Friday, August 09, 2013

Peak pre-season

I was just wondering when the revised hurricane forecast (the one that takes into account that there haven't really been very many hurricanes) would come out.  Hurricane season forecasting is a complicated season-long process of adjusting the predicted numbers in order to match the actual ones until, finally, at the end of year, you've got it exactly correct.

And now the latest is here.  It advises us to expect hurricanes.
The updated forecast calls for 13 to 19 named storms of which six to nine are to become hurricanes and three to five of those becoming major hurricanes of winds of 111 miles per hour or more, according to a NOAA press release.

That’s very similar to the pre-season forecast released in May which called for 13 to 20 named storms, seven to 11 of which would become hurricanes and three to six of those becoming major hurricanes.
It's not likely that the change from "13 to 20 named storms" to "13 to 19"  will make much difference to you or me. Unless that 20th storm was a real doozie, of course, which is something that is beyond NOAA's capacity to know until it's too late anyway.   So ,really, this announcement is here just so somebody can go out into the news and say, "Hey guys, don't forget about hurricanes!"   Ok.

But this is a time for adjusting expectations anyway.  Saints fans may know a thing or two about that. As hurricane season transitions out of its pre-season, the NFL's is just kicking in.  Friday night, the Saints will play their first fake game. There will be four of them in total.  None will be very exciting for the fans to view. None will matter a lick in the season's final statistics.  All will be very dangerous events for the players' limbs and muscles and brains, though. Football, even fake football, is like that.

And so, it turns out, is football practice. Even without having completed one full weekend of purposeless pre-season violence, pro football has lost approximately 75% of its regular cast for this season to attrition. And the Saints figure prominently among those affected.

They lost linebacker Victor Butler in minicamp when Mark Ingram collided with him for no apparent reason other than a desire to be "sudden." Ingram continued to bring unnecessary harm upon his teammates until the point where they actually began wearing protective gear to practice and... you know.. hitting back, I guess.

Which is when overzealous rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro took over the job of stupidly hurting people.  Some were alarmed, but it turns out all this focus on idiotic machismo obscures the fact that Vaccaro "understands football" which, we are told, is the main thing.
One of the young players he has especially been impressed with so far is rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro, who has certainly caught the attention of his coaches and teammates with his play in camp. Leonhard believes the Saints' first-round pick out of the University of Texas has limitless talent.

"Kenny has a lot of talent and I think he's going to be a great player," he said. "Kenny understands football, and that's the main thing.
Cut ahead to mid-season.  The Saints have just embarrassed the New York Jets at home when Vaccaro creates a late game turnover by launching himself butt-first into Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez who is still their starter for some reason. At the post-game press conference, Rex Ryan, deflated by having just lost to his brother, sighs into the microphone, "Well I guess they just understood football a little more thoroughly than we did."

In addition to his understanding of football,  Vaccaro also has fans and press excited  in the expectation that he will help Rex Ryan's brother bring one more thing to the defense this year. 
But even more than scheme, Saints inside linebacker Curtis Lofton insisted the most important change will come in the defense's "attitude."

"We gotta have this sense that no matter who we are going against, no matter who it is, we have to stop the run. And as a man, you measure yourself against the run," Lofton said. "I don't really feel like we did a good job of that last year. And this year with a new system and new scheme, we gotta improve our attitude."
You can see why this makes sense. With so few functioning bodies left to work with,  "attitude" seems like the only sensible point of emphasis.  In fact it's not too unlike what we tell cancer patients so at least there's science behind it.. or pseudo-science anyway. Look for the Saints and their "attitude" to totