Archive for the ‘National News’ Category



Saints win !! 52-49 !!

NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees had a pretty good day for the New Orleans Saints, tying an NFL record with seven touchdown passes and throwing for a career-best 511 yards. Here is a look at three more Saints who were “up” and three who were “down” in Sunday’s 52-49 victory over the New York Giants.

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Payton faces challenge in return to Saints

Pat Yasinskas

Sean Payton’s second rebuilding job might be more of a chore than his first.

Friday night’s news that Payton and the New Orleans Saints have agreed to the outline of a new contract extension should bring joy to a fan base that’s been suffering since the bounty scandal broke back in March. Go ahead and celebrate a bit, because this means Payton isn’t jumping over to the Dallas Cowboys.


But don’t automatically assume that Payton’s stepping back in will instantly repair all that’s wrong with the Saints. Assuming the deal gets finalized and is approved by the NFL, which nullified Payton’s previous contract extension, the coach is going to have his work cut out for him when he rejoins the team.

The league previously has said Payton will be eligible to return from his season-long suspension the day after the Super Bowl. It’s a good thing Payton recently competed in a half-marathon, because he is going to have to hit the ground running if the Saints are going to get back to what they once were.

With Aaron Kromer coaching the first six games and Joe Vitt taking over after that, the Saints are 7-8 heading into Sunday’s season finale against Carolina. The Saints are missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

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NFL reaffirms player suspensions in Saints’ bounty case

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reaffirmed the suspensions Tuesday that he originally issued on the four players involved in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma remains suspended for the season but will retain the game checks he received while on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Defensive end Will Smith remains suspended for four games.

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Vilma brings leadership back to Saints’ D

Ever since the National Football League announced player suspensions for what it called a three-year bounty program by New Orleans, I’ve said the on-field implications for the Saints weren’t all that significant.

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma was handed a season-long suspension and defensive end Will Smith received an eight-game suspension. Vilma has been the leader of the defense since his arrival in 2008, but knee problems and age really seemed to slow him last season. The Saints went out and signed Curtis Lofton in free agency and I view him as an upgrade over Vilma, at this late stage of his career. Smith is New Orleans’ top pass-rusher, but the Saints could have gotten through those four games without too much trouble. They survived last season when Smith was suspended for the first two games.

But, after hearing Friday’s news that an appeals panel has overturned the suspensions, I’m starting to think having Vilma and Smith back is a huge victory for the Saints and will be significant on the field

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Three Receivers Who Need To Step It Up For The Saints In 2012

As the preseason wraps up and the 2012 NFL regular season is finally about to start, many Saints fans are cautiously optimist that everything will work out well. Coming off a record-breaking season passing the ball a season ago, many thought the passing game would be the least of the team’s worries. This preseason has brought up some issues though. Here is a look at the three receiving targets that Drew Brees needs to step it up a bit.

Jimmy Graham

Yes, it is just preseason, but the breakout star from a year ago seems unfocused and lacking motivation in the games so far this season. Most fans do not seem to worried since he is healthy and young, but Graham is the top guy on offense for Brees. Coaches want to see him continue to progress instead of being happy with where he is now. Right now, he is playing as though he is just slightly worse than a season ago.

Devery Henderson

With Graham handling the short yard passes, Henderson needs to continue to be a solid deep threat for Brees. His job becomes even more important now that Robert Meachem is in San Diego. Brees loves to go for it all a few times a game, so Henderson will get the shot to pick up some yardage and make some big plays.

A year ago, Henderson started strong but then quickly disappeared. With a bigger role in 2012, that can be a cause for concern. Joseph Morgan could push him some for that wide receiver deep threat spot, but it’s Henderson’s to lose going into the season.

Joe Morgan

One of the most impressive things Drew Brees has done as a NFL quarterback is turn regular wide receivers into valuable options. Morgan came into the 2011 season as a true afterthought. The undrafted rookie had a great preseason though, but a torn meniscus prevented him from really ever getting a chance in real games.

Morgan is now officially back, and this preseason he looks to be even better than before. He is a big-play threat that is full of potential and raw talent. It will be interesting to see how much the Saints actually use him in the 2012 season, but it would not be surprising to see him earn more and more time (and targets) as the season goes along. Remember, very few people knew who Robert Meachem was until Brees turned him into a Pro Bowler.

This article has been guest written by the football guys at FanDuel.com, the best site for weekly fantasy football leagues.



Observation deck: Saints-Texans

By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com

Some observations from the New Orleans Saints’ 34-27 preseason victory against the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday night.

  • There’s no doubt the defense is a concern. But let’s keep a few things in mind. Houston is one of the league’s better offenses, the Saints were starting backup linebackers and, most importantly, the defense doesn’t have to be great when you’ve got Drew Brees and this offense. The Saints fell behind 14-0 quickly, but Brees put the Saints right back into the game. Brees and the offense are good enough to keep the Saints in any regular-season game.

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NFL Offseason 2012: Why the New Orleans Saints Could Cut Will Smith

The New Orleans Saints are headed into an offseason in which they will have to try to bring back Drew Brees, Carl Nicks and Marques Colston, among other key free agents.

The Saints already do not have a lot of cap space, and that’s why we could see defensive end Will Smith leave the team in 2012.

The Saints brought in Steve Spagnuolo as the new defensive coordinator, and it’s likely that he will improve the defense in New Orleans greatly. In fact, I think that he could even do it without the Saints’ best defensive end.

Smith was chosen by the Saints in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft, and he has been a great player for New Orleans over the years.

His best season came in 2009, when the Saints won the Super Bowl. Smith tallied up 13 sacks that year and was among the top pass-rushers in the league.

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How Steve Spagnuolo fits with Saints

By Pat Yasinskas

The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms with Steve Spagnuolo as their new defensive coordinator Thursday, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

This is a big victory for the Saints because I’m pretty sure Spagnuolo is the guy Sean Payton had targeted for this job, probably even before previous coordinator Gregg Williams left for St. Louis and a reunion with Jeff Fisher after the Saints lost in the playoffs.

If you want a picture of a Spagnuolo defense, don’t think too much about the St. Louis team he had been the head coach of since 2009.

Read more of Pat’s story here.



Why hit on Pierre Thomas was legal

By Pat Yasinskas

During the Countdown Live chat throughout Saturday’s playoff game between New Orleans and San Francisco, many of you were wondering why the hit on Saints running back Pierre Thomas by 49ers defensive back Donte Whitner didn’t result in a penalty.


It was clearly a helmet-to-helmet hit. The play came deep in San Francisco territory in the first quarter. Thomas fumbled the ball as soon as he was hit and the 49ers recovered.

Read more about the hit here.



Time to look for Brees’ heir apparent?

By Pat Yasinskas

Now that the season officially is over for all four NFC South teams, we can start looking ahead to the 2012 draft.

Take a look at this Insider post by Steve Muench, which talks about two undersized quarterbacks — Boise State’s Kellen Moore and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson. Both are listed at just a shade under 6-foot.

Any time you talk about undersized quarterbacks, you have to start with New Orleans’ Drew Brees, because he has proven that you don’t have to be 6-4 or 6-5 to succeed. Brees is listed right at 6-foot, and that might be a bit generous.

But Brees is a perfect fit in coach Sean Payton’s offensive scheme. The Saints obviously don’t believe you need a tall quarterback, because backup Chase Daniel also is listed at 6-foot.

Read more of Pat’s story here