Kristian Garic and I had the pleasure of interviewing the newest member of the Black and Gold offensive line when we called up two time pro bowler and Super Bowl champion Max Unger. Max seemed like a relaxed dude with a west coast vibe so it was no surprise to find out he was born in Hawaii and played his college football at Oregon before getting drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Unger was of course a part of the Jimmy Graham trade that saw the Saints ship the big TE (WR?) to Seattle for a first round pick, some cap relief, and Unger himself.
Trades in professional sports are a bit odd. From the player perspective you can wake up one day thinking you know exactly where your life is going and what to expect when all of a sudden your phone rings and you and your family are being shipped halfway across the country. For Max this experience was made more extreme by the fact that his wife is currently seven months pregnant.
Trust me when I say I do not envy a man who has to tell his pregnant wife they have to uproot their life out of the blue. That said, Unger told us that his wife has been great and the two are stoked to be coming to New Orleans. In fact on Saturday they spent their first day in the city and took it all in with a trip down Bourbon St on St Patty’s weekend (helluva first impression).
Fun Fact, Unger’s full name is Maxwell McCandless Unger and if you are like me you were immediately hoping that middle name would be pronounced Mc-Candles. Unfortunately Max informed me that it is Mc-Cand-less (alas, all my light in the darkness jokes will not make sense). Also, pay special attention to when I ask Max about his non existent beard. I thought I was so cool. Like we were really going to bond over being beard bros only to have him tell me he shaved it off a couple years ago (thanks Google images).
Anyway, enjoy the interview. I think Max sounds like a solid dude and someone who can be a leader on this team in 2015.
There is no doubt that the Jimmy Graham trade is sad. It marks the end of an era, but the painful truth is that it might just be the Saints best bet for improving immediately. It's a move that reeks of desperation. An outcome brought into this world as a potential solution to a puzzle that the Saints themselves created.
You know they didn't want to make this move, especially with the contract they signed Jimmy Graham to just last season. As I see it, the Saints front office is giving off the feel of a gambler down on his luck. Over the course of the evening they have been reduced to their last few chips. Now they are on the verge of losing everything, and if they feel they can get hot and win back their losses, drastic measures are to be required. Knowing this, the Saints have put themselves all-in.
If this doesn't work, the mantle of blame will be bestowed upon the coaches and the front office and the people will yell for heads to roll. Curtis Lofton GONE, Pierre Thomas GONE, Jimmy Graham GONE and now there is dissension amongst the ranks as many of the remaining players and fans are very upset.
For all the negativity, however, the Saints do have an out - and that out that comes in the form of winning. Winning cures everything and with this in mind, one could say that the countdown to the start of the season is essentially a countdown to judgement day for this coaching staff and front office.
The Saints must figure out a way to make efficient, effective use of their draft picks and newly acquired free agency money in order to pull this gamble off. This task, while daunting, is not impossible. It is not impossible because of Drew Brees. In the NFL, as long as you have a good quarterback you are never quite as far away from winning as you may seem.
The Saints are in a situation where they can more easily mask the departure of one of the NFL's elite receivers rather than mask the deficiencies of their porous defense. The Saints have now addressed one of their two real needs in acquiring Unger (an elite interior OL) and they have positioned themselves to bring in a free agent corner to address their other major need.
After these needs are addressed, it is all about not missing on their draft picks. The Saints are not a better team on paper today, but I believe the potential is there. So while it is sad and it is not optimal, at the end of the day the decision that Mickey Loomis and company made could be deemed as necessary. Sometimes, you must bite the bullet, dig your heels in, and make the tough decisions. The Saints have done this.
Now it remains to be seen - will this decision be their salvation? Or their damnation?
There has been a lot of debate recently over whether or not Drew Brees should take a pay cut. This is a legitimate argument, yet it spawns a viewpoint that I absolutely hate, and that is that Drew Brees will be portrayed as greedy if he doesn’t take a pay cut. This makes no sense to me.
It is not Drew Brees’ fault that the team mismanaged the salary cap. The front office knew the cap rules and yet they still managed to put themselves in this debacle. In other words, they are the architect of their own prison and it is on them to create an escape plan.
“But T-Bob; its near impossible with the cap to have a centerpiece, super expensive quarterback and still put a good roster around him!” LIES!!!!
