Official SR Curmudgeon
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- Aug 1, 1997
- Reaction score
- Lafayette, LA
Ask Mike – January 25, 2007
Name: Dave Randall
Handle: Black Knight
From: Afton, VA, via Vidalia, LA
Look at our Saints. Yep, the team with the "aints" bags over their head, the team that could not win a playoff game or for years could not get into the playoffs. The team that through thick and thin the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana supported through the years...a team that just could not win.
I remember hunting with my Dad in Central Louisiana but on Sunday at 1PM our world stopped to watch the Saints play. That is just what this family did on Sunday afternoon in the fall. Now my Dad is 90 and you know what....I love these Saints and so does he and my Mom. What a dream come true!!
Questions: Do you think the Saints will concentrate on running the football more in 2007?
Also what is the philosophy the Saints should take come draft time? Should they go after a top free agent cornerback or draft one in Round 1?
Thanks for your time, talents, and knowledge when it comes to answering questions about our Saints. Take care and God bless.
Black Knight, it sounds as though you grew up like I did and I am thrilled that your mom and dad got to see this season because it was so special.
With four of five starters coming back along the offensive line (now we don’t know about Jon Stinchcomb), I certainly expect even better results from the running game in 2007, but what makes this team special is their diversity. They have the ability to pound the football and they also are really good throwing the ball. I would love to see this team bring in a quality veteran TE like Daniel Graham and draft a receiver in the early rounds. Graham would be a great addition because he is such a good blocker and he is a very efficient receiver also.
For a club that had little continuity that did an excellent job in the running game and I think that will certainly improve in 2007. But again, the ability to spread teams out and cause problems due to the running and receiving skills of Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister this team has the ability to become an even better running team in 2007, especially with a year of experience of playing as an unit along the offensive line.
The biggest mistake a team picking late can do is reach for a position. This is like almost no other draft because now the draft comes to you. When you pick early, or even in the teens you have a pretty good idea on who may be there. When you pick 27th, you have an idea, but things ahead of you don’t always go as planned. I know from talking to GM Mickey Loomis in the past he has always felt as though the Saints would try and address the obvious needs via veteran free agency and then have options on draft day.
If you start just concentrating on one area you are going to get burnt. The reason teams like New England, Philly, Denver and Pittsburgh have stayed on top or near the top for so long is that they rarely reach for a position and stick to picking players that fit what they do offensively and defensively and are the best players in the spot they pick.
Go after the best players in the early rounds. Now, if a quarterback was the best player and the player right after him was a wide receiver like Dwayne Bowe or North Carolina State defensive tackle Tank Tyler, you have to go after either Bowe or Tyler and pass on the QB. The philosophy in the early rounds should be to be the best players at that spot and with holes at WR, TE, DT, ILB, OLB and CB’s (plural) that gives you plenty of options.
The trade-up for Johnathan Sullivan changed the philosophy of this organization. They felt as though the need for a DT was so huge that they would piece together a multi-draft choice deal to get a player that really wasn’t rated that high in the first round. In the later rounds, you can kind of more go after some need spots because the grades are so close, but you have spent too much time and money to disregard your ratings and focus just on one or two need spots.
Take care, and thanks for the kind words.
Name: Tony Karress (Mackey Man)
From: Jackson, MS
Hey Mike, love your stuff man. Congrats on the Sports Illustrated Award as the best, unknown sports voice in America. It’s long overdue and I caught the segment with you on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams Friday night. That was great to see you get the ink and the hype about the Saints.
If LaRon Landry or Patrick Willis were available in the 1st round, would pick either one of them?
Is Zach Strief ready to be a starting offensive lineman and do you see Montrae Holland on this team in 2007?
Kicker Billy Cundiff can’t hold John Carney’s jock. That’s not an opinion, that’s fact. Do you see us drafting a place-kicker?
I know you are a busy man and being tugged around pretty hard, but next time you are in Mississippi give me a call.
Thanks, and God bless.
