Aargh, mateys! For this week's opponent we have the Tampa Bay Creamsicle Pirates, the only NFL team to call a body of water home. They’ll be sporting the worst uniform in the history of professional sports on Sunday, just for us!
I missed taking questions from the opposing fans over the bye week, so we’ll get to that soon. First, let’s talk for a moment about the entire "Buccaneers" brand concept. If you'll allow it, I’d like to take a moment and list (as I see it) the three problems with the Buccaneers’ nickname/mascot/uniform:
1. The nickname
2. The mascot
3. The uniform
Okay! With that out of the way, let’s get right to some questions from fans of the ol’ Sea Raiders, those dashing orange thieves of the sea of ambiguous sexual orientation:
Hector Barbossa, St. Petersburg, FL:
"Aye, mate! Thanks for takin’ me question! Since that ol’ hornswaggler Jonathan Vilma got let from the hold for handin’ out the booty, do ya think he can get that defense o’ yours up shipshape?"
Settle in and get used to it folks. You’ll have to deal with that for the duration this morning. It’s the silliest mascot in the league, easily, and I plan to beat this joke to death.
As for Jonathan Vilma, I apparently differ with many of my cohorts on this here internet. Obviously, we really don’t know for sure if he’s healthy enough to play. I think we see one of two extremes:
1. Vilma doesn’t play, or
2. Vilma plays frequently, and has a huge impact.
"Blimey! Way to cover all ye bases!"
My point is that if he doesn’t play a major role it’ll be because of injury. If he’s ready – 100 percent – he’ll have a major impact and you’ll notice him immediately on the field. The number one issue on the Saints Internet seems to be the question of mental preparedness, which (in my opinion) is a non-starter. He’s been a coach within that defense for three years. He’s been hanging out on the sidelines. Rest assured, he knows the scheme.
Making the assumption that he’s healthy enough to play, and this isn’t a big runaround by the coaching staff, the defense will be far better with him on the field. Of course you’ll see some rotation, but Spags puts his best players on the field. I have trouble believing even an 80% Jonathan Vilma isn’t better than Will Herring.
Curtis Lofton has been fun to watch at times. The way he’s able to run the width of the field and close on the ball has been, at times, the only fun thing to watch when the defense is on the field. He’s, well, a young, healthy Jonathan Vilma.
What if we could have two young, healthy Jonathan Vilmas out there? That would be nice. The defense has already shown some signs of life (however brief), and his being back out on the field could provide a hell of a spark.
That is, at least for one game.
Ker Karraje, Tampa, FL:
"That scallywag Carl Nicks won’t help us scuttle the Saints’ offense! He be callin’ it hornswagglin’! To the plank he should go!"
Wow, an inline link. Karraje really embraces modern technology, doesn’t he?
Here’s what Nicks said (from Ker’s link):
I'm a firm believer in playing fair and being honest and the code. It's cheating, and I'm not about that. I know they're not about that. I want to be able to sit there and say, 'We beat you guys fair and square.'
First of all, I call bullshit on his statement of "innocence." No way he didn’t give up something. I’m not saying he’s gone Full Fujita™. But you think in practice he told the defensive line to go to hell every time they sidled up to the guy and asked a pointed question? Get out of here. Nicks feels slighted. He wants to show his old team up. As any free agent worth his salt would.
Second, I’m calling bullshit on the "sportsmanship" nonsense. That’s not cheating. It wasn’t cheating when Fujita did it. Saints offensive coaches taught him everything. The Saints front office let him go (for right or wrong). If the current coaching staff doesn’t realize he’s on the other sideline and adapt to the threat of his limited information being used against them the year after he leaves, they deserve whatever comes.
The current coaching staff. Aaron Kromer. Oh no.
A little off-topic, but Joe Vitt is back next week, baby. I’ll be there in Denver when he takes the sidelines. Yes!
Does this mean that Kromer has held his last press conference? We can only hope. Remember, Joe Vitt, you control your own momentum.
Ragnar Danneskjöld, Temple Terrace, FL:
"Yo ho ho! I know ye get this a lot, but yet I be a Bucs fan, still I think Roger Goodell should be due a real floggin’! All they was doin’ was exchangin’ a little booty! I hope the courts plunder Goodell and give them seadogs all the money back, not because I like me some Saints swabs, but so the players can take some power back from that bilge rat!"
(Totally nailed that reference)
Sean Lafitte, Barataria, LA:
"Aye, bro, wonder if all me hearties got them notes I left in that, uh, crows nest or somethin’, know what I’m saying? I hope they put my advice to good use, because I’m spending this weekend with some winches from South Beach while they play around up there in Pensacola or whatever. Nice gunslingin’ last week from my bro Drew though. Pass the grog, bitches!"
Steve, Tampa, FL:
"Holy crap, there are Saints fans everywhere. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to find a bar to watch the game in Sunday."
Steve, why don’t you talk like the others? You’re a terrible pirate.
"Some of my friends aren’t pirates. They’re mean to me."
Oh, my. That’s a little sad. Anyway, maybe I can help! First, all the Saints fans in town are going to the game. So the bars should be all clear. And second –
"Going to the game?"
Right. At the stadium. You sit up in the stands and watch the game right there, live.
"Oh. Yeah, we don’t really do that around here."
I’m aware. Anyway, second bit of good news for you: the blackout was lifted. You can watch the game on TV at home.
"Buccaneers games don’t come on TV, Angry Who Dat."
This one does. Trust me, it’s a new thing. Don’t get used to it, though.
"Aye aye, matey!"
That’s the spirit.
John Milton Lee, East Lake-Orient Park, FL:
"Seems the Saints are no longer black-spotted, me friend! But these here Marauders of the Interior Coast, they got a good game out of ol’ Freeman half a fortnight past! How goes the weekend’s contest? Do the Saints be takin’ a keel-draggin, or will they swab the poop deck with me Bucs?"
"Half a fortnight past?" Someone’s running out of pirate words. But he did say "poop", which is always funny, even when you’re not talking about Matt Ryan’s pants in the clutch.
The Bucs still aren’t very good. Squeaking out two wins isn’t saying much when you continue to field one of the ten worst offenses and defenses in the league. Of course, statistically, the Saints’ defense is terrible, and squeaking out two wins says twice as much as squeaking out one, so there's that. But Drew Brees!
Hey, remember, the Angry Who Dat posits that the defense has shown some signs of life as measured by PTOMAC™, and we can accept that premise, disregard any horrific stats that were created more than 7 days ago, and still hold a season of terrible against the Bucs, because that’s what fans do.
More specifically, however, the measure of this game is simple: can the Bucs keep up? The Buccaneers have two squads that aren’t all that good. If the Saints get out there, take an early lead, and don’t turn the ball over, the game will be out of question early. No way Josh Freeman can keep up with Drew Brees, because, well, just because. As long as he doesn’t have a three-pick game, you know, something he’s been known to do in Tampa.
Bear with me here. It’s not easy to justify a prediction of a Saints’ win right now. I’m doing my best.
The good news is that I don’t have to. See, I’m 0-5 predicting the Saints right now, and I choose to look at the bright side of things. Like Aaron Brooks, I accept my failures with a smile. And embrace whatever power I can fool myself into believing I have over the game.
Therefore, the Saints will lose in a heartbreaker on the road, 31-29. And I’ll drink myself stupid.
Oh, who are we kidding? We’ll drink ourselves stupid either way. It’s that kind of season.
Fair winds, me hearties!