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Monday, 03 December 2012 18:27

Next year for New Orleans Saints, Brees, Payton and Cats

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jim-millerI always enjoy getting away from the realities of sports to watch my daughter compete in horse shows.



She's a whisper of a little thing, but tough as nails when she sits atop her 1,500-pound jumper, Cinnamon. I only wish the rest of our fan base had the same kind of outlet, because it was a rough week for the good guys. Despite the hopeful, never-give-up talk, the Saints are done for this season. Sitting at 5-7, they would be a long shot to get into the playoffs, even if they swept their final four games, which is as unlikely as Kentucky making it to the Final Four this season. But let's look at each one separately.

     The Saints' unanticipated problem, from this perspective, has not been their defensive woes or the Bountygate disruption or the perceived uncertainty about Sean Payton's status. No, the real problem is that Drew Brees has not been very good at times. Now, I don't mean to turn this into a pile-on session because Brees still is in the handful of guys I want taking snaps for my team. But when he inexplicably throws into coverage time and time again, and the results become pick-sixes or simply stopped scoring opportunities, then you have to be concerned. Brees has committed some rookie errors this year that I have not seen him make before.  

     Brees has brought on this sudden skepticism himself, because we have grown spoiled under his nearly perfect performances over the past few years. Our expectation level is so high that when he drops down on the genetic scale to that of mortal man, we fans can't handle it. As my old mentor, Jim Finks, might say in this situation, we should all simply take a Sal Hepatica and loosen up!

     The core is there for a return to prominence, if not dominance, next year. The defense will be one more year into Steve Spagnuolo's system, and hopefully the team will not fall off their impending salary cap cliff for another year or so. Above all, the team will be back in Sean Payton's magical hands. I still contend that since the League rejected his new contract, Payton's old contract is still in place. That contract contained a final 2012 season, but his suspension would cause that control to "toll" or be pushed forward to 2013. Trust me, he will be here in 2013!

     Kentucky's hoops problems are a bit easier to figure out. It is not simply that the young guns of 2011-12 were so much better than this year's version. The oft-ignored luxury that the Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist group had that the Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin group doesn't is veteran leadership. Not one starter this year had started a game before this season, while last year's team returned such wily vets as Darius Miller, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, all of whom contributed mightily to the Wildcats' eighth national championship.

     AD and MKG had veteran leadership to help settle them down in tough games and to provide the experience to handle hostile crowds and the sudden speed of the college-level game. This group does not have such a luxury and will continue to struggle. Cat fans just hope they do not go in the tank before their own experience starts to kick in. 

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




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