There are so many to mention, and each of us I’m sure has our own list. In no particular order, here is what I think are the top stories of 2012 from a sports standpoint.:
2012 London Olympics: United States, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Gabby Douglas all set records and dominated at the 2012 Summer Olympics
Pedophile at Penn State – In the sickest of stories, legendary coach Joe Paterno will forever be remember for being linked to the worst scandal in sports history. Former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing ten boys. Paterno passed away in January with Sandusky being sent to jail in the spring.
Live Strong no more! – Lance Armstrong went down in a hurry once he announced he would no longer fight to keep his name clean. The Tour de France King gave up his fight in keeping his name clean from doping while he was competing. Seemingly most people assumed that Armstrong is guilty by not continuing his fight, as he has lost all of his major endorsements and was stripped of his titles since he gave up his battle.
Pac got whacked! Going into 2012 he was considered the best boxer on the planet, as the world waited to see if 2012 would be the year that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather finally settled things in the ring. That dream will never come true for boxing fans now as the Pac-Man got robbed in his fight against Timmothy Bradley and in another fight Manny got knocked the %#$@ out in the other, as Juan Manuel Marquez perhaps ended a great career!
Roll Tide Roll! Even the Bear himself would be quite impressed with the Alabama Crimson Tide Football program. Alabama has a chance to claim the school’s 15th national title, and third in four years, with a win over Notre Dame. Put it this way Alabama has been so good lately others are crying foul about scheduling and things not being on a leveled playing field. Man, y’all please shut up! You’re sounding like a hater or sore loser at the very least. This program is a machine, much like the 1980’’s-90’s Miami Hurricanes were. With a 2013 schedule that features LSU at home and SEC Games from Eastern Division foes such as the powerful Wildcats of Kentucky and the Vols of Rocky Hill, the Tide will roll to their fourth title in five seasons one year from now.
Bounty, the quicker picker upper! Once known for scooping up spilled coke or milk, now the rest of the sports world will think of the New Orleans Saints when they hear the word “bounty,” an NFL made-up term for the so-called program that existed in the New Orleans Saints Organization from 2009-2011. The biggest fine/suspension ever of a head coach was handed down, and the Saints’ 2012 season was doomed from the get-go. To this day the league that has more power than any court in the land has yet to let anyone see what really happened. Oh well, there is nothing like being the king and making up the rules as you go along. Roger that!
That’s a fresh-man – For the first time ever a freshman player won the Heisman Trophy, as Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel took home the prize. Manziel was tops in a rather weak class and sealed his historic win by carving up the Tide on national TV.
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, a day when folks stay up late, get out early and shop until they drop in search of the best deals for the holiday season. And then there is Black Monday which refers to the day after the NFL Regular season ends…and for some, job tenures come to an end as well.
The New Orleans Saints franchise is most certainly not a team in the Black Monday category. But there were questions about the future of Coach Sean Payton. However, all of that speculation came to a halt late Friday evening when it was announced that Coach Payton had agreed to a new five year extension with the Black and Gold which could make him the highest paid coach in the NFL.
Usually a handful of coaches are shown the door with vacancies needing to be filled, and this year there could be a record number of jobs that need to be filled once the 2012 NFL regular season concludes. So let’s take a stab at how many jobs that could become available.
First, let’s start in the American Football Conference. We will begin in the AFC East where two jobs could become available. It looks like there will be a chance in upstate New York as the Buffalo Bills will once again have another losing season.
The Bills and Coach Chan Gailey have underachieved in a division that is rather weak outside of the powerful New England Patriots. With a roster that is stocked with some pretty good offensive players and a defense that got a boost from DE Mario Williams, a new coach will have some good pieces in place.
If the NY Jets part ways with Rex Ryan, it will largely be due to the way Ryan has not been able to get a decent offense in place after having a very good defense in each season he has been coach of the Jets. The signing of Tim Tebow this off-season and the play of veteran QB Mark Sanchez has been horrible, to say the least.
The Jets job may be the most difficult to take over, as this team is clearly a defensive-built club…and if a new coach comes in without a strong defensive presence or at the very least a quality defensive coordinator, it could be trouble. To me, the Jets are better off keeping Ryan in place.
Browns Coach Pat Shurmur is more than likely on his way out in Cleveland and he has really done a pretty good job. The Browns are going to have a lot of new leadership with a new owner in place, a new GM and a new head coach. This is a good job in my opinion. Cleveland is equipped on both sides of the ball, they have playmakers on special teams, and the Browns are the youngest team in the NFL. Plus the Browns have one of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases in all of sports.
In the AFC South, just one coach looks to be in trouble right now and that is Tennessee Titans Coach Mike Munchak. Although Munchak is only in his second season, the Titans are not a very good team and team owner Bud Adams does not seemed to be pleased with the progress of his team. The Titans finished second in the AFC South last season but are now clearly far behind the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts.
Out in the AFC West, two coaches will be looking for employment after Black Monday. Without a doubt the Norv Turner era will come to an end in San Diego. The Chargers are a bad team and the change at coach may not be the only void that needs to be filled as GM L.J. Smith could very well be on his way out also.