Good to hear from you Mackey Man. I will certainly give you a ring when I head back to Mississippi. It was a wild ride this season and I appreciate the kind words.
At the 27th slot, LaRon Landry won’t be around, now there is a possibility that Patrick Willis would, but that’s no guarantee either. There is no way you pass on either one, if available. Willis has the best chance to be there. I think the players that could be around in that spot would be LSU WR Dwayne Bowe, DT DeMarcus “Tank” Tyler (North Carolina State) and CB Darrelle Revis, from Pittsburgh.
Yes, I see Zach Strief developing into a starting offensive right tackle in the NFL. He played extremely well against Simeon Rice and the Bucs and I feel as though the Saints would not hesitate to insert him into the right tackle spot, if Jon Stinchcomb leaves via free agency.
Strief has excellent size, he is a big-bodied run blocker and he has really upgraded his footwork and pass blocking skills.
Montrae Holland will not be back in 2007. Look for him to head to the Carolina Panthers.
Yes, I do see the Saints looking at drafting a place-kicker in the later rounds. Nick Folk, a place-kicker, punter, and kick-off specialist from the University of Arizona just might be the man to groom into John Carney’s spot.
Name: Old Paint
From: Baton Rouge
Mike, what a year... what a year.
Two quick questions.
1. Have we seen the last of Joe Horn here in New Orleans?
2. I'm hopeful, but preparing for the post-Charles Grant era next year. What do we do? Ninkovich looked decent early on, but can he be a starter?
Thanks, I'll hang up and listen.
God Bless Buddy "D". You know he's having a heckuva time up there...
Old Paint, I appreciate the kind words and I know Buddy had a great time watching this team, like we all did this season.
1. To be honest I think we have seen the last of Joe Horn in a Saints uniform, unless he decides to take a huge pay cut. I don’t believe he will be here for the 2007 season.
Joe is 35 years old and he is fighting the toughest competitor any athlete can face, father time. I have a lot of respect for what Joe Horn has done for this football club production wise and he has been the best free agent pick-up this football club has ever had, (now Drew Brees in time may well get that nod)and for what he has done in the community, but I really feel he is gone.
This sounds a bit cold, but I would rather get rid of a player one year too early, than one year too late. I certainly wish him the best, because he gave his all for this club and he always found time to give back to our area in many ways.
2. The more I think about the Charles Grant issue the more I believe this football club may think long and hard about putting the franchise tag on him. The player won’t like it, but it gives you a little more time to work out a long-term deal and it also gives you the option to possibly work out a trade with someone who really covets his talents and are willing to give up adequate compensation.
Yes, in time, I see Rob Ninkovich as a starting DE in the pros. I love his hustle, determination and his excellent pass rush skills. Bobby Hebert and I talked about this quite a bit in training camp that what impressed us the most was his run-support skills. He was really strong holding his ground when plays were run right at him and he has a knack for playing off blocks.
You can clearly see that Sean Payton likes to alternate his defensive linemen quite a bit and I see this team drafting or signing a free agent defensive end, even if Charles Grant returns.
Name: Mark Mcintosh
From: Houma, La.
Mike, with the Saints success this year and the talk about Morten Anderson and Willie Roaf possibly going into the NFL Hall of Fame as Saints, will this also open the door for Rickey Jackson to make it into the Hall. His numbers are as good or better than others and I do not know of another linebacker who made three other linebackers All-Pro while playing opposite him but never enjoyed any success after leaving N.O.
Mark, Rickey Jackson deserves to go in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame, but I really don’t see him making it until he gets put in the veteran’s group.
Every year he doesn’t make the final 10, his chance diminishes and some on the voting commission today never saw Jackson play in person. He was truly a special football player and that is what the Hall of Fame is all about. Team success means a lot in getting to the Hall, but I have been encouraged throughout the past few years that people like Rayfield Wright, Elvin Bethea, and Joe DeLamielleure have gotten in after quite a few years of waiting. Rickey deserves to be in the Hall, but I am still shocked that the voters can’t clearly see why punter Ray Guy (Oakland Raiders), DE Claude Humphrey (Atlanta and Philadelphia), DT Alex Karras (Detroit Lions), WR Art Monk (Washington Redskins), Offensive Guard Jerry Kramer (Green Bay Packers), and WR Cliff Branch (Oakland Raiders), aren’t in the Hall either.
