By The GOAT and Claude Coupee
Part 1 of 2
Shanked, shivved, cut, dropped, snuffed, bushwhacked, shot down, jumped, crippled, tormented, undermined, abused, stung, totalled, fouled, mangled, shorted, deprived, suffocated, prejudiced, conspired against, abandoned, screwed, glued and tattooed.
Folks, welcome to the 2019 New Orleans Saints.
We’ve never done this before, but Claude and I are writing this together. It’s time. And it’s going to have to be a two-parter, because there’s enough bullshit and depravity here to make Hunter Thompson want to come back to life and write about it. And we wish he could.
Anyway, on to PART 1:
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Somehow, this has pretty much gotten by everybody but a few of us, but the NFL officials union has decided to take matters into its own hands this year, in a way that would have made every brutal labor organizer from Vladimir Ilyich Ulanov to Jimmy Hoffa recoil in horror.
Look, this has nothing to do with Roger Goodell, although I am highly confident he’s enjoying it to a fault.
It it NOT a “formal conspiracy.” But it’s real, it’s very real. It is comme il faut. It is a Code Red from A Few Good Men. It is a slowdown strike. It is omerta. The NFL refs took stock of every moment since that blown call in the NFCCG, and now they have been spending the entire season making sure that Sean Payton and the Saints suffer for the one cardinal sin: we made them look bad after the NFCCG when we should have just taken our medicine, prescribed by the powers that be, and shut up.
We’ve always had an attitude, from Sean Payton on down, for a small market team. And then the NFCCG shitstorm, and Sean revealed what he was told post-game, and Mrs. B dared to properly use the word “integrity” in her post-game press release.
Never underestimate the power of little men to use what they have to bring you down to their level. As my professor summed up Milton’s Paradise Lost, which took me an entire semester to read, “You can’t kill God, but you can poison his dog.” And nobody, but nobody, is going to push these little guys around.
At this point it is beyond obvious that the NFL rank-and-file refs are determined to put us in our place, and anybody who denies it can, in the immortal words of me, go fuck themselves.
Let me turn this over to Claude for the numbers.
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It’s pretty simple, really. Let me just drop a few numbers on you, through 12 games (pending the Monday night game):
Penalties against the Saints, 95 for 820 yards. 8th most in the league.
Penalties against the opponents, 64 for 487 yards. Fewest in the league.
So what, you say? “The Saints 95 penalties only put them at 8th most in the league? BFD, get over it….typical Saints whining.”
Meanwhile, the 64 committed by the opponents? 32nd in the league, dead last. La flag, eet stayz in ze pocket, oui?
Historically, in the Payton era that began in 2006, the Saints have been above average in not committing penalties, with an average ranking of 12th in fewest penalties committed over 13 years. Meanwhile, it’s not like they’ve been massive beneficiaries of ref help, ranking for the same period at about 19th in penalties against the opposition, but it not’s like we were chronically hosed, either. Probably a statistically significant difference, but not enough for the average fan to recognize, and certainly not enough to make a case in appealing to league powers who could not give less of a shit if they were being fed intravenously. So be it.
But this is absurd, 32nd in the league in penalties called in our favor? With a terrific OL and a tremendous pass rush? The best wide receiver in the league? And a minus-31 differential? Let’s look at the penalty +/- for the other playoff contenders this year:
SF – plus 11
Seattle – minus 11
Green Bay – plus 21
Minnesota – minus 15
Dallas – plus 4
New England – plus 5
Buffalo – minus 10
Baltimore – minus 18 (they are by FAR the roughing-the-passer leaders with 10; that AFC North has three of the top seven, because they beat on each other like rival gangs of baby seals)
Kansas City – plus 11
Houston – plus 7
Tennessee – plus 21
That’s an average of plus 2 or so, if you are keeping score at home. So where does “minus 31” fit in for a team with as good record as anyone right now?
And here’s another tidbit: “First downs by penalty.” Right now, the Saints have 11 FDs by penalty, and their opponents….34. Minus twenty-fucking-three?? We are not the 1972 Raiders, or the 1976 Bucs – this is one of the best teams in football over the last three seasons. For a frame of reference, here are those other same contenders in 2019:
SF – plus 4
Seattle – even
Green Bay – plus 25
Minnesota – plus 5
Dallas – minus 1
New England – minus 8
Buffalo – plus 2
Baltimore – minus 10
Kansas City – plus 5
Houston – plus 3
Tennessee – plus 9
That’s a total of plus-36 over 11 teams, or an average of three extra first downs a game for the other contenders, while the Saints are at minus 23, or two per game by themselves. Imagine what five extra first downs would do for a team in a playoff game.
Please tell me these numbers make sense, and do it with a straight face.
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Claude, that was real def, but now I gotta take the mic and get serious. But we’re gonna save that for Part 2, right after this message from our sponsor.
And you need a break before Part 2, because it’s a lot worse than you think.