In Kansas City, Chiefs Coach Romeo Crennel will more than likely be replaced…and as in San Diego, the Chiefs could be seeking to get a new General Manager, as current GM Scott Pioli has not lived up to his expectations. Crennel is respected within the KC Organization and he has handled the late season tragedy as well as anyone could have expected but at 2-12 with two games left, Kansas City needs to move on and get a new leader. After five players from your team make the Pro Bowl and all you do is win two games, that tells me something is wrong with the coaching.
Now as we move over into the National Football Conference, we begin with the longest tenured coach in the NFL is on his way out. Andy Reid, who once led the Philadelphia Eagles to four straight NFC Title Games (five total) and one Super Bowl is on his way out in the City of Brotherly Love. However, some think that if Reid makes some major adjustments to his current staff he may be able to keep his job with the Eagles.
Reid has been in charge of the Eagles since 1999 and his 14-year stint will come to an end this season. Reid had some of the most successful seasons in NFL history, but was unable to lead the Eagles to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Reid will not be out of work for long, as he will most certainly be hired to fill one of the other vacancies if he decides to coach this season. Reid may take a season off and then come back to coaching in a year or two. The death of his son, as well as dealing with the day to day operations of the NFL as a head coach and Executive VP of football operations, had to take somewhat of a toll on Reid. But hey let’s face it…if any team, high school, college or pro got a 14 year run out of every coach they hired, they would be pretty good to say the least.
Way out west, Arizona Coach Ken Whisenhunt is on his way out as well. Whisenhunt was once the toast of the town as he became the first head coach to ever lead the Cardinals to the NFC title and the Super Bowl when Arizona accomplished those feats back in 2008.
But now the Cardinals are a franchise in disarray. So as the final weekend of the NFL season wraps up, the most dreaded day in the NFL could produce record numbers when it comes to coaches being let go from their current positions.
When I look at the 2012 Chick-Fil-a Bowl, I see teams with two different mindsets. The LSU Tigers are better than a used-to-be-Peach Bowl bid, and Clemson may not be as good as their record indicates.
LSU could have been playing in a New Year’s Day Bowl, but instead the Tigers are back in Atlanta for a Bowl game for the first time since the whipped Georgia Tech in 2008 in the very same location.
The Clemson Tigers are looking to win 11 games for the first time since 1981 when Coach Danny Ford’s Tigers won the National Title. Clemson has also won ten games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in over 20 years.
LSU is once again a double digit win team, which has become almost a constant under Coach Les Miles. In fact the only two seasons that Miles has not guided LSU to 10 or more wins was in 2008 and 2009. Tigers Fans were hoping to go to a better bowl, as the LSU Fan base will gladly tell you they’d rather be in Atlanta in the first weekend of December playing football instead of the last.
In a battle of Tigers, one set of Tigers is battle-tested, and the other has yet to pass a legitimate test. Clemson comes into this game with a high-powered offense while LSU has put up some impressive offensive numbers as well.
The Bayou Bengals’ offense has averaged nearly 30 points and 400 yards in its final four games of the season, and those numbers are plenty enough to make an already suspect Clemson defense more than worried.
Clemson will have to get LSU out of rhythm in order to hang around in this game. What I’m saying is that Clemson is a team that needs a fast-paced offensive style to dictate the flow of the game, whereas LSU is a defensive first team that uses a strong running game to help keep their defense off the field of play.
The Clemson offense will need big play from their stars if they are to knock off the physical Tigers of LSU. The reigning ACC player of the year Tajh Boyd is one of the premier players in the nation. Boyd threw for 3,550 yards with 34 touchdowns and only 13 picks this season. Boyd also rushed for 492 yards and nine scores this season.
But Boyd is not alone…he has a lot of solid weapons around him including RB Andre Ellington. Ellington rushed for 1,031 yards this season with an average of 5.1 yards per carry. And if you want to see good wide receivers, the Tigers certainly have two of the best.
Junior WR DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins are arguably the best WR tandem in the nation. Hopkins was a third team All-American this season. Hopkins hauled in 69 receptions for 1,214 yards and 16 TD’s. Sammy Watkins was solid this season as well with 57 grabs 708 yards and three scores despite not playing in three games this season.
Clemson was 13th in the nation this season in passing yards per game with an average of 319.6 and the Tigers rushed for an impressive 199 yards per game as well. The Tigers posted the nation’s sixth-best scoring offense with an output of 42.3 points per game.
The Clemson Defense is what many feel will be the key in this match-up of Tigers. Clemson made a change in coordinators after giving up 70 points to West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl last season. The Tigers Defense did play better this season.
Clemson allows on average 411.3 yards per game to opposing offenses but those numbers look far worst in the Tigers two losses this year. In their losses to South Carolina and Florida State the Tigers allowed a whopping 556 yards per game.
The Tigers will counter the Clemson offense with a tenacious defense that features two of the best pass rushers in the game today in Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Clemson had better do some quick routes and short drop backs for their QB or these guys will be all over him.
