Of course we are going to start off the day with a nice big helping of Shaun Alexander this morning. The Times-Pic and the Sun Herald both had articles telling us about the former (can't stress that word enough) MVP's visit to New Orleans. The only intersting part came from the Times-Pic.
Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis confirmed Alexander's visit, but he declined further comment. McAllister said he wouldn't be surprised or opposed if the Saints add another tailback before training camp.
"I anticipate they'll continue to look at veteran running backs," McAllister said. "They have to have some protection just in case there are any setbacks with my rehab, even though there haven't been any. It never hurts to have a Plan B."
McAllister said Alexander has something left in the tank, though, and something to prove. The two have known each other since their days together in the SEC (McAllister starred at Ole Miss, Alexander at Alabama).
Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback came out yesterday, and he ranked all 32 teams. As I have said before, I like King, but I do NOT agree with this rankings. He ranked us 16 and had the Panthers at 10, which I can only interpret as meaning he thinks Carolina will win our division. I don't think so. Sixteen? Thats right in the middle. I'm sorry, but I am planning on the Saints being way better than average this season. Here is what he says about the Saints...
16. New Orleans. Now we're getting to the "if only'' area. If only the Saints had gotten Jeremy Shockey, if only Reggie Bush were a more complete NFL back, if only they had Leodis McKelvin on an island this fall instead of Jason David, Randall Gay or Aaron Glenn ... you get the picture.
But this is still a team that, with the right breaks and good health, could easily win the NFC South. A quarterback, good lines on both sides of the ball and good-enough receiving weapons make New Orleans a threat every Sunday. But this team has to get off the roller coaster. The Saints started with four losses, followed by four wins, and ended the season with two wins followed by two losses. By the way, Drew Brees threw for 4,423 yards and 28 touchdowns last year ... and no one thought he played that well. That guy is one heck of a quarterback.
The one thing I DO agree with is the roller coaster comment. Man, that just sums it up. The inconsistency of this franchise within the season and within its entire history is as maddening as it is addictive. Honestly, the Saints winning a Superbowl wouldn't surprise me because undoubtedly it would be bookended by season's of 1-15 records. Establishing three or four consecutive years of continued success is what would completely blow my mind.
The Sporting News released their team analysis of the Saints yesterday. Here it is. Since it is so short, I will post the whole thing here.
PERSONNEL ANALYSIS: First-round draft pick Sedrick Ellis and fifth-round pick DeMario Pressley are the likely new starters at defensive tackle, but that doesn't necessarily spell doom for incumbents Hollis Thomas and Brian Young. The Saints regularly rotate their tackles to keep them fresh. Ellis played mostly nose tackle in college, and he can blow up running lanes, but he also is athletic enough to play the 3-technique on passing downs. Thomas is a traditional run stuffer, and Young is a conventional 3-technique guy, so Ellis can play alongside either one. The Saints might also move E Charles Grant inside in some pass-rush formations. Backups Kendrick Clancy and Antwan Lake will be fighting for their jobs in training camp. . . .
The Saints want a more dynamic return game after not returning a kick for a touchdown last year. They'll start by using RB Reggie Bush more often on punt returns. They wanted to do that last year, but he became too valuable on offense after RB Deuce McAllister's knee injury. Bush then injured his knee around midseason. Second-round draft pick Tracy Porter could return punts or kickoffs, and the team could try to get more out of WR Lance Moore or RB Pierre Thomas, both of whom were adequate last year in their first full pro seasons.
SCOUTING REPORT: FB Mike Karney is one of the most reliable power blockers in the league. He's a bulldozer at 5-11 and 258 pounds. He also has enough finesse to catch passes and carry the ball on third-and-short. The Saints' short-yardage rushing game suffered last year, especially after McAllister went down in Week 3. If the offense can be as versatile and unpredictable as it was in 2006, it may be difficult for defenses to account for Karney.
CORNERBACKS ANALYSIS: The Saints addressed their weakest position by adding free agents Randall Gay and Aaron Glenn and drafting Porter. Gay and Porter could push starters Mike McKenzie, who is coming off knee surgery, and Jason David, who was awful last season. Gay is intelligent and versatile; he can play several types of coverages. Porter is more of a speedy cover corner who can match up against deep threats. Most important, the Saints hope their improved pass rush will lessen these guys' exposure to deep passes over the top. Grade: C-. Pro Bowl-caliber players: None.
Yin:New Orleans Saints
they couldn't get the guy they wanted, DT Glenn Dorsey, but the did get a pretty damn good one in DT Sedrick Ellis. The interior of the d-line for the Saints was putrid in 2007, and management made it their mission to correct that problem. Taking Ellis, and then later drafting DT DeMario Pressley, should correct that issue. I'm not big on CB Tracy Porter because of his questionable character, but his talent is undeniable.
Yang:Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs need playmakers on offense. Jeff Garcia is old, their WRs stink, and they have no legit receiving TE threat. Yet, despite these needs they take a CB, Aqib Talib, with their first round pick, passing on big potential play players like RB Rashard Mendenhall, TE Dustin Keller, or WR Limas Sweed. In the late 2nd round, they take WR Dexter Jackson who hadn't caught many passes in college, especially in comparison to players like Sweed. Jackson also drops a lot of balls, which is not good for Jon Gruden's West Coast-style offense.
Taking QB Matt Ryan at #3 overall was smart. Ryan has all the tools, and it sends a clear signal to fans that the Michael Vick days are over. Ryan is now the face of the franchise. Getting WR Harry Douglas in round 3 is also a solid pick-up. They reached a bit taking OT Sam Baker late in round 1, but Atlanta is setting up a solid foundation for the future.
Carlina's d-line, LBs, secondary, and QB position all needed addressing, in particular QB. Jake Delhomme simply can't stay healthy, but the Panthers opted to go with a RB who also has injury concerns: Jonathan Stewart. Stewart was a reach at #13 overall, and players like OT Chris Williams or OG Branden Albert were better prospects even though they didn't fill needs. Carolina had to trade back into the 1st round again to get Jeff Otah, a move they wouldn't have needed to make had they just taken Williams and not reached for Stewart. LB Dan Connor in round 3 was a nice pick-up, and several of their day two selections were quite good. But, they did not do well on the first day, and Jake Delhomme is not going to take them back to the Super Bowl.
By the way, the guys over at Mocking the Draft are already working on 2009, so I suggest you check it out and bone up on future draft picks.
Finally, the Times-Pic added some insight on Tom Benson's acquisition of Fox WVUE. Many questions arise from this situation.
For instance, what will happen if the new station gets special access to the Saints players and coaches? It may not be anything overt or even intentional, but would the Saints provide better access to an "in-house" media arm, and if so, what are the moral implications of that act? Will separate entities be able to report on the Saints as well as they have in the past?
What IS a pleasant thought is the idea that this move further ties the Saints to the area. In an economic climate that has called the team's marriage to the Louisiana Superdome into some question (and following years of speculation that the team has flirted with a possible move), it is completely refreshing to think of the Saints as putting down some roots in New Orleans. The purchase of a TV station guarantees nothing (business is business, after all), but I can't help but wonder if this decision is meant to be a symbolic one on some level. After all, one would think WVUE's value would go down considerably should the Saints leave town (as the station would lose broadcast rights to all Saints games).
Of course that train of thought brings to mind even more questions. For instance, will the TV station become an outlet for Benson to continue pursuing his new stadium? In the past he hasn't been shy at all about campaigning for that particular issue ... will he be able to practice restraint with the new station, or is that one of the biggest reasons for his purchase in the first place? Getting a new stadium has to be Goal No. 1 for Benson and the Saints ... will he use WVUE as a soapbox in that regard?
Interesting. I will leave this one for you guys to discuss. What do you think?