31 October 2006

Stop the Presses......


Put down your Conde' Nast magazine this is where we are all going for summer vacation next year.

Check it out.....

http://www.knievelweek.com/

On a similar note, Anybody remember Spanky Spangler the world's greatest stuntman? I think he had a show on cable in the early nineties. This guy was awesome. Well he was at Knievel Week in 2004.

http://www.knievelweek.com/spanky04.htm
http://www.spankyspangler.com/

Who's In?

30 October 2006

Food for Thought

New Orleans is nowhere to be found on the list of most dangerous cities.

http://www.morganquitno.com/cit07pop.htm#25

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/10/30/city.crime.ap/index.html

It's nice not to be at the top of the "bad" list for once.

Maybe all these other places are going to blame Katrina Evacuees, just like Houston did. Maybe they could get federal money for law enforcement, just like Houston did.

I was going to question the report. I have so many questions. However, I have decided to take the good news and run.

29 October 2006

Kicking Mother Teresa's Ass: Ravens 35 Saints 22

Chris McAllister intercepts a Reggie Bush (yes, Reggie Bush) pass.
It wasn't the smartest play call in the world.

Well, you knew they weren't going 15-1. But this one sucks for a lot of reasons.
  • The Ravens are the thuggiest (is that a word?) and perhaps the cockiest team in the NFL. They are the NFL version of the Miami Hurricanes.
  • The Ravens talked crap all week.
  • The Saints gave away the game. Several times.
  • The Ravens have perhaps more local (LA/MS) products than any other team (with the possible exception of the Colts), and it seems like all of them had an impact on the game--with the possible exception of Ed Reed.
Now, our "cushion" is gone. The Falcons won today, so they have the same record as the Saints. And the Panthers won't be close behind if they win tonight. I am cautiously optimistic that the Saints will rebound next week in Tampa Bay, but they all but beat the Saints in the dome 3 weeks ago. So we'll see.

THE GOOD
  • Not Much
  • Marques Colston may be on the way to having the greatest receiving season in SAINTS HISTORY. Forget Rookie of the Year.
  • Joe Horn had a good game too, even both players' stats were padded in garbage time.
  • Hollis Thomas had a sack and fumble recovery.
  • The team didn't quit after it became 35-7.
  • The BeerMan is back.
THE BAD
  • FIVE TURNOVERS
  • Let me repeat. FIVE TURNOVERS
  • FOUR INTERCEPTIONS
  • 28 points off turnovers
  • Steve McNair isn't that good anymore. The Saints made him look like a Hall of Famer.
  • Jason Craft. Who put him on Derrick Mason?
  • Teams still keep running inside on the Saints. Jamal Lewis had a 100-yard game.
  • The defense can't force turnovers. The one on the second play of the game was basically an accident.
  • The offensive game plan. In the first quarter, the Saints tried too many trick and gadget plays. Maybe they should have tried to establish the run instead. To me, that gave the Ravens confidence because it told them that the Saints were afraid of their defense.
  • Mark Campbell caught 4 passes, but dropped two potential touchdowns in the 4th quarter. Yes they were tough, but you have to make the catch. The Saints TEs continue to scare no one.
  • Reggie Bush continues to struggle, although the 12-yard run in the 3rd quarter was probably his nicest run from scrimmage this year.
THE UGLY
  • Reggie Bush's halfback pass was probably the stupidest play call I have seen from the Saints in a while.
  • 3 interceptions from Brees, 2 of them returned for touchdowns
  • 7 penalties in the first half (if I remember correctly)
  • The Saints call a timeout in the first half, and coming out of it, they get a false start called on them.
  • Jason Craft. Again. Thanks for deflecting an interception away from Scott Fujita and into the hands of Todd Heap for a touchdown that put the game out of reach by halftime.
  • I EFFING HATE RONNIE PRUDE. RONNIE PRUDE IS A WORTHLESS PIECE OF CRAP. RONNIE PRUDE SUCKED WHEN HE PLAYED AT LSU. RONNIE PRUDE LOST THE AUBURN GAME BY HIMSELF. RONNIE PRUDE LOST THE CAPITAL ONE BOWL AGAINST IOWA. RONNIE PRUDE COULDN'T MAKE A PLAY WHEN HE WAS A TIGER. RONNIE PRUDE COULDN'T GET A TURNOVER AT LSU EVEN IF THE QUARTERBACK HANDED THE FRIGGIN FOOTBALL TO HIM. So sure enough, guess who returns an interception for a touchdown against the Saints the first chance he gets?
Yes, I feel strongly about that last bullet point.

26 October 2006

Is the NFL "Flex Schedule" Going to Screw the Saints?

The T-P article I got my information from can be found here.

The NFL.com article comes from here.

For those of you who don't know what I mean by the NFL's "Flex Schedule," I'll let NFL.com explain it to you:

The NFL this season will implement for the first time in its history a primetime "flexible scheduling" element on Sundays in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17.

Flexible scheduling will ensure quality matchups on Sunday night in those weeks and give surprise teams a chance to play their way onto primetime.

Hell, the headline of the NFL.com article even says that it "Allows teams to play their way onto NBC Sunday night schedule." In other words, the "Flex Schedule" meant that the NFL wasn't locking any teams into the NBC Sunday Night Football primetime schedule. It was done to ensure that you wouldn't have a matchup featuring a 3-9 team in December. If a team came out of nowhere (such as the Saints), it would be given just as much chance as anyone to get a primetime game.

Well, apparently (and not surprisingly) THE NFL LIED.

