The GOAT speaks: follow the leader

September 19th, 2014

The GOAT
GSEZ Founder

It remains difficult to avoid comparing any recent Saints team, particularly its defense, to 2009.

The offense is largely a constant:  Drew Brees came as a free agent in 2006, and three members of that draft start on offense to this day.  Reggie came and went, as did Darren Sproles after him, Deuce slipped away and left things to his spiritual heir Pierre Thomas, and centers changed like Tinker to Evers to Chance….but unlike Beavis and Butthead, the offense scored and scored and scored.

Many of us (ok, well, at least me) thought this defense was real, and would build with additions, like we did from 2008 to 2009, and be more than a complementary defense, nay, a force unto itself in 2014, but so far, ummm, no.

And “Gee, Mrs. Cleaver, that’s a lovely field goal you drove down the field and kicked at the gun to rip our hearts out two weeks in a row” does not even a complementary defense make, much less the ’85 Bears.

So, WTF?

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The GOAT speaks: trust me

September 12th, 2014

The GOAT
GSEZ Founder

The most important thing in life is sincerity.  Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.
– George Washington

Look, this whole thing is really simple, and it boils down to one fairly simple principle:  when the only tool in your box is a hammer, everything has to be a nail.

If you’re searching for some moral or intellectual consistency in Roger Goodell’s eight-year term as NFL commissioner, just stop now.  If you want the real pattern, look no further than his own roots, as he is a public relations man to the core.  Unfortunately, that’s all he’s ever been, and his massive financial and spiritual rewards for tirelessly creating images just continually reinforced his behavior patterns into a death spiral.

You start out in helping to shape public image, you do it long enough, not only do reality and image start to blur, but at some point you go into the looking-glass and come out the other side, and now image IS reality, and reality just one of the elements of image.  In a review of major discipline and other decisions that have come down the pike since 2006….Spygate…the allegations that the Saints engaged in inappropriate informal player incentive practices (not going to give anyone the satisfaction of using the term)….recreational drugs…domestic violence…..replacement refs….PEDs….all the results seem sort of random, until you find the common denominator that the NFL took whatever actions allowed them to give a certain appearance at a particular time:

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The GOAT speaks: 2014 on the record

September 6th, 2014

The GOAT
GSEZ Founder

Just wanted to get this in before the Saints season started.

First, Claude, if you want to say 16-0, say it.

Since you won’t read this before kickoff, I’ll say it:  this Saints team is going to win the Super Bowl.  I think they’ll win more than 13 games in the regular season.  They’re one of the two best teams in the NFL, Seattle being the other, and it’s just our turn in the playoffs, no matter where we play.  Claude laid it out pretty well, but failed to pull the trigger.

Teams moving up:  Bucs, Titans, Patriots, Chargers, Rams, Giants, Jags, Steelers

Teams moving down:  49ers, Cardinals, Bears, Panthers, Eagles, Cowboys, Bengals, Chiefs

Teams not improving like/as good as people think:  Falcons, Packers, Broncos, Colts

Surprise playoff teams:  Rams, Titans

Now, the Falcons game.  The Falcons are NOT the 4-12 team from last year by any means.  No sir. They are a solid 8-8, 7-9 team, the kind that will now be drifting with the broken rudder of Captain Mike Smith. The moment the owner questioned the team’s toughness after the season, by referencing something that happened in week 1, he permanently undermined his head coach.  Game over.  Smith has enough Jim Mora Sr. DNA to keep coaching hard…..but these guys are hollow, you can’t fake toughness, and you can’t rebuild BOTH an OL and a front seven in one offseason.

This team showed in week 3 of the preseason how ready it was.  We’ll rule early and show just enough to keep the game comfortably in hand.  As Bill Simmons would say, a Milton Berle game.

Saints 38, Falcons 20.

WHO DAT.

1-0 after Thursday.  Lay the point on us.  Keep the faith, brothers.

The Report, locked and loaded edition

September 5th, 2014

Claude Coupee
Lead Correspondent

By the time the Saints and Falcons line up on Sunday, it  will have been 239 days since this team ran out of time in Seattle.

Looking back at that loss against what is supposed to be a fairly strong choice to be the first repeat NFL champs in a while, I am still burning a little.  **** just didn’t go quite right; we had 25 first downs to their 13, outgained them 409 yards to  277, but had one turnover that led to a Seattle FG and missed two of our own, and that’s nine points, and we lost by eight.  They were better for 2-1/2 quarters, we were better at the end of the game.  They expected us to fold like bitches, NOT to trade shots with them and keep getting stronger all day in their house.

Certainly, Seattle might have approached things differently if we’d had the lead early instead, but we were hardly outcoached, and Seattle QB Russell Wilson was no threat.  Yes, we deserved to lose, but it was much closer than most allow, and if that game had gone 70 minutes, we’d have two Lombardis.  So it goes.  Seattle were (as they say in England) the deserving winner.

 -o-o-o-o-o-

So what?  Why is that relevant now?  Because it helps create a context for using last year as a tool for predicting this one.

First, you were what your record says you were, but the 2013 team truly underachieved at 11-5:

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The GOAT speaks: bronze mettle

September 3rd, 2014

The GOAT
GSEZ Founder

Usually, you wait until the fellow’s dead to run the obituary, but since we already put up a nine-foot statue of him yesterday, I guess it’s time.

-o-o-o-o-o-

Thomas Milton Benson was born in New Orleans in 1927, lived a life of great success and decency and greater charity and modesty, and to the best of our reckoning at least a chunk of his soul died somewhere on a road to San Antonio sometime in the mid 2000’s, was reborn at the point of a Tagliabue in 2006, and has been soldiering on in the general direction of heaven ever since.

A brilliant businessman at whose personal quirks and generosity we could only guess, he saved the New Orleans Saints for the city when he bought the team from John Mecom Jr. in 1984.  Over the years, seeking wins while prizing loyalty above all, his lack of personal football acumen allowed the slow degeneration of the team, as the wasting asset that was the Jim Finks foundation withered away, hitting rock bottom with sole survivor Bill Kuharich’s desperate and briefly successful bid to save himself by luring Mike Ditka to coach in 1997.

The semi-inspired selection of Randy Mueller as the next GM seemed like a breakthrough, until he was suddenly cashiered in May 2002, as the team’s on-field flounderings paled in comparison to its boardroom battles with the state.  At the height of the NFL’s staggering fin-de-siecle hubris at extracting money from state and local governments, Benson stood strong with his fellow owners, and by 2004 relations with the state and the fan base were likely beyond repair.

According to at least one published account, by then Benson had decided that New Orleans and Louisiana were no longer an optimal NFL market and was preparing for a move to San Antonio.  The former savior seemed determined to leave us behind and cash out, either to a moving purchaser or a new city, even (and perhaps especially) in the aftermath of Katrina.  Obviously, fate dictated otherwise.

-o-o-o-o-o-

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The GOAT speaks: come up screaming

August 27th, 2014

The GOAT
GSEZ Founder 

A screaming comes across the sky.
–  Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

The arc of that gorgeous 2nd-and-7 pass from Drew Brees to Jimmy Graham for a 38-yard gain the first quarter of last weekend’s preseason game against the Colts was just, well, a perfect parabola.  Lofted firmly but gently from the pocket, it sailed over the Mario-like chasing linebacker and settled into a sprinting Graham’s hands like a newborn passed from a maternity room nurse to the waiting mother.  If it had been a golf shot, it would have stuck six, maybe seven inches from the hole.

You knew what you were seeing from the off-season, the training camp stories, Junior Gallette’s tweets, the draft choices and UDFA’s fighting for time and spots like 17 piglets on an 12-teat sow, Mark Ingram running downhill as if he had been a first round pick.  And you wanted to believe.  And now Brees, back, and perfect.

-o-o-o-o-o-

For some bizarre reason, Saints fans are always looking backwards and making comparisons.  Maybe it’s the city’s obsession with history.  Maybe it’s that we can never break the old 1970s habit of staring at the train wreck of the previous season in disbelief.   Maybe it’s because we can’t believe how far we’ve come, like the fellow who finally hit it big and can’t resist the occasional discreet drive through the old neighborhood.

After Saturday’s beatdown (and it was) of the Colts, I decided to go back and look at the third preseason game from 2009.  (You DO remember 2009, right?)   Trying to set a tone for the season, a tone that Sean Payton started setting with four games left in 2008, the Saints went to Oakland and ran to a 31-0 halftime lead and a 45-7 win.  (I am sure all of you fondly remember P.J. Hill’s two rushing touchdowns, and Joey Harrington’s TD pass to Skyler Green.)  Yeah, I know it’s preseason.

Well, get ready to come up screaming again.

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The GOAT speaks: Knockin’ on heaven’s door

October 24th, 2013

 The GOAT
GSEZ Founder

Let’s be blunt.  There’s one thing missing from the Payton Era trophy case:  the Big Tough Road Win. 

I don’t mean beating the Bears a couple of weeks ago. 

And I don’t mean beating the Falcons in Atlanta.

I mean going on the road against a real peer, some team right at our level, and socking them in the mouth and walking out with a W.

