Official SR Curmudgeon
Diamond VIP Contributor
- Aug 1, 1997
- Reaction score
- Lafayette, LA
By Mike Detillier
From: Baton Rouge
Can Tyler Palko actually be a serviceable #2 QB in the NFL?
Barry, we really will not know the whole truth on Tyler Palko until we see him in game action, but I always thought he could be a serviceable back-up in the NFL. He is smart, he has good accuracy skills and touch, he has some real zip on his throws and he has that certain instinct to find the open receiver downfield.
A lot of his negatives can be correctable. He does not set up with both feet firmly on the ground and stride into his throws, he throws the ball a bit off-balance at times and he does have a low release point, but most of that is mechanical and can be corrected. He understands how to play this game and he is a very hard worker on and off the field.
He certainly has the passion to play this sport. What will make or break him is his consistency. That is what drove you crazy to watch him at Pitt. He had games in which he looked great and others he had some long stretches of inconsistency. I really believe that Palko has a good shot to be the #3 quarterback this season for the Saints behind Drew Brees and Jamie Martin.
From: Down on the Bayou
I'm no cap expert but it doesn't take a genius to realize that Marcus Colston, Will Smith & Jamal Brown are soon to be demanding high dollars. Not to mention the 60 million dished out to Drew Brees, 54-60 million to Reggie Bush and Charles Grant with his new contract.
Would I be correct to think that due to the dollars and cents aspect of the NFL and the salary cap that Deuce McAllister would be the odd man out in the grand scheme of things?
Thanks Mike, love your stuff!
Thanks, WhoDatWorm…. I appreciate the kind words.
Louis, I would have to agree with you on Deuce. Running backs in this league have a short shelf life and while I would love to see McAllister end his career in New Orleans there is always that collision of salary with age, and production. There will come a time real soon, either at the end of the 2007 season or at the end of the 2008 season when the rubber will meet the road on that decision.
In 2007 Deuce’s base salary is $2.6 million. His salary-cap number is $6.1 million. McAlister will turn 29 years old in December and he will have 7 NFL years under his belt this fall. In 2008 Deuce’s base salary is $3.6 million. His salary cap charge is $7.1 million.
In the grand scheme of events I certainly can see what will happen with Deuce, but to be honest I am not worried about that now. In the NFL you have to live in the present and worry about what happens next season, next season. I let Mickey Loomis, Tom Benson, Sean Payton and the other coaches worry about the cap and numbers in future years. As a fan or someone who covers the team you have to live in the now and worry about 2008, in 2008.
It is a lot like watching Edgerrin James in the final year in Indy in 2005. We all kind of knew that this would happen with James and he would move on, but it was still fun to watch “Edge” in that Colts offense with Peyton, Harrison and Wayne.
It’s a great question and we all have seen this happen to others here and across the league when age, salary and production maybe don’t meet.
Let’s all enjoy the talents of Deuce McAllister while he is a member of this team and for what he has done for this community on and off the field. To be able to keep other younger players on this team, the older players eventually pay the price and that normally means in another city, especially at running back.
Take care. Good question.
Handle: Dan in Lafayette
From: Lafayette, LA
You did a great job on the draft coverage on WWL, but you did sound like you were about to run out of gas late on Sunday. Was that the longest draft in NFL history? If not, it sure seemed like it.
I have one quick question. The Saints recently started their organized team activities and I know you were able to attend those sessions. Do you have any early observations? Did anything happen that made you say, "Wow!"?
Thanks Dan, I appreciate the nice words.
To be honest the second day went by pretty quick, but that first day seemed to be almost an eternity. The first round was the longest in league history and they have to cut the times down in Rounds 1 and 2.
The big difference between Saturday and Sunday was that we (the WWL-Crew) were able to get the Saints picks on the air very quickly after they were selected. After the Saints picked Robert Meachem we had to wait quite a while before another pick came in and so from 11:00 AM until after 7:00 PM was a long stretch with just one pick.
You know me pretty well and I am never one to get excited about practices, but a few observations stood out.
1. WR Devery Henderson looks much more comfortable than in the past catching the ball cleanly, running better routes and understanding how to get open downfield. He certainly stood out in the practice sessions and he is running his routes under control and you can see he has a lot more confidence in his ability to catch the ball today than a year ago. One NFL assistant coach who I know very well believes he will be the breakout star on this team in 2007 and that he is finally maturing into that more consistent talent at the position.
