I get it New Orleans, just like Gertrude Stein said, "a loss is a loss is a loss." Okay fine she didn't say that, she actually wrote, “A rose is a rose is a rose.” But you get the point. The New Orleans Saints and the Tulane Green Wave both took losses over the weekend. And the naysayers are out in full force, which in one case – the Saints – might be acceptable, but in the case of the krewe from Uptown, I promise you it is not. You, as a fan, just have to keep the faith. Isn’t that what rooting for the home team is all about?
At the end of last season the Tulane Green Wave were dead on arrival – no hope, no future, no nothing. Then Troy Dannen, Tulane’s impressive AD, did what – at this point – he has repeatedly done. He “gotta real guy.” Football-wise, that guy was Willie Fritz. A coach that has eventually blistered every conference he has been a part of. This isn't a homer talking, the facts speak for themselves.
Willie Fritz is a winner. He's the guy that you bring in and makes your program better. He takes your program to a higher level. And I assure you, that is exactly what is happening on Willow Street. Yes, the Green Wave are sitting at 1-2, but there is a decidedly different mentality inside Yulman Stadium. The days of showing up and being run over are long gone. Long Gone. Say those words again.
I’m not pretending the Wave is going to win the American, but I am saying any team that runs into Tulane better have their I’s dotted and T’s crossed or they are going to go home with a loss. Tulane has a seriously sticky defense and a run game that is joining the upper echelon of the NCAA.
Dontrell Hilliard led the rushing attack against the Midshipmen with 16 rushes for 97 yards. The Green Wave tried to get him going early in the game to establish their identity but the Navy Midshipmen are a different caliber of defense than the Southern Jaguars and Tulane found the middle and edges shut down more often than not.
But the beauty of Tulane’s rushing attack is that it's not a one-man show. For as the first half wound down, and with the Midshipmen keeping Hilliard in check, it would be Tulane’s Josh Rounds ripping the Navy defense for multiple big gains and culminating in Rounds tieing the game up 7-7.
On the other side of the ball, Nico Marley was playing like a man possessed. You could literally see his draft grade rising right before your eyes. Posting five unassisted tackles in the first quarter alone, Marley would go on to terrorize the Midshipmen offense for 14 tackles and two sacks.
This defense is going to keep the Green Wave in every contest it enters. Tanzel Smart continually disrupted the interior line as the defensive pressure often played in Navy’s backfield and harassed Navy’s quarterback Will Worth every time he dropped back to pass. Which – considering Navy loves the rushing game as much as Tulane’s Willie Fritz – was not a lot, but on Worth’s 15 dropbacks he was sacked three times.
Unfortunately, it would be Tulane’s passing attack that would be the main issue. Freshman Johnathan Brantley showed good poise in the pocket, and would rush for 47 yards, but his passes were sailing the seven seas and often floated into harm’s way. Navy would drop two easy interceptions that kept Tulane in the hunt. But still, Brantley looks like a player. He’s going to hit a lot of bumps in the road this year but the payoff could be spectacular with this young man. And, I like to think, that sums up the entire team. The water will be choppy along the way but you get the feeling this team has the character and skill to navigate the rough waters. Only time will tell.
Less than spectacular was the outing by the New Orleans Saints versus the New York Giants. The game resembled last year’s 52-49 shootout with the Giants only if you live in Bizarro World and up is down and left is right.
This iteration of the series was a weird slugfest in which you were just waiting for Drew Brees to air it out to one of his receivers – but NOT Coby Fleener – and pull the Saints to victory. Then you kept waiting…and waiting. Then somehow, someway on a day when the Saints defense gobbled up three turnovers, we were left watching the clock run out on a tepid air game in a 16-13 loss.
Where one should look to the positive with the Tulane Green Wave it has become increasingly hard to not stare at the negative of the New Orleans Saints. Loomis and crew have toyed with the emotional health of the city for years with their mishandling of the salary cap.
Free agents come and free agents go. Loomis inks a player to a fat contract, then the team cuts the player to create a titanic hole of dead money. At some point, the team should just ride the guys they’ve signed instead of looking to change the sad narrative of free agency failures.
Drew Brees won’t be here five years from now. The window to make another run at some playoff glory is quickly closing. And now you don’t have any healthy defensive backs. Now, instead of signing Ben Watson to an easy one-year deal, the Saints – who just love to make a splash – give 18 million guaranteed to Fleener and are waiting – going into week three – for some kind of return. It’s frustrating.
That’s just how it goes, I guess. If your teams went out and won every week it would get pretty boring, pretty quickly. Actually, strike that, that sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe Drew Brees can save us from mediocrity, maybe not. Maybe your teams will get back to that hallowed ground, or maybe they’re stuck in the middle of the ocean, rocking back and forth, going whichever way the tide takes them. Keep hope alive.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song
Beer Pairing: Miller High Life (yep, it’s one of those days)
Playlist Recommendation: Erasure – “Oh L’Amour”