And one of the best LB’s in the nation is the Tigers’ Kevin Minter, who will also be able to not only key on the Clemson running game but he is also solid when defending in pass coverage for the LSU Defense.
One question is how will the LSU defensive backs handle the speed and ability of the Clemson passing game. Jalen Mills will certainly be picked on as will the entire defensive backfield that has given up over 300 yards in their last three games.
As far as preparing for the game is concerned LSU Coach Les Miles is pleased with his club. “We had another good workout today,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We have prepared well. These players have done a great job here all week in Atlanta. They been able to have some fun, but at the same time, when it’s been time for football, they have been dialed in 100 percent,” Miles said in a press release prior to the game.
I could sit hear all day long and tell you about numbers and what I think, but the bottom line is what it going to happen in this game. The LSU Tigers are just too physical for Clemson. A team just can’t change who they are in one month, no matter how much they prepare and practice.
Clemson had a lot of trouble in their loss the South Carolina, and I expect the Orange and White Tigers to have much of the same issues against the Bayou Bengals. Clemson is a very good team, but their weaknesses are defense and being physical…which happen to be the two areas in which LSU excels.
I look for another big game from QB Zack Mettenberger and the LSU O-Line. They will control this game and lead the Tigers to a two-touchdown win over Clemson.
Location: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
Team’s: LSU Tigers (10-2) vs Clemson Tigers (10-2)
The Line: LSU -6 ½ (59)
The Coaches: LSU – Les Miles / Clemson Dabo Swinney
Last time in a Bowl: Clemson lost 70-33 to West Virginia in 2012 Orange Bowl and Alabama beat LSU 21-0 in the 2012 BCS Title Game
Saints Coach Joe Vitt, when asked if his team were going to the playoffs-
“Yeah, again, if. If my aunt had a beard she’d be my uncle. I am not going to sit here and deal with hypothetical questions. What we have a chance to do is play a divisional opponent this week at home and get better this week. Then we’ll let all of the pundits answer the hypothetical questions.”
Joe Vitt on the play of Carolina
“I think they’re going to come in here and play as hard as they can for as long as they can as smart as they can. I think it’s a football team that’s prideful. I think Ron Rivera is a prideful head coach, (he) was a prideful player in our league. I Sean McDermott is going to have the defense ready to play. The offense is being run through an athletic quarterback (Cam Newton) that can make plays with his arm and his legs. We know about their running backs, it’s an explosive ground game. They’re going to come here to win the game.”
Panthers Wide Receiver Brandon LaFell on his improved play
“I feel I can keep improving and getting better. I feel like I’ve improved a lot over the last couple of years and I hear it a lot after the game from other DBs, so I have to keep doing what I’m doing, learn as much as I can from Smitty (Steve Smith) while he’s here and keep getting better.”
Carolina is playing like many thought they would for most of the season as well is New Orleans. The Panthers have won three straight games, and four of five, and they are looking to end the season on a high note with a win on the road against the Saints.
The Panthers have a very good defense that has allowed just 33 points in the last three games including just 13 points in their last two wins. Carolina is doing a lot of things they have done in the past when they win games and it starts with rushing the football.
Carolina is 10th in the NFL in rushing yards per game, with an average of 121 yards. The Panthers’ pass defense has been stout for much of the season as they are 8th in the league. In last week’s 17-6 win over Oakland, QB Cam Newton had 230 of the 270 yards of total offense that the Panthers gained against the Raiders.
The Saints can finish the season on a three-game win streak and post a 4-2 mark in NFC South play. From what you hear from coaches and players, it’s very important to finish the season with a win to carry some momentum into the off season.
With that said, this season has been a major disappointment for the Saints and their fans. The Black and Gold were favored to win 12 games this season and make the playoffs. That won’t happen, although the speculation over the future of Coach Sean Payton’s return is finally behind us.
Carolina Panthers (6-9) @ New Orleans Saints (7-8)
Sunday December 30, 2012 Noon Kickoff Mercedes Benz Superdome
Last week’s Results: Carolina beat Oakland 17-6 and New Orleans beat Dallas 34-31 in overtime
Teams: Ohio Bobcats (8-4) vs UL Monore Warhawks (8-4)
ULM is basically playing a home game here as the Independence Bowl is not far at all from the ULM Campus. The Warhawks can win their ninth game of the year with a win over a very good Bobcats Team.
Ohio opened the season by knocking off Penn State and Coach Frank Solich has the Bobcats back in a bowl again this season. ULM is the third team from Louisiana to play in a bowl.
Russell Athletic Bowl: Rutgers Scarlet Knight (9-3) vs Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6)
Rutgers is one of many teams from the Big East that is leaving the conference. The Knights will soon play in the Big Ten. Virginia Tech had a bad season and nearly missed getting into a bowl with just six wins.
The Hokies are one of a handful of schools that will end their season with a losing record if they do not win their bowl game. Rutgers has been a solid team all season long but I think Coach Frank Beamer will get his troops to play well and prove to the nation that the Hokies are much better than their 6-6 record indicates.
