Let’s Kick This Pigskin!!

Sep 7, 2011 by

“I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record…”– the Violent Femmes

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The NFL pre-season has come and gone like that call-girl I knew in Cincinnati, (well, I knew her number, not her name,) and from what I’ve seen so far, I’m bored and scared.

First, the NFL has put kickoffs back on the 35-yard line essentially obliterating the return game. Get ready for an extra minute or two of commercials as the refs bring the ball out of the end zone on those touchbacks. (Hey, that will increase league revenue! I bet the NFL didn’t even think of that!) As if that weren’t bad enough, they now only allow the kicking team a  5-yard running start. All this has been done in the name of safety, but the NFL ignored one simple fact: after about ten yards, a player reaches maximum velocity. Now, if every kickoff is an onsides kick, that 5-yard limitation will work wonders, but considering 98% of kickoffs travel 60+ yards… well, you can do the math…

The other big change to the game is the automatic review of every touchdown. When Drew Brees connects with a wide open Marques Colston downfield and MQ trots untouched into the endzone, there will be a pause in the game as the play is reviewed. This means we’ll get either two minutes of scintillating conversation from Mike Buck and Kenny Albert, or two more minutes of commercials… (I’m starting to detect a very greedy trend…) Seriously, why doesn’t the NFL just start handing out the velcro belts right  now and change its name to the National Flag League!

The next thing that scares me is the overall deterioration of the zebras. I lost count of the missed calls and outright bad judgement of the refs during the pre-season. During Pittsburgh’s 34-16 humiliation of Atlanta, the Falcons broke through the Steelers O-line and tackled Ben Roethlisberger by his head, ripping his helmet off in the process. And the penalty? A holding call on Pittsburgh! That was perhaps the most egregious error by the refs, but every game I saw had over a dozen missed calls form simple holds to major personal fouls. And many of these clods will be working the regular season! Lombardi, help us!

Speaking of which, the NFL Kickoff game pits the last two Superbowl champs against each other and one of them is US! So, I thought I might continue my little History segments and let you know what to look for in the upcoming game:

After five years as a Saint, Drew Brees owns the passing records. Seriously. Out of 21 records, Brees holds (or ties) first place in 17! Of the seven career categories, he holds first place in six!! Note, I’m not counting most times sacked or intercepted since nobody really wants to own those.

Some records only let you have one slot, like total career yards or career TD’s (both #1 spots held by Drew,) while others allow for multiple entries like the records for pass completions in a season, (Drew holds all of the top five,) or highest completion percentage in a season, (again, Drew holds the top five!) In all, Drew’s name appears in 62 of the 77 possible slots his name could appear!

Now what does all this really mean? Simply, it means that every time Drew Brees completes a pass, he makes history! We all used to think that no one would ever catch Archie because team management just didn’t know how to pick, or groom, a winner, but there’s a new sheriff in town and the laws he’s laying down will be on the books for a long damn time!

So, what’s left for Drew? Well, for starters, the last career record left is passing attempts. Archie Manning still has the top spot there with 3335 and that took him over ten years. Drew is in second place (3013) just 323 attempts behind Archie and that record should fall sometime before the week-11 bye. And he’ll have done it in half the time it took Archie! On the negative side, Drew (79) is just six interceptions away from taking second place from Aaron Brooks, (84,) and 78 away from Archie’s #1 spot, (156).

In the receiving corps, only two active Saints crack any of the records. In the career scoring category, 9th place Marques Colston (240) is four points shy of passing Charlie Durkee (243), and 49 points away from Eric Martin (288). If Colston can reel in 11 TDs this year he’ll tie Joe Horn (306) for 6th. Those same 11 TDs would take Colston (40) from fifth to third place in the career TD category, passing Eric Martin (48) and Joe Horn (50).

For Career receptions, Colston (369) is 155 behind Joe Horn’s (523) second place spot and that shouldn’t change much this year considering he has so much competition for the ball every week. Similar deal in the career receiving yards category where MC (5097) is 2526 yards behind Horn’s (7622) second place mark. Devery Henderson (3558) on the other hand can surpass Quinn Early’s (3758) 6th place spot with just 201 yards and if he manages 292 yards this season he can take fifth place from Hobie Brenner (3849).

For the ground game, the slate is almost set back to zero with Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and Joique Bell just beginning their careers here. But there’s still something to watch for and that’s Pierre Thomas whose 1939 career rushing yards places him just outside of the top ten. 152 more yards and Pierre will drop Reggie Bush (2090) from tenth place. Depending on how the new backs fit together, Pierre could be looking at a long, slow climb, but if he can gain just 616 yards this year he’ll leapfrog both Wade Wilson (2462) and Mario Bates (2554) for 8th place.

Defensively, Will Smith (55) is 22 sacks away from Pat Swilling’s career total of 76.5 and his third place spot. Tracy Porter’s 6 career interceptions is a long way away from Fred Thomas and Mike McKenzie’s 10th place totals of 13 each, but just 4 INTs will move him past Darren Sharper’s total of 9. Roman Harper is two INTs behind Tracy with 4.

Garrett Hartley’s 42 career FGs is 11 shy of taking fourth place from Charlie Durkee (52) but that will have to wait until his hip heals. In the meantime, John Kasay is starting from scratch but only 13 FG’s away from Garo Yepremian’s 10th place record of 12. I’ll admit, I’m not a Kasay fan. I think he’s too erratic and I’m not even sure he can pass Garo in the next 4-6 weeks, but we shall see.

Lastly, Will Smith (109) needs to play in just two more games to move past Fred Thomas (109), Dave Lafary (109) and Tommy Barnhardt (110) in the career games played category to take sole possession of  25th place. Unfortunately, that’s also the number of games he’s been suspended for, so that will have to wait until week four. If Smith stays healthy and plays the remaining 14 games of the season, he’ll also jump Charles Grant (118), Brett Maxie (118), Vaughan Johnson (120) and Fred McAfee (122) and move into 21st place.

So there you have a whooooole mess o’ thangs to watch for this season. We’ll keep you updated as the season rolls on and if we find any other interesting Saints tidbits, you’ll be the first to hear them! WhoDat, Geaux Saints and let’s kick this pigskin!

-M Styborski

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