Steve Geller

"WWL First News" Sports Anchor
Weekdays 5am-10am

"Sports Talk" Producer
Weekdays 4pm-8pm

Twitter: @stevegellerWWL
Email: steve@wwl.com


Steve: Saints bid farewell to Brandon Browner

Many Saints fans Mardi Gras just got even better as it appears that cornerback Brandon Browner has been released by the Saints:

Browner was the target of many Who Dats' disgust due to his addiction to collecting yellow flags. He set the single season record for most penalties by a player with 21.

We wont get any official word from the team till after the Super Bowl due to league rules.

The Saints handed Browner a 3 year, $15 million dollar deal last off-season, and if released, he will count $5 million in dead money against the cap this season. One of the reasons he was brought to the Black and Gold was for his veteran presence in the locker room that was in need of some leadership. But, his on the field problems proved to be way too costly. Nothing aggravates coach Sean Payton more then the same mindless penalties over and over and over again.

Hopefully Keenan Lewis can bounce back from injury next year and restablish his role in the secondary. Delvin Breaux will be entering his 2nd season in the NFL and should only blossom even more. He may have had some penalty issues early on in 2015 but really turned heads around the league with his physical play at corner.

There are still questions marks surrounding draft picks Damian Swann and PJ Williams. Swann dealt with multiple concussions that cut his rookie campaign short, but looked decent in the time we did get to see him on the field. Williams missed most of training camp due to a torn hamstring and was placed on season ending injured reserve, so we have no idea what he can provide the team with.
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Awkward! Saints QB Brees reads his negative draft reviews

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been making the media rounds during Super Bowl 50, and popped onto the set of the Dan Patrick Show today. They got Brees to read a scouting report of himself when he was coming out of Purdue to the NFL. Drew's reaction is priceless....take a look!

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Steve: Saints roll the dice on a new running back

Former Colts running back Vick Ballard has been signed by the Saints to a reserve/futures contract. He was a 5th round pick by Indianapolis back in 2012 out of Mississippi State. In his two years in the SEC, Ballard rushed for 2,158 yards on 379 carries and 29 touchdowns. He was active in the Bulldogs passing game as well, catching 30 passes for 293 yards and 2 scores.

As a rookie for the Colts, the 5-10, 217 lbs. Ballard had a solid year in the pros, with 966 total yards from scrimmage and two TDs. The next two seasons would be marred by injury, though... in 2013 he tore his ACL, then tore an Achilles in 2014. Indy reached an injury settlement with him back in September and now he's getting a shot in New Orleans.

It's a low-risk deal on the Saints end for a guy who hopefully has similar success coming back from injury like Tim Hightower did this past season.

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Steve: 6 Louisianians among Tulane's 22 new football recruits

National Signing Day brought in twenty-two new recruits to the Tulane football as head coach Willie Fritz begins to reshape the program. Here is the 2016 signing class for the Green Wave:

QB Darius Bradwell 6-0, 220 lbs. from Tallahassee, Fla.
Bradwell was an early January enrollee for the Green Wave. He is a dual threat quarterback that accounted for over 2,300 yards of offense and 27 touchdowns at Godby High School.

DB Will Harper 6-1, 200 lbs. from Memphis, Tenn.
Another early enrollee, Harper was rated a three star prospect by ESPN.com and 247Sports.com. He tallied 63 tackles his senior season, with 6 tackles for loss.

DB Sean Harper 6-1, 200 lbs. from Fayetteville, Ga.
Played safety and linebacker for Fayette County and was a 1st team all-state selection.

OL Tyler Johnson 6-4, 270 lbs. from Stone Mountain, Ga.
Also played defensive end and defensive tackle at Stephenson HS. Johnson was rated the 51st best prospect out of Georgia by MaxPreps. Had 4 pancake blocks last year.

LB Lawrence Graham 6-0, 224 lbs. from Lauderhill, Fla.
Graham posted one of the best Nike SPARQ ratings out of of any linebacker in the country at 117.12 after running a 4.73 laser-timed 40-yard dash, jumped nearly 40 inches and had a 42-foot powerball toss. He also lettered on the track & field team where he competed in the 4x100, as well as the shot put, discus and high jump.

K/P Coby Neenan 6-2, 180 lbs. from Dothan, Ala.
A first team all-state selection that was rated a 3 star recruit by ESPN.com and Scout.com. Neenan connected on 13-of-17 field goals this past season and converted 32-of-36 extra points.

WR Jacob Robertson Jr. 6-2, 175 lbs. from College Park, Ga.
Hauled in 27 passes for 547 yards and 8 TDs his senior season. Robertson was rated a three-star recruit by 247sports.com, ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com and is the 11th ranked receiver in the state of Georgia. Played in 32 career games and made 72 catches for 1,152 yards and 17 scores.

QB Johnathan Brantley 6-2, 180 lbs. from Houston, Texas
Another dual threat quarterback for the Wave. Brantley passed for 5,539 yards and rushed for 2,159 yards with 87 TDs in his prep career. Also ran track and played basketball at Houston's C.E. King High School.

DB Tre Jackson 5-10, 180 lbs. from Baton Rouge, La.
ESPN.com rated Jackson a four-star recruit and the 22nd overall prospect in the state of Louisiana. Helped Baton Rouge's University Laboratory School to a 10-2 record this past year.

OL Phabion Woodard 6-4, 293 lbs. from Indianola, Miss.
Woodard was all-district his senior season and was the East Team Offensive Lineman MVP in the 12th Annual All-American Bowl Game Classic. Had 9 pancake block and also totaled 54 tackles while playing on the defensive line.

DL Deion Rainey 6-3, 244 lbs. from Baton Rouge, La.
This Southern Lab defensive lineman was a three-time all-district and all-state performer. Both ESPN.com and 247Sports.com rated him a 3 star recruit. Also a 4 year letterman in track and field and was a three year letterman in basketball.

DL Jonathan Wilson 6-4, 265 lbs. from Port Sulphur, La.
A two time all-district defensive end for South Plaquemines High School. Wilson had 32 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 4 sacks his senior season. Also forced 3 fumbles and had 2 fumble recoveries.

DB P.J. Hall 6-0, 180 lbs. from Hoover, Ala.
Hall racked up 91 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 10 interceptions, six forced fumbles, and 21 pass break-ups over his career. Received a three-star rating from Rivals.com, ESPN.com, 247Sports.com, MaxPreps and Scout.com.

DB Chase Napoleon 5-10, 200 lbs. from Grand Prairie, Texas
Napoleon completed his prep career with 217 tackles, including 19 stops for loss and seven sacks, to go with nine forced fumbles and one interception. Played both safety and linebacker.

RB Miles Strickland 5-11, 175 lbs. from Madison, Ala.
Strickland was rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com. He ran for 1,035 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Also caught 28 passes for 430 yards and four scores.

RB A.J. Walker 5-10, 225 lbs. from Pinson, Ala.
Rushed for 708 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior while catching 26 passes for 244 yards and a score. Walker also played linebacker for Clay-Chalkville High School.

LB Larry Bryant 6-1, 196 lbs. from Kennesaw, Ga.
Received all-county honors as a senior after totaling 52 tackles, including six tackles for loss and four sacks. Bryant also played defensive end and safety.

DB Eric Lewis 6-0, 185 lbs. from LaPlace, La.
Played under Coach Frank Monica at St. Charles Catholic HS and was rated a three star prospect by 247Sports.com. Has a nose for the end zone as Leis returned seven of his 17 interceptions for touchdowns. Also brought back seven punts for scores and had two TDs on kickoff returns.

D.J. Owens WR 5-11, 195 lbs. Acworth, Ga.
247Sports.com had Owens listed as a 3-star recruit and rated as the 51st-best running back prospect in the country. Earned first-team all-district honors as a senior with 282 yards on 43 carries and four touchdowns. He led North Paulding HS in receiving yards with 922 on 58 catches and seven scores.

De'Andre Williams DL 6-4 260 Baton Rouge, La.
Played both sides of the football at Scotlandville High; tight end and defensive end. Williams was rated the 16th best prospect in the state by MaxPreps.com. Last year he tallied 54 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.

Chris Johnson WR 6-2 185 Baton Rouge, La.
This WR went to Scotlandville Magnet HS and was rated as the 16th best prospect in the state by MaxPreps. Caught 36 passes for 672 yards and eight touchdowns while adding two kickoff returns for touchdowns.

Darnell Mooney WR 6-1 170 Gadsden, Ala.
The receiver also played defensive back at Gadsden City high school. Mooney was named an Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 7A First-team All-State selection after his senior season when he caught 37 passes for 697 yards and nine touchdowns. He also returned three punts for touchdowns and one kickoff for a score.
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Steve: Local colleges looking to represent at Super Bowl 50

My first year covering an NFL team was a picture perfect movie. Six years ago, we were talking about the Saints getting ready to take on Brett Favre and the Vikings in the Superdome. The thrill of being in the press box for that game will never leave me. It is still the absolute best football game that I’ve witnessed in person. That entire NFC championship was high drama.

This weekend will be a lot more laid back as we watch from afar to see who will be headed to this year’s big game. In the AFC, the Broncos look to gallop over the Patriots in Mile High.  Can “The Sheriff” Peyton Manning lay down the law against Teflon Tom? Or will Emperor Bilichik outwit everyone again to have a shot at bringing a 5th Lombardi Trophy back to his New England Death Star? 

There is some local flavor on both teams to root for.   Rookie cornerbacks Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon are in Denver.  Both played for the Tulane Green Wave. Doss was a 5th round pick, and has appeared in 6 game for the Broncos while Nixon was a 7th rounder and has not seen any action on the playing field. 



Of course Manning has local ties to the city.  He grew up in New Orleans and went to Newman before leaving for Rocky Top. He hasn’t looked like the player we’ve been used to seeing.  But maybe Manning can induce some John Elway Mile High Magic for a shot to go out with a title.



Over on the Patriots is Brandon Lafell.  This is the former LSU Tiger’s 6th year in the pros.  Lafell caught 35 passes for 515 yards this past season. 



Also, Pats punter Ryan Allen went to Louisiana Tech. 

In the NFC; Super-Cam Newton is trying to “dab” the Panthers to #SB50.  Newton should win the MVP of the league, as he’s been all sizzle this season.  But, the Arizona Cardinals remind me of the late great comedian Rodney Dangerfield. They get no respect. The Desert Birds own the top overall ranked offense in the National Football League and 5th overall defense. W…O…W!

The Cards love LSU guys.  Linebacker Kevin Minter and cornerback Patrick Peterson are part of AZ’s stout D. Minter tallied 94 tackles with a forced fumble in 2015. Peterson picked off 2 passes to go along with 35 tackles. 



Unfortunately, Arizona safety Tyrann Mathieu is not playing. He tore his ACL with 2 games left in the season and might still be up for Defensive Player of the Year considerations.  He will surely be missed in this game.  The guy just makes plays and I would have loved to see him show off in an NFC Championship. 



LSU offensive guard Trai Turner is helping protect Newton in Carolina.  Carolina is down veteran corner Charles “Peanut” Tillman from Louisiana Lafayette. The 35 year old is out after tearing his ACL.

Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long till football is back in town during this time of year.  After back-to-back 7-9 seasons the Saints are no longer hanging around amongst the elite in the NFC.  Short and sweet, the Black & Gold have to fix the defense or they’ll continue to waste their future hall-of-fame quarterback’s stats.  This year, a 36 year old Drew Brees (turned 37 on Jan. 15th) missed one game, and played on a bad foot in the last 2, but still managed to lead the NFL in passing yards.