Car Care Bowl: - Time: 8PM ESPN
Team’s: Minnesota Golphers (6-6) vs Texas Tech (7-5)
Wow, one minute Texas Tech is undefeated and has the #1 defense in the land…and the next minute their coach leaves the dinner table while hosting recruits and takes the Cincinnati job. That’s what I heard anyway!
Texas Tech surprisingly found themselves looking for a new head coach when former coach Tommy Tubberville shockingly bolted to take the Bearcats job. Now Red Raiders Fans are juiced about one of their own taking over the top job.
Former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury is the new head at Texas Tech. But Kingsbury will not coach the bowl game interim coach Chris Thomsen will try to lead the Red Raiders past Minnesota on Dec. 28 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl at Houston's Reliant Stadium.
Saturday December 29, 2012
Armed Forces Bowl - Time: 10:45AM ESPN
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Teams: Air Force Falcons (6-6) vs Rice Owls (6-6)
The loser of this game will have a losing season as both the Flacons and Owls come into the Armed Forces Bowl with an average 6-6 record. However, I give a lot of credit to the Rice Owls as they could have easily packed it in when they were 2-6 after eight games.
Rice got hot and ended the season with a four game win streak to become bowl eligible. On the flip side the Air Force Falcons have quietly become a model of consistency. This game with Rice marks the sixth straight year that Air Force has advanced to play in a bowl game. The Falcons love to run the football and senior running back Cody Getz is their bell cow as Getz enters the bowl game with 1,213 rushing yards with 9 TDs this season.
The Owls offense was as good as any in the nation the last four games of the season, and junior QB Taylor McHargue did a good job of limiting his mistakes in the passing game as he threw three touchdowns with just one interception in the Owls four game win streak.
Pinstripe Bowl - Time: 2:15PM ESPN
Location: New York
Teams: West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5) vs Syracuse Orange (7-5)
This is a game that asks a simple question: What teams show up here? Will the WVU Team that started 5-0 be the team that comes to play and will the Orange Team that knocked off Louisville be the one that plays not far from their campus in upstate NY.
West Virginia still has one of the best offensive units in the nation and this battle of former conference teams (Big East) should be an entertaining one in the plush New York Yankees Stadium. For some reason I think that WVU and QB Geno Smith end the season on a high note and come up with a big win over the Orange. And by big I mean much bigger than the four points that the Mountaineers are spotting the Orange.
Fight Hunger Bowl - Time: 2:15PM ESPN2
Location: San Francisco
Teams: Navy Midshipmen (8-4) vs Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5)
When you talk about one teams strength versus another’s weakness, this is the game to speak on. The Midshipmen love to run the football and the Sun Devils hate stopping the run! Navy’s grind-it-out style offense features three rushers that have gained 500 yards or more this season led by Noah Copeland who came up with 99 yards in the Midshipmen’s win over rival Army.
The Sun Devils give up on average 172 yards rushing per game and they can expect a heavy dose of rushing from Navy in this game. Navy is sixth in the nation in rushing this season with an average 276 yards per game.
The Midshipmen's top offensive weapon is Gee Gee Green. Green has totaled 1,088 yards from scrimmage this season. Green is impressive averaging 8.7 yards per touch this season as Green has rushed for 765 yards and hauled in another 303 yards in receiving.
The Sun Devils offense features one of the top young passers in the Pac-12 Conference in Taylor Kelly Kelly completed over 65% of his passes this season with 2,772 yards and 25 touchdowns. The Sun Devils are a 14 ½ point favorite in this game.
Alamo Bowl - Time: 5:45PM ESPN
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Teams: Oregon State Beavers (9-3) vs Texas Longhorns (8-4)
Both of these teams got off to hot starts this season only to struggle down the stretch of their schedules. The Longhorns were looking like they were going to get back to a BCS Bowl this year as they got off to a 4-0 start. But Mack Brown’s Horns fell apart after an embarrassing 42 point loss to Oklahoma and Texas was a disappointing 4-4 in their final eight games.
Brown looked as if he had finally found his man in QB David Ash, but he would later bench Ash before the Horns' final regular season game against TCU. Now Brown has gone back to Ash as he will get the start in the Alamo Bowl.
Ash did show signs of being a good QB at times during the 2012 season, throwing for 2,458 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Mack Brown still seemingly has the full support of the big-wigs at Texas, even though his program has posted a 21-16 record since making the nation title game back in 2010.
Out West, the Oregon State Beavers also got off to a hot start with an impressive 6-0 record. Like Texas, OSU fell down the stretch posting a 3-3 mark in the final six games. The Beavers have a tenacious defense that has forced 30 takeaways this season including 19 interceptions.
On offense keep an eye on the Beavers WR Markus Wheaton. Wheaton became one of the nation’s best players as he hauled in 88 receptions for 1,207 yards with 11 scores.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl - Time: 9:15PM ESPN
Location: Tempe, Arizona
Teams: Texas Christian University Horned Frogs (7-5) vs Michigan State Spartans (6-6)
If you want a game that features two teams that have been in some close games, this is a good match-up for you. TCU beat Texas 20-13 in their last game of the regular season and they beat West Virginia in double overtime, while losing to Texas Tech in three overtimes.
