Archive for the ‘New Orleans Saints’ Category

Dante Rosario's catch silences the Charger faithfull in week 1 (photo by AP)

Dante Rosario silences the Charger fans in week 1 (Photo by AP)

With just one game gone in the season it’s hard to tell who are the contenders and who are the dead-enders.

It was a really wild start to the season for both the London bound teams and the ideal way to begin my series of weekly updates on the London bound New Orleans Saints and the San Diego Chargers.

At Qualcomm stadium you could have heard a pin drop when Jake Delhomme took a rather high snap, avoided the pass rush pump faked and then hit Dante Rosarioin the endzone as the Carolina Panthers stole a 26-24 win against the Chargers in California.

Elsewhere in Louisiana Saints linebacker Scott Fujita grabbed a bullet pass from Jeff Garcia in the final minute of the game to seal a tough 24-20 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Notes about the Chargers

♣ Shawne ‘Lights Out’ Merriman had just two tackles and failed to get to Jake Delhomme

♣ 3rd round rookie Jacob Hester did not touch the ball – Ill keep everyone updated. The other lesser known rookie fullback Mike Tolbert did have an impressive start with 3 runs for 6 yards and 3 catches for 35 yards and two first downs

My Week 1 grade – Offense B, Defense C, Special Teams C

Notes about the Saints

♥ Deuce McAllister did not play, and without his bruising style the Saints running back combo of Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas failed to make a big impression on the ground. Reggie Bush did have a fantastic game with 8 catches for 112 yards and a score. Lets face it Bush can catch dink and dunk passes all day long and just kill teams – he could catch 150 passes legitimately in a single season.

My Week 1 grade – Offense A-, Defense C, Special Teams C

In summary both teams showed that they can compete, but they will win games with their offense more than their defense. With 7 weeks until Wembley I cannot wait.

What was YOUR first impression of the Chargers and the Saints in Week 1? ……………….

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Lights Out is heading to Wembley - Pic by Doug Pensinger, Getty Images North America

Lights Out is heading to Wembley - Pic by Doug Pensinger, Getty Images North America

The San Diego Chargers have officially announced this afternoon that Shawne ‘Lights Out’ Merriman, their outstanding linebacker will ‘forego surgery on his knee’ to play in the 2008 NFL season.

This is fantastic news for all the NFL fans in England (and other parts of the UK and in Europe) who will make the annual pilgrimage to Wembley Stadium to see the Chargers take on the New Orleans Saints in London on October 26, in only the second NFL regular season game to take place in Europe.

Lights Out is a beast, a human wrecking machine, and 39.5 sacks in 42 career games is proof that he is a true superstar.

Only Merriman will know if he is kidding himself by saying that he will play through the pain. He does risk blowing his entire career, but with the 2008 NFL season just over a week away, its just too appetising for Shawne to not want to taste success.

The Chargers have a realistic shot at the Superbowl this season, and Merriman is one of the keys to victory, with his high adrenaline play and his ability to frighten the heck out of opposing teams.

It’s no coincidence that Merriman wears #56 after the Hall of Fame stud and former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. It was Taylor who redefined the game, making left offensive tackles get much bigger salaries.

Look at the #1 pick in the NFL draft this year – offensive lineman Jake Long. He was drafted to protect the quarterback from the likes of Merriman, as much as to clear the lanes for Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown.

Having the NFL circus come to England in 2008 will again be special, waving a torch because Merriman will be looking to turn Drew Brees lights out makes it just that bit more special.

Merriman you are a brave man and NFLFANINENGLAND salutes your decision.

Good or bad idea – let me know……

With under three months to go until the San Diego Chargers take on the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium, in the second regular season NFL game to take place in Europe, I felt now is a good time to look at the prospects of the Saints and the Chargers first round 2008 rookie picks.

