Editors Note: We’re welcoming a new author to theSportsGeeks.com: Brian. He’s a huge NFL fan and will be writing at The Sports Geeks from now on, but be sure to check out some of his previous work here: http://pursuitofperfection10.wordpress.com/.
How’s it going, The Sports Geeks-Nation? My name is Brian Parker and I’ll be making some story contributions to the site; generally stories about the NFL, but I’ll be sure to chime in on other sports as the need arises.
As a first post to this site, I wanted to give the 2009 NFL season a retrospective look based on thoughts I had during my recent viewing of NFL Film’s production of the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl XLIV Champions video. As anyone who has ever seen an NFL Films production is aware, the production quality is excellent and you also get the opportunity to hear on-the-field audio that the broadcast networks don’t focus on during any given game.
And so, here are the major points that came to mind as I watched this season’s film:
1.) Reggie Bush is an overrated player with flashes of brilliance.
Early on in the championship film, they show the footage of Reggie Bush’s ridiculous touchdown run against the Chicago Bears from the 2006 NFC Championship Game. Later in the film, they show his big game performance in the Divisional Round of the playoffs against the Arizona Cardinals. In-between, I nearly forgot that the Saints still had him at running back; it’s not hard to see why the Saints rely on Pierre Thomas for the majority of the rushing snaps. Bush can have break-out moments–and few will forget the slow-motion image of his dive to the end zone against the Dolphins this season–but he has still failed to prove himself as a full-time player.
2.) The New Orleans Saints jersey could use some color-matching help from the Home Depot.
In high-definition, it’s clear to see that the New Orleans Saints have at least four (4!) different color tones of gold in their uniforms. The helmets are one shade of gold, the jersey collars are a different shade of gold, the numbers are a different shade of gold, and the pants are a different shade of gold. It looks like the entire New Orleans team, while quite skilled at playing football, is entirely incompetent in dressing themselves in matching colors. Yet the Jacksonville Jaguars, not the Saints, revamped their entire jersey scheme this year to put forth a unified image set.
3.) Darren Sharper was a beast in 2009; this does not mean that he should be given a king’s ransom for 2010.
With the free agency period in full swing now, Darren Sharper has yet to meet terms to re-sign with the Saints for 2010. He also had to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery just so that he’ll be able to pass a physical. Sharper had an insane year in 2009 in terms of stats–the INTs were particularly gaudy–and he was a steady player in an unsteady Saints secondary that had injury problems. However, he was also the benefactor of a defensive scheme under coordinator Gregg Williams that encouraged his “ball-hawking” abilities and allowed his sub-par tackling skills to go overlooked. There is a chance that Sharper could get the kind of contract numbers he’s asking for from a team willing to overpay for his talents, but it would be hard to see the Saints throw too much money his way–especially after letting free agent linebacker Scott Fujita go to the Cleveland Browns.
4.) Trash-talking in the NFL is not equal.
One of the great things about watching NFL Films productions is that you can hear on-field audio of the players; especially the players that like to do a lot of talking on the field. However, not all trash-talkers are created equal, and failure can be disastrous.
Early in the film, a Jets player is trash-talking Superdome fans before their Week 4 match-up with New Orleans, taunting with the fairly unimaginative “You won’t be talking after the game is done” bit. The Jets were 3-0 at the time; they lost their next 3 games, including final score: Saints 24, Jets 10.
Before the Week 6 match-up against the Giants, New York running back Brandon Jacobs is mic’ed up on the field saying that New Orleans were “the same old Saints.” The Giants were 5-0 at the time; they lost their next 4 games, including final score: Saints 48, Giants 27.
During the first half of Super Bowl XLIV, Colts defensive back Melvin Bullitt is talking to his teammates on the sideline about Drew Brees’ height: “He can’t even see over you.” That’s right; a short joke about the Super Bowl XLIV MVP. Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17.
During Super Bowl XLIV, Saints linebacker Scott Fujita walks up to Peyton Manning between plays and says–in reference to this commercial series–“I can eat Oreos faster than you.” The single funniest example of trash-talk I’ve heard from an NFL game. Final Score: Saints 31, Colts 17.
Long story short: if you can’t bring it, don’t sing it. Your team will lose horribly. Or something catchy like that.
5.) The Saints’ ability to come back from a 10-0 deficit in Super Bowl XLIV should not have surprised anyone.
In Week 7, the Saints faced a 21-point deficit against the Miami Dolphins; final score: Saints 46, Dolphins 34. In Week 9, the Saints went down 14-0 early to the Carolina Panthers; final score: Saints 30, Panthers 20. The St. Louis Rams–1 and 8 at the time–outgained the Saints in Week 10; final score: Saints 28, Rams 23. While the Colts were a much better team than any of those three, the Saints were prepared to play for the entire Super Bowl, even after falling behind early.