Michigan State certainly knows a thing or two about being in close games. The 6-6 Spartans lost five Big Ten Conference games by a total of 13 points.
17 years ago the New Orleans Saints shut out the New York Jets 12-0. That game took place on Christmas Eve in 1995. On December 16, 2012 the New Orleans Saints shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 41-0.
The Saints posted a shutout win for the first time since 1995.
“We’ve got the best fans in the National Football League. The way they have supported us through all that we have been though, we are proud that we were able to play well in front of our fans today,” said Saints Coach Joe Vitt following the victory.
In a week that featured more news about the pay-for-performance program, and Saints players and Coaches sounding off, the Black and Gold got it done where it mattered the most, and that was on the football field.
New Orleans played well on offense. They did a solid job on special teams, and the Saints defense put together one of their best performances in a very long time, as New Orleans dominated Tampa Bay 41-0.
A week after allowing a massive 52 points, the Saints did not allow Tampa to smell the end zone.
The numbers proved even more how big of a win this was for the Saints. Tampa gained only 96 yards in the first half, with just four first downs. And after three quarters of play the Saints defense was still holding on to a shutout, while the Bucs had only had one trip into the Saints “Red Zone.”
Tampa Bay had 13 offensive possessions in the game. Of those 13, the Saints defense forced five turnovers and made the Bucs punt four times. Two drives ended with turnovers on downs, with one drive ended the first half and the other ending the game.
Tampa tried to get into the end zone late in the game, but the Black and Gold defense would not allow Tampa to score. The Black and Gold posted the first shutout in the Superdome since 1991, when the Saints beat the Los Angeles Raiders 27-0.
Coming into the game Tampa Bay wide receiver Vincent Jackson and rookie Running Back Doug Martin were both putting up impressive numbers. Martin said the Saints did a good job of shutting the Bucs Offense down.
“They really made it a one dimensional game for us. We had to pass instead of focus on the run and that led us to keep getting behind and not do what we normally do on offense. That’s not how we’ve played this year and it was really tough out there for us today,” said Martin.
The Saints now move on to take on the Dallas Cowboys in a game that may be very exciting for the fans, but has far less meaning than once expected going into the season. The Saints will look to finish the season with an 8-8 record but need to win their last two games against Dallas and Carolina to achieve that record.
Man ole man, don’t we have a feeling of emptiness down here in the Big Easy, or what? For the first time since December 2008 the Saints are out of the playoff hunt, and now it’s all about pride and playing the role of spoiler.
Let’s face it, neither one of these teams are destined to make the NFC playoffs, but with one more win than the Saints, Tampa is a little bit more alive right now than the Saints. Even though this game does not have big implications, the Bucs and Saints have put up some good battles as of late.
Tampa Bay won six of the last 11 games and they have won five of the last eight road contest in the series as well.
What they are saying:
Tampa Defensive Back Ronde Barber on his best memories in facing the Saints - “I’ve got some great memories against the Saints. Great memories against the Saints and one of your ex-quarterbacks (Aaron Brooks) who I played with at Virginia, he threw me three interceptions twice. Those are my best memories against the Saints. Over these past couple of years, especially since Drew (Brees) got there and Sean (Payton) turned that team around, it’s always been a rivalry type game in the sense that it seems like whoever gets one-another in that first game always ends up getting it back in the second one. I think this year is like no other, we’re hoping for that same result. They always present a challenge. They have so many weapons and so many formations and sets and everything else that you can do that you know coming in to this week that if you’re not on it, if you’re not putting that time in or even extra time in, then you’re putting yourself at a severe disadvantage. That’s what I get myself ready for every time we get ready to play these guys.”
Saints Coach Joe Vitt on the Saints trying to cut down on turning the ball over - “Yes, (we can) work on it every day. I take responsibility for this. We talk about it all the time (and) made the point to our football team this morning (that) Tampa Bay has had only five since we’ve last played them and we’ve had three times that amount. That’s been our Achilles heel right now. We did a good job today in practice with ball security. Drew (Brees) did a great job of putting the ball where it needed to be. Our backs and receivers had the ball high and tight. We’re going to continue to work on it. Right now it’s keeping us from winning football games and not allowing us to win. I made this comment earlier in the week (that) you have to keep from losing a football game before you ever win one. We’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot the last three weeks. That being said, pressing is not going to win. If you try to press you’re not going to win. Preparation will and preparation allows you to have confidence. Now you can play fast and confident in a game and let it go and let it flow.”
Tampa Bay Coach Greg Schiano on facing the Saints earlier this season = “Number one, the quarterback (Drew Brees) is a great player and he willed that game to happen the way that it did. That’s number one. Number two is defense. I thought (they) rose up against us and made plays in critical situations that afforded them the victory. We have our hands full. (On) special teams I think they have some dynamic players that we have to be aware of, some individual guys in the punt rush that we have to be aware of that can cause havoc if they choose to. Definitely with that going into the dome (Mercedes-Benz Superdome), we certainly have our hands full.”
