Even though the New Orleans Saints were off yesterday, I feel the need to try and keep up a sense of normalcy to this Saints-less football week. To that end, I have compiled a very special set of Hot Reads for you.
What follows are four things that I feel the Saints should be doing during the bye week to best set themselves up for success in the final 11 games of the season.
Primary Option - GET HEALTHY NOW
The Saints are hurting, and hurting big time at a number of key positions: linebacker, defensive back, wide receiver, tight end, etc. You name the position group, and I bet they have an injury at it. The team needs to get some rest and also use any and every option at their disposal to heal these guys up. I'm talking hyperbaric chambers, holistic practitioners, chiropractors, acupuncturists, homeopathy, leeches, crystals, hot tubs, cold tubs, lukewarm water tubs (another Tap reference, for those in the know), just throw the proverbial medical kitchen sink at the lot of them so that they can get back on the field to help the cause.
Injury Sidebar: Earlier this year, I mentioned a feeling of impending doom I had about Marques Colston and his foot injury (which I correctly early ID'd as plantar fascitis). I now realize that that sense of doom I had was misplaced, and was really meant for Jabari Greer. I just don't think he's coming back this year, folks. He had the preseason sports hernia surgery that was supposed to take care of the groin issues, and yet they've come back - it's not going to be good for him, I fear.
Checkdown # 1 - TAKE THE SECONDARY BACK TO SCHOOL
Too many times this season, I've seen coverage confusion in the defensive backfield. At least twice already, mixups have left receivers WIDE OPEN for significant gains in close games. In each of the cases, it's been unclear to me just who is to blame, but I clearly know this: it simply cannot continue.
Get in the film room with EVERYONE (players, coaches, equipment managers, mascots, Saintsations, etc.) involved in the defensive backfield and look at those plays to figure out exactly who screwed the pooch and work through what should have been done. Follow this up with some half-speed walk-throughs of these plays, as well as any others that involve switching or variable coverage responsibilities.
Perhaps they'd even want to develop some kind of signalling system for when someone's going rogue to blitz, or if a player's in the "gray zone" between coverage areas to communicate who's got whom to cover the back end void as a result.
I'd even be in favor of trying to find a way to legally inject some extra speed into the DBs so they can make up ground in more of a hurry after getting scoobied than they've been able to do so far.
Checkdown # 2 - GET HARTLEY TO THE WITCH DOCTOR
Placekicker Garrett Hartley's had a rough stretch lately. Following a lost year due to injury, poor ole FPK scootched a gimme vs. the Chiefs, and then couldn't keep his cool during a trio of long attempts late @ the Packers.
It might be time for Hartley to take a trip to Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo in the French Quarter to get something else inside his head to cure these yips he just can't seem to shake. Why not, right? Incense, alligator tears, snake venom, whatever. Just keep him away from the prescription ADD meds that belong to someone else.
Safety Valve - GIVE DREW A LIFT, TWO OF THEM, IN FACT...ONE FOR EACH SHOE
I know Drew Brees is relatively short, but it seems that Drew is having much more trouble seeing over the o-line than usual this season.
They say that football is a game of inches, and here's something that might help. Tallerheels.com has a wide selection of height insoles and lifts that seem to be just what the Randy Newman ordered for the @statuesque@ Saints quarterback. I'm sure that they could order the whole assortment, get them overnighted to David Drive, and then find something just the right size to boost Drew's numbers in this area before next Sunday.
* * *
Now that I've laid out my four-part bye week plan for the playoff run, what's yours? What ONE THING do you think needs attention to lead the Saints back to the Promised Land despite numerous setbacks this year?