6.) New England Patriots fans don’t understand how important it is that Leigh Bodden has re-signed with the team for 2010.
The game highlights from the Saints’ Week 12 dismembering of the “Team of the 2000’s”–complete with horrible blown coverages in the secondary–underscores how important it was for New England to hold onto any worthwhile defensive backs for the 2010 campaign. Coming a week after the Patriots blew their game against the Colts, this was a sign of the changing of the guard for the 2009 season. Combined with the Jets push to the AFC Championship Game, the AFC East could see a major turnover in results this fall.
7.) On two separate occasions, Saints players were put in the same exact situation in 2 different games. These eerie coincidences had a direct impact on the Saints’ successful 2009 campaign.
Tracy Porter had a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown off of lowly Chad Henne in Miami in the Week 7 match-up at Land Shark Stadium; in the same stadium (now known as Sun Life Stadium) for Super Bowl XLIV, Porter had the famous 74-yard pick-6 off Peyton that sealed the game for New Orleans.
Kicker Garrett Hartley missed a 37-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation in the Saints’ 20-17 OT home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16. In the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings, Hartley put a 40-yard field goal through the uprights to send the Saints to the Super Bowl.
8.) The Fleur-de-Lis symbol is hard to draw on hand-made signs.
Seriously; if you don’t watch the DVD, all you need to do is put in a Google search and you’ll have your proof.
9.) The Minnesota Vikings blew their shot at making Super Bowl XLIV. Brett Favre is most responsible. He is also their best chance for 2010 success.
The angles shown of Favre’s ridiculous decision to pass the ball in the waning moments of this year’s NFC Championship Game clearly display that Favre–whether hobbled by that bad ankle or not–could have easily covered a good distance and put the Vikes in field goal range if he had just tucked the ball and run. His decision not to do so is the single most-important reason why Minnesota lost. Even with all the turnovers prior to that horrible interception toss, the Vikings would have been walk-off winners given the opportunity for a field goal try. All that said, the Vikings go from NFC North favorites to a team with a major question mark under center if Favre doesn’t return.
10.) Sean Payton’s discussion of the onside kick with the Super Bowl XLIV officiating squad prior to the game is the number-one reason I would make a terrible NFL referee.
I like to think of myself as a trustworthy person, someone who can keep secrets. However, if I had been one of the referees made privy to Payton’s onside kick plan, I have no doubt that my excitement at seeing the play would’ve caused me to give it away somehow; lining up awkwardly to give away the plan to the Colts players, something of that nature. For the sake of New Orleans Saints fans everywhere and everyone who saw that gutsy onside kick pulled off successfully, I’m glad somebody else had the task.
11.) The replay challenge of the 2-point conversion attempt to Lance Moore was a shining example of why replay is a good thing in any sport that has the appropriate cameras.
The positioning of the camera–right along the goal line–combined with super slow-motion video made this replay challenge a textbook example of why instant replay, when properly set-up, is a great thing for the sport. In real-time, there’s no way to tell that the ball was possessed to the ground and then kicked out–I don’t blame the official one bit for ruling it a bobble and a drop at first. But thanks to having the cameras in the right place, the call was overturned correctly. All NFL games should have cameras in these positions so that no replay need be inconclusive (except in the most extreme circumstances).
12.) The Super Bowl is a much more fitting end to the NFL season than the Pro Bowl.
I know this voice is somewhat in the minority compared to most people, but I think the decision to play the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl is genius, if only for one reason: it makes a hell of a lot more sense to end the season with a championship game than a meaningless all-star game. Sure, Saints and Colts players had to sit out of the Pro Bowl, resulting in a horrible carousel of backup players making the all-star game (David Garrard? Seriously?!?); I bet those New Orleans and Indianapolis players didn’t care one bit. The goal is to make the Super Bowl; the season ends on a much higher note if the last game is the league championship instead of a bunch of players going half-speed in a meaningless exhibition.
13.) 31 NFL teams now have the entire offseason to figure out how they can get a better result.
And all of the NFL’s fans are eagerly anticipating the start of the 2010 season.
So there are my 13 points on the 2009 NFL season, thanks to one afternoon watching the NFL Films review of it. While the Saints keep on marching all around New Orleans in celebration of their first Super Bowl title ever, the free agent market and draft boards continue to move on to the start of another NFL season. Let’s all hope that the league and the player’s association come to terms for a new CBA before a lockout becomes a reality.
Any comments or feedback on this story? Let me know in the comments below!