Things to look for:
Who has fire left? Although New Orleans is done for the first time in four seasons, the coaches and players have been talking about being professional and playing hard to finish out the disappointing season strong. Now, with all of the other news that came out this week about the pay-for-performance program you have to wonder how much more this group can take.
Josh or Drew? Neither one of these players has been at their best the past few weeks, and their play has had a lot to do why each Tampa and New Orleans are in the back-end of the NFC. Whichever QB plays the best will more than likely lead his team to victory.
Teach me how to Dougie! With all the hype about Andrew, Robert and Russell, not many outside of the NFC South and the state of Florida know much about Tampa Running Back Doug Martin. Martin is having one of the best rookie seasons a RB could have and he will look to add to his already impressive 1,234 yard total. The Saints leading rusher is Pierre Thomas with 444 yards.
Don’t get kicked in the return! – Last week the Saints gave up 287 yards in kickoff returns, which broke all sorts of records. It’s going to be interesting to see how much work the Saints did this week to limit the Bucs kickoff returns.
One of the most disappointing seasons in Saints history is slowing coming to an end. With just three games left, the Saints can either play with pride and gain some steam going into the off-season, or they can wind up with a losing record.
Dating back to the first game of the season, the opposing team’s records made against the Black and Gold has been the story far too often. From RG3 to Jamaal Charles to David Wilson, the Saints have had a lifetime of records set on them this season, ironically after a season in which the Saints offense set plenty of historic records themselves.
Now, the Bucs, Cowboys, and Panthers are left…and if the Saints don’t play any better, they are more likely to be 5-11 instead of 8-8. My advice to you is with both teams in a slump, find another game to play instead of this one. Because I honestly don’t have a good feel on whether or not to lay the point or take them!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) @ New Orleans Saints (5-8)
Sunday December 16th 2012 Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Last week’s Results: Philadelphia beat Tampa 23-21 and New York Giants beat New Orleans 52-27
Series History: New Orleans leads the series 24-17
OK, the former Commissioner had the spine to do what the current Commissioner was supposed to do, and that was to finish the job. Regardless of what you think or how you feel about the outcome of this entire ‘’bounty’’/pay for performance situation, you would have to be glad this is over.
I have enough law talk to last me a lifetime. Paul Tagliabue vacated the players’ bounty suspension and went on to lay more of the blame on the coaches and the organization than on the players. So why couldn’t Roger Goodell do this himself?
“He should have done this himself and not handed this over to Paul Tagliabue,” said Gabe Feldman.
Feldman is the Director of Tulane University’s Sports Law Program and he has been the top analyst when it comes to breaking down the ‘’bounty’’ case.
Now, all the talks of this whole saga will amp back up…and with the Saints out of the playoff picture, I fully expect to see more frustration and anger in Saints fans, perhaps even more than we have seen or heard at any other time.
It seems like to me this decision could have been made a long time ago, but it is what it is, and I’m surely glad it’s over. Did the decision of Roger Goodell hurt the Saints this season? Did Roger Goodell use his power in the best interest of the league and its players? And did Roger Goodell punish the Saints organization, its coaches, and the GM for the pay-for-performance program, or was this seemingly too harsh of a sentence handed down with an agenda?
I can’t sit here and tell you that the Saints would be 8-5 right now, or 9-4, instead of 5-8. I can’t say that the Black and Gold would be the first team to host and play in the Super Bowl in their own back yard. Could the Saints be a playoff team? Could the Saints be the first team to play in the Super Bowl they were hosting? Possibly!
What I can tell you is that Roger Goodell is not on solid footing as Commissioner in the National Football League. Folks, we are witnessing a man that has no idea of how to use the authority he has been given.
From the time Mr. Goodell went after a young man (Terrell Pryor) who was not even employed in the NFL yet, to the fines levied on players, to the way he handled the officials before his hand was forced to pay the refs after the most embarrassing Monday Night in the history of the NFL…Yes, Roger Goodell and his job performance has been questionable, to say the very least.
We will never know how good the Saints would have been if Sean, Mickey and Joe had been here the entire time. Yes folks, the New Orleans Saints and their fans are not the only losers here. The rest of league should be cautious because Roger is still in charge.
When Saints Coach Joe Vitt approached the microphone to begin his post-game press conference, he simply said, “That was an embarrassment out there today.” Vitt was talking about his teams’ play in a 52-27 blowout loss to the New York Giants.
The Saints had dominated the Giants in their previous three meetings, winning by an average of 23 points per game. But the Giants played one of their best games of the season, basically putting an end to the Saints season, and keeping a lead in the NFC East over Dallas and Washington.
Well, all of the different scenarios many of you have been playing out in your heads are all for and have been for naught. The Giants’ 52-27 blowout win over the New Orleans Saints officially ended the Saints 2012 season.
Yes, there are those out there who will put a pencil to things and say, “well if the Saints finish 8-8 and everyone else losses then…” People, please! It’s over! What baffled me is how many thought that the Saints could win four straight games after winning just five of their first 12.
