We'll soon find out if the Saints themselves are over it as they take the practice field today in the Jackson, Mississippi for the opening of their 2007 training camp. But before we consider the months ahead, let's take a few minutes to revisit the Saints's movements during the intervening months that passed between now and that cold dark day in Chicago.
Coach Sean Payton (A.K.A. "Soupy" on account of something strange Menckles once said about his eyes) has gone to great lengths to encourage the Saints to put the 2006 season behind them going so far as to stage a jazz funeral for the team's collected trophies and awards. Frankly, the move strikes me as not only too cute but also rather futile since the the team seems to have racked up at least as much new bad karma as it has divested itself of by releasing long time fan favorites Michael Lewis and Joe Horn and also by appearing at or near the top of every prognosticator's pre-season NFC ratings.
Worse than that, the 2007 Saints open training camp while appearing on the latest Sports Illustrated cover ...although I do like that photo... which brings us to this.
Reggie Bush embarked upon a glorious Summer of Douchebaggery during which he
- Dated a woman famous for being peed on.
- In a hopefully unrelated matter, took up a new-age offseason conditioning program called Fre Flo Do.
- May have broken NCAA rules by helping his alma mater poach a highly prized Louisiana football recruit away from LSU
- Appeared in a music video with Ciara
- Appeared in a commercial with fellow overexposed jackass tabloid athlete David Beckham
Will Bush be able to put all this behind him to once again juke, spin, and mostly run backwards in an effort to match the 3.6 yards per carry he notched in 2006? We're on pins and needles.
Apart from the unfortunate dumping of Lewis and Horn, the Saints roster moves this offseason have amounted to mostly minor tinkering. The major additions in the secondary and at linebacker do make the roster deeper but amount to only a marginal talent upgrade. Early impressions of first round draft choice Robert Meachem are that he is fat and fragile but these are.. early impressions.
As far as we know, Hollis Thomas's summer has been clenbuterol-free.
As NFL teams open training camps this week, sports publications nationwide are issuing lists of what they have irritatingly termed "burning questions". So while doing our best to avoid burning anyone, let's ask a few questions ourselves.
1) Will 2007 be another "hangover year"?
Prior to 2006, the two most memorable Saints teams were the 1987 12-3 team which made the first playoff appearance in team history, and the 2000 10-6 team which (barely) came away with the franchise's first playoff win. The 2001 Saints followed that up with a sleepy 7-9. Worse still, the 1988 Saints finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs anyway. If the 2007 Saints manage to be similarly disappointing, you can't say that it's without precedent.
2) Does anyone even listen to WWL sports talk anymore? Not that we could have expected them to but they just haven't come close to replacing Buddy D. Bobby Hebert is okay.. in a clownish sort of way.. but Kenny Wilkerson just needs to be choked. Buddy used to make even the worst football seasons not only bearable but downright fun. God I miss that guy.
3)Five pre-season games? WTF!
The whole team is likely to start the season on the inactive list.
4) Will the awful black pants make an appearance?
And who can we kill if they do?
5) Did the Saints miss a window to win it all in 2006 that has already closed?
We certainly thought so last year when I wrote this
It's like this. If this group is going to win a Superbowl, they need to do it this year. I know they're a flawed team now.. but they won't get better next year. Horn will be year older, Deuce and Reggie will not be so willing to share the backfield, Charles Grant will likely be too expensive to retain, Soupy won't command as much respect from the players through their fear of the unknown, and the whole team will be burdened by the increased expectations. Win it this year or not at all.(Note Horn is gone.. but Grant is back) But now.. well.. you have to have some reason to keep watching don't you?
Update: Here it is! Fat guys w/luggage!