2. The improvement in talent and speed in the secondary. Jason David is not real big, but he is fast, he finds the ball quickly in flight and he makes a play on the ball. It’s his instincts that stick out.
I was also impressed with the rookies Usama Young and David Jones. Young has the wingspan, size, speed and good football instincts to see a lot of action on this team in 2007, and I would be surprised if he was not the #3 cornerback on this team behind David and McKenzie.
Jones is quick footed, a very agile athlete getting into and out of transition and he also finds the ball quickly in flight. He needs work with his footwork and his ability to get on top of the receiver a bit quicker, but he is a very good athlete and he also has good football instincts.
The most improved player I saw in that secondary was a pleasant surprise and it was CB Anwar Phillips. Anwar has good size, he also has a long wingspan and he made some plays in pass defense that stood out. I always liked his athletic ability, but last season you could see he was a bit hesitant in making a firm plant and drive to the ball, he was tentative in coverage and he was late to react. It’s just two practices, but I saw a lot of improvement in his game. In a nutshell he is more aggressive with the ball in flight and more confident in his play.
He will be someone to keep a close eye on during training camp practices to see if this is a trend or just a “shorts” practice impression.
Kevin Kaesvihorn was bothered by a thigh/quad bruise, but I just have a gut feeling this guy is going to push for a starting berth.
3. WR Lance Moore and RB Jamaal Branch continue to impress with their overall play. Both guys give everything they have out on the field and both look quicker and stronger than last season. I would also add WR Jamal Jones to that list. It is going to be quite a battle at the WR and halfback slots to make this team, but I love the good depth.
You just never have enough good players on a squad.
4. Drew Brees looks like he never stopped playing from last season. The guy is sharp and while his game has never been a super strong arm, his arm strength is much better than last summer. But to be honest he was coming off of major surgery, so the year of rehab and recovery have set in and he looks great.
5. I hope TE Eric Johnson can stay healthy. He looks as though he has worked hard to upgrade his upper-body strength and he has the hands and the athletic skills to really upgrade the TE spot.
6. I liked what I saw out of DE Charles Grant. He is in great shape and he looks even quicker than last season. Again, it is hard to grade out players in shorts, but he looks real strong and real quick. DT Hollis Thomas needs to get his weight down to help his stamina and this should also aid his asthma condition.
7. The “Wow” was watching Reggie Bush catch a swing pass, cut across field and outrun everyone to the end zone. It reminded me so much of the play against the Bears in the NFC Championship game.
8. Just a thought, but I really feel as though Josh Bullocks will have the fight of his life to keep his starting spot over Kevin Kaesviharn. There is no doubt that Josh is the better athlete and he has more natural talent, but he better play a more consistent game this season and his ability to play the deep pass has to be improved.
K.K. will give him quite a battle for that other starting safety spot opposite Roman Harper. One NFC director of pro personnel told me that in scouting the Saints that Bullocks did little to impress him in coverage last season. “The young man is slow to react, a bit stiff and he has trouble reacting to the deep pass,” the pro personnel man said. “If anyone was paying even a little attention they had to notice he blew a number of assignments last season and you can bet other teams will test him out early.”
I also feel the same about Jamar Nesbit. It will be interesting to see if he holds off the challenge of the rookie Andy Alleman and do the Saints give LT Zach Strief a shot at that position also, if they are looking to find the best five players along the offensive line.
Name: Leto, Mark
From: Amite, Louisiana
Hi, Mike. How is Rob Ninkovich doing and will he be able to contribute to the team this year?
Mark, Rob is back and he looks healthy and ready to roll. Rob will be the #3 DE in this lineup and give the Saints good depth and the ability to rotate their defensive ends. Ninkovich has natural pass rush skills you just can’t teach and the other part is that he just doesn’t give up on a play.
Watching him last year in the pre-season and very early in the 2007 season the thing that jumped out at me was his ability to use his hands to push, pull and just jar linemen off balance rushing the passer and also playing the run. He is not a very big player, but he is agile, he has a quick initial move off the snap and relentless. Rob is also a very good special teams player.
Hopefully he can stay healthy, because he has a role on this team that will be important as a situation player, adding good depth and again he excels on special teams.
Handle: EG from Big LR
From: Little Rock, Arkansas
Mike, I really enjoy you stuff. And the book was again outstanding.
1. There has been much debate about comments made by you about how good Jammal Brown is and some others in the New Orleans media feel much different. I don’t know if you got the copy yet, but Pro Football Weekly had Brown rated as the second best offensive tackle in pro football, just like you did in your book. Compare Brown and Willie Roaf as players?
2. Do you think David Patten will be a certain roster player and what are his strengths?
3. You surprised me a bit the other night on one of the talk shows, I think it was on the Sporting News Network, by saying that you felt that punter Chris Hansen had a good chance to make the Saints. Please elaborate?
Thanks, EG. I appreciate the support and kind words.
1. I am not real sure who has talked negative about Jammal, but if someone has they have no idea what they are looking at. In two short years he has developed into one of the elite offensive tackles in this game and last year he made the Pro Bowl at a position he never played before.
There is no doubt in my mind that other than Walter Jones (Seattle Seahawks) Brown was the best left tackle in the business.
Again, not sure what you heard or read, but this question has been asked before so someone apparently wasn’t real high on Jammal and all I can say is that they had to be watching another team or not paying attention to the Saints last season.
Jammal is a different player than Willie. Roaf. Roaf is one of the top four offensive tackles I have seen in this league over the past 25 years along with Anthony Munoz, Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones. Roaf is a sure-shot NFL Hall-of-Fame player, but he had the combination everyone wants in a left tackle. He was super quick for his great size and he was also a power-packed player as a run blocker.
Brown is more of a power-packed player at this stage. Now, he is only in his second year on the left side, but you can see he is not as quick or as agile as Roaf was. Brown knows how to use his long arms and power to push away and tie-up defenders. He will get better as a pass protector in time due to his improvement with his techniques. Willie was a natural left tackle with great quickness, super quick feet and a superb technician.
They are different type performers at left tackle, but make no mistake about the fact that the Saints have an elite left tackle in Jammal, but he is not as good as Willie was at the same stage of their careers. Right now the guy that resembles Willie the most is Walter Jones.
2. David Patten is at a crossroads in his career. Does he have the talent to play in this league at 32 years old and 33 when the season starts? The answer is “yes”, but he has been banged up the past 2 seasons and his chances to make this team and contribute will all depend on his good health.
David’s game is all about quickness and his ability to make something happen after the catch. He is a sure-handed guy and a very good and experienced route runner.
I have a friend in this business who is associated with the Washington Redskins and he has praised the talents, the character and the team-oriented nature of Patten, but he really questioned if David still had very much left in the tank after what he saw in Washington.
In watching him in practice last week Patten seemed to have some spring left in those legs and he is quick to come off the line and he gets into and out of his cuts and breaks very well. Now, he is not getting hit and we won’t know for sure until the summer, but I feel as though David still has some skills to contribute and help the Saints as a “situational player” and if he can stay healthy, he will be a good contributor to the team.
If Patten can stay healthy I have a feeling the Saints coaching staff would like to use him in the same manner the Indy Colts used Brandon Stokley in the past. Stokley was the ideal slot-receiver, who was quick, he got open and he made big-plays due to his ability to get yardage after the catch. Ideally this is what the Saints would want out of Patten. Hopefully he can stay healthy…
3. You know that has been a been overlooked in the off-season, but I really feel as though Chris Hanson will give Steve Weatherford a run for his money and if Hanson can regain his form and stay healthy, I have a feeling he will beat Weatherford out for the punter position.
Hanson did not punt well last season for the Jaguars, but he has punted well in the past, he has a very strong leg, he gets good hang-time with his punts and he is a pretty good directional kicker. He now is punting indoors and for a “power” punter like Hanson that should aid his shot to make this team. I have a feeling that this will be quite a battle in training camp, but special teams other than the return game is not something super interesting for most fans to talk about.
This will be a battle to watch during the summer months and I am anxious also to see how much Weatherford has improved in Year #2.
Glad you brought it up and because it was something that has been asked a just a time or two on shows outside the state, but I have a feeling this will be a very competitive battle and don’t overlook the talents of Hanson. You know how important I feel the special teams game is in this business and I think this is an area the Saints are hoping to improve on in 2007.
Handle: RJ in Lafayette
From: Lafayette, LA
Mike, Four quick questions:
1. I don't know whether I am in a state of preseason delusion, but it seems to me that after Indianapolis the Saints have the second most talented offense in the NFL and that, with the hits on defense the Colts have taken this off-season, the Saints might have more overall talent than last year's Super Bowl champions. Am I dreaming?
