Lo these many years ago, back in 2009, we ran a piece after the Saints just pounded the Eagles on the road in week two of 2009. In that piece, some of realized that then Eagles HC Andy Reid always had his teams ready to play at home, and that anybody who could beat the Eagles in Philly by double digits, which happened at most once a year…was going at least to the conference championship, if not hoisting a Lombardi. And we then said, lo, unto thee, this is a great, great Saints team, that shall go far, farther than ever before, because only the great vanquish the Reid Eagles in their home nest.
The next day, we wrote the whole analysis up in great detail, and THEN we of course won the Super Bowl, and THEN years later Claude and I had a 2-3 year sabbatical….and I forgot to maintain the fucking website, so you’re gonna have to take my word for it.
The great baseball writer/analyst/theorist Bill James came up with “signature significance,” the idea that a single data point was so significant that, based on retrograde analysis (what drinkin’ folk like to call hindsight but ahead of time), you could project success on that one data point. His example (and a damn good one) was that pretty much any major league pitcher who struck out 18 batters with no walks in a game would (with one exception) go to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In the 21 years the Patriots have been run by HC Bill Belichick, before last Sunday they had lost exactly eight home games by 15 or more points. This is the NFL’s premier “nobody comes into our house and kicks us around” franchise.
The Saints were the ninth on Sunday. You can play games with this, yes there is no Brady, but for instance in 2008 while they had two of such losses, Matt Cassell was 11th in passer rating. The Saints are only the second NFC team ever to do it – last year the 49ers did it, but that was one of those games where Cam Newton played about half the game at QB and the wheels came off.
Clearly, these aren’t the Patriots of old. On the other hand, this is our third game with new QB Jameis Winston, we played most of the game missing our #1 and #2 WRs and two of our three best OL and two of our three best pass rushers…..and the Pats were lucky to be that close.
Lord willing and decent luck health, this might be the best Saints team ever. Not sure I’ll die on that hill, but we’re gonna make the enemy pay for trying to take it.
As we have often said, the offensive line is the spine of the football team. You can work around a sore arm, a gimpy ankle, a balky knee, a stiff neck, or a hangover (I read about that last one). But you cannot do ANYTHING with a bad back.
Sunday proved once again the value of the Saints’ organization’s focus on the OL. The guys up front represent a substantial draft investment: LG Andrus Peat, C Eric McCoy (who was out injured), RG Cesar Ruiz (filling in now shakily at center) and RT Ryan Ramczyk are all first round picks, LT Terron Armstead is a third round pick, utility guy Will Clapp is a sixth round pick and we are always bringing in FA and UDFA linemen like James Hurst (who will start at LT Sunday) and LG Calvin Throckmorton, who came in at RG when McCoy got hurt and Ruiz moved to center and….we’ll see who starts when they are all healthy, but this is a damn good position to be in organizationally.
A few notes:
- I went against popular opinion on the expensive contract extension for Peat on the basis that he was a necessary hedge for Armstead being injury prone and Peat’s ability to slide over to LT but….did Hurst change that whole equation on Sunday when he came in at LT when Armstead got hurt and Peat stayed at LG?
- After a tough rookie campaign, Ruiz had a good pre-season, then week 1 McCoy gets hurt and Ruiz slides over to center, and …since then, not so good.
- Peat, instead of being a rock, looks like an island.
- Now Armstead is hurt again.
Yet despite all this mishigas, we’re OK. We have tremendous OL depth, as always, and it’s paying off, as always. Don’t ever be disappointed when the Saints draft an offensive lineman, no matter the round or the position in it. Other than signing Brees, it’s been the most important key to our success over the last 15 years.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but if often rhymes.” – Mark Twain
On November 8, 1970, the Detroit Lions had just taken a 17-16 lead on the Saints with a short Errol Mann FG with just 14 seconds left. After a decent KO return, Saints QB Billy Kilmer threw a deep sideline out route to Al Dodd for 17 yards to stop the clock with just 0:02 left, and then the immortal Saints PK Tom Dempsey kicked a record-shattering 63 yard field goal to win 19-17.
On September 26, 2021, the Detroit Lions had just taken a 17-16 lead on the Baltimore Ravens on a short Ryan Santoso FG with 1:04 left, and after a few plays on 4th-and-19 the Ravens converted a desperation pass for a first down, and then a few seconds later the immortal Ravens PK Justin Tucker kicked a record-shattering 66 yard field goal to win 19-17.
Dude, that rhymes better than one of those limericks with “Nantucket” in it.
Dear God, please give the Lions a Super Bowl win when the Saints are having a down year. And if you can manage it before the Falcons get one, I’ll start going to Mass again.
I wasn’t so unhappy with QB Jameis Winston’s passing-while-sacked TD pass to WR Marquez Callaway in the back of the end zone. First, he clearly knew he had a tall WR back there in 1-on-1 coverage, and honestly, to me that’s a pretty low-risk throw. I am tossing a jump ball up to a WR who absolutely has the catching advantage (taller, and better hands, or the DB would playing WR if he could catch), and an incomplete pass most likely falls out of bounds.
It’s also similar to the TD pass to TE Juwan Johnson in the back of the end zone on 1-on-1 jump ball in week one.
If that had been Brees, or Mac Jones, everybody would have been chuckling about it. When it’s Winston, color commentator Mark Schlereth (a former NFL OL who I thought did an enjoyable job on Sunday otherwise) it’s “something they have to coach him out of.” We’ll see. Meantime, one of the reasons we like Winston is that he’s a big, strong, tough kid, and I’ll take the TD. Let’s not coach everything out of him, shall we?
Not to mention it’s pretty much the same TD pass in week one to TE Juwan Johnson, and I don’t recall nearly the complaints.
Just marking my time until Winston gets to be what he is instead of the one-dimensional narrative so convenient to lazy sports reporting. But I’m a Saints lifer, which means that by nature I am patient.
For now let’s celebrate a very solid, Joe-Frazier-working-the-body win on Sunday. Either Claude or I will be back later in the week to focus on some other thoughts as well as the homecoming game two years in the making. Until then,