It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, and frankly I was enjoying the time off. No more racking the brain every day (other day, week, whatever) to find something new to say that hadn’t already been said better by someone else, or screwed up completely by the legitimate media. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to, you know, earn money. Always a plus.
But then, my lovely and gracious bride hit me up with a request: “Would you please post something new? I’m tired of looking at Tumba every time I go to your site.”
Well…ignoring for a moment the fact that when I do post something new you’re the first person to know about it, so why do you keep going back there…sure. Be glad to. Here’s your post.
Um…so now what do I write on? This being the pre-draft offseason, the logical subject would be whether or not the NFL is ready for an avowedly gay player. But CBS and ESPN and Fox Sports and all those other heavy hitters are taking care of the really important stuff, so I’m going to stick with the little details. Like, who will the Saints draft? Who should the Saints draft? And what will it all mean?
If you’d asked me this a week ago (or if I’d actually posted what I’d written), I would have said that the key to the whole situation is what the Saints decide to do with Akiem Hicks. He’s a star in the making, but in what position? He’d make a massive defensive end…but then again, Richard Seymour is about the same size, and I wouldn’t mind at all having the next Richard Seymour. Then again, he’d make a hyperathletic nose tackle, kind of like Haloti Ngata when he plays in the middle. I wouldn’t mind that, either.
But he can’t play both positions; and whichever one he doesn’t play will have to be addressed, either in the draft or in free agency.
But that was a week ago. Now, I’m not so sure. What changed my thinking was the mind-blowing wealth of athletic talent at this year’s Combine. I wish the Saints had the first 32 picks…then they might be able to stock up on everyone I covet. But with only five picks, spread out over six rounds, they’re going to have to go for maximum impact, and that might entail taking a few chances.
For instance: Tyrann Mathieu. Normally, I’d say the Honey Badger is a train wreck waiting to happen. He is extremely talented, extremely raw, and extremely full of himself. Which one of those is most likely to manifest itself on the field (and in the locker room) is anybody’s guess at this point. Jason Bernos over at Da Chronic had the team taking him in the third round, and my first thought was “too high.” But then it occurred to me that the Saints must swing for the fences, so to speak. If the future is now, and it is, we need maximum impact.
And that got me to thinking: what’s the quickest way to achieve maximum impact? Shoring up a new and completely untested defense that’s almost bound to improve from last year? Or fine-tuning what was once the best offense in the league, and which could again be the best with just a few tweaks?
And the conclusion I came to was: I don’t know what to expect. Don’t be at all shocked if that rush linebacker you’ve been drooling over falls right past the Saints’ at 15, where Mickey and Sean snap up an offensive tackle. Because we do need some serious help on the offensive side of the ball, and the front office is about due to throw us for a loop.
But…but…the Saints have historically devalued the offensive tackle position! Everyone knows this, on account of Drew Brees and short and guards and stepping up in the pocket and natter and natter. Yeah, I hear you. And I raise you a 25th-place finish in rushing last year, and MetLife Stadium.
Okay, follow this logic. 1. The future is now. We have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever step onto the field, right now. Under contract and all. If we expect to win another Super Bowl, we need to maximize his chances by providing him with the best players and the best scheme. And I don’t think Sean Payton will ever be satisfied with less than a Lombardi. The future will always be now as long as he’s here.
2. The Super Bowl is in New Jersey. The prize that Payton and Brees and everyone else connected with the Saints are aiming for is going to be handed out in MetLife Stadium in 2014. On February 2. In, again, New Jersey. In fact, the Farmer’s Almanac is already predicting the weather for that day: “an intense storm, heavy rain, snow and strong winds.” Yeah, I know: it’s a weather prediction. A year in advance, yet. Still, New Jersey in February has been known to enjoy some conditions that the rest of the country would describe as “shitty,” and that includes the weather. In fact, right now, as I write this, the temperature at MetLife Stadium is 33°, with winds gusting to 22 mph. And it’s no longer even February. All of this adds up to Not Good for a Dome team, and especially not good for a passing team.
3. So we won’t be a passing team. Remember 2009? Remember 2011? The offenses that struck terror into the rest of the NFL featured strong ground attacks. One of them got us to the Super Bowl; the other one should have. You better believe Sean Payton understands the importance of running the football. Especially if it’s going to be necessary to seal the deal on a frozen, windy field in New Jersey next February.
4. We need a stronger offensive line. Grubbs and Evans are a great guard tandem. De la Puente is a serviceable center. We can get by with one serviceable player on the offensive line, and we’ve already played that chip. That means we need upgrades at the tackle positions, and we need them badly.
But, you say, Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief played those positions in 2011, when we were so great. So why can’t they do the same thing this year? Maybe they didn’t play so excellent well in 2012, but neither did anyone. It was a fucked-up season. Maybe it was just the general fuckery manifesting itself, and not individual suckitude.
Well, I’m not going to argue with someone who uses words like “fuckery” and “suckitude.” And you may be right. But you never know what will happen with the draft. What if someone like Lane Johnson happens to slip to 15? Do we pass up the opportunity to nail down the left tackle position for a decade, in order to draft (for instance) Ezekial Ansah, an athletic freak who is, however, untested at linebacker? Do we hope for the best, or do we go with the sure thing?
But I’m contradicting myself. Tyrann Mathieu is anything but a sure thing; he’s a high-risk, high-reward type of player. Ansah is a relatively low-risk, high-reward player. On the other hand, Lane Johnson is a no-risk, high-reward player, and that’s my point. I think.
There are other possibilities, though. For instance, after having ditched David Thomas, we’re in need of another tight end. Why not get the best one available and run a lot of two tight-end sets, using the ends to chip block on passing downs? That gives help to Strief and Bushrod, and provides us with mismatches down the field. And just imagine putting, say, Jimmy Graham and Tyler Eifert in a bunch formation. Does the safety just crap his pants and get it over with?
So don’t assume this draft is as cut and dried as the experts predict. A rush linebacker, a nose tackle, a nickel back, and two picks wasted on camp bodies. Mickey and Sean might have some surprises up their sleeves, and their eyes on a frozen field in February.
Oh, and about the illustration: I couldn’t find a photo of Drew Brees hoisting the Lombardi in the snow. Guess we’ll just have to wait another eleven months. In the meantime, kittehs.