Now, let's turn to the T-P article that talks about how the "Flex Schedule" has already basically been determined.

The NFL has not released NBC's tentative schedule for the remaining six flex weeks -- Nov. 19, Nov. 26, Dec. 3, Dec. 10, Dec. 17 and Dec. 31. However, The New York Times reported that NBC has penciled in Washington-Tampa Bay on Nov. 19, Philadelphia-Indianapolis on Nov. 26, Seattle-Denver on Dec. 3, New England-Miami on Dec. 10, Kansas City-San Diego on Dec. 17 and Pittsburgh-Cincinnati on Dec. 31.

Hmmm, don't see the Saints anywhere on there, do you? What a shock.

The first game chosen was the Bears and the Giants. That should come as a surprise to no one. And it deserves to be played in primetime. They're both probably playoff teams, and they come from big markets and have huge followings. No problem there.

Apparently this same weekend, the NFL is also throwing the Saints a "kind-of" bone: the NFL and Fox are "shifting the starting time for the Saints' game at Pittsburgh that day from noon to 3:15 p.m. as part of a national doubleheader on Fox."

NATIONAL DOUBLEHEADER? Are they implying that the Saints game is being nationally televised too? I live in Missouri right now. I won't be getting it. The Rams are playing at the same time. Some "national doublheader."

But look at the next week's "penciled in" game: The Redskins and the Bucs. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT????????????????? Look at their current records and their schedules the next three weeks. If everything goes as planned, NBC will be aring a matchup between two possible 2-7 teams in primetime.

That same weekend, the Saints are playing the Bengals. Yeah, NFL. The Saints are really getting a chance to "play their way into primetime." You'd rather show a bad Redskins team in primetime ONE MORE TIME than give the Saints a chance. I guess shots of Daniel Snyder and Tom Cruise in his box are more attractive ratings-wise than showing a Saints team that deserves it.

Then, turn to December. The NFL has "penciled in" a Dolphins game. The 1-6 Miami Dolphins. A Dolphins team that probably has to run the table from here on out to even be considered for the playoffs.

I turn now back to the statement in the T-P article:

"This is for the fans," Katz said. "All of our games are meaningful, but you don't want in Week 15 or 17 to have a 2-11 team in prime time. That doesn't help anybody. We want to give teams that weren't on our radar screen a chance to play their way into a meaningful game. We're trying to make sure that the most number of fans have an opportunity to watch games with the greatest implications.

The Saints are playing the Cowboys that weekend. We can't even get a sniff from the NFL when we play the freakin' Cowboys????????????????????

Now look, I'm grateful to the NFL for doing everything it could to keep the team here. It could have easily turned its back on us. It's giving us a chance to keep our team instead of just giving it away. But look, we DESERVE a primetime game or two. And not just when we reopen our stadium after an unprecedented MAN-MADE (that's for you, Seymour) disaster.

So come on, and put your money where your mouth is. Give us a chance to show the nation what we've got one more time.

25 October 2006

14 months later….A Homecoming

Barring any last minute surprises, the Pierce Family is finally returning to Mid City, exactly 14 months after we all packed into our vehicles to flee KTMB.

Seymour has been after me for months now to post our Katrina story. In short, our story is far worse than some, but far luckier than some others. After all, we didn’t lose a life – not a human one at least. Even the cats we lost were indirect KTMB mortalities, but I digress.

I can’t possibly relive the details of months of being evacuated right now, but I want to mention that we always considered ourselves evacuated. The use of the word ‘home’ in the beginning of these 14 months just meant the place that was flooded in Mid City. Several months in, around the time that our first child was born in December, ‘that place we were renting’ in Belle Chasse – a far cry from Mid City in more ways than one, became known as ‘home’ by default.

My mind has been scatter-brained at best through all of this, and it’s time to sort it all out – get it all down before I forget. I’m sure I’ll never get it all down the way it happened. I tried to journal in the early days after KTMB, but comforting my pregnant wife, securing short & long term temporary shelter, and battling for an equitable share of insurance took precedence over writing. Not to mention SBA and FEMA. Most of the bloggers on this site don’t seem to have been as personally affected as I was by the levee break. Regardless, the sympathy and understanding I’ve received from reading this blog since Seymour started it has helped keep me sane.

I suppose I’ll start from the beginning… (don’t worry, I still don’t have the time to make this too long, not here, not now)

My wife was choked up as we left in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, August 28th with our two Labrador retrievers, 2 cats, a small new model 4Dr sedan and 1996 SUV (that I was worried would overheat if we didn’t beat the traffic). You see, in 2004 when returning from our Hurricane Ivan evacuation, we still had our two Saturns and one of them overheated somewhere on I-12 before exiting for the Causeway. We had to pile my sister’s 2 cats, our two cats, and those two Labrador retrievers I just told you about into ONE of those Saturns. Oh yeah, and three adults as well.

But I wasn’t choked up like my wife was about leaving the house on 8/28/05, I was convinced we’d see home sweet home by that Tuesday afternoon at the latest. I chalked up her emotions to being 6 months pregnant, and focused on picking up my sister from Metairie before heading over the Huey P. Long Bridge, to Hwy 90, and on to our friend’s house in Lafayette.

Before arriving to my childhood home in West Metairie, KTMB was announced to be a Cat 5. Ohhhhh boy, this was getting worse. I still wasn’t scared, life had dealt us a lot of curve balls since 2002, this would surely pass. We had all kinds of Karma points waiting to be cashed in for an event like this, so surely we’d be spared, right? Oh yeah, I guess this is a good place to mention that we had just fought off an audit by the IRS days before KTMB. No taxes owed - no change to the filing.