Look no further than the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers had a $17.5 million cap hit last season and will have an $18.25 million cap hit this season yet the Packers are still 11th in the league with over $32 million in cap space! Well surely than they must have been pretty bad right? Oh wait, they SHOULD have been in the Super Bowl!
This shows me that this whole idea that you cannot pay a QB and have enough money left over to create a good team is a farce promoted by front offices. Is it tough? Absolutely, but is it impossible? Not at all.
Now, I hear a lot of pundits who agree with me talking about how they don’t understand how fans could side with these greedy owners in calling the players greedy. I believe that these people don’t really understand where the fans are coming from.
I don’t think the fans are siding with the owners, I think the fans just really want their beloved team to win win win and they recognize that due to the nature of the salary cap, a player taking a pay cut could potentially help the team’s chances of winning due to the ability to bring in other more expensive players. With that in mind - which player wouldn’t want to win? Which player wouldn’t want to add to their legacy?
What if I told you that there might be something more important than legacy? And that is providing for your own family. Obviously I’m not talking about the base needs of a family. I’m not talking about putting food on the table or a roof over their heads... clearly Brees has accomplished this and then some.
Wouldn’t it be nice to amass such wealth so that you could have the ability not to just support your kids for life - but your grandkids and great grandkids. That would be the ideal dream of the majority of people that I know. So next time you find yourself saying “how could he not take a pay cut… he has made enough money already!” remember you have to look at the situation from a relative perspective.
For simplicity’s sake let us say Brees is set to make $20 million dollars next season and the Saints want to ask him to take a $2 million dollar pay cut. That is 10% of his salary. Would you take a 10% pay cut in order to help out the company where you work? Maybe better improve your chances of success?
Perhaps you would and that makes perfect sense, BUT if you chose not to take the cut I would understand and I hope that others would as well. After all when the player is washed up and can’t play anymore will the team still honor the back end of the contract? Will they give a home town bonus? Hell no, so why should one side get to use the “its just business” excuse while we expect the other side to be so compromising in the pursuit of “legacy?”
Head Coach Curtis Johnson and the Tulane Green Wave are once again enjoying a successful signing day as they have addressed multiple positional needs with this 2015 class. If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you are aware of the fact that per capita, no one produces professional athletes at the same rate that Louisiana does. Louisiana is an incredibly talent-rich state. Coach Curtis Johnson recognizes this and has acted on this belief for the second year in a row signing a plethora of in-state talent from all over Louisiana.
Tulane was pretty good on the offensive line last season. It was a group that continued to improve throughout the year and paved the way for talented backs like Sherman Badie, Lazedrick Thompson, and Dontrelle Hillard. Well, it would seem as if O-line will be a strength for the Wave next year as they signed former University of Miami commit Leeward Brown. At 6’3 340 lbs Brown is a big boy that will look to have an immediate impact in this upcoming fall.
I already mentioned how talented the running back group was last season - well, it appears as if that crew will get even stronger with the addition of Nigel Anderson. A 3-star stud out of East St. John high school, Anderson is a compact 6’0 202 lbs and has the ability to run both between the tackles and outside the box. All Green Wave fans should be excited to watch this running game next year, as it is looking quite strong.
Tulane QB Tanner Lee showed flashes of brilliance last season, yet also struggled a bit. It appears that help is on the way as the Green Wave signed a big bodied, big time receiver that will be expected to play a lot of football immediately this fall. Belle Chasse’s Andrew Hicks is 6’3 194 lbs and has the ability to out-muscle smaller DBs and will be a definite red zone threat. Having a receiver such as Hicks helps out the quarterback so much because he no longer has to be perfect with the throw. Put it in the right area and trust your guy to make a play. I believe that the Lee-to-Hicks connection is one Wave fans can look forward to seeing time and time again.
Defensively, Tulane experienced a bit of a down year last season - but help is on the way! The secondary specifically will be enjoying a nice infusion of talent as the Wave have added 7 defensive backs with the class of 2015. Two time state champion Malik Eugene will look to help shore up the safety position with the graduation of Sam Scofield, while Warren Easton grad Dedrick Shy will look to make an impact on the corner position. Shy is made in the mold of the new age cornerback at 6’1 inches tall he brings a ton of that length that is so highly sought after nowadays. The D-line added a couple of big bodies as well, not the least of which is Big John Washington out of West Monroe, LA. Washington is 6’1 302 which is absolutely perfect for an interior defensive lineman. Put that body in a weight room and let him shine.
