seattle in 2012.
Curtis Lofton has been just as dependable as he was in 2012.
If you told me in August the Saints would need Junior Galette to make a key stop on a running play to win a football game I’d have bet my paycheck against it happening.
He stuffed Doug Martin in Tampa to allow the Saints to make a comeback. In 2012 Galette was atrocious against the run but the way he can rush the quarterback he never needed to be great against the run to be productive. He didn’t even need to be good, just average. In 2013 he’s been ok and with the way he gets to the quarterback it’s more than enough.
I did not see this coming.
Verdict: WRONG TIMES 1,000.
Prediction: Mark Ingram will lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns but the rest of his season will be as mediocre as ever.
This prediction is so wrong what else is there to say? In the 2011 draft the Saints hit a grand slam drafting Cam Jordan and struck out swinging selecting Ingram.
Verdict: WRONG TIMES 10,000
Prediction: Keenan Lewis will be a bust.
This prediction didn’t make it in the column because I wrote it poorly so we pulled it but it needs to be mentioned.
I thought Lewis’ preseason struggles mattered. They did not. The Saints elite pass rush has helped him but the one knock on him was he didn’t intercept the ball but he’s on pace to collect six interceptions.
Verdict: WRONG TIMES 100,000
So my predictions were a mixed bag but the good news is you get a full refund on the column. Don’t say I never admit my mistakes.
Rob Ryan's Big Chart of Fun: All year long I’ll be charting how the Saints defense does under Rob Ryan in certain situations. For a full explanation of how it works read this. For all you people emailing me demanding to see the chart, the Rob Ryan Chart lives here. After you finish this column, read this ESPN article by Mike Triplett. Did you know Rob Ryan has given all the Saints defensive players ‘inner animals’? He labeled Junior Galette a sakis monkey that sports a full beard like Galette's.That’s the most Rob Ryan thing ever. He also introduces assistant coaches with their own theme music during meetings. I spent 45 minutes trying to figure out what Joe Vitt’s theme music is.
I’m more interested in Vitt’s theme music than who killed Kennedy. I finally decided Vitt’s theme music is either the theme from the Soprano’s or Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon’.
I MUST KNOW THE ANSWER.
Last Week: 2-3
New Orleans (-6.5) at New York Jets: I was all prepared to explain how Geno Smith is a much better quarterback at home than on the road. Then I looked at the numbers and found that his home/road numbers are almost identical. He's thrown one less interception at home but his completion percentage is six points lower. I've watched all the Jets games and besides their win in Atlanta it always feels like Geno Smith is much better playing at home. The stats say otherwise.
There is some part of me that keeps not believing in this Saints defense. It's like there is a little part of my brain that can't shake the 7 previous years and believe that the 2013 Saints defense is really good when I'm picking games.
One measure on if a defense is really good is if they can take away what the opponent would most prefer to do on offense. The Saints, except for the New England game, have done that every week.
This week the Jets will want to run the ball early and often.
The evidence says Rob Ryan is going to shut down the Jets running game on first down. (They held Buffalo to two yards a carry on first down if you include sacks) and then Rob will unleash on Geno Smith what I called the 'Full Rob Ryan' on Twitter. The 'Full Rob Ryan' involves sacks, turnovers, fried shrimp poboys, Heineken, and pain.
I'm genuinely happy for Chris Ivory. He runs really hard for the Jets and the trade worked out well for the Saints because they got John Jenkins. The Saints are going to do whatever they have to shut him down. Remember Parys Haralson the linebacker the Saints got in a trade with the 49ers? He'll probably play alot this week because he's very good against the run.
Last time the Ryan brothers faced off Rex left some messages on brother Rob’s phone after the Jets won. Come Sunday night Rex will probably have some very funny voice mails on his phone from Rob. I can't speculate on what they might say because we're a family website here but Rob's going to be very happy on the flight home.
Carolina (-7.5) vs. Atlanta: The Falcon’s season has completely fallen apart. They’ve been hit hard with injuries and their secondary is very bad. I wish every Atlanta game started after the Saints in 2013. Watching the Falcons get beat like a drum after the Saints win is the greatest football dessert ever.
Seattle (-16) vs. Tampa: I thought the Saints had offensive line issues and then I watched the Seahawks Monday in St. Louis. Russell Wilson got sacked 7 times and generally was running for his life. He could have five cafeteria chairs blocking for him this week and he’d be fine.
New England (-6.5) vs. Pittsburgh: Having to watch the Dolphins completely collapse against the Patriots last week was unpleasant for my wife. To go from up 17-3 and lose 27-17 takes a special kind of bad.
Patriots are lucky Steelers are terrible.
Oakland (-2.5) vs. Philadelphia: All the experts are gleeful because Chip Kelly’s unique college offense is failing. They say, “I knew that would never work in the NFL.” Maybe it’s not Chip Kelly, maybe it’s the fact cemeteries have more life than his quarterbacks?
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.