We arrived in the darkness to pick up my sister from the house that she still lived in after our parents died respectively in 2002 and 2004. Being in my mid thirties, I was a bit young to be receiving my meager inheritance, but the house was set to go to act of sale on Tuesday, August 30th – if it were still there. My share of less than 1/3 of the proceeds would pay off our credit card debt and renovation debt that we had swallowed from living a little beyond our means for the last 4-5 years. Maybe there’d be a little left over to pay for shutters so I wouldn’t nearly kill myself boarding up the myriad of windows of that two story double we call home ‘next time.’

So it was daylight, and the traffic was thickening on Hwy 90 – in Lafourche Parish maybe? Of course, the 20lb cat crapped in his carrier not longer after arriving on the Westbank, in his regular evacuation ritual it seemed.

Anyway, the first time I was scared was when Father Maestri, the local spokesman for the Catholic Church in New Orleans, was on WWL 870AM praying for the city to be spared KTMB’s wrath. Whoa, this had never happened before, at least not during the 1992, 1998, or 2004 Hurricane scares for NoLa. It was the first tear I would shed thanks to KTMB.

I won’t get into the immediate shock and trauma of realizing that our house had flooded. That’s for another day… let me skip to a few weeks and months later..

My sister would be sent to the Northeast to stay with my brother and his family until her life in Metairie could return to normal. My wife, our cats, my sister’s cats, our dogs, and unborn child remained with me in Lafayette until RTMB ran us eastward. We’d unsettle in Baton Rouge for one more month – our stuff and livestock scattered across the NoLa area, before returning to the Westbank to live with my wife’s parents. The plan was to rent an apartment owned by my wife’s family, but it wouldn’t be ready until the week of Thanksgiving when we moved in, just in time to prepare the nest for our first born. It wasn’t that I wasn’t grateful for the people who had given us shelter, I just needed to be in ‘our place’ before the baby arrived. She was due to be born in the first week of December, so surely my wife should have been ‘nesting’ by now.

Everyone in our neighborhood was being ‘maxed out’ with their flood policies. A friend with a FEMA pass had snuck me and my flood insurance adjuster past FEMA checkpoints on the first day when there was no longer standing water on our street in Mid City (9/13 I think), but I think I was the last person in my neighborhood to get an insurance check (that would be ½ in January, and after much protesting and fighting the 2nd ½ in April). It also seemed that everyone else we knew were given 3 months with no house payments – even those not really affected. The initial shock and aftershock of realizing what we had lost and what it would take to rebuild our house would turn out to be just a blip on the radar screen of what would become our 14 month evacuation. But we were among the lucky ones, after a bit of a hiatus and working from BR, I returned to my regular job in the New Orleans area. And so could my wife – well sorta, but that’s another story. Anyway, we hadn’t even lost any of the lives of our cats yet, so we were not among the most unfortunate. But what was becoming more apparent every day, we were not among the people all around us who were making out like bandits with insurance claims. So the house was gutted using borrowed $$ from SBA, treated for mold, and we signed up with a GC that most of our tight knit block was going to use to rebuild. He was from BR, but said he’d be living on the block until all of our houses were rebuilt. We figured if he turned bad on us, the whole block would revolt against him. Like most of this, that chapter isn’t closed yet.

Our beautiful baby girl was born 5 days after her due date. My wife was a champion during labor and was instantly a great mother. The two nights we stayed in the hospital were like nights of luxury. It was really the first time since KTMB that we could slow down to appreciate our world – and the world in which we had just brought in a new little girl. The last 3 months of enjoying our D I N K status was stripped from under our feet. But our little girl was born in Orleans Parish - assisted by a doctor who had delivered the first baby after this particular hospital has reopened.

We returned to our West Bank rental, baby in tow. It wasn’t supposed to be this way – not there, not like this, but it was joyous nonetheless. My mother in law, had posted a “It’s a girl!” sign in the window – which would stay there much longer than it probably should have. Even the quiet guy next door congratulated me. I was a proud Dad.

My wife returned to work in March, and did so in my office. She works for a state office, and once some people in BR caught wind of her working away from ‘the mothership’ – it quickly had to come to an end until her NoLa office was rebuilt. So, until early August 2006, she had to commute to BR 4 days a week. Living in Belle Chasse meant the alarm clock sounded at 4:30AM every morning. The three of us wouldn’t see each other until about 8pm each night, before we could shower and get ready for the next day. When a friend pointed out the KTMB relevant lyrics of a Green Day song – “When September Ends” and how it eerily (but only coincidently) fit the KTMB aftermath, it became sort of a drive to work song that quickly cleansed the tear ducts for the first half of 2006. I loved this album already, but crying to a punk-pop song, damn, where’s the Anti-Depressants?

I keep saying these days that I am ready to reclaim at least 10 hours a week that I currently spend commuting back and forth to my job in the suburbs. For most of these 12 months that we’ve been back in the NoLA area, I’ve stopped by our house in Mid City to check on the rebuilding status at lunchtime – having a smoothie or junk food for lunch most of the time. It has become a ritual that I long to end. I miss the days where my coworkers and I asked each other the most important question of the day “What’s for lunch?” as we would arrive at work around 8am.

-----------------------------------------

To make a LONG story a little bit shorter for now, I can’t concentrate on anything but moving home. It was supposed to happen last Saturday (10/21/06), but the official end of our evacuation will be 10/28/06. Unless this cartoon character named “Fred the floor guy” decides he doesn’t want to show up today, this Sat. will finally be our Rebirth.