Sean….Mickey…please find a Jonathan Vilma type for the Fleur Di Lis D this offseason. Yeah I know, easy for me to say.

WWL is your home for the Saints and the NFL.  Turn up 870am or 105.3fm for both games starting at 1pm Sunday.  Pregame coverage will lead up to a 2pm kickoff between Denver and New England in the AFC title game.  That match-up will immediately be followed by the NFC championship between Carolina and Arizona.  Kickoff is 5:40pm.   
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Steve: Saints lose another assistant coach; Lewis to Eagles

Greg Lewis is headed back to Philadelphia as the Eagles wide receivers coach after spending the 2015 season as an offensive assistant with the Saints and three previous seasons coaching in the college ranks.

Lewis was signed as a rookie free agent with Philly in 2003 and played eight seasons in the NFL with the Eagles (2003-08) and the Minnesota Vikings (2009-10).  He hauled in 161 catches for 2,172 yards and 9 touchdowns during his career.

He began his post-playing career as a coaching intern with the Eagles in the summer of 2012 and went on to coach wide receivers at the University of San Diego (2012), San Jose State (2013) and the University of Pittsburgh (2014).

Lewis leaving could be a sign that Curtis Johnson could be coming back as the Saints wide receivers coach.  He was a member of the Black & Gold’s coaching staff from 2006-2011.  CJ then went on to coach the Tulane Green Wave for 4 years.  He was let go following back to back 3-9 seasons.   
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Steve: Who could be on draft board when Saints pick at #12?

The NFL season is coming to a close with the Super Bowl less than a month away.  Playoff football has been great, but all I can think about is the upcoming draft for the Saints. 

Back-to-back 7-9 seasons thanks to a defense ranked in the pits of misery has me craving for a mean, vocal, aggressive stud on that side of the football.  The team did great last year with picking linebackers Stephone Anthony and Hau’oli Kikaha. I thought cornerback Damian Swann looked at ease in the snaps he played; hopefully concussions do not derail his future development. 

This year the Saints will be picking 12th overall… so who could be around at that time?

I love using the website fanspeak.com to simulate a mock draft. Just pick which team you want to be in charge of and how many rounds. It is quick and non-stop fun for mock draft geeks.

Here is how the first 11 picks panned out:
1: Titans - OT Laremy Tunsil
2: Browns - DE Joey Bosa
3: Chargers - DE DeForest Buckner
4: Cowboys - DT Robert Nkemdiche
5: Jaguars - CB Vernon Hargreaves III
6: Ravens - OT Ronnie Stanley
7: 49ers - QB Paxton Lynch
8: Dolphins - CB Jalen Ramsey
9: Buccaneers - DE Emmanuel Ogbah
10: Giants - CB Mackensie Alexander
11: Bears - DE Jonathan Allen

So now at #12 I am on the clock for the Saints.  These are the top names on the draft board that stand out:
  • OLB / RB Myles Jack - UCLA
  • WR Laquon Treadwell - Ole Miss
  • DT A’Shawn Robinson - Alabama
  • OT Taylor Decker - Ohio State
  • QB Jared Goff - California 
As much as I would love to select Treadwell to give Brees a guy who is a Dez Bryant-like wide receiver; I’m determined to find a stud on defense, so it will be either Jack or Robinson.

Chances are, honestly, that the linebacker out of UCLA won’t be around.  Jack notched only 15 tackles, one interception and a pass broken up in 2015. That’s because the junior suffered a knee injury in practice that ended his year early.  He should be a go come combine time, and more importantly for the start of the 2016 season.

In his sophomore year Jack tallied 87 tackles with 8 tackles for a loss, seven passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble. His natural pass-coverage skills are extremely impressive and really are just scratching the surface of his talents.