There is no doubt in my mind that Willie Roaf will be the first true New Orleans Saints player to be inducted in the Hall and it will not be a long wait for him. Jimmy Taylor, Doug Atkins and Earl Campbell are in the Hall, but not for what they did in New Orleans, even though I can say that I watched Atkins in the early years of the Saints and even in his late 30’s he was a dominant football player.
Morten Anderson will get in one day, but he will have to wait much longer than Roaf. Specialists in the Hall are rare.
It’s a good question and I just wish the guys who vote would go back and take a look at just how good “City Champ” was.
Name: Andrew A.
From: Old Gretna
Do you think it will be easier to re-sign Hollis Thomas due to his four-game suspension?
I think one glaring need on offense that needs to be addressed this off-season is TE. I would love to see the Saints to go after Daniel Graham of New England. What is your opinion of him?
In your last "Ask Mike" segment, you stated that Charles Grant would probably not be back with the Saints, so my question is who do you replace him with if he leaves?
Thanks Mike! I look forward to your next installment of "Ask Mike"
Andrew, I really don’t see the suspension really helping the Saints re-sign Hollis, one way or another.
Thomas likes the area, and to be honest he is more valuable to the Saints than he is to most teams at this stage of his career. It will be interesting to see how his negotiations go in the next few weeks, but I think the Saints really want him back.
Now even if he returns, I see the Saints using an early round pick on a defensive tackle, maybe even in Round 1 on a player like North Carolina State defensive tackle DeMarcus “Tank” Tyler.
Daniel Graham is an interesting player in free agency. He was noted in college for his receiving skills, but he has turned into an excellent blocker in the pros. Daniel is a sure-handed receiver who knows how to work the short-to-medium range areas of the field very well. He would be a perfect fit in New Orleans. Now he did battle some injuries this season, but he would be a great target for Drew Brees in New Orleans. With Ben Watson on the team and the Patriots using a couple of early to middle round picks on Dave Thomas and Garrett Mills I don’t expect the Patriots to use a ton of money in order to bring him back.
Due to the lack of top ranked talent at tight end in the draft, Graham will be a heavily courted free agent.
As I said in an earlier post I think, the Saints will give a long look at using the franchise tag on Charles Grant, even if it is just for one year. With Grant or without him I see the Saints trying to bring in a veteran defensive end via free agency. Take a long look at the unrestricted defensive ends from the NFC Eastern Conference. This team seems to go after those players.
Name: Stephen Fruge
From: Crowley, LA
First off I would like to thank you for your great columns and insightful answers to everything Saints.
I have a personal question for you. I have completed 2 years of business at LSU and was looking into a career in sports management and football operations. Is there any literature that you would recommend pertaining to front office operations, salary cap manipulation, and even in-depth offensive and defensive schemes? Any help would be greatly appreciated and keep up the great work.
Stephen, I wish I could give you a book to go to, but I can’t recall anyone writing a book on the ways of the salary cap in the NFL. Now with your business background that will certainly help if you wish to get into the NFL on the business side. Many of the general managers today have business degrees.
My suggestion would be to try and get in at LSU in the sports information department where you get some experience in working in an athletic department and seeing how things are done on a day-to-day basis. With your college work in economics that could well lead you to a position in an athletic department.
You can also try and put in your resume to work for NFL teams in areas like New Orleans, Atlanta, Tampa, Dallas, Tennessee and Houston in the summer and get some experience working in their media relation offices and get an idea on what goes on in the NFL.
Every team has different ideas on how to work with and around the salary cap issues that are in place, but there is no better work than experience in working in that field, starting at the college level or in the media relations department.
Wish I could help more, but I really can’t think of a football related book that would give you the information you are looking for.