Okay, we’re finally there: the eve of training camp. Tomorrow marks the real start of the football season. Everything up to now has been preparation for (or distraction from) the moment when the players step onto the field and begin the process of installing the offense, learning the new defense, and whittling down the roster to the final 53.
Sometimes it felt as though we wouldn’t make it, but we did. And the difference between then and now is that now, all the questions matter. They’re no longer just speculations driven by boredom; the coaches will be asking the same questions as us. (Well, as most of us…probably no roster spot hinges on the answer to “What’s your favorite New Orleans restaurant?”)
One constant of the lead-up to training camp is the proliferation of “questions” articles. Sometimes they’re broken up into separate articles and run as a series; sometimes they’re just dumped on us at the last moment. And sometimes, when a blogger can’t think of anything else to write on, and the hush before the storm has gotten so quiet you can hear yourself sweat, you fall back on Ole Reliable. So here are my top ten questions for the Saints entering the 2012 training camp.
1. What’s their favorite New Orleans restaurant?
Seriously, who cares? I’m assuming it’s not Jimmy John’s. By the way, did any of you realize that the favorite sandwich of James Holmes, the Aurora theater gunman, is a Jimmy John’s #12 Beach Club turkey sandwich with no cucumbers?
2. Is there any other record Drew Brees can break?
Well, yeah…but it will be tough. He’s already set records for yardage in a season and for completion percentage (and he’s set that one twice). Can he do it again? Gee, I dunno. I mean, I love Drew and all, but it only takes the smallest downtick and there goes the season. I mean, what if he completes only 69%? Baghead time. As for the other significant records, such as touchdowns or interceptions in a season: he’s never come close to either.
3. Can Jimmy Graham get any better?
No, he can’t. It isn’t humanly possible. If Jimmy Graham became any more dominant, the Saints would go 19-0 and win the Super Bowl for the next ten years. At the end of last year, he and Drew were practically scoring at will. I will say this: if Jimmy Graham does get any better, Mickey had better open that checkbook as soon as he puts down the Lombardi.
4. Will Darren Sproles repeat as all-purpose yardage leader?
Nope. Am I the only one who noticed how Sproles did it? By taking the ball nine yards deep in the end zone and running it out for 29 yards. Result: we get the ball on the twenty. He gets 29 yards to add to his total. Did it do us any good? Well, it gave us bragging rights. But what if Sproles had gone down gaining the equivalent of a touchback?
Besides, I think they’ll split up the returns this season. Joe Morgan will wind up doing either punts or kickoffs.
5. Can Steve Spagnuolo work his old magic in New Orleans?
Yes. I think everyone is making the mistake of expecting the same old same old from Spags. He does have more talent on hand than the sports media seems to think; but if it’s not sufficient to replicate his old Giants defenses, he’ll adapt. He spent eight years learning under Jim Johnson, who was one of the best in the league at creative blitzing, and Spagnuolo isn’t averse to sending pressure from unexpected angles himself. The difference is: he doesn’t leave his defensive backs on their own deserted islands.
I predict the Saints rise in the rankings by at least ten this season.
6. Do the Saints now have the best linebacking corps in the league?
In fact? Who knows? Nobody, yet. But on paper? Well, still no. We’ve gotten better, but not that much. Not unless Lofton, Hawthorne, and number three all have career years. But again: who knows? I do think our linebackers have become the strength of the defense, oddly enough. But why be surprised? The same thing happened all of a sudden with the secondary in 2009…and look what happened.
7. Which receivers will make the final roster?
Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Nick Toon, Joe Morgan, Courtney Roby.
8. Who will take over for Joe Vitt the first six weeks?
A toughie. In the final analysis, whoever is best at it. But by process of elimination: we have a brand new defensive coordinator who needs to give his unit his full attention; and we have an offensive coordinator who’s going to be in complete charge for the first season of his career. Neither of them needs the distraction of managing a game, especially early in the season. So I’m guessing Aaron Kromer.
9. Which undrafted free agent will make the roster?
Donavan Robinson. When we lost Greg Romeus, Robinson was his replacement on the roster. That means he’s going to turn out to be a beast. Mickey is a genius, and all that.
10. Will the Saints win Super Bowl XLVII?
On the Jukebox
I don’t often listen to these guys…but every time I do I’m struck all over again by how fucking good they were.