Football is coming!
New Orleans football looms large
Mid-July brings that undeniable itch. August is right around the corner and August means football. Your calendar’s weekends become quite full, quite quickly in a few weeks. So, let’s dust off the old pigskin and talk some football, shall we?
Protect The Shield (yawn)
As the NFL season gets closer to kicking off, another game, that is always underway, comes to the forefront. It’s called, “How can the NFL mess this up?”
The NFL needs new handlers. The league tries to stay quiet when it should be at the forefront (concussions) and fumbles all over itself when it has the opportunity to stay quiet (kneeling). But everyone from New Orleans already knew about this problem back in 2012. So, what’s next?
The NFL’s “solution” to allow players to stay in the locker room during the anthem is going to blow up in their faces. I would be surprised to see that “rule” make it through the season. And isn’t funny that there is a “rule” in place (yes, I’m putting it in quotes on purpose because it is ridiculous)? The NFL has waxed off its entire existence about being American and now can’t get out of its own way to stop embarrassing itself just because a handful of players are exercising their freedom of speech. The NFL’s biggest mistake is bringing the situation to the locker room. Locker rooms are for team. So, where you once had a few players kneeling on the sidelines, obscured by a 100 other personnel, now you might have a vacant sideline until the anthem is over because team is goin’ to team. I’m not saying that will happen everywhere or every week but it will happen at some point.
Enough about the league, I watch football because I like to have fun. Moving on!
Bobby, Ronnie, Ricky and Mike…just kidding, that’s the real New Edition (and, of course, Ralph and later on, Johnny). I’m talking about the new additions with an A not an E to the New Orleans Saints. It’s been a solid off-season where one can’t accuse the Saints of resting on their NFC South-winning laurels.
I love the influx of talent from the free agent ranks on the defensive side of the ball. Some may complain about the price tag for bringing in Demario Davis (3 years, $24 million) but once real football begins that talk is for accountants. Davis could be a great pickup for a group that could use the help.
I’m not one to jump on the linebackers, however. As a group, I think they had a good 2017 campaign. Last year’s pickups of A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o (solid backup) provided some stability even without putting a lot of feathers in their collective cap. Having Davis and Klein lining up on the inside could prove to be an impressive tandem.
The defensive backfield brought in some veteran experience as well. Patrick Robinson, a former Saints first round pick, returns to lock down the nickel, a year after collecting four interceptions with the Philadelphia Eagles. On the safety front (or is it back?), Kurt Coleman joins the club to beef up the last line of defense. Coleman will put some heat on Vonn Bell for the starting position alongside Marcus Williams, who should have another stellar campaign.
For football crazies, one of the greatest days of the offseason is when the official schedule is released. Everyone flocks to the internet and the hot takes fly out of social media like king cakes out of Dong Phuong. Remarkably, every single fan of every single team will have their favorite club going 8-2 to start the season.
Joking aside, the Saints will have a rough go of it this year with the league’s second toughest schedule. By second toughest, I mean there is a one-game difference between New Orleans and the Green Bay Packers in that metric.
Fortunately, the Saints open up with the Buccaneers at home and the suspended Jameis Winston will be standing on the sideline because he is a major problem for Tampa Bay. While that seems good, having to play a veteran quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week One is worrisome but it’s at the Superdome so chalk it up as a win. Week Two brings the Cleveland Browns to the Dome to get steamrolled.
As always, expect a wild too-close-to-call sprint to the finish in the NFC South.
Local College Football
I was so excited to hear that the University of New Orleans is bringing back their football program. Then I woke up. That would be cool though and I think, having the city of New Orleans as your home base would attract a ton of talent to make the team competitive fairly quickly. Oh well.
At Tulane, something seemingly just as far-fetched could take place this season — a passing attack. Actually scratch that, I think Tulane is definitely going to go to the air with vigor this year. Of course, some of those pass plays will end up in the box score as a run due to the awesome athleticism of Jonathan Banks (#BanksWasIn) but get ready Uptown, you’re about to watch a fun offense this year.
Terren Encalade will be the number one threat at receiver. As he should be, considering he averaged 18.7 yards a catch on 39 balls last year. This young man can find the open field. The Green Wave added grad transfer Freddy Canteen II last month. Canteen hasn’t posted boffo stats in his career but, indicative of where Coach Willie Fritz has this program headed, Canteen’s previous schools were Michigan and Notre Dame. I think you may have heard of them.
Then of course there is redshirt junior running back, Corey Dauphine. I’m out of time folks but look him up because you’re going to be hearing his name throughout the fall.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Brieux Carre’s “Maw Maw’s Brew” Amber Ale
Playlist Recommendation: New Edition – “Cool It Now”