Tuesday, 17 January 2012 16:32

New Orleans Saints Loses Super Bowl Hopes, Coaches, Dynasty Dreams?

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giants3The Saints came within one play of hosting the Giants this weekend in the NFC championship game.

 If they had intercepted Alex Smith's 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis, they probably would be favored in the Super Bowl.  They were a better regular-season team than the Giants, who will play the 49ers in the NFC championship game, and beat the Giants 49-24 in late November. And the Saints remaining games would have been indoors, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the championship game and the Lucas Oil Stadium (IndyDome) for the Super Bowl.

The Saints were unbeaten at home this season and only suffered through one bad game this season, that loss to the Rams.

The way the Saints were peaking late in their regular season, the Who Nat Nation was expecting a second Super Bowl and there was even talk of a Saints dynasty. Drew Brees is only 32.

The Saints' five turnovers had a lot to do with the loss to the 49ers. That hurt their kicking game. They Saints turned the ball over twice on special teams and that is a killer when we talk about field position. And we have to look at Brees' two interceptions when he forced passes into coverage.

True, Brees put up good numbers (40-62-462-2 TDs), but the Saints' ball security was sloppy and that cost them a postseason victory.

With a 24-23 lead, the Saints allowed the quarterback to run 28-yards untouched for a touchdown with 2:11 remaining.  Twenty-eight yards on a quarterback run? Quarterbacks like Smith don't run for 28-yard touchdowns. During the regular season, quarterbacks attempted a designed running play on third down and seven or more only 2.4 per cent of the time and only one of those carries resulted in a quarterback scoring a touchdown (Miami's Chad Henne against New England in Week 1).

And Davis, a tight end with 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash, produced (7-180-2 TDs) used speed, length and size to beat the Saints safeties. The Saints couldn't cover Davis. That was especially true when the 49ers sent Davis downfield.  On throws of 11 yards or more, Smith connected with Davis on all five attempts for 167 yards and two touchdowns. In the past four seasons, Davis never had five catches of 11 yards or more in a single game and had only one multi-touchdown game.

With a 13-3 regular-season record, only one playoff win and a failure to play at least in the NFC championship game is not what the Who Dat Nation had in mind. The Saints were a very real threat to challenge the Packers for the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, not now and they find themselves out of contention and looking ahead to next season.

 SOME HITHER, others yon: The Saints have given the Raiders permission to interview offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael for their head-coaching job...Sign at the San Francisco airport:   **I Got 49 Problems ** But  A Saint Ain't One ** Go Niners *...

The Feb. 5 Super Bowl lost a lot of air the past weekend with the unexpected elimination of Drew Brees' Saints and Aaron Rodgers' Packers. The ideal SB matchup would was either team against Tom Brady's Patriots...

Gregg Williams, Saints defensive coordinator for three years, has agreed to join Jeff Fisher's Rams staff in the same role.

Fisher and Williams worked together for seven seasons, from 1994-2000, with the Houston franchise, the last six of which Fisher was head coach.

Williams, 53, is a native of Excelsior Springs, Mo. Last Thursday he referred to Fisher as his best friend in coaching, and with his contract up in New Orleans, and the Saints out of the playoffs, Williams agreed to hook up with his best friend again.

The timing worked out well because the Saints may have been ready for a change.

Williams' defense played great for 14 possessions on Saturday against the 49ers, but fell apart late against San Francisco.

His defenses got worse during his tenure with the Saints.

The Saints have struggled to create turnovers and get pressure on the passer the last two years.

The Saints reportedly are interested in former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo and former Dolphins defensive coordinator and 49ers head coach Mike Nolan.

A change seems best for the Saints.

Drew Brees passed for 462 yards  and four touchdowns, but the 49ers' Alex Smith had the better game. Based on the Total Quarterback Rating for both players, Smith finished with a 78.1 Total Quarterback Rating, while Brees was at 62.0, which is only slightly above an average score of 50. Brees' score was dragged down by the fact he threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.  It also didn't help that he completed only three of nine passes that traveled 15 or more yards. Smith's score was pulled up by a 99.7 mark in the fourth quarter that led to two touchdown drives...Parting thought: "You better watch out, you better not cry, Tim Tebow is coming to town."....

Archie Manning said his son Colts quarterback Peyton wants to stay in Indianapolis;is. "Peyton kind of likes his roots in Indy, Archie told the New York Post. "We'll see what happens there, If that doesn't work and he can get healthy we'll see. That'll all work  out. He's just trying to get healthy.  That's oversimplification of a lot of variables yet to play out. Will the Colts use the first pick on Andrew Luck or trade it?

ESPN has just reported that LSU recruit Gunner Kiel would be signing with the Notre Dame Irish and not with the Tigers. Kiel has been rated the No. 1 pro type quarterback in the Class of 2012.  The Westbank Quarterback Club will meet on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Four Columns in Harvey. Main speaker will be The Times-Picayune columnist Peter Finney. For more info, call Al Ott at (504) 393-0619...

Alabamans are still celebrating their 21-0 rout of LSU and coach Nick Saban was said to have briefly smiled as the game ended although that cannot be confirmed...

College football commissioners are discussing a proposal that would change the BCS to a four-team playoff. Everybody seems to love the idea except the team ranked fifth every year..."You better watch out, you better not cry, Tim Tebow is coming to town."...Parting thought: "Vegas says I have a 1% chance to win today."...

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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