Bounty paused as Brees, New Orleans Saints ax Cards, oops, there’s Vilma and suspensions

vilmaMost of us have gone through enough diets over the years to know what it means to finally earn that first trip to DQ after meeting the goal. Weeks or months of abstinence, temptation and torment are the torture you endure so that you finally can order that Reese's Cup Blizzard in celebration. And that is exactly what Saints fans were able to do Sunday night.

     After months of pain and suffering as their beloved team was being roasted over a self-induced bonfire, fans finally were able to enjoy some football. The results did not matter as much as the fact that once the players took the field at the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame game all thoughts of NFL fines, suspensions and ongoing litigation finally could be tossed into the rumble seat. Oh, the bad things are not totally over. Jonathan Vilma's law suit is still out there amid reports today that the NFL has offered to cut his suspension to eight games if he drops the suit. 




     Keep in mind that there is nothing more misleading in professional sports than the results of an early NFL preseason game. But Who Dat Nation can revel in some of the snippets from Sunday night that should portend well over a long season. Drew Brees did exactly what he is paid a king's ransom to do, utilizing his enormous cache of weapons to take the team methodically down the field and render the Arizona Cardinals, well, defenseless. Interim head coach Joe Vitt was scowling on the sidelines in his best Clint Eastwood impersonation that gave comfort to those who fear the team will be leaderless this season. Of course, it will be without Vitt for the first six games, but as long as Brees is in the house, the offense will be productive, and new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will refine some of what his charges displayed Sunday night.

     It was refreshing to see defensive linemen actively chase the quarterback, instead of merely trying to do whatever they were asked to do by Gregg Williams. An active defensive line is disruptive to an offense while zone coverages allow defensive backs such as Malcolm Jenkins to see the play developing. That should mean more interceptions, which brings us to the fact that Jenkins' pick in the first quarter already gives him more than he had in all of 2011. The running backs also gave early reason for optimism. Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles accounted for 33 and 19 total yards, respectively, during the opening drive, and were on the bench when Mark Ingram hit paydirt with a one-yard touchdown on his third straight carry.

     So the Saints are back on the field where they belong, and all is right with the world for now. How long this can last is anybody's guess, and we haven't even mentioned Tom Benson's most interesting weekend move, coaxing play-by-play man Jim Henderson out of retirement to do commentary on Benson's Fox 8 station. Henderson's former employers at WWL are none too happy about it, but nobody should be surprised. This season already promises to be unique in franchise annals, so one more unexpected move - and a pleasant one at that - should not surprise anybody.


His new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com 



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