Looking in the rearview mirror
Saints prepare for their next road game against the Kansas City Chiefs
At the present time the 2008 version of the New Orleans Saints look a lot like the 2007 version of the New Orleans Saints.
Despite additions like defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Bobby McCray, cornerback Randall Gay and former All-Pro tight end Jeremy Shockey the 2008 version of the New Orleans Saints have the same characteristics and blemishes the 2007 team had.
I wrote back a few weeks ago in this same spot that if Saints quarterback Drew Brees does not play great the Saintsí chances of winning diminish greatly.
That is a great load to put on his shoulders and he has played at a ďMost Valuable PlayerĒ type level this season, but in Sundayís 34-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Brees was made uncomfortable all day long due to a constant pass rush, mostly supplied by Falcons defensive end John Abraham and a very aggressive secondary.
The Saints All-Pro quarterback pitched three pass interceptions and the Falcons under rookie quarterback Matt Ryan had zero turnovers.
Despite throwing for 422 yards it was the turnovers on offense and a defense that seemed to fail in stopping quarterback Matt Ryan and Falcons halfback Michael Turner that put the death-nail to a ďmust winĒ situation for the Saints.
The tough part to swallow is that the Saints and the rest of the NFC South may have just gotten a glimpse into the future and realize that for years to come they will have to face one of the elite young players in the game, Falcons signal-caller Matt Ryan.
I personally donít like to compare players, but Ryan looks a lot like a younger version of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
If that observation is even close the Saints and the rest of the NFC South Division are in big trouble.
At 4-5 the Saints would almost have to run the table or win 6 of the last 7 games for any shot to make the playoffs.
Right now the Saints are playing so disjointed on both sides of the ball they canít put together two good games much less six games in a row.
At the same time, last season, the Saints had the exact same record of 4-5 and faded down the stretch to finish 7-9.
Basically the Saints are an average football team in the NFC Division, and as of today they are exactly that same sort of ďaverage at bestĒ football team in the National Football Conference.
Head coach Sean Payton will have to turn into a master motivator to keep this team from not coming apart at the seams if he canít find a way to have this team play up to their potential down the stretch.
Teams with high expectations have a tendency to point fingers when things go wrong and expectations of playoff berths get out of reach.
While the playoffs are not out of reach it is quickly slipping away and talk of the 2009 NFL draft seems to be right around the corner.
When will les miles let Jordan Jefferson play
In covering the college and pro game for the last 24 years I have seen a lot of head coaches marry themselves to a quarterback and sink or swim with the decision they made earlier in the year to start a player at the most important spot on the team, but I donít get what LSUís Les Miles is thinking in not giving former Destrehan quarterback Jordan Jefferson more playing time.
Over the past three weeks Miles has stated numerous times that he wants the true freshman signal-caller to see more playing time, but when he has had a chance he has been hesitant to put him in the lineup.
Jefferson saw mop-up duty late against Tulane, but he didnít throw one pass in his one series out on the field.
Donning a 6-3 record and with Troy, Mississippi and Arkansas to finish the 2008 season why not give Jefferson his shot to play quarterback for an extended period of time. He will make mistakes, but hasnít Lee?
Jarrett Lee has struggled mightily in his redshirt freshman season throwing 14 interceptions, 6 that have been returned for touchdowns, 13 touchdowns and the young quarterback has completed only 53 percent of his throws.
Coach Miles, donít be so stubborn in your initial decision to not find out what you have right now in Jefferson and give Jordan some playing time down the stretch. Donít wait until the spring and say ďI wish I
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