Bring on the ‘Dirty Birds’

Poise and organized is what first comes to mind when you watch the 2006 version of the Saints.

Who would have thought of it, the New Orleans Saints have won two consecutive road games to start the season for the first time in franchise history. Yes, I know that there are the eternal optimists who feel as though the Saints will win the first two games of every season, but this season was different.The Saints have 26 new faces on the roster that weren’t there in 2005, and a whole new coaching staff and head coach. The off-season workouts and pre-season games were a way of sorting out who would buy into the “Sean Payton” system and who wouldn’t and at times there were some very ugly moments.

But as I have always written, pre-season is a bit of a mirage and players play all-out when the games count for real.

So far in the regular season the play has been impressive.

While I was very impressed with the Saints when they defeated the Cleveland Browns 19-14 last weekend, I was even more impressed with the Saints 34-27 win over the Green Bay Packers Sunday afternoon.

I had a feeling that the Saints were walking into a trap game, after getting a win on the road and watching game film on just how bad the Chicago Bears beat the Packers in Week #1.

On a young team, with a host of players untested in NFL competition and thrown into a new scheme, you normally get emotional highs and lows. This had the set-up of a trap game.

Early on, I heard the trap go off, but it only caught clothing, not skin.

Everyone watching had to be impressed with how the Saints fought back from three first quarter turnovers and a 13-0 deficit. The Packers were prepared to stop the Saints running tandem of Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush and for the most part they did. The Saints rushed for only 48 yards, but when the chips were down quarterback Drew Brees and his wide receiver core came up big.

It was the pitch-and-catch game that won the game for the Saints as Brees hit on 26 of his 41 passes for 353 yards and 2 touchdowns. Veteran Joe Horn caught 5 passes for 88 yards, rookie sensation Reggie Bush caught 8 passes for 68 yards and the Marques Colston/Devery Henderson combo caught 7 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

But it was the way this team fought through the usual NFL game adversity that was the most impressive. The Saints did give up some big plays and 340 yards passing to future Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre, but when the game was on the line the defense came up big and put a stop to a late Packer rally, just like they did a week earlier against the Browns. That is something you wouldn’t have seen in the past from the Jim Haslett-coached teams.

Poise and organized is what first comes to mind when you watch the 2006 version of the Saints and new head coach Sean Payton and his coaching staff.

I know there will be bumps on the road, but it has been two weeks and two wins. To be honest, you really couldn’t ask for much else from this club.

Pro football finally returns to New Orleans and the Superdome Monday night against Atlanta. The excitement and emotions of the past year will be there in a very loud volume. Now let’s see if the poise and the organization of the past two weeks also are there when the Saints play Mike Vick, Warrick Dunn and company.

All you can say after two weeks is, Bless you Boys.

Tigers come up a tad short…

The LSU-Auburn game was everything it was built up to be. Tough defense, excellent special teams play, controversial calls and a game that was settled on the final play has been the norm in this rivalry. As tough as it is for Tiger fans to take the 7-3 loss to Auburn and two highly questionable fourth quarter calls, the Tigers did have a shot to win the game in the final seconds and they came up just a few yards short.

The LSU defense was just superb and for the most part held All-SEC and All-American halfback Kenny Irons in check. Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey has the looks of an All-American performer and sophomore defensive end Tyson Jackson, from West St. John, looks a big-time performer also and they consistently lowered the boom on Irons and Tiger quarterback Brandon Cox all game long. Give Irons all the credit in the world, he made some tough runs and took some vicious hits, but it all came down to the fact that the Tigers couldn’t find a solid running combination and Auburn punter Cody Bliss consistently pinned them down with punts that looked as though the ball had helium in it.

Poor calls did play a part in the Tigers loss to Auburn, but those things happen in sports. The good teams overcome those type situations and make big plays when the game is on the line.

When the game was on the line, quarterback JaMarcus Russell came up a bit short and showed some bit of poor clock management.

Give Auburn full credit, they made enough big plays to pull off a win, but believe me it wasn’t easy and LSU will not face a tougher opponent in the regular season.


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