History: “Rethinking The Header” Edition

Oct 24, 2010 by

I mean… it’s still history, just not the kind we were thinking it would be…

How does a player get media attention in the NFL? Well, the preferred method is to perform well and consistently, making big plays when needed and small contributions on every play. But let’s say your annual performance is less than stellar, then what? Well, you can always cry to the cameras.

Which brings us to Cleveland Browns safety Nick Sorensen. Not content with a 30-17 embarrassment of the Saints on Sunday, Sorensen, a ten year, three team journeyman, cried foul to the media about the Saints “dirty play”. According to Sorensen, eyes were gouged and crotches were grabbed during a second quarter fumble. You’d think after ten years in the league, he’d know that that’s what happens in every fumble pile. The thing is, the winning team doesn’t usually cry after the end-gun goes off. Hell, most of the losing teams don’t either!

Grow a pair and deal with it honey. The injured chaingang guy had more tackles than you today. Perhaps if you weren’t such a delicate flower you’d average more than one percent of your teams defensive stats per year. Nice goose-egg today, by the way Nick!

And speaking of the chaingang guy, Al Nastasi was leveled by Courtney Roby who was pushed out of bounds during a punt return and was looking at the action on the field while positioning himself to re-enter the play. Nastasi appeared to be looking directly across the field and not at the players heading toward him. He was diagnosed with a minor concussion and transported to Ochsner Hospital where he will be kept overnight for observation. I join fans everywhere in wishing Al a quick recovery! Perhaps it’s time the NFL started thinking about mandatory pads and helmets for the officials as well…

UPDATE: Nastasi is still in ICU as of Monday afternoon and reports have him listed in stable condition.

As for the game itself, it was a miserable showing by the World Champion Saints. Drew Brees completed 37 of 56 passes for 356 yards which arguably would have been enough to beat any team in the league this weekend. Except perhaps the Raiders… Compared to Colt McCoy’s 9/16 for 74 yards, Brees numbers look positively astounding, but it’s the four interceptions –two returned for touchdowns– that pounded the nails in our coffin this week. Brees’ passer rating was an unimpressive 65.8.

I had intended to ignore the Baby Brees Brouhaha for numerous reasons:
a. babies not in my immediate family are a nuisance,
b. aside from Brett Favre and Nick Sorensen, babies don’t play in the NFL,
c. I really just don’t care.
But I do feel the need to remind people that Drew himself chose the name Bowen for his newborn son. How ironic is it then, that Browns LB David Bowens took both of his Breesy interceptions to the house for touchdowns? I mean… really? You can’t make this stuff up!

Sigh.

In all, the Saints offensive line made former Saints OLB Scott Fujita look like a gridiron genius. Fujita led the Browns D with 11 tackles, (one assist and ten solo including two for loss of yardage), one pass defended, one interception, a sack and a QB hit. In all, the Browns defense ripped us for 76 tackles, three sacks, five tackles for loss of yardage, eleven passes defended, nine QB hits and two defensive scores.

In the rushing department the Saints were held to just 58 yards on 18 carries. 56 passes and 18 rushes? That’s about as fair and balanced as FOX “news”. The Browns shut down the run and forced us into a losing air battle and don’t think for a minute that Fujita was the only fox in our henhouse. The Browns also had insider info from former Saints RB Mike Bell and QB Jake Delhomme. While Bell wasn’t a factor in the game with 5 carries for negative three yards and Delhomme didn’t even take the field, you can bet they helped Fujita dissect the parts of the Saints that were working.

If all those numbers confuse you, think of it this way: The Browns beat us like we were bound, gagged and chloroformed despite Brees’ high numbers. And they had help from Sean Mora who once again pulled out some vintage Saints plays like the classic Stand Around Looking Relaxed While Time Slides Off The Clock and the always reliable 3rd & 20+ Yard Screen Pass Behind the Line of Scrimmage For An Additional Five Yard Loss. What more can I say?

Sigh.

Can we now put the Hartley issue to rest? Officially. The offense couldn’t get close enough to the Browns end zone for Hartley to make or miss more than one FG, which he indeed made. It’s time the Saints stop diverting attention from a shattered O-line and porous Special Teams play and address those very issues. Hartley will be fine if he can get over the mindfuck Sean Mora laid on him by bringing back John Carney for two mediocre games, one of which we lost that included a missed FG by Carney!

Sigh.

Numbers. We got more numbers. Let’s start with the bad news. I had been ignoring the career interception category but alas, I can do so no longer and must report that Drew Brees has moved up the ladder to 4th place with 67 career INTs. He actually did that last week but I was gonna sit on that for as long as I could. On the up-side, it took him five years to displace Billy Kilmer whose 62 career INTs took just four years and saddled him with a yearly INT average of 15.5. Brees is now nine INTs away from taking third place from Bobby Hebert (75 in 7 yrs). Brees season average now sits at 11.4 INTs but he’s already thrown 10 this season so hopefully that’s all behind him. Hopefully…

In a better category, Brees eclipsed the 20,000 career passing yards as a Saint mark Sunday with his 356 yard outing, however just 14 yards would have done it for him. His total for Sunday’s game is his second highest this season. He’s now just 1393 yards away from Archie Manning’s first place mark of 21,734 yards.

Do I really have to go to this next paragraph?

Up next: The Superbowl match-up I both dream of and dread… the 4-3 Saints versus the 5-1 Steelers!! I love y’all like brothers and sisters –and some of ya like cousins, if ya know what I mean…– but I gotta go with my first –and only other– hometown team on this one. Granted, this is one of those games that could go either way… the Saints up and down momentum each week points to a Saints victory here as does the old chestnut of a dismal David slaying the grinning Goliath.

However, the Steelers are a team that more often than not plays to the level of their opponent. If the Saints bring a weak game but keep it close, look for the Steelers to find ways to self-destruct and lose a squeaker in the closing seconds. But if the Saints “bring the wood”, expect Pittsburgh to “bring the steel” and put the game away in the third quarter.

The stats say Steelers 21-17, but I’m going to go out on a limb and call it 34-27 in favor of Pittsburgh, the Original Black and Gold. Mike Tomlin is every bit as good a coach as Sean Payton –and at this point possibly better– and you can bet he’s already working on ways to control the ball and the clock in the hopes of wearing down the Saints D by the end of the third quarter.

But then, it could also end in a tie… then everyone would be happy, right?

-M Styborski

(For those of you who may not know: M Styborski was born in Pittsburgh and was not adopted by New Orleans until 1977 when he welcomed the hapless Saints into his hometown stable of teams. He comes by his Steely Resolve honestly, please don’t hate him for it. For what it’s worth, he also lived in Atlanta for seven years and still can’t stand those dirty bird mother-fuckers!)

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