I stumbled upon an interview Reggie gave while over in London. This one's a must read. It's from the Guardian in the UK. It's a bit odd, but still good. Here are some of my favorite excerpts.
Is this the year in which you can start dominating the league?
I think so – I have two years of experience now so I'm not a veteran but I'm not a rookie either. With the knowledge I've acquired and the hard work I've put in in the off-season, I think I can have a great year.
Good on you. The Saints didn't have such a good run last year - can you turn it around this year?
I definitely think so. The one thing I love about our team is we have good characters. We have good players, no character-issue guys who are going to get in trouble a lot, we've got some good solid veterans and we've got some weapons on our team. Two years ago we were the No1 offense in the NFL.
If not the Saints, who are the favourites for the Super Bowl this year?
Obviously the New England Patriots – they're the favourites every year! I think in the AFC four teams are going to be in the running for it – the Patriots, Colts, Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the NFC it's up for grabs, there's no one dominant team.
You must have got a lot of attention from the girls?
[Smiles] No comment.
[Right on cue, an extremely attractive young lady, who I am later told is Reggie's squeeze Kim Kardashian, appears in the doorway, distracting both Reggie and Small Talk] What's the best thing about being an NFL player, apart from the obvious?
Hmm, the best thing about being in the NFL? In America it's the No1 sport, it's exciting, fun, so to me the best thing is the buzz that surrounds football on and off the field.
Which team has the best cheerleaders?
[Laughter, followed by prolonged thought] Erm … probably the Miami Dolphins.
We had them out here last year, but unfortunately they avoided Small Talk's chit-chat. If you had one hour in London to take in a tourist attraction, which would it be?
Buckingham Palace. I'd take the tour of the Buckingham Palace and meet the Queen and all that.
Can you do that? Can you just go to Buckingham Palace and say hi to the Queen? I guess maybe if your Reggie.
Here's one from ESPN that pretty much overviews the offseason thus far. Really not too much new. Talks a bit about Vilma being ready to go this season. The one important thing it does tell us is when training camp will start.
Training camp start date: July 24
And now we wait. And now........we wait.
Now that I got you all anxious, this NFC South projection ought to get you angry. It's from WhatIfSports.com, and they tell us that the Panthers will win the division this season. Here is how they broke down the Saints.
New Orleans Saints (8-8)
Did you know that Drew Brees set a single-season NFL record for passing attempts in 2007? That speaks far more to the injury issues in the running game than the fact that the air attack was that prolific. The offense and defense look a little better in 2008. Health concerns and other uncertainties keep this team at .500. The Saints average 23.7 points per game (#16) and allow 23.8 points (#18) against a schedule featuring just four games against 2007 playoff teams.
Absolute Record: 7-9
Most Significant Newcomer: Sedrick Ellis, DT - This analysis actually likes several (Tracy Porter, DeMario Pressley and Taylor Mehlhaff) of those drafted by New Orleans. We also like the moves to land Jonathan Vilma and Randall Gay. But, Ellis is the biggest get for the Saints leading into 2008. He is a rare talent, and it is a total fluke that another once-every-ten-years type of defensive tackle prospect showed up in the same year (Glenn Dorsey). Ellis can stuff the run, take on a double team and get after the quarterback. In the simulated season, he makes 45 tackles and five sacks.
Biggest Strength: Drew Brees - Brees' arm strength, durability and accuracy are uncanny. Reggie Bush and Marques Colston may have great talent, but it is Brees who gets the most out of their abilities and makes productive players out of guys like Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and David Patten. Having some semblance of a running game in 2008 should make this passing game look a lot more like 2006. It also helps that this offensive line keeps Brees upright (they gave up the fewest sacks in the league in 2007, despite leading the league in attempts).
Most Exploitable Weakness: Passing Defense - We like the fact that the Saints addressed this by signing Randall Gay and drafting Tracy Porter. That's not enough to overcome a historically bad secondary. In 2007, the Saints gave up an astonishing 7.87 yards-per-attempt through the air. They may not do that again in 2008, but they are still one of the worst few passing defenses in the league.