Minnesota won, so did Seattle and St. Louis, but none of that matters now, does it? The Saints lost, and now they only question is how many more games will they lose this season. New Orleans is now 5-8 overall, and if they don’t play any better, they are destined to be well below .500 this season. And no, I’m not counting out 5-11 either!
With 1:51 left in the third quarter of the game, the Giants had more kick return yards than total offense. New York had a record-setting day, returning six kicks for 287 yards, with an average of 47.8 yards per kick.
The loss to the Giants was the worst defeat the Saints have suffered since opening the 2007 season with a 41-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The 25 point loss is the second-worst loss in the Sean Payton era, tying the 25 points loss of the Black and Gold 39-14 setback to the Bears in the 2007 NFC Title Game.
“This was a pounding today,” Vitt went on to say. New York set several franchise records in their win over the Saints, including the 287 yards in kick returns. New York Running Back David Wilson became the first NFL player to rush for 100 yards and gain 200 yards (227) on kickoff returns.
New Orleans is in a funk that none of us have seen in the Sean Payton era, and unfortunately Coach Payton is not here to help try and correct the way his team is playing. Yes folks, the play of the Black and Gold the last three weeks is something that we are not used to, at least in the last seven seasons!
Now there are just three games left in the season for the Black and Gold. The Saints play host to the Bucanneers this week, then hit the road to face Dallas before closing out the season at home against Carolina. Right now the Saints are 5-8 overall, and the Who Dat Nation is in a place where they have not been in a long time. Will the Saints respond and play hard in their remaining three games, or will the funk that the team is in continue until the first of the year?
Saints QB Drew Brees on what he and the Saints want to accomplish in the last four games:
“We want to win, because our record is what’s going to get us in the playoffs. (We) strive for efficiency. For me as a quarterback, not only am I responsible for much of the pass game, but for much of the run game as well, (in addition to) our mode of operation as an offense, our tempo. My decisions drive the offense in a lot of cases, so we have to be on point like I expect to be and I am preparing to be. That’s my mindset.”
Giants Coach Tom Caughlin on Saints Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo:
“Steve did a nice job, a very good job for us. He’s a heck of a young man. He’s got great energy. He is good person. He and Maria make a great team and we were really happy to have him at that time. He came in and Steve was our defensive coordinator in our 2007-2008 Super Bowl (team). We were really proud to have Steve with us on our staff, he did an outstanding job. From the job that he did when he was a New York Giant, he had an opportunity to become a head coach.”
Deke’s Thoughts on the game:
OK, the Saints are down to just four games left in the season and they must win all four and keep hope alive that other teams lose multiple games to have a shot at the playoffs. New Orleans has owned the G-Men, beating them by an average of 23 points per game in their last three meetings.
Will the Saints’ success against the Giants continue, or will the stout New York front seven wreak havoc on a banged-up Saints offensive line? The Saints have more problems on offense then just having to deal with the Giants D-Line.
The play of Saints QB Drew Brees has been plain bad the last two games, throwing seven interceptions and two pick-sixes. If Drew does not play better this week, the question won’t be if the Saints have a shot at the playoffs…instead it will turn to can this team win another game this season.
In their three-game win streak, the Saints ran the ball well. But, in their last two games, the Saints have not been able to have a consistent running game like they did in their previous three games.
On the flip-side, the Giants have been somewhat a chameleon this season. When New York played at San Francisco and at home versus the Packers the G-Men looked dominant. Yet, other times this season they have looked not so good. What Giants team will show up this week?
New York was destined to be one of the top two seeds in the NFC four weeks ago as they had a 6-2 record. But the G-Men have lost three of their last four games, and now are in a heated battle in the NFC East with a surging Washington Redskins team that just beat New York 17-16 last week.
If you want to follow closely, one of the things to watch in the game is third down situations. The Saints have become one of the best defensive units in the league when it comes to third down defense. New Orleans is nearing the top ten when getting off the field on third downs. The Saints have allowed just 11 first downs to be converted in their last three games when defending on third down. Teams have gone a combined 11-of-36 against the Saints defense in their last three games, a number that Coach Joe Vitt likes.
“We have become one of the better defensive units in the league when it comes to third down. New York is one of the best teams in the league converting on third so this is going to be a challenge for our defense,” said Coach Joe Vitt.
For the second straight week the Saints defensive secondary will be going up against one of the best pass catching groups in the NFL. Last week the Saints did a solid job slowing down the Falcons wide receivers as the Saints held WR Roddy White to no receptions in the first half, which was the first time in 37 games that White did not catch a ball in the first two quarters.
Honestly, I could sit here and give you all sorts of numbers and all kinds of scenarios, but here’s the bottom line. Since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule back in 1978, there have been just five teams that have reached the post season with a 5-7 start. Guess who was the first team to do it? The Saints back in 1990. Will that happen again? The way the NFC is shaping up, I’d say not likely. But if the Saints don’t win out there is no way they can get in.
New Orleans must be ready to slow down the Giants’ running game and the Saints have to get back to rushing the football themselves. Do that, and win the turnover battle, and it should be enough to earn the win.
