Forecast: The Saints' sad history at cornerback

Who are the best two cornerbacks in New Orleans Saints history? If I asked you to name the best quarterbacks, guards, receivers, linebackers or defensive tackles, you could rattle off a dozen names to me. Drew Brees, Joe Horn, Marques Colston, Jahri Evans, Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, Jonathan Vilma, and Wayne Martin were all great at the positions I just mentioned.

Cornerback? Still thinking on it, huh? It’s hard just finding one great Saints cornerback, much less two.

Tracy Porter was magical in the playoffs in 2009 and he’s a Saints Hall of Famer because well you know, but his Saints career was mostly injury plagued and a lot of ‘could have been’. We’ll always have 2009 though Tracy. Still a legend.

Do you know the last Saints cornerback to make a pro bowl? Eric Allen in 1995 made it on reputation and his previous seven years in Philadelphia. Another fun trivia question; Do you know the last Saints cornerback to have five interceptions in a single season?

Jason David in 2008.

Yeah, that Jason David, the guy whose mere name gives Saints fans horrible flashbacks of penalty flags and wide open receivers. The Saints have only had a corner get more than five interceptions in a single season 8 times in 50 seasons. They haven’t had a corner grab six interceptions since Bill Clinton was still in the White House in 1999 when Ashley Ambrose did it.

The late Dave Waymer is probably the Saints best corner in team history. He had 31 interceptions playing corner for the Saints from 1981-1988. He made the Pro Bowl in 1987 and had 9 interceptions in 1986.

That’s 31 years ago back in the Stone Age when phones had an actual dial and people had to suffer tremendous pain not being able to get score updates at weddings, birthdays or their kid’s piano recital. If you wanted to tell the local sports writer how awful he was you had to write an actual letter on paper and mail it to him. I don’t know how that generation survived. Those of us that lived it know how terrible it was.

It’s not like the Saints haven’t tried to find good corners. They’ve drafted ones high (Alex Molden, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Marshon Lattimore) to name a few, they’ve signed free agents (Jason David, Fred Thomas, Brandon Browner, Jabari Greer, Keenan Lewis), they even traded for a very good one in Mike McKenzie in 2004.

Lewis was really great in 2013 but would only last two more seasons in New Orleans. Mike McKenzie was very solid from 2005 to 2007 but neither is making the Saints Hall of Fame.

Jabari Greer has a soft spot in my heart because he was very good when healthy and the moment his career ended in 2013 against the San Francisco 49ers is the exact moment the Saints defense began a rapid descent into the abyss, from which it has never returned.

You’d think the Saints in the last 20 years would have accidently found a really good pro bowl corner. Maybe they did when Marshon Lattimore fell to them in the 2017 NFL Draft. Without a doubt he’s the most physically gifted corner I’ve seen the Saints have in 25 years, unfortunately he’s already in the NFL concussion protocol, and might not play in Carolina.

The Saints have an unbroken string of tears at cornerback which goes back 50 years. How is that even possible? How sad is that? If Adele wrote an album about football, every song title would be Saints cornerback themed. ‘Rolling in the Deep Saints Secondary’ would be the saddest Adele song ever.

The Games

Last Week: 4-1
Season: 5-5

New Orleans (+6) at Carolina: Before we get to Sunday’s game we have to tally up the receipts of the 2015 Jimmy Graham trade since the Saints shipped Stephone Anthony to Miami. At the end of the day the Saints traded an all-pro tight end and fourth round pick to Seattle for center Max Unger.

It was the equivalent of paying sticker price for a Toyota Camry. A Camry is a lovely car but why would you walk into the dealership and be the only one willing to pay full price? That’s how you get 7-9.

The Jimmy Graham trade is the rare transaction both teams sort of regret because it didn’t work out like they wanted. Don’t believe me? Watch the Seahawk offensive line for a quarter.  

The realization the Saints don’t really know what they are doing anymore is pretty depressing but my podcast cohost Andrew Juge made the Anthony trade 1000 times funnier when he reminded me Anthony will be reunited with Joe Vitt in Miami.

“Yes, I’m out of here! Dolphins? Vitt?! $%^&.”
 

About the game Sunday….


Last week I nearly nailed the EXACT score of Saints-Patriots in this very space, so before you go laughing at me picking the Saints this week, hear me out.

The last four Saints-Panthers games have been decided by 3, 3, 3, and 5 points. This Saints defense defies explanation in its awfulness, but if the Saints in 2015 only lost by 5 and 3 points to the 15-1 NFC Champion Carolina Panthers, the 2017 Saints should in theory be able to keep this game interesting into the fourth quarter.

At this point, that’s all I’m asking for Saints, get us to the fourth quarter with the game still undecided so Sunday can at least be interesting.

The Panthers have the NFL’s top rated defense but they played Buffalo and San Francisco. Those teams aren’t in the same continent offensively as the Saints, even if the Saints are starting their third and fourth string offensive tackles.

Carolina will be without tight end Greg Olsen. Not that it matters when facing the 2017 Saints defense, but the Panthers are 25th in yards and 22nd in points on offense. If Marshon Lattimore doesn’t play the Saints will be without a single decent NFL quality corner. Seems like a problem.

The Saints have yet to commit a single turnover on offense so it feels like we are due for that three turnover Drew Brees nightmare game, except those pop up when you least expect them.

No, this feels like our first interesting four quarter game of 2017, with the required sad trombone at the end. The defense will stumble backwards into a turnover or two and the Saints will lead late and need one last stop but the young kids on defense won’t close the deal. The only thing more annoying than Cam Newton’s happiness in the post-game press conference will be his wardrobe. 

Carolina 27-23
 

Minnesota (-1) vs Tampa Bay: If Sam Bradford isn’t healthy at the end of the year, I expect the Vikings to go HARD for Drew Brees in free agency. They have loaded roster, play indoors, and all they need is a quarterback. The Thought of Brees in purple just gave me a seizure.

Bucs 28-21

Atlanta (-3) at Detroit: The Falcons just lost Vic Beasley for a month to a hamstring injury but with that offense it hardly matters.

Falcons 34-21


Tennessee (-3) vs Seattle: I think Tennessee is going to be my AFC team I root for in 2017 to try and keep Sundays fun since the Saints are going nowhere. That they are playing the hated Seahawks and Pete Carroll is just an added bonus.  

Titans 25-20

Houston (-13) at New England: I know the Patriots rolled the Saints and Texans have a rookie quarterback and horrible offensive line, but that Texans defense will shove around New England and keep it close.

Patriots 24-14

Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at Saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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