-o-o-o-o-o-

Oh, we’ve been close.  I’m skipping 2006, when we were just figuring out who we were, and playing with house money, as well as 2007, which was essentially a 16-game hangover.  By 2008, we had sort of woken up, taken a shower, gotten something to eat (Bud’s Broiler, preferably) and were back in business trying to figure out how to win a Super Bowl.  Problem is, there’s a pattern here, and one Payton has yet to solve:

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The GOAT speaks: Using no way, but way

October 11th, 2013

The GOAT
GSEZ Founder

“No way, but way.”

Those of you familiar with Bruce Lee’s Jun-Fan Jeet Kune Do (which I am sure is pretty much everyone reading this blog) will obviously have already recognized what’s going on with the 2013 New Orleans Saints.  Lee had no style, he had his own style.  But what many neophytes missed was that having a “unique style” was pretty much lazy bullshit — they were putting in no work, just screwing around out there and calling their half-assed attempts “unique” as an excuse when they were caught short.  [Paging Mr. Harbaugh, Mr. Jim Harbaugh.]  First, as Lee had done, you had to perfect every other style, and then realize they were not enough.  They were not sufficiently pure, not sufficiently result-driven.  Once you understand that each style has its flaws, you make your own…a better one.

Jun-Fan Jeet Kune Do was “style without style”.  Lee believed styles had become too rigid, so he took his mastery of all of them and transcended, in a result-oriented mode.   No more pretty moves.  Everything was about winning the fight.

And so Sean Payton’s year of study is now paying off.  Before 2012, it was clear that Payton knew about as much about running an NFL team as anybody, Bill Belichick included.  Now, it is becoming obvious that he knows more.  He has mastered all the styles, and he is making his own.  It is simply, we will do whatever it is that is necessary to win.  He is the water, he becomes the glass, he becomes the teapot.  We win the game.  Fists of fury, indeed.

Or, to quote Grandmaster Wang at www.moosedenied.com, We make the rules, pal [tm].

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The GOAT speaks: Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war

October 1st, 2013

The GOAT
GSEZ Founder

Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.  Hopefully, at least some of you recognized the now-shopworn line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, stolen as it has been from time to time.   You probably didn’t realize how specific “havoc” originally is to “rape, pillage, and plunder”, but that fits just about as well in this situation.  So cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.

A lot of our thinking about this, we confess, was inspired by the T-P’s (or what’s left of it) Larry Holder’s determination to embarrass himself publicly by trying to nickname the Saints defense as “The Big Easys.”  (I console myself by thinking he did this on purpose, just to watch the hijinks and hilarity ensue.  If so, kudos.  If not, death by bunga-bunga.  When I hear “The Big Easys,” my first thought is a group of chubby post-op trannies cheerfully holding court on the east end of Bourbon Street.)  Obviously, this needed to be fixed.

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The Report, Dingo-by-numbers edition

September 24th, 2013

Claude Coupee
GSEZ Correspondent

It’s tough to do a lot of numbers work after three games — the data sample’s just not big enough to find reliable trends.  For instance, is a team’s defense good because they’re good, or because they played against three bad offenses?  How do you know how bad those offenses are?  Maybe they played three good defenses.  Just too soon to tell.

Still, man does not live by current numbers alone.  I don’t think it’s crazy to say that based on 2012 and the start of 2013,  Atlanta’s offense is guaranteed to gain yards and score at least some points, an Arizona offense led by HC Bruce Arians and QB Carson Palmer will get some numbers, even if they’re a little empty, and Tampa’s offense is essentially a dumpster fire.  So, on average, we’ve faced a middlin’ bunch, and we’ll take it from there.

One thing it’s clear that Dingo Unchained believes in — do NOT let your opponent’s best receivers take over the game.  To wit:

Falcons — Julio Jones, 7 catches, 76 yards, one trip to the schoolyard; Tony Gonzales, 3 catches, 36 yards
Bucs — Vincent Jackson, 5 catches, 77 yards
Cardinals — Larry Fitzgerald, 5 catches 64 yards

Yes, they got a few catches, but none of these guys blowing us up here, running wild.  All their plays were over the middle, in front of one or two guys, as the back seven kept things in control.  We haven’t heard his name all that much, but FA CB Keenan Lewis must be playing pretty well, and a healthier CB Jabari Greer is completing the picture.  Making teams beat you with their second option has two effects:  First, there’s a reason they’re second options, like an extra dropped pass, a rounded off route here, a broken pattern there.   Second, it makes the quarterback take more time going through progressions, and that little extra time certainly helps your pass rush, if you in fact have a pass rush to help.

Meanwhile, look what happens to the other teams when they don’t bracket Jimmy Graham.  Q.E.D.  Dingo’s no fool.

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