New York needs to win to keep some distance between them and the rest of the pack in the NFC East. Will New York finally break through against the team that has dominated them more so than any other team in the league, or will the Saints snap out of it and try and save their season? Tune in today to find out!
New Orleans Saints (5-7) @ New York Giants (7-5)
3:25PM Kickoff WWL Radio
Last week’s results: Atlanta beat New Orleans 23-13 and Washington beat New York 17-16
Saturday December 8th - Countdown to State Title Saturday with Deke Bellavia 11AM-Noon
12 noon Class 2A Title Game John Curtis Patriots vs. Evangel Christian Eagles
Play by Play: Seth Dunlap
Color: Isidore Newman Coach Nelson Stewart
John Curtis Sideline: Emile Gauchet
Evangel Sideline: Tony D
Field Help/Runner – Hank Brady
Deke’s Take: Since Curtis and Evangel have been in Class 2A they have both dominated it. These two powers have long been considered two of the best programs in the country when it comes to high school football. With that said the John Curtis Patriots set the standard in Louisiana.
In fact the Patriots are high school football royalty in America. And with a win over post season rival Evangel the Patriots should be the national champ of high school football for 2012.
Deke’s Take: Moving forward if there are two teams in class 3A that will be able to compete with incoming Evangel and John Curtis it will be the Notre Dame Pioneers and the Parkview Baptist Eagles. Parkview and ND are led by their two all business like coaches Kenny Gulliot and Louis Cook.
When it comes to Class 3A football the last decade or so these two teams have always been a factor in the title hunt and they are back to their title ways again in 2012.
8PM Class 5A Title Game – Rummel Raiders vs. Barbe Bucaneers (5A)
Play by play: Jeff Palermo
Color: Hahnville Coach Lou Valdin
Rummel Sideline – Matt Fritscher
Barbe Sideline – Thommy Boesch
Field Help/Runner – David Folse
Deke’s Take: Rummel is back in the title game for the second time under Coach Jay Roth and the Raiders have been doing it with defense. Despite giving up yards last week between the 20’s, the Raiders defense stiffened when it needed most securing a semi-final win over Mandeville.
The Raiders Defense will get their most stern test of the season in one of the state’s highest scoring teams in the Barbe Buccaneers. Barbe looked like they would be packing up their gear last Friday night until they went on a scoring frenzy against one of the best defensive teams in the state.
The Bucs trailed 48-21 in the second half of their semi-final game against the West Monroe Rebels only to outscore WM 28-0 the rest of the game to shock the Rebels 49-48. I’m telling you folks this one looks like a great one on paper. Let’s see how it plays out on the field.
Friday December 7th - Countdown to State Title Friday with Deke Bellavia 3PM-4PM
4PM Class 1A Title Game Friday Ouachita Christian vs. Haynesville
Play by Play: Kristian Garic
Color: Allan Waddell
Ouachita Sideline– Tom Russo
Haynesville Sideline – Mike Gambrell
Field Help/Runner – Tony D
Deke’s take: The OCS Eagles are on one of the most successful and dominant runs in Class 1A history. The Eagles have won 29 straight games with their last loss coming in the 2010 1A title game in a setback to White Castle.
Haynesville is one of the most successful programs in Louisiana football history. The Golden Tornadoes have 15 state titles to their credit but getting number 16 will be very tough.
8pm Class 4A Title Game Neville Tigers vs. Edna Karr Cougars
Play by Play: Deke Bellavia
Color: Helen Cox Coach Willie Brooks
Neville Sideline– Seth Dunlap
Edna Karr Sideline – Brad Luminais
Field Help/Runner – Tony D
Deke’s Take: This looks to be the most evenly matched game of the weekend. Last season Neville beat Karr to win their second state title in three seasons and now the Tigers are looking to make it three out of four.
Neville has no true weakness and neither does the Karr Cougars. Karr is looking to snap a two game title losing streak in the dome as they lost in overtime to Franklinton in 2010 and Neville beat the Cougars last season.
If you want to see future college football stars of tomorrow this is the one to watch!
Hurricanes, Brass, Hornets, Crew, Spirit, Storm, Jam, Gators, Angles, Buccaneers...all are names many of you have tossed out when discussing what new name the New Orleans NBA Franchise should use if and when they decided to re-name the current Hornets.
Others have included Mudbugs, Crawfish, Sinners, Crawfish, and Shuckers...Which are OK, I guess, but not as appealing to me as the previous list. But the word on the street is that the new name for the New Orleans NBA Team will be Pelicans.
Say what? Yes, I know it's the state bird I've been through first grade and I know is was the name of the old New Orleans Baseball Team but is that one that sticks?
Does the name ''Pelican'' even sound good, even though it has some valuable meaning to the city and the state? Man I've got to be honest with y'all, I give this one two big thumbs down!
Oh well, guess I got a little time to stock up on my Hornets Gear. In my own opinion, if you're going to call the team "Pelicans," the city and the NBA would be better off leaving the name the same as Hornets. You tell me what you think.