Meanwhile, Alabama’s big defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson has been the favorite so far to be selected by the Saints.  I’ve seen his name show up in a least 3 other NFL analysts’ mock drafts. What has been a problem for the Black and Gold for what seems like forever? A blanket on the D-line who can swallow up running backs who dare run up the middle that also has the strength and power to get a push up the gut to put pressure on the quarterback. Robinson is a 6-ft-4, 315 lbs. mammoth that was a consensus All-American in 2015, with 43 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss , 10 quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.



Don’t get mad LSU fans, but I would add another member of the Crimson Tide to the Saints with great joy.  Getting the defensive line right is my priority #1. 
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Steve: LSU baseball ranked top 10 in preseason poll

Football is about to leave us shortly as the Super Bowl will be played on February 7th, but college baseball is about to begin. Three preseason polls are out and the LSU Tigers are ranked 5th in the Perfect Game poll, 7th at D1baseball.com and in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper. 
 
The Tigers are joined by 6 other SEC teams in the D1 baseball poll.  Florida comes in at #1, Vanderbilt is #3, #4 is Texas A&M, followed by #15 Mississippi State, #17 South Carolina and #25 Arkansas. 

The only other local school ranked in the Top 25 is Louisiana-Lafayette at #18.

Last year LSU went 54-12, won the SEC championship and ended up getting eliminated at the College Word Series by TCU, who beat the Bayou Bengals twice.  

The 2016 roster includes 17 lettermen from the 2015 club, including five position players with starting experience and 11 pitchers who threw last season. However, the Tigers must replace eight of nine everyday starters from last season’s batting order.

This season begins February 19th versus Cincinnati in Alex Box Stadium.  
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Steve: Who could the Saints' next head coach be?

We still aren’t at DEFCON-5 yet when it comes to #SeanPaytonWatch2016, but we have to be prepared for any and every scenario. Let’s say it happens! Sean Payton is traded to XYZ team. After soaking it all in, the next question immediately becomes…who is going to coach the Saints!?

Doug Marrone
This name seems to be everyone’s go-to pick. The Saints have familiarity with him as he was Payton’s offensive coordinator from 2006-2008. He then went on to be the head coach at Syracuse, followed by two seasons as head coach with the Buffalo Bills. He exercised an opt-out clause in his contract, deposited a $4 million lump sum payout and walked away. I would hardly call him a shoe-in for the gig.

Dennis Allen or Pete Carmichael Jr. 
I would imagine the Saints would consider someone in-house.  Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is an option that has head coaching experience, although it was an 8-28 a disaster with the Raiders. It’s hard to criticize Carmichael’s job as offensive coordinator, and he is tight with Drew Brees all the way to their San Diego days.  
 
Sean McDermott
McDermott is one of the hot coordinators that will be sought after around the league.  He has been running the defense in Carolina since 2011 and started in the Eagles organization learning under the great Jim Johnson.  You want to fix the Saints defense? I’d look here.  

Josh McDaniels
Why not try and swipe someone from the Patriots' backyard? McDaniels did tank as a head coach in Denver, but has resurrected his career. His offense has been responsible for some of the best seasons of Tom Brady's career.

David Shaw 
Shaw has arguably done a better job at Stanford than Jim Harbaugh did. He also spent nine years as an NFL assistant and runs a pro-style offensive system. The feel is that he wants to remain in the college ranks, but the Saints job could be tempting.

 
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Steve: Not too soon to look at Saints' 2016 opponents

OK Who Dats, the Saints season is over...

So what about next year? Who will the Black and Gold play? Well, we don't know dates or times yet, but we do know their opponents.

The Saints will play at home/away versus everyone in the NFC South. Also on the the slate for 2016...

HOME: Rams, Seahawks, Raiders, Broncos & Lions

AWAY: Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, 49ers & Giants  

And for those looking forward to the NFL draft already.  The Saints hold the 12th overall selection. If they had lost to Atlanta they would have been 11th. Was worth the win wasn't it?  
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