Safety in numbers

Claude Coupee
GSEZ Correspondent

As The GOAT noted a couple of days ago, we’re back. Sunday pretty much sucked, but the first thing we have to do is resuscitate the patient, i.e., you, the fan base. You’re why we’re here.

1. 2024

That’s the year through which Sean Payton’s contract now runs. Unless Drew Brees actually plays until he’s 45, this is an indication that Payton either (1) shook down Mrs. Benson or (2) this is home now and he’s not going anywhere, new quarterback notwithstanding, and wanted to send a signal to the rest of the organization, the NFL and the fans. (And it’s not like he took a pay cut; I’m not saying he did it to be generous, but he’s beyond the point of his career where he’d be playing games with the owner and his best friend the GM.)

How glorious would it be if he came out to a press conference in the next few weeks with a giant fleur-de-fuckin’-lis neck tat? Epic, I tell you.

For those of us who had planned (god willing) to be Saints fans after Drew Brees retired, this is excellent news. I think this was kind of lost in the shuffle of NFCCG-gate redux and then the shank-job aftermath last Sunday. Take heart. And for crissakes Nancy, sack up. We have a lot of games to win over the next five years.

2. 21 out of 24

In 2014, probably with some guidance from mutual Fat Yoda Bill Parcells, we hired failed Miami GM Jeff Ireland as a player personnel guy. Yes, he was a failed GM, but since he got settled and started to have some real influence, he’s had a huge effect on draft day. Maybe I am engaging in post hoc ergo propter hoc (it’s not midget porn, just Latin) here, but we’ve had an unprecedented (for us) draft run recently.

Of the 24 picks we managed to make and not trade away the last four drafts (2016-2019), 21 of them are still in the league — 17 Saints, 1 Saints practice squad player, two on other teams (Muhammad, who starts for Indy, and Natrelle Jamerson) and one on a practice squad (Boston Scott, Eagles). 13 of the 17 Saints and Muhammad are NFL starters. Only three are out of the league as of now.

We’ve even made hay with UDFAs (long a Payton/Loomis staple), and FIVE undrafted free agents are on the active roster right now, with six more on the practice squad, including Mitch Loewen, who played against the Texans 11 days ago. One of our 2019 UDFAs, Devine Ozigbo, is actually on somebody else’s active roster (Jacksonville).

Look, I’ve never been a fan of our willingness to trade two-for-one, or a higher pick in a later year for one now, but the Kamara and Erik McCoy picks…sure seem to be working out.

What’s the point? Just like with Payton — we’re not going anywhere. This is a young team that looks like it will be supported by a regular supply of fresh talent, and I’m excited.

3. 5 to 1

That’s the ratio of offensive holding calls against us, versus the Rams, on Sunday. The Rams were called once, at 5:01 of the first quarter, on one of 17 Kevin Hartenstine hog-collars of Cameron Jordan. Despite facing the Saints pass rush, probably the most withering in the league right now, the Rams never committed offensive holding again. Fascinating, Captain.

Meanwhile, over the next four quarters, mirabile dictu, each of the Saints five OL — Armstead, Clapp (for the injured Peat), McCoy, Warford, and Ramczyk — was flagged for an offensive holding call (Warford’s was declined). Subtle how they worked that. You want to shank a team quietly? Holding calls, my man, holding calls.

However, having spent most of my career in large (and large-ish) hierarchical, bureaucratic organizations, I insist that it would be a base canard to assert that NFL officials would be willing to enforce Code Reds from the league powers-that-be, or would carry out grudges against organizations that call them out when they fail drastically on a national stage.

If the Shield stands for nothing else, it would be competitive integrity.

4. 22 for 33

There’s been a lot of focus on Teddy Bridgewater since Sunday, much of it not so positive, and certainly not a ton of excitement, with a lot of moronic speculation about starting Taysom Hill as a not-tasty side dish.

For the love of god, stop.

That 17 for 30 and 165 yards on Teddy’s stat sheet don’t tell the real performance story. I went back and smoothed out Bridgewater’s data, accounting for pass plays where he didn’t get credit earned — plays called back, drops, etc. And I don’t recall any epic catches in his favor. One incomplete did get called back for illegal contact by the D, but…that’s the whole point.

After the data rework I had him at 22 for 33, or 67% passing, and 222 yards for a passer rating of 85.7. Brilliant, no, but remember — he’s coming off the bench, on the road, against the NFC champs (sorry but it’s true) and after Tre’Quan Smith got hurt we were down to two WRs, which is absurd in today’s NFL. And forgotten in all the penalties is that he came in and started five-for-five in real time. It’s not like he wasn’t ready to play.

Also, even though we were behind the whole second half, while he didn’t get us into the end zone, he also forced no picks and did not turn the ball over. People are complaining that he took too much time in the pocket — I suggest that perhaps, with only three and then two WRs healthy and on the field, and likely the ref-blessed Rams secondary mugging anybody in a black jersey with impunity as per recent common practice, maybe nobody was open.

And it’s not like we had any short fields to work with after his first possession where we committed three penalties (one phantom, one they could have not called, and one bonehead) and destroyed any semblance of rhythm.

Overall, it’s a B/B-. We didn’t score a touchdown, and that’s on him as much as anyone else, so he owns a chunk of this loss, comes with the job. But as far as trying to stick to his knitting, managing a difficult game situation off the bench, and not beating us and giving his D a chance to keep us in it, I give him a solid A.

My assumption (kill me) continues to be that Payton is a lot smarter than we are. We’ll see on Sunday.

Shout-out: The beloved Greg Ellis, the honored subject of the Gregstock festival in Austin, Texas over the weekend.

RIP: Ranking Roger. Now doing ska-based soul riffs in heaven. Peace baby.

A bientot.