2. Perhaps the preseason delusion persists, but is there another coach on any level you would prefer as head coach of the Saints over Sean Payton?
Given his creativity on offense, the remarkable job he does as the public face of the franchise, and his eye for talent and insistence on discipline, I can't think of one. I am not saying he is the best coach in football — not after one season and after what Belichick has done in New England. But I can't think of anybody else who is a better fit for the Saints than Sean Payton. What do you think?
3. In 2007, what NFL teams will be moving up? And what teams will be
4. I know that hindsight is 20-20, but I don't fully understand how a team can mess up in the draft as badly as the Saints did in 2003 by picking Jonathan Sullivan. When the Saints traded up, we had our choice of tackles Kevin Williams, Ty Warren, Jimmy Kennedy and Sullivan. I know that Kennedy has been a disappointment in St. Louis. But Williams and Warren have become stars.
This wasn't just a matter of picking Sullivan because he was the only top defensive tackle left and we needed a tackle. This was trading up because someone thought Sullivan was the pick of the litter. How did full-time professional evaluators after hours of film study, interviews and investigation decide to pass on Williams and Warren, and select Sullivan who showed absolutely nothing but a healthy appetite?
Keep up the good work.
RJ in Lafayette
R.J., thanks for the kind words.
1. The Saints are a Super Bowl caliber team, but in this sport sometimes talent isn’t enough. For years many people felt as though the Colts had the most talent (1 thru 53) in the NFL, but until last season they didn’t win a world championship. Staying healthy, building good team chemistry and having an area that maybe wasn’t your strong point all season really hit stride late are the most important elements.
For the Saints to get to the Super Bowl they need to keep Drew Brees healthy, upgrade their run defense ability and also get better play on special teams, in both the kicking game and return/coverage units. In college the most talented college teams win more because even when they play at a less than high effort, than can out-talent their opponent late. In the NFL the margin of talent is real close and if you play a bad game late, it could really devastate your Super Bowl dreams. Just ask the Baltimore Ravens…
2. Listen I think highly of Sean Payton, but if I was putting together a team today, and I mean anywhere and that includes New Orleans, I would take Bill Belichick as my head coach. Hey, he has won 3 Super Bowl titles with teams that weren’t the most talented, but they were the best team-oriented franchise in those years and he came within an eyelash of getting into another one last season. He also knows how to handle and motivate players at a level we haven’t seen in the free agency world of pro football.
3. I believe that the most competitive division and the one on the rise is the NFC West. Seattle has dominated that conference, but St. Louis should be improved on defense and they are already real good on offense, the Arizona Cardinals are a solid club, especially with the talent they have on offense and if the S.F. 49ers can get QB Alex Smith to upgrade his overall game the 49ers will be much tougher. That division will be interesting to monitor.
I look for the Pittsburgh Steelers to rebound again a division winner in the AFC North, and the Raiders will struggle again in the AFC West..
The division that is in a crossroads view is the NFC East. Without Jeff Garcia as the insurance policy the Eagles will need a healthy Donovan McNabb to again compete for a division title. The Giants look like a team that has no rudder. Eli Manning has to play big and I mean real big for this team to make another playoff run, and there are a host of problems that have this team looking as though they are on the verge of coming undone quickly if things don’t work out well early.
I like the Dallas Cowboys, but QB Tony Romo has to really improve upon a real late season collapse at quarterback. He was very inconsistent and they need to get their running game in high gear to not put immense pressure on him again to make things happen on a weekly basis. I have a feeling with Wade Phillips running the show the Cowboys will be much better on defense and a real “pressure” packed unit.
The Redskins need to have huge seasons out of QB Jason Campbell and RB Clinton Portis to get back in the hunt in 2007. On defense they better manufacture a pass rush, because I don’t see where it will come from. They just never seemed to find out what worked for them on offense in 2006.
I see some tough times for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, but I have a feeling the Tampa Bay Bucs will be much improved. Don’t be surprised to see the Green Bay Packers give the Chicago Bears a run for their money in the NFC North. What I can’t understand is why the Packers’ front office has done so little to bring in quality free agent pickups on the offensive side of the ball for Favre to work with. The Pack has good young talent on defense, but it looks as though GM Ted Thompson doesn’t get the fact that with a quality pickup or two on offense the Packers could have really been a very tough squad to deal with in 2007. Believe me the Bears will hurt not having RB Thomas Jones on that offensive team.
