Kristian's Quick Hits: Vilma, Sproles, Raiders, and Payton
by Kristian Garic,posted Nov 15 2012 5:48PM
Kristian@wwl.com - Take the chains off: Ask and you shall receive. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been slowly re-introduced to the playing field once his suspension was temporarily lifted. He’s played in 4 games with a “Pitch count” coming off of knee surgery in the spring. Vilma joked with the media after last week’s game against the Falcons that he wished the coaches would “take the chains” off of him and let him get after it. The Saints coaching staff finally appears ready to do so. “He’s going to see more snaps, the biggest I had as his position coach is protecting Jonathan Vilma against himself. He’s a warrior. He wants to play every snap” Coach Vitt explained. The Saints linebacking corps has benefited from his play and experience on the field, and Vitt says his reps are going to increase this week against the Raiders.
Sproles’ roles: After a second straight day of practice and no setbacks to his surgically repaired left hand, it appears Saints RB Darren Sproles will play this week. Sproles was officially listed as “Full participation” in Thursday’s practice. The speedy scat-back broke his left hand on October 28th in a loss to Denver, and was expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks. Sproles brings the speed element to the Saints offense and now they have a decision to make. How do they keep the rhythm in the running game and still get the ball to their dynamic playmaker? I’m sure they’ll figure it out and still manage to feed the football to Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. It’s just another weapon in an offense that is starting to resemble the record-setting unit of 2011.
Payton contract: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN radio the Saints and Sean Payton have been given permission to begin discussing a new contract after the league voided his previous deal because of “unfavorable language”. Goodell says both side have a chance to work something out. “It between the team and Sean at this point and time, we’ve given them the ability to negotiate that under certain restrictions”. The commissioner also said, “They are doing that currently.” That makes me believe the deal for Sean Payton will get done pretty quickly. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Payton is not going to Dallas, Philly, or Cleveland. He’s going to be in New Orleans for a long time. The track record of General Manager Mickey Loomis tells me he’ll get his man once again. I would expect Payton to be one of, if not The, highest paid coaches in the NFL when it’s all said and done. Patriots coach Bill Bellichick is the league’s top paid field general at $8.5 million per season. Has Payton won three Super Bowls? No, but what’s his value to the Saints? It’s not a matter of whether Bengals, Patriots, Cardinals or Cowboys don’t think he’s worth it. Given the Saints 0 and 4 start, you could argue that Payont might just be more valuable to the franchise than any player, including Drew Brees.
Saints vs. Raiders, my take: The Saints are favored by 4 and ½ points over Oakland. I don’t gamble, but I might start after seeing this spread. I know home field advantage is worth 3 points, but I think the Saints win by 10 points. The Saints just have their Mojo; New Orleans 34 Oakland 24. The Raiders have allowed a league-worst 31 points per game, and that’s not good when Drew Brees and company have a ticket to show up at your place. The Saints will get to 5 and 5 with a huge match up against San Francisco looming in week 12 at the Super dome. My, my, my how suddenly interesting has this season become? You can bet the Who Dat Nation will not be in a hospitable mood after the way they were treated last year in ‘Frisco.