A return to normalcy – not quite of course. Our little area of Mid City is bustling with activity, but we may awaken Sunday morning after our first night’s sleep in our home (for the last 14 months – it was called ‘that place we’ve paying on that mortgage’) to the BEEP-BEEP-BEEP of the cleanup bobcats that are still picking up KTMB debris.

Either way, maybe I’ll spend a few minutes of those 10 hours a week I’ve been losing describing on this blog what it’s like to return to a portion of the City that was brought to it’s knees but still has a bright future. If I don’t write another entry here for awhile, I think you’ll understand – I have a lot of frozen chalices of beer to drink, spumoni ice cream to eat, and miles of jogging under the oaks of City Park to log.

Paul S. Pierce

20 October 2006

$827 Million Free-for-all

You can almost hear our lawmakers licking their chops as the State's $827 million budget surplus was announced today. Of course this money will not be spent where it is needed the most - in New Orleans - but will be used to boost politicians' standings with their constituents throughout Louisiana, including that of Gov. Blanco. Her quote in the Times-Picayune says it best: "This surplus is not a blank check. We will make sound choices that benefit our citizens not just in the recovery area, but throughout the state." Spread the money around for a bunch of local projects to get reelected, not where it is truly needed or where it will provide the most benefits in the future. That sounds just like the Louisiana of old.

This surplus is a short-term gain from the increased revenue from reconstruction and Federal money given to the State. However, due to the devestation to the New Orleans economy from Katrina, the long-term economic future of Louisiana is at best grim, and lacking any political leadership at the State level, potentially hopeless. The only spending of surplus dollars by the State should be to help resurrect the New Orleans economy through infrastructure rebuilding. This includes several priority areas that will insure the future economic growth of New Orleans (and thus, Louisiana) such as schools for elementary and secondary education, rebuilding of medical centers to create a premier suite of medical and bioscience teaching and research institutions, roads and mass transit both locally and regionally, and rebuilding of City Park with destination-level tennis and golf course facilities.

Of course, none of this will happen. The surplus will be used to buy votes through giving all homeowners a one-time payment to "reduce" their homeowner's insurance burden, giving a George Bush-style tax rebate check back to all taxpayers, and funding politicians' pet projects in places like Shreveport, Monroe and Baton Rouge. Count on it - business as usual.

This isn't Russia, Is this Russia?


An editorial in yesterday's TP........... http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/editorials/index.ssf?/base/news-3/1161324977179470.xml&coll=1

Chris Roberts of the JP council doesn't want anymore poor people in his district. Well, Mr. Roberts, aren't we free to live where we chose to live?

The members of the jefferson parish council should be embarrassed. As a resident of Jefferson, I am appalled by this the same way I was appalled by the actions of the Gretna Police in the days immediately following the Hurricane. The elected leadership of the parish have made it quite clear with these actions that they only want to continue widening the divide between Jefferson and Orleans.

A quote from the Jefferson Parish website........"Wrapped around New Orleans, a mystical city steeped in history, culture and night life is Jefferson Parish. A place rich with a heritage all its own. Nowhere in such close proximity will you find such cultural diversity, as you will in JP. "

http://www.jeffparish.net/index.cfm?DocID=1371

Cultural diversity huh? I guess that won't be for much longer if Chris Roberts and the JP Council get their way.

Remember this Mr. Roberts. The real measure of a society is how it treats its least fortunate citizens. Is this how you want to be remembered?

15 October 2006

Saints Grades at the Bye Week


QUARTERBACK:
Drew Brees is completing 2/3 of his passes. He has nearly twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. His QB rating is in the 90s. He is the leader of this team. The team respects and follows him, and it believes it can win with him at quarterback. His lack of a strong arm hasn't hurt the team's ability to make big plays. GRADE: A-

RUNNING BACK:
Not great, but pretty good. Deuce McAllister is on the way to another 1,000 yard season, but Reggie Bush is at or under 3 yards per carry. However, Bush is on a pace to catch around 100 passes, and Deuce has made a few big catches too. The fullbacks have been okay but injury-prone. But Brees isn't getting sacked, so somebody must be picking up the blitz when it comes. GRADE: B

WIDE RECEIVER:
The Saints are on a pace to have two receivers over or near 1,000 yards receiving. Marques Colston has been a wonderful replacement for Donte' Stallworth, and Joe Horn finally had a big game against the Eagles. Devery Henderson has made a few big catches and has scored on a reverse. Lance Moore and Jamal Jones haven't made much of a contribution, but they haven't been asked to. GRADE: B

TIGHT END:
This unit hasn't contributed very much. They've made a few big catches here and there. Ernie Conwell has a touchdown. But they're not a real receiving threat. However, it's hard to see unless you look for it, but I'll assume they're helping the running game. GRADE: C-

OFFENSIVE LINE:
This was supposed to be, along with the linebackers, the worst part of the team. But look at the numbers. The running game is averaging around 4 yards a carry. Drew Brees has been sacked 6 times. The offensive line is doing a VERY underrated job, especially since you have an entirely new offensive line (if you consider Jamaal Brown is playing a new position). GRADE: B

OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE: B+

DEFENSIVE LINE: The defensive line has accounted for 12 sacks. However, they have disappeared on occasion. The line has also given up some big rushing yards up the middle in recent games. However, they are playing much better than they were last year, and there is only one new guy (Hollis Thomas) making significant contributions. GRADE: B

