Being a Saints fan will never be better than it was the moment Tracy Porter pointed at Saints fans on his way to the endzone in Miami. (Watch again for the 10,000th time. You know you want to.) The Saints could win the next two Super Bowls and it still won't equal the joy of last February although I'm completely fine with the Saints proving me wrong.
The Saints winning the Super Bowl changed everything.I watched other teams win the Super Bowl and thought, 'Wouldn't that be fantastic? I wonder what that feels like. What happens after the team you've rooted for your entire life finally wins a title? Will big wins feel as big? Will crushing losses make Monday just as unbearable?'
I'm not sure and that's why I can't wait for the 2010 season.It's a whole new world.
To all the various fan blogs and Saints related websites saying it'd time to put the 2009 season to bed, in the past, and get ready for 2010 I have two words and I mean this in the nicest way possible; Drop Dead.
I've watched the NFL Films Super Bowl highlights so many times I could recite it word for word. Tracy Porter's interception is cued up in my DVR as I'm writing this.
I watch it when I'm bored, happy, sad, or for no reason at all. Because THE SAINTS WON THE SUPER BOWL and it's as awesome as it was when it actually happened. Sue me.
Sean Payton and the players need to focus on the upcoming season and defending the title but I don't. At least not until the Saints start playing actual games.
Of course the 2010 season will eventually start and I'll obsess over injuries, bad calls, great plays, playoff chances, and laugh at the Rams. Until then I will continue to bask in the warm warm glow of victory and throughout 2010 I will drink beer out of my Saints World Championship beer mugs. I've waited 34 years for this and I'm not letting go until I'm good and ready. Still football is back which means life is better and as training camp starts here are things I'll be looking at or thinking about.
Did Saints players, coaches, fans, the city of New Orleans, and plant Earth celebrate too much?
Absolutely they did. I mean when I saw Drew Brees in the French Quarter with a hurricane in one hand and the Lombardi Trophy in the other while he was wearing a lamp shade singing 'When the Saints go marching in' I know things were out of control.
Or how about the time Darren Sharper sky dived off the Cresent City Connection and called it the 'Lombardi Leap.' If players and coaches were actually doing those things we'd give them a pass because we're New Orleans and that's how we roll but it would make ue a little nervous about the 2010 season.
Did New Orleans go crazy after the Saints won the NFC Title? Check. Did we have the coolest victory parade ever? Check. Was 2010 the sweetest Mardi Gras ever? Absolutely. So what? The national media has decided no team has ever celebrated like the 2009 Saints. ESPN's Colin Cowherd thinks the hangover will probably make them 8-8.
It's not based on anything but the stereotype that New Orleans is all about fun and good times. Which is totally true, I mean no city has ever had more fun after winning a title but me thinks the national media is confusing the team with the fans.
The Saints may not repeat or even make the playoffs but it won't be because the team will still be celebrating 2009 this December. Drew Brees and Sean Payton will not let that happen. The fans are a completely different matter.
How will the Saints ruthless front office moves affect team chemistry?
After watching the Saints operate under Mickey Loomis I've come to one simple conclusion; if the Saints don't need to pay you then you don't get paid.
Will Smith got paid, Jahri Evans just got millions, and Drew Brees will assuredly get his but everyone else not so much.
The Saints are playing hard ball with Pierre Thomas and almost all of the rest of their restricted free agents.It's cold, calculated, and has also kept the Saints from giving out a lot of bad contracts.
The Saints made a mistake paying Charles Grant huge money but if the Saints wouldn't have somebody would have given it to him.Since Loomis hired Sean Payton the Saints haven't made many other mistakes as far as contracts. (Save your Jason David emails. He was a bad corner but his contract was far from bad.)
The Saints even let key contributors like Jon Stinchcomb and Devery Henderson test the market for long stretches before 2009 and didn't break the bank to sign them. They let fan favorite and team leader Scott Fujita walk.The Saints could have matched Cleveland's offer and it would have been great PR and everyone would have felt great.
The Saints could have even had a press conference with Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and Fujita complete with tears, talk of loyalty, and puppies. Instead, the Saints swallowed hard and let an aging, injury plagued linebacker get paid ridiculous money elsewhere. By the way, good for Scott Fujita, he did everything we ask of a pro athlete. He played hard, spoke his mind, cared about his community, and appreciated the fans. The Browns offered him a Powerball ticket and he accepted.You would have done the exact same thing. I sure would have.
Loomis gets paid to make tough calls but will Pierre Thomas be happy this year knowing Reggie Bush is making 8 million and he isn't making 25 percent of that?
Money matters everywhere. It matters at your work, at mine, and definitely in an NFL locker room.
How Sean Payton deals with a locker room filled with guys who just won a Super Bowl and keeps everyone motivated will be as big key to the season as anything.
Pierre Thomas is about to be the lead dog
Mike Bell left for Philadelphia and suddenly his 172 carries and 654 yards need to be replaced. Tell yourself those yards and carries will be distributed equally among Reggie Bush, Lynell Hamilton, and Pierre Thomas. Or talk yourself into believing THIS IS THE YEAR REGGIE FINALLY DELIVERS THAT MONSTER YEAR. Go ahead. I'm betting Thomas gets the majority of Bells yards/carries and angles himself for a nice pay day next spring if the Saints don't pony up before then.
The Saints are much better at defensive end
Will Smith is the only Saints player returning from 2009 with more than five sacks. The Saints brought in Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson. Brown/Wilkerson is better than Grant/McCray so expect more sacks from the defensive line. Once Will Smith gets back from his suspension, if he even gets suspended, the Saints should get more pressure from their front four.
Al Woods better contribute at DT or the run defense will continue to struggle.
Yeah the Saints did win the Super Bowl giving up 122 yards rushing a week but pulling off that trick again is unlikely. Sedrick Ellis hasn't been a bust but I'd argue he's not even the best DT on the roster (Remi Ayodele). Anthony Hargrove plays both defensive line spots so I won't count him. The Saints don't need to have a dominant run defense because most weeks they'll be playing from ahead and nothing helps your run defense like a 10 point lead.
DT is my biggest concern going into the season. Every week teams will try to pound the Saints defense, shorten the game, keep Brees off the field, and win game 21-17. It rarely worked in 2009 and better DT play will make teams figure out different strategy.
Secondary should cover a lot of flaws on defense.
The Saints might be very average besides Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma in the front seven but the secondary is crazy deep.
The only issue keeping Tracy Porter from elite status is health. He has missed as many games as he's played the last two years. Jabari Greer was rated by the stat intensive website FootballOutsiders.com as the second best corner in the NFL in 2009. Throw in Patrick Robinson and Randall Gay and the Saints are as deep at corner as any team.
While I believe Darren Sharper won't come close to duplicating his 2009 season the Saints still have Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins to more than keep the safety position solid.
My guess is Gregg Williams will be blitzing even more. Despite all the talk about how much the Saints punished quarterbacks they only ranked 13th in the NFL with 35 sacks. I think that total climbs in 2010.
Road games will be fantastic.
The fact that my new job will cause me to miss the season opener is devastating. Kids, let me tell you adulthood is a huge letdown. You have things like responsibility, mortgages, weddings, etc that makes you have to choose between more money and seeing Super Bowl banner drop in person. I hate adulthood sometimes...ok all the time. Oh to be young again...
Still I can't tell you how excited I am for road games. For the first time in my life other team's fans will view the Saints coming to town as an event. Other team's fans will measure themselves against the Saints. Beating the Saints will mean something. Whenever the Saints played the champ it was a huge deal. It could make a crummy season less crummy if they could just beat the NFL's best. You'll understand what I'm talking about when the Saints play the 49ers on Monday Night in Week #2.
San Francisco fans will be all kinds of crazy hoping the 49ers can prove they are a playoff contender by beating the Saints. Every road game the Saints will face a fired up crowd and the opposition's best shot.
The best part of the road games this year? It will be watching Drew Brees and company totally destroy a stadiums spirit with a late game score. America was really happy New Orleans got to win the Super Bowl but now they want to see their team beat the Saints into the ground. The Saints are going to be the hunted, hated villain. Better to be hated and feared then irrelevant anyway. Embrace the dark side. It will be fun I promise.
Ricky to Canton, the White House visit
The Saints are about to have their first Hall of Fame induction of a player whose accomplishments in New Orleans are what is getting him to Canton.
Ricky Jackson is my favorite Saints player. My first jersey was #57. Jackson was the best player on those great defenses of the early 1990's. When the Saints needed a play he made it. He was for my money the second best linebacker of his era behind Lawrence Taylor. His career stats speak for themselves. Jackson had 128 career sacks and 40 forced fumbles. 'City Champ' as he is known did something none of his fellow era linebackers did...he was great well into his 30's. He had 63 sacks AFTER THE AGE OF 30 including 9.5 at age 37 for a Super Bowl winning 49er team. In comparison Lawrence Taylor had 28.5 sacks after turning 30 and was out of football by age 34. If Jackson did that in 2010 it would be considered amazing, that he did it 1995 when players weren't nearly as dedicated to year round training is a huge reason he's about to be a Hall of Famer. Until Drew Brees gets into Canton #57 is the best Saints player in team history.
The Hall of Fame weekend always gets me excited because it means football is here but this year I might need to be sedated during that week.
The Saints White House visit is a close second because it will be the final moment before the 2010 season starts where we'll all say, 'The Saints really did win the Super Bowl because Obama's getting a Saints jersey from Sean Payton!'
If you want to downplay the White House visit because of your politics that's your right, but to me it represents another one of those things until this past February I wasn't sure I'd live to see.