4. If the Saints hadn’t made the mistake with Johnathan Sullivan you can take this to the bank, that someone else really early would have made the same mistake. Sullivan was always a person who struggled with his weight in college, but he never had motivation problems in college. When he stuck that big bonus check in his pocket it totally changed his attitude and that happens in sports. Money has changed the landscape and that is an area that sometimes is very hard to evaluate.
When you watched him play at Georgia he was a dominant player at times, but he lacked the motivation skills to push himself at the NFL level. It’s like someone winning the Powerball and you find out a few years later he is dead broke. You say, how can that happen to this person, but it happens. Bad picks happen to every team in the NFL and that one was a doozy for the Saints.
The one good thing that came out of the Johnathan Sullivan pick was that the Saints made a total franchise change in philosophy on how to handle the draft and free agency. You see the Saints now try and address obvious needs in free agency and try to open up their options on draft day to go with the best players on the board. You sometimes can’t address every need, but if you can cut it down some it does give you more options.
The year they picked Sullivan they wanted a defensive tackle so bad they were willing to piece together a host of draft picks to go up and select him. Had they addressed that area in the off-season in 2003 they could have went and used those 2 first round picks on other spots, but again sometimes in this business, just like in other professions, you learn much more about your mistakes than your triumphs. It was a terrible scouting error, but this is not a profession where you always are right, no matter how much money and time you spend evaluating a player, because no one can tell you what motivates a player when he instantly becomes a millionaire and he is famous for being a NFL player.
Players like Sullivan love the lifestyle, but they forget the hard work they put in to get them this far. It’s a real shame because this guy did have the talent to develop into a very good NFL player, but he had no drive at all once he got paid.
From: Albany, NY
Mike, thanks for all you do!
When you consider the quality of the draft in 2006 versus some of the abysmal Haslett drafts, it's clear that things have changed for the better by a mile. Yet, it's the same Mickey Loomis whom so many people vilified when things weren't going well. What do you think is the difference?
Hey Reed, thanks for the nice words.
I would say it is the chemistry between Loomis and Sean Payton that is the difference. If you read or listened closely to the reports about the players the Saints picked up it was a mix of scouting reports, coaches’ opinions and late workouts with both the scouts and coaches that sold them on players and they were able to relay that back to the head coach and the general manager.
Mickey Loomis has always done a very good job handling the salary cap and money matters, but he needed to have someone feed him good information on veteran and college players. And it was obvious that Jim Haslett used a lot of stroke and influence to get the players he wanted on this team. In my opinion the difference is the working relationship between Loomis/Payton/the coaches and their ability to work much better with the scouting department to get the most out of their picks and free agent pickups. It is also so important to relate the type players you want on your squad and give Sean Payton full credit for giving them the type blueprint of a player that fits what he is looking for.
From: Houston, TX
What do you think of Fred Thomas' play at the end of the year last season Was it poor play on his part, or a result of poor safety play?
What do you think his chances are of retaining his position as the #2 corner next year? Does the staff feel like he has lost it and can no longer play as the #2 corner?
Sandman, Fred Thomas’ decline had to do with age and he lost his confidence late in the year. Thomas’ play had really nothing to do with the lack of good support at safety. He just got beat often and you can clearly see that his play has really started to drop off.
Other than an injury, I can’t see Thomas starting on this team with Mike McKenzie and Jason David in the lineup and to be honest Usama Young looks like he will be the #3 cornerback.
Listen, if the coaching staff thought that Thomas had lost it, they wouldn’t have brought him back. He has a shot to make this team, but it will be a tough battle.
That contest at cornerback will be interesting because other than an injury you can see that David, McKenzie, Young and David Jones should make the roster, so if you keep 5 then he will battle it out with Jason Craft, Anwar Phillips and DeJuan Groce.
To be honest I really believe the Saints will keep one of the veterans, either Thomas or Craft on the 2007 roster, but as a back-up.
The one thing I give him full credit is that Fred is a very willing player in run support. He doesn’t shy away from contact in run support. Some corners in this business seem to be a state of reverse every play in run support, but Thomas does come up quickly to help out.
Sandman, the Fred Thomas question will be answered in the summer, if he has it or has he lost even more of his skills at age 34. Good question, but we will know a lot more about Fred during training camp and during the pre-season.
If you have a question for Mike, just go to the top of this page and hit the "Ask Mike" button and fill out the form.