At the time of this writing, Tulane’s 2015 recruiting class currently has 17 total signees. 14 of these are from Louisiana with the other 3 hailing from the incredibly fertile football ground that is the state of Florida.
Bottom line, the Green Wave are on the rise. Although they struggled last season they were very young. With a year of experience under their belts, I expect the returning Wave players to mesh well with this 2015 class, so get ready for 2015 - it is time to Roll Wave!
On this week's edition of the WWL NFL podcast we're talking Super Bowl! Of course we start by talking media day and then "Deflategate" but seeing as how we are all so sick of the scandal you can jump right to the 34 minute mark to skip the drama and hear what we have to say about the game itself - and what a game it looks to be!
The two best teams in the NFL will meet this Sunday with a Lombardi trophy on the line and when you start breaking down the matchups, it becomes difficult to try and discern who has any true advantages.
So kick back, relax, grab a drink, and prepare to listen to the WWL NFL Podcast.
On this week's edition of the WWL NFL Podcast we break down the AFC and NFC Conference Championship games as Seth is still giddy with excitement over his Seahawks pulling off one of the most improbable comebacks in playoff history.
Perhaps the most "spirited" (yelling) debate takes place, however, when discussing the AFC Championship game and whether or not Andrew Luck deserves a pass. After I calm down a bit, Seth and I unite in discussing the impact of "deflate-gate" and why it matters. Perhaps Don Shula hit the nail on the head with his "Belicheat" comments?
Go ahead and grab a drink, lean back in your chair, and enjoy the WWL NFL Podcast!
What an odd morning it has been. The LSU Tigers announced yesterday that they had hired Alabama linebackers coach Kevin Steele to be their new defensive coordinator. The news was met with an outpouring of vitriol from the LSU faithful, as many felt this hire was underwhelming at best and a complete misstep at worst.
Steele’s resume as a defensive coordinator isn’t exactly stellar. In fact, his last game as a DC saw West Virginia hang 70 on his Clemson Tigers, a game that LSU fans were only too ready to reference when complaining about the hiring. I myself preached patience, saying that while the hire might not have been the sexiest, to automatically condemn someone before they have even coached a game is absurdly shortsighted. I’m not willing to say that Steele will be great, but I am also not willing to say that he will be a certain failure.
While some felt the same as I did, there were many who continued to bring up his past stats and say that he would never work out. However, some more recent news broke during this AM’s Double Coverage that has been the catalyst for a complete tonal shift as suddenly many Tiger fans are fully behind Kevin Steele as LSU’s D Coordinator. The Tigers have reportedly agreed to bring Coach Ed Orgeron onto their staff.
Coach O is one of the more legendary recruiters in college football. From Cutoff, Louisiana, Coach O cut his teeth at schools like Northwestern and McNeese before working his way up the food chain to powerhouses like Arkansas, Miami, and eventually USC. Coach O was given an opportunity to be the head coach at Ole Miss and it didn’t go quite as planned. However, later in his career he would become the interim head coach during his second stint USC and lead them to an impressive 6-2 finish in a turmoil filled season.
While many would disagree on the effectiveness of Coach O as a head coach there is one thing that everybody can agree on and that is Ed Orgeron is a master recruiter. In fact, Orgeron’s recruiting prowess has been covered in all different mediums as he was featured in the movie "The Blind Side" after winning an intense battle for OT Michael Oher. Author Bruce Feldman also wrote a NY Times Best Selling book about the recruiting process titled "Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting" which mainly featured Coach Orgeron and his recruiting efforts at Ole Miss.
I myself can attest to the aforementioned recruiting prowess, as Coach O recruited me coming out of high school and although there was never any chance of me going to Oxford, I continually kept them in my top 3 and to this day I would still say that no one did a better job of selling me on their school than Coach O and his staff. Basically, no one does it quite like Coach O and college football fans (including LSU’s) know this.