LINEBACKERS:
Like the offensive line, this unit has exceeded all expectations. Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle lead the team in tackles, and have combined for 5 sacks and 2 interceptions. Mark Simoneau has done a good job too. The backups haven't been asked to make significant contributions. However, Danny Clark and Terence Melton have performed well when asked to perform or play on special teams. I am happy with their performance. GRADE: B+

SECONDARY:
Most people weren't excited about this unit this year. But they have done well. Roman Harper did well before his injury. The other safeties are also playing well and have made some big plays. The cornerbacks have done well. They have given up some big yards and catches when they face star receivers (Donald Driver, Steve Smith, Joey Galloway), but have done a good job against everyone else. The biggest negative on their side is the lack of interceptions and turnovers. In fact, there are no interceptions so far from the cornerbacks. GRADE: B-

OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE: B

KICKER:
John Carney is 13 of 14 on the year. You can't complain about that. His only miss came on a high snap, but it was in a game the team lost by 3. But he had 4 big ones against Cleveland, and he hit the game winner against Philadelphia. GRADE: A

PUNTER:
Steve Weatherford has done a good job as a rookie. He is averaging around 45 yards per punt, and his net average was near 40 going into this week. He is in the top half of punters in most categories, with the possible exception of punts downed inside the 20. GRADE: B

RETURNERS:
Reggie Bush is averaging 11 yards per punt return and has a game-winning touchdown. The kickoff returners all average around 20 yards per return, which is very average for the league. However, keep in mind that there have been no crucial mistakes and turnovers by these units. I do. GRADE: B (C if you remove Bush's punt return)

COVERAGE AND BLOCKING: The Saints were average on kickoff return coverage, if you look at NFL stats, going into the Eagles game. On punt returns, they are a little better, especially if you count the fumble recovery on the punt this week (that resulted in a touchdown). Also remember that the Saints have also blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. That really helped set the tone for the Falcons game. GRADE: A-

OVERALL SPECIAL TEAMS GRADE: A-

COACHING:
Read this post if you want to know what I think about Sean Payton. The thing I like about Sean Payton is that he NEVER puts the offense in a position where they have a chance of screwing up (with the exception of Brees's 2nd interception against the Eagles) . The team also plays hard for the whole game, and never quits. The defense also makes up for a perceived lack of talent at linebacker and defensive back by playing smart and minimizing stupid errors. They're rarely penalized, and they don't make any dumb mental errors. You can tell that they're coached well.

OVERALL COACHING GRADE: A

OVERALL SAINTS GRADE GOING INTO THE BYE WEEK: A-/B+

Fluke??????????? Saints 27 Eagles 24

John Carney kicks the game winner.
He's 13 of 14 on the season.


Now, what are they going to say? Besides "It was a letdown game for Eagles after beating the Cowboys."

Screw that. The Saints are 5 and freaking 1. And your team probably isn't.

And the Eagles should have won that game. They had the game won. The Saints were dead in the 4th quarter. And the Eagles blew it. The Saints took the game from them in the 4th quarter. Just like the Panthers did to the Saints 2 weeks ago. I said 2 weeks ago that the good teams know how to finish in the 4th quarter.

Since I said that, the Saints have overcome two straight 4th quarter deficits and won games that average teams would have lost. I don't know how to make it any clearer than that.

5-1 at the break. I don't care who you are. You didn't predict that. And if you did, you deserved to be called a "squirrel," as Buddy used to say.

Now comes the fun, and harder, part of the schedule. But now the team has a couple of extra wins to play with.

THE GOOD
  • The Saints got the ball with 8:26 left to go in the game, and the Eagles never got the ball back.
  • On that drive, they overcame a holding call against Jammal Brown. That's usually a back-breaker for average teams.
  • The Saints outscored the Eagles 10-0 after falling behind for the first time.
  • Drew Brees in the 4th quarter: 10 of 11 with a huge touchdown to Joe Horn. That's what you call clutch.
  • Joe Horn had his first big day with Brees. 6-110-2
  • Deuce had 12 carries for 64 yards in spite of missing time due to injury.
  • The defense played well and put pressure on Donovan McNabb and the Eagles the entire first half.
  • Scott Fujita had his 2nd interception of the season. He also had a big sack on McNabb.
  • Hollis Thomas had 6 tackles and a sack. He had his best game as a Saint, against his old team.
  • Omar Stoutmire knocked away what could have been a touchdown pass in the first quarter.
  • The Saints held the Eagles under 100 yards rushing (99 to be exact).
  • The special teams was directly or indirectly responsible for 13 points this week. The special teams has been incredible so far. I say they were the turning point in 4 of the 5 wins this season. Kudos to Gleason, Melton, Stecker, Bush, Copper, Houser, and everyone else responsible for their play.
  • John Carney got the game winner at the end of regulation. He's missed one field goal in the first 6 games this season.
THE BAD
  • The third quarter and the first play of the fourth quarter were bad. 2005 Saints bad. And everyone was responsible on both sides of the ball.
  • Reggie Brown had 7 touches for 136 yards and two touchdowns. His 60 yard touchdown was an embarrassment. 6 guys had a chance to tackle him, and he outran them all.
  • Drew Brees threw two interceptions.
  • The Saints have trouble running the football when Deuce isn't in the game.
  • Why is somebody always in Reggie Bush's face when he gets the handoff? Does the offensive line not block when they know he's getting the ball? It's just an observation.
  • There was probably more pressure on Drew Brees today than there has been since the first quarter of the Packers game. He did respond well to it, though. It should also be noted that there were no sacks in spite of the pressure.
  • The Saints weren't able to convert a key 3rd and 1 at the 2 minute warning in the first half. However, the Eagles had a turnover on the punt on the very next play. The Saints got a touchdown out of it.
THE UGLY
  • I thought that Drew Brees's 2nd interception was a really dumb play call. The dumbest of the year. The Saints were fading. The Eagles were fired up. It was 3rd and 15, and based on what I saw, the Saints weren't converting right there the way they were playing at the moment. But they call a pass in coverage, which is deflected and turns into an interception. The Saints were just fortunate that it wasn't the difference between a win and a loss. I would have been happy there with a run and a punt.
  • Whomever told Sean Payton to challenge L.J. Smith's reception should not be allowed to make those decisions anymore. Or if Payton didn't consult with the booth, he should have. Actually, I thought they should have challenged the spot of the ball on Reggie Bush's 2nd down run near the end of the game. Fortunately, it didn't make a difference.
  • Forget that Omar Stoutmire's penalty on a deflected pass was a lame-ass call. On the exact same play, they missed what appeared to me to be an obvious hold on Will Smith--who was about to sack Donovan McNabb.
  • How's that Donte' Stallworth trade treating you so far? Right now it's a toss-up on whether Stallworth will have more catches or Mark Simoneau will have more tackles. Oh yeah, and thanks for the 3rd or 4th round pick too.
Now, off to the bye week.