Both teams sensibly went for defensive upgrades in areas of need – all goos so far, so lets look in some more detail;

Saints – Pick Number 7 overall – Selection – Sedrick Ellis – Defensive Tackle – College – USC Trojans – Contract status – 5 year contract signed – 6ft 1 – 307lbs – Shirt #98

Sedrick Ellis - Saints #1 pick

Sedrick Ellis - Saints #1 pick

Lawrence Vos’s Position analysis

Ellis comes into a Saints defensive that was 13th overall in the NFL against the run in 2007, but its the pass defense that was awful last season finishing 30th out of 32 teams, giving up a league worst 7.9 yards a pass. The defensive tackles clogging up the running lanes for the Saints in 07 included old warhorse Hollis Thomas (5o tackles and 3 sacks), Brian Young (who made just 18 tackles in 8 starts) and Antwan Lake (whoooo ? – well he started 7 games and had 18 tackles). Not exactly an all-star lineup you must agree. Ellis will be an immediate upgrade and will be pushing to get in the starting lineup from the opening snap of pre-season. Ellis was a monster at USC in 07, with 8.5 sacks and a reinforced shelf full of awards. Whilst his height and weight are not prototypical of a dominating defensive tackle Ellis has the motor of a transatlantic cruise liner, and is an excellent fit for the Saints. I’m not convinced that every fan inside Wembley Stadium in October will fully appreciate the skills of Ellis in the middle of a mud filled trench war, but I will be straining my eyeballs towards number #98 when the game begins. 3 tackles and a sack would be a fantastic day out for Ellis in London.

Chargers – Pick Number 27 overall – Selection – Antoine Cason – Cornerback – College – Arizona Wildcats – Contract status – 5 year contract signed – 6 ft 0 – 191lbs – Shirt #20

Antoine Cason - Chargers #1 pick

Antoine Cason - Chargers #1 pick

Lawrence Vos’s Position analysis

The Chargers were just one game away from the Superbowl, but two Tom Brady touchdown passes were enough to kill San Diego’s prospects of a second Superbowl appearance. What does Coach Norv Turner do to immediately address the problem – he got rid of Drayton Florence and upgraded to Antoine Cason, to go alongside 2007 All World corner Antonio Cromartie. Cason had 253 tackles and 15 interceptions as a Wildcat in the desert, quite impressive stats for a cornerback. At Wembley in October Cason will be going up against the likes of Devery Henderson, David Patten, Robert Meachem or even Jeremy Shockey, which will be a stern test for Cason. Rookie cornerbacks can often be picked on and by mid-season it will become apparent if Cason is going to sink or swim. With a father and two cousins that have already played in the NFL Cason will have the bonus of years of advice and guidance about being a professional athlete. Being a first round pick there will be expectations by coaches and fans that Cason will be game ready from game one. My prediction for his game in London – 2 tackles and one pass defended, and one huge mistake. 

Anyone else got any thoughts on Ellis or Cason ? Feel free to comment……

Shockey warming up at Wembley, London in 2007

Shockey warming up at Wembley, London in 2007

Some people think tight-end Jeremy Shockey was traded to the New Orleans Saints from the New York Giants earlier this week because he wants to start afresh in the Superdome.

Some say he could not cope with the fact Kevin Boss (spot him in the picture above Shockey) was one of the New York Giants stars in the Superbowl (XLII) in February, whilst Shockey sat injured and unable to play.

I can however reveal the real reason that Jeremy Shockey has signed for the Saints – he wants to COME BACK to England and strutt his stuff at the second ever NFL International game in Europe.

Taking place again at Wembley Stadium on October 26 2008 Shockey will be once again crossing the pond and getting changed in the London locker room for an England based NFL regular season encounter, this time the Saints against the San Diego Chargers.

it can be exclusively revealed on NFLFANINENGLAND that Shockey asked to be traded to the Saints so he could come back to London, for the following reasons…..

1) Shockey is addicted to the English delicacy of Fish ‘n’ Chips, with mushy peas, a pickled onion, a small pot of curry sauce and a can of Tizer (which is available to buy in England despite Scottish people thinking it is exclusively their drink), this after his first visit to London in 2007 as a New York Giant

2) Shockey in fact likes English women, citing that he has the hots for Elizabeth Hurley, Kate Moss and after 10 pints of Spitfire Ale a bit of Amy Winehouse

3) Shockey’s family insist that young Jeremy brings back at least four boxes of PG Tips tea, so the Shockey family can experience the full English tea drinking experience back in the land of Uncle Sam

I for one already have my tickets paid for and on their way for the Saints v Chargers game in October.

Maybe this time Shockey can punch one in the end-zone himself, after all just because we had a bit of rain does not excuse the Giants and Dolphins from only managing a total of 23 combined points in 60 minutes.

PS – Shockey is in my BBFL fantasy team roster so I wish him all the best and hope he has a 60 catch 750 yard season in New Orleans, which I think is not beyond the realms of possibility.

So what do YOU think Shockey’s stats will be in 08 as a Saint ? Please post a response

389 tackles in three NFL seasons is quite a respectable output for a linebacker, averaging almost 130 tackles a season. Problem is it wasn’t enough for the New York Jets to keep Jonathan Vilmaon their roster, and in February this year he was traded to the Wembley bound New Orleans Saints.

The Saints starting linebackers from 2007 were hardly the same class as the great Saints ‘backers of the late 1980s (the Dome Patrol of Pat Swilling, Sam Mills, Ricky Jackson and Vaughan Johnson) with Mark Simoneau, Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle all performing to their best ability, but lets be frank, not at a Pro Bowl standard.

Vilma on the other hand is already a Pro-Bowl veteran, having made the game as an alternate in 2006, following on from his outstanding 2005 season, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The big debate as far as Vilma goes is that he was playing in the wrong defensive scheme as a New York Jet, in a 3-4 defense, but has found a true calling with the Saints as the star inside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.

Vilma’s 2007 season was a write-off after just 7 games, with  a bone defect. This means the Saints were taking somewhat of a gamble by picking up his tab.

I will be really looking forward to seeing Jonathan Vilma roam the hallowed Wembley turf for the NFL International game against the San Diego Chargers on October 26.

Vilma is no Ray Lewis, and he is certainly not the same type of defender as the Chargers 2006 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Shawne ‘Lights Out’ Merriman, as he is disciplined as a tackler, and does not spend his time trying to crush quarterbacks.

He has the opportunity with the Saints to become an instant fan favourite, and get around 110 to 120 tackles and maybe even three or four turnovers.

Lets hope Vilma’s road to recovery from his disappointing 2007 campaign runs through London, and over 80,000 fans get to see Vilma wrapping up the likes of LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates in the Red Zone of a most likely soggy Wembley Stadium.

I think Vilma will make a solid comeback and help propel the Saints to a wild-card and a record of 10-6.

How far the Saints can go if they make the playoff party is anyones guess after the Giants shocked the NFL world to lift the Lombardi Trophy in 2008 (via Wembley of course !!!) .

Will Vilma be a stud or a bust – give me your views…………

Guess who’s back, Deuce is back, lalala(to the tune of that Eminem song). Question is how much of a difference will running back Deuce McAllister make to the win column of the New Orleans Saints in 2008?

By the time the Saints come over the play the San Diego Chargers in England on October 26 we will already know if Deuce has had the desired effect, or if his season will be yet another write-off ?

McAllister when fit is an imposing figure, a big old-fashioned bruiser who is capable of dominating a game with some good ol’ ‘school of hard knocks’ football.

He also has the perfect foil in the form of tailback Reggie Bush. The Heisman Trophy winner of 2006, Bush, has shown that whilst he has incredible hands (161 catches in just 28 career games) he is not the answer as the starting running back for the Saints, with a not so hot 3.7 yards a carry career average.

In 2006, with Deuce and Bush both fit, and performing using their different backfield styles, the Saints shocked the world and found themselves just a single game away from the Superbowl.

In 2007, with Deuce missing 13 games due to injury, and Bush again making an impact as a dumpoff/screen pass receiver, but not as a starting running back, the Saints regressed to 7-9, and missed out on a playoff spot.

Saints backup running backs Aaron Stecker, the former Scottish Claymores NFL Europe legend, and rookie Pierre Thomas both performed admirably, with Brees using his backs to dumpoff more passes than a fleet of dumptrucks dumping rubbish. Stecker in fact started 6 games, and had an extremely respectable 2007 output, but neither however have the intimidating presence of Deuce.

The Saints are a better team with Deuce McAllister in the backfield, but with 25 games missed in the last three seasons there is no guarantee that Deuce will even make it to Wembley.

I for one hope when I turn up at the Venue of Legends on a wet and windy October sunday night for the NFL International game between the Saints and the San Diego Chargers that number #26 is in the backfield.

Good Luck to Deuce to keep fit, the Saints add a big ol’ weapon to their arsenal with McAllister in the backfield, and I think he makes a 3-5 game difference in the win column.

With Brees able to find quality wideouts such as Colston and Patten (again when fit – boy did he suck as a Redskin) and being able to offer a bruising running game and a finesse running game in addition means the Saints can mix and match better than a 4 year old with a big box of Lego.

Do you think Deuce is a difference maker or am I talking a lot of hot air ? Comments below all welcome….