This is why the reports saying that he will be announced as a member of the LSU coaching staff later today have been met with such unbridled optimism. Kevin Steele’s main feather in his cap was that he is a great recruiter (in fact in 2005 he was the Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year). Many, however, felt that this wasn’t enough to justify hiring him as the defensive coordinator. However, the combination of Steele and Orgeron suddenly has LSU fans salivating at the new Big 3 that will be operating out of Baton Rouge. Kevin Steele, Ed Orgeron, and Frank Wilson are all former National Recruiters of the Year and will now be telling kids across the country that Purple and Gold are the colors that they have always wanted to wear.
I too am guilty in that my ambivalence towards the Steele hiring has turned on a heel and suddenly I am excited about the moves that Les Miles and the LSU administration have made. The “Big 3” will have a chance to put their money where their mouth is immediately as LSU is currently ranked 17th in the country according to Rivals.com. This is a far cry from what Tiger fans are used to and I daresay that I am intrigued to see what this newly assembled squad can do when the recruiting period comes to an end tomorrow. Perhaps this newfound optimism is too reactionary and a more conservative outlook is still the correct approach however I have always been a positive person so I am allowing myself to give into the hype. Plus I love Coach O.
Now it is time to see if these 2015 recruits and the LSU fanbase agrees with me!
After a week off due to Seth basically dying from a combination of 3 different sicknesses, the boyz are back in town and ready to rock your world. Was it a catch? Or not a catch? THAT is the question. And of course we disagree on the answer.
Also, we take a look back at this past weekend's divisional round games while looking forward to the upcoming conference championship games.
So kick back, relax, grab a drink, and listen to the WWL NFL Podcast!
Sorry for the delayed episode of the podcast but the holidays were insane and the logistics got a bit screwy. On this week's edition of the show, we preview the NFL Playoffs as Wild Card weekend gets ready to get underway.
We also go head to head as to who should be the NFL MVP... Aaron Rodgers or JJ Watt?
So grab a drink, kick back, relax, and prepare your ears for sexy NFL podcasting. Click the link below:
Welp, sorry folks, but South Louisiana football just wrapped up a disappointing 2014 campaign. If you were looking for the Tigers to ease your pain you came to the wrong place. Both experts and fans alike all had LSU pegged to win this game. There was but one dissenting voice. “YOU SHOOD HAFF LITHENED TO ME-th,” yelled Lou Holtz following the game winning kick that saw the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to defeat the LSU Fighting Tigers 31-28.
So where did it all go so wrong? Be careful… what you are about to read are some scorching HOT TAKES ™ fresh out of the oven… don’t burn yourself.
LSU’s Defense Could Not Get Off the Field on 3rd Down
I have always heard certain sects of LSU fans gripe about “3rd Down and Chavis.” In the past I brushed off these dissidents as unappreciative and over-reactive. However, if there was ever a situation in which these fans can yell about being right, it is now. Notre Dame finished 11/17 on third down. That is an absolutely horrendous (form LSU’s perspective) 64% conversion rate. Bottom line, that is a losing statistic. The interesting development to keep an eye on now is whether or not Coach Chavis will leave for Texas A&M. If in fact Chavis does end up bolting, it would be a darkly humorous exit as such a great coach would be leaving on the heels of such an uninspired performance.
Notre Dame controlled the Line of Scrimmage
In an Shyamalan-esque twist, it was Notre Dame and not LSU who won the battle in the trenches. In the end Notre Dame ran over twenty more plays than LSU did. This includes a punishing fifty one carries at an average of five yards per rush. In the battle of possession this equated to a fourteen minute time disparity in Notre Dame’s favor. Chew on that for a second. FOURTEEN MINUTES. Notre Dame had the ball for almost an entire additional quarter of football. This is at the bottom of the list of things I would have guessed about this game. Hell, I would have guessed that Brad Kragthorpe would have scored a TD before the aforementioned TOP stat. Speaking of Kragthorpe…
It was definitely a touchdown.
Brad Kragthorpe definitely scored. There is no two ways about it. The fact that the refs watched the video and decided that there wasn’t conclusive evidence to call it a touchdown was absurd. I am fine with the fake call because it was indeed a TD. Now, that said, it is not the reason that LSU lost. The Tigers got dominated in the trenches. Read my two previous HOT TAKES ™ (they should have cooled by now) and THAT is the reason why the Tigers lost.
Now I think I am going to drink until it is 2015 so I can completely forget that 2014 ever happened.