10 October 2006

Eradicating New Orleans

Editor B's latest post really pisses me off. How in the world was this demolition allowed???? And more importantly what is going to go in its place? A weed-filled lot?

The City of New Orleans' future is tied to the preservation of what makes us different--and a leading part of that is our historic architecture. We lose that and this place truly is finished as it is one of the only things New Orleans really has in its favor over other cities. I don't care how much interior damage properties such as these have caused from the flood, caused from the terimites, or caused from years of neglect by absent white-flight leave New Orleans to die landlords--properties such as this one must be salvaged and renovated to preserve the urban fabric and keep New Orleans New Orleans.

Lakeview and Gentilly and New Orleans East are different situations than the pre-war developed portions of the city as post-war properties are architecturally expendable (no offense). A single Victorian shotgun is not expendable. Sorry. Please make this stop. Please. If this city only had a leader . . .


Check out Squandered Heritage to see a site dedicated to documenting the ongoing atrocities.


WTF is this thing?????????? There's bad--and then there's BBBBBBBBBBBAAAD. The Home Depot deluxe door is a fantastic touch. Do not issue this contractor (not going to even stoop to calling this person an architect) a building permit EVER.


TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Historic Preservation, Nagin, Demolition

08 October 2006

Separated at Birth?


I know I'm not the first to notice the similarities between New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton and Malcolm (Frankie Muniz), which is all the more surprising considering that Payton is twice his age.


TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton, Frankie Muniz

4 Reasons Why the Saints are 4-1

Yes, it's a little early to go overboard. But the Saints have already surpassed their win total from last year. There has to be more than one reason for this. It's easy to point to individual players on the field who have done well. The players themselves have a lot to do with this. But they had to get to where they are somehow. So, looking beyond the surface, who has the most to do with the resurgence of New Orleans Saints football? These four men come to mind:

MICKEY LOOMIS: This man has caught a ton of grief. He was put in a difficult situation, having to replace the popular Randy Mueller. And a lot of his moves during the Jim Haslett era could be classified as downright horrible. I don't know--Jonathan Sullivan comes to mind. Of course, there are many more (Courtney Watson, Orlando Ruff, Dwight Smith also come to mind). But look at what he has done since the end of last season. He got Drew Brees here. He got rid of Aaron Brooks. He got three good linebackers on the cheap. The draft yielded (through pick, trade, or undrafted free agent) Reggie Bush, Roman Harper, Jeff Faine, Hollis Thomas, Jahri Evans, Marques Colston, and Steve Weatherford). He resisted the urge to trade away a shot at Reggie Bush for a bunch of draft picks. Even the LeCharles Bentley departure didn't come back to haunt the team, like many of us thought would happen.

SEAN PAYTON: The difference between him and Jim Haslett is night and day. This team plays hard. This team plays smart. Haslett had his favorites (Aaron Brooks and Rick Venturi come to mind), and he spent more time griping about the refs than he did making a game plan. Payton expects results, and it doesn't matter who you are. If you're a first-round supertalent like Donte' Stallworth, and you don't want to be here, fine. Get the hell out. We'll put a seventh-round rookie in your place, and he'll outperform you and won't complain about his hamstring every five minutes. It's the same everywhere else. The two youngest and least experienced safeties start. A Division II rookie starts at guard over several veterans. He likes smarts and attitude over pure talent. All of the head cases are gone, and you can tell by the way they play ever week (so far).

CHARLEY CASSERLY: This guy will be forever linked to the Reggie Bush/New Orleans Saints fortunes. I don't have to rehash the story one more time. But here's the gist of it. He had the first pick in the draft, and he passed on Reggie Bush. There were reportedly two reasons: he would be hard to sign, and they already had a good running back in Domanick Davis (who was placed on Injured Reserve before the season began). So they went for Mario Williams. So far, so good for the Saints. Williams has had one good and three bad performances so far this year for the Texans. Bush is averaging over 6 receptions a game, and he is responsible for this week's victory over the Buccaneers. Sure, he hasn't figured out how to be an NFL running back yet. But we haven't needed him there yet, and just his presence on the field makes other teams change their defensive schemes.

