Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
Preseason is almost over and wraps up Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts. Before you fire off an angry email saying the Saints have two more games we both know no one cares about the final preseason game. No starters play, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will be half full, and while it will be on your TV I'm guessing 10 seconds after it's over you won't remember a single thing about it.
My attitude for the last five years has been, 'If the Saints don't care about the last preseason game then why should I?' So I don't even write a column previewing it or discussing what happens in the game.
I know a couple guys will make the team based off the final exhibition game but at this point does it matter who the seventh linebacker is? I'll care when that guy is actually contributing to winning or is horrible and sinking the Saints season. Until then, I have ZERO INTEREST. Did you know when Sean Payton was suspended in 2012 he didn't watch the Saints preseason finale live? He was at his kid's game. Need I say more?
This week of the fake football is as close to real football as we get in August so what should we be looking for?
Will Penalty Parade End?
I told you earlier this week the Jimmy Graham dunking controversy is a whole lot of nothing and I'm not worried about the Saints penalty issues because I believe Sean Payton will get it fixed. After Payton's post game meltdown last week I better see less penalties or else I may have to start crafting 800 words of 'I WAS WRONG.'
The NFL is awash in penalties this preseason and who doesn't love more flags? This is all Seattle's fault. They decided to create a fantastic pass defense that said, 'If we have illegal contact on every play there is no way officials will call it every time, so let' just mug receivers repeatedly.' The NFL this year has an answer to the Seahawks and it is, 'Want to bet we won't throw a flag every play? WE WILL MAKE IT RAIN FLAGS PETE CARROLL!'
One more reason to hate Seattle.
Jairus Byrd Takes Flight
Jairus Byrd returned to practice this week and all indications are he is going to play Saturday which means we get our first look at the most expensive Saint free agent signing since Drew Brees.
In Deadpsin's great Drew Magary NFL preview series he quoted an email from a Saints fan upset that Malcolm Jenkins wasn't resigned. I'm really glad Who Dat Nation includes Saints fans that don't watch the games.
Malcolm Jenkins was a nice bow tie wearing guy, tried hard, hustled, blah blah blah. He was also according to Pro Football Focus absolutely terrible. In 2012 he and Roman Harper were the worst graded starting safeties in football according to advanced stats. He wasn't much better in 2013. If Byrd is healthy he is a massive upgrade but if he is not then the Saints salary cap is ruined. The Saints paid Byrd to be the best and need him to deliver. I'm excited to see him and make 3400 Byrd themed jokes on Twitter.
Drew Brees Back Under Center
You remember him right? The guy who has multiple 5000 yard passing seasons, a Super Bowl MVP, and is probably the #1 reason the Saints are still in New Orleans. Yeah, that guy.
It's not a crisis that Brees hasn't played or practiced the past few weeks but if practice wasn't important then why does Brees take it so seriously? The man is a preparation machine. If Brees looks rusty and Saints offense struggles badly Sean Payton wouldn't dare play them next week would he? Brees probably goes 8-10 with a touchdown and the previous paragraph looks ridiculous but if he struggles I'll be just a tiny bit concerned.
Who Plays Corner?
The Saints probably won't play Keenan Lewis, Champ Bailey or Patrick Robinson which leaves Corey White, Rod Sweeting and Stan Jean-Baptiste as your top three corners. I'm more confidence in my ability to juggle knives than those three to cover NFL receivers. Maybe Lewis, Bailey, and Robinson are all healthy for Atlanta but if someone else could look competent it would be a nice surprise.
If the Saints don't pressure Andrew Luck, he is going to light them up like I do my grill on a Friday night. Luck might look like the love child of a vagrant and hippie but he is incredible and is going to dominate the league until about 2025. He would be the quarterback I'd want if I couldn't have Drew Brees.
Enjoy the preseason game that is the least horrible.
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.