Possible Fantasy Sleeper: Taylor Mehlhaff, K - When teams draft kickers, it is with the intent to play them that season. Mehlhaff grades as the best kicker available in the draft. He has a big leg and is accurate enough. If the Saints return to their high-flying ways of 2006, Mehlhaff could match Mason Crosby's rookie numbers (Crosby in 2007 - 31 FGM, 48 XPM). Outside of Mehlhaff, there are several options here, yet too many question marks around them. Robert Meachem, Pierre Thomas or any tight end on the roster were tempting to choose.
Closest Game: San Francisco (Week 4) - It may sound odd, but if the Saints want to prove they have significantly improved their secondary, they will have to show it here. With Mike Martz calling the shots, the 49ers will air it out and test New Orleans.
Fantasy Notables: Drew Brees (4) 3,944 yards, 25 TDs, 12 INTs; Reggie Bush (14) 1,501 total yards, 12 TDs; Marques Colston (19) 69 receptions, 1,020 yards, 6 TDs; Eric Johnson (30) 35 receptions, 322 yards, 2 TDs; Taylor Mehlhaff (20) 41/42 XPs, 24/30 FGs
Projected 2008 Results:
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score 1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 45 21-22 2 @Washington Redskins 39 17-27 3 @Denver Broncos
55 26-24 4 San Francisco 49ers 47 24-26 5 Minnesota Vikings 26 18-25 6 Oakland Raiders 57 13-22 7 @Carolina Panthers 35 19-27 8 San Diego Chargers 34
23-29 10 @Atlanta Falcons 80 29-22 11 @Kansas City Chiefs
29-21 12 Green Bay Packers
45 24-26 13 @Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56 23-22 14 Atlanta Falcons 67 29-17 15 @Chicago Bears 43 20-25 16 @Detroit Lions 54 26-25 17 Carolina Panthers 43 21-23
Of course the Saints will win the division and this prediction is totally incorrect, but at least they don't think the Saints will win the Superbowl. That would be worse.
Ross Devonport introduced himself to Times-Pic readers yesterday. He is a British writer who will be helping readers with their respective fantasy football teams. This was the first in what will be a season long series of articles. This edition covered the all important running back.
1. The running back-by-committee problem
The days when a plethora of running backs were taken in the first round might well be over heading into this season. That's because NFL teams are realizing the way to succeed is to have at least two running backs capable of handling a high number of carries a game. While that's all well and good for real football, it gives Fantasy owners massive headaches heading into a season. Remember the whole Marion Barber vs. Julius Jones situation from the past couple of years? Now multiply that by at least 10 teams and you'll quickly be reaching for the pain relief pills.
2. Those bloody rookie running backs
Starting with Darren McFadden, there are at least six rookie running backs that could play major roles with their respective teams this season. The problem is, where do you draft these guys in Fantasy leagues? No one is really sure how many carries each of them will get, whether they will adjust to the speed of the NFL and if they'll hit that rookie wall after 11 or 12 games. While McFadden seems like a good pick in the first three or four rounds, the rest are a crapshoot. Your best bet would be to get two clear starters first and then think about taking a risk on one of the youngsters like Jonathan Stewart, Kevin Smith or Rashard Mendenhall.
3. Top running backs are injury-prone
When you rank the top running backs heading into next season, the same names pop up: Tomlinson, Peterson, Jackson, Westbrook, Addai, Portis and Gore. Problem is, all but two of those guys have dealt with injury problems over the last few years. LT and Peterson both dealt with knee problems last year; Jackson missed four games in 2007 with a groin problem; Westbrook always seems to be dinged up slightly; Portis missed eight games two seasons ago, and don't forget Larry Johnson, who missed half of last season. Only Addai and Gore have seemed to stay relatively healthy so far.
This one is just FYI. It's an updated list of the best available defensive free agents via Scout.com.