NICK SABAN: Don't forget what The Grinch Who Stole LSU's Christmas did in this resurgence. He's the reason why Drew Brees signed with the Saints. Don't forget the whole free agent quarterback derby this off-season. It came down to Miami and New Orleans for Drew Brees. He came to New Orleans first, had a good visit, but left for Miami without a signed contract. Everybody figured it was over. Miami was considered a quarterback away from being a Super Bowl contender. Most people thought that, because of that, they could have him if they wanted him. But Saban (and presumably his G.M. Randy Mueller--how ironic is that) didn't want him. One day after his visit, the team traded for Daunte Culpepper. If the Dolphins take Brees, the Saints would have gone for a cheaper free agent quarterback (Josh McCown?), and drafted Vince Young or Matt Leinart instead of Reggie Bush. Fast forward to October. The Saints are 4-1 and Drew Brees is the unquestioned leader of this team. The Dolphins are 1-4, and Daunte is on the bench after being sack-prone and generally ineffective. I'd like to think that it's karma coming back to catch up with Saban. This is payback for being a coward and leaving LSU on Christmas Day--and not doing it before getting on the airplane bound for Florida. For the record, I still like Saban and appreciate what he did for LSU. But it's nice seeing him being served a helping of humble pie.

So, there we are. There's still a ways to go for this team. It's not a Super Bowl contender yet. But considering where the team was last year at this time (52-3, anyone?), it's very nice. This team is young, smart, and has a future if everything goes well. But if the Saints do make it to the post-season this year (my guess is that is almost a 50-50 proposition right now), just remember who to address your Christmas cards to.


WEEK 5 RECAP: THANKS HOUSTON! Saints 24 Buccaneers 21.


TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton, Charley Casserly, Nick Saban, Mickey Loomis

THANKS HOUSTON! Saints 24 Buccaneers 21

Reggie Bush saves the day for the first time as a Saint
with a 4th quarter punt return for a touchdown.

The sign of a winnner.

You're facing the defending division champ, and they need the win more than you. If they don't win, they're screwed. So what if they're starting a rookie quarterback? They've always won with mediocre quarterbacks. They play a good game. You are in control, but they fight back. They outplay you in the last 20-plus minutes of the game and take control and the lead.

And yet, you find a way to win a game you probably shouldn't have won.

To put it in other terms: how many times have we been on the other side of that game?

THE GOOD
  • In case you missed it, Reggie Bush returned a punt for a game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Big props to what looked like Aaron Stecker for blowing up a Bucs defender on the sideline.
  • Bush also caught 11 passes for 63 yards.
  • Deuce had 2 big runs. Overall he was 15-123-1.
  • Drew Brees still hadn't made any big mistakes since the first quarter of the Packers game. And he's completing like 70 percent of his passes since then.
  • Ernie Conwell gets his first touchdown of the season.
  • Zero turnovers for the offense.
  • The defense forced its first turnover since Green Bay, and it led to 7 very important points.
  • Rodney Leisle recovered the fumble, and made his first serious contributions as a Saint.
  • Same for Danny Clark, minus the fumble recovery.
  • The starting linebackers combined for 14 tackles.
  • The Saints stopped Mike Alstott on a key 3rd and 1 on the first play of the second quarter. Big tackle by Scott Fujita
  • The defense didn't give up a late game-winning touchdown.
THE BAD
  • For the second week in a row, the defensive line got no pressure on the quarterback.
  • The Saints were facing a rookie quarterback and makeshift offensive line, and gave up 406 yards of offense.
  • The secondary let Joey Galloway get free too often.
  • The Saints gave up too much yardage on the ground right up the middle. They gave up a 100-yard rushing game (Cadillac Williams) for the second week in a row.
  • Too many tackles in the secondary. The safeties combined for 17.
  • Joe Horn dropped a couple of passes and had a pass interference penalty called on him.
  • Ernie Conwell dropped what could have been a second touchdown pass, and the Saints settled for a field goal.
  • The first three drives of the game were two three-and-outs for the Saints and a Bucs touchdown.
  • The Saints blew a 10-point lead with 20 minutes left in the game.
  • Reggie Bush was held to under 3 yards a carry again, although it was due to a 4-yard loss on his final carry (which was an outstanding defensive play).
THE UGLY
  • That offsetting pass interference call was a horsesh*t cop-out call.
  • And then they have the balls to call a picky offensive pass interference penalty on Joe Horn a few minutes later?
  • The Bucs had a big pass to Ike Hilliard late in the game called back for offensive pass interference. This one actually looked like it happened. See a theme here?
  • If Reggie Bush doesn't bail the team out, the Saints lose for the second week in a row when they had a lead in the 4th quarter. Is the team starting to run out of gas in the 4th quarter? Let's hope that this is a temporary trend.

Next week, the Eagles come to town. Let's hope for a post-T.O. hangover and more hamstring problems for Donte' Stallworth. 5-1 at the break would be nothing short of a miracle.

WEEK 4 RECAP: Panthers 21 Saints 18.

TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush

06 October 2006

Perception is Everything











C. Ray backs Dollar Bill. All I can do is sigh and shake my head.

http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-6/116011473578540.xml&coll=1


Perception is Everything. It doesn't matter what is or isn't true. All that matters is what people think. People think we have the most corrupt government in the nation down here. It doesn't matter if it's true or not and this doesn't help.

"I've told the congressman that since he supported me during the mayor's race, that I would reciprocate," Nagin said.

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

Business as usual down there in Louisiana.

04 October 2006

Why is the Louisiana Restaurant Association Sponsoring a Dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Washington, DC?

"Thank you, sir. May I have another . . ."


Tim points out the Times-Picayune snippet on Vitty Cent refusing to eat at a Louisiana Restaurant Association sponsored dinner at Ruth's Chris Sellout in Washington, DC. And like Tim I applaud Vitter (although I generally don't care for him nor his politics) for refusing to eat the food (although he should refused to even show up) because of Craig "that's not my job" Miller's heartless abandonment of New Orleans despite any desires to the contrary late-founder Ruth Fertel may have briefly mentioned a million times.

My big question is:

WHY IN THE F IS THE LOUISIANA RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION--a non-profit association composed of foodservice operators and suppliers of the industry who realize the importance of working together for the good of the industry--HAVING A DINNER AT A RESTAURANT OF A COMPANY THAT COMPLETELY SOLD NEW ORLEANS AND LOUISIANA OUT?

Seems to me a Ruth's Chris Sellout should be the last place an event hosted by an entity concerned with the welfare and future of the New Orleans and Louisiana restaurant industries should be held. I mean come on. Is this a case of "thank you sir, may I have another" or what????? They callously screw us and then this organization supposedly focused on the interests of our state hosts an event with them??? I find that insulting.

Seems as if the Louisiana Restaurant Association has some explaining to do. Ask them via email. Or better yet, after polishing off the Oki Nago buffet walk on over to the next building which is the LRA HQ and demand an explanation from them personally.


And remember BOYCOTT RUTH'S CHRIS SELLOUT and COWARD* CRAIG S. MILLER.

*The word "coward" is the ideal description of Mr. Miller:
a person who lacks the courage to face danger, pain, or difficulty; a person easily discouraged or intimidated by fear.




TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Craig S. Miller, Louisiana Restaurant Association

03 October 2006

Photo du Jour: Audubon Park

The Fair Family has been spending lots of time at Audubon Park lately. The weather has been cooler and especially on the weekends the park has lots of people walking, running, rollerblading, biking, etc. The above shot is the oak allee in the southwest corner of the park. Although a good amount of trees came down in the park in the winds of 29 August 2005, overall I'd say Audubon faired well considering. You see about 15-20 downed large trees traversing the entire loop. I had concern for the above portion of the park and although one tree has been noticeably cut down, most of the trees here made it--although substantially thinned out from the high winds. On Sunday, we got a snowball from the trailer parked along St. Charles Avenue. I've been saying for years someone should do such a thing--either there on in the back parking area off of Magazine. The couple running the operation has encountered some resistance to parking here (they have all required permits, etc.) and they told me they go out of their way to make sure the area around the trailer isn't littered--as the potential for littering seems to be the reason for the resistance. They seemed sincere and I believe they should be allowed to operate alongside the park. Without doubt, the resource that is Audubon Park is one of the absolute assets of living in Uptown New Orleans.


TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Audubon Park, Uptown, St. Charles Avenue

01 October 2006

Panthers 21 Saints 18

DeShaun Foster broke a bunch of Saints' tackles on a key 3rd down
touchdown run at the two-minute warning

Screw moral victories. Moral victories suck. But it was one. The Saints made a bigger statement today, in my opinion, than they did last week. Because nobody can accuse the NFL of rigging this game (and for the record, the game wasn't rigged last week). This game was on the road. It was a "must win" game for a supposedly-superior team, a serious Super Bowl contender. And the Saints outplayed them for about 50 minutes. The Panthers outplayed them when it counted, but the Saints did not back down.
This game proves to me that we're not there yet. But we're not that far away. For the first time so far, I seriously believe that the Saints are just about a playoff team.

THE GOOD
  • The Saints did not give up, as Marques Colston's touchdown proves.
  • The defense had an outstanding game in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
  • Drew Brees had one of the best performances by a Saints QB I have in a while.
  • Colston: 5-132-1
  • Conwell and Campbell caught 6 passes combined. It's good to see the TEs back in the passing game.
  • I haven't complimented him here yet, but Steve Weatherford looks like he'll work out.
  • The decision to hurry up and run the touchdown play before Carolina's defense was set.
  • Mark Simoneau probably had his best game as a Saint.

THE BAD

  • The Saints left at least 6 sure points on the field. You do the math.
  • Reggie Bush's fumble.
  • I'll be the first to say it. Reggie Bush is underachieving as a runner, not as a receiver. Forget the "Big One;" it's time for a run or two over 15-20 yards. Yes, it's not entirely his fault.
  • And if Bush isn't breaking it yet, then let's get Deuce more than 11 carries, please.
  • The Panthers' offensive line did a good job on the Saints' defensive line.
  • The Saints could not stop Steve Smith (not really a surprise), especially in the 4th quarter. Fred Thomas had 12 tackles. That means guys were catching passes in front of him.
  • Omar Stoutmire got picked and was beat on the Drew Carter touchdown.
  • DeAngelo Williams had a couple of nice runs.
  • (LATE ADDITION) I forgot to mention that the defense is having trouble forcing turnovers, at least since the Packers game.
  • (LATE ADDITION) I also forgot to mention what looked like a high snap on the missed field goal at the end of the first half.

THE UGLY

  • DeShaun Foster's touchdown run. God, what a time to forget how to tackle.
  • I don't like the play call on 3rd down late in the 4th quarter. Even if Conwell would have caught the pass, it wouldn't have been enough for the first down.
  • I didn't like the challenge on DeShaun Foster's non-fumble a couple of plays later. We needed that time out. I think you should only challenge on sure things that late in the game. That was purely a judgment call that I figured they wouldn't overturn.
  • The Saints only non hurry-up touchdown drive wouldn't have happened if not for a ticky-tack illegal contact penalty on 3rd down, and a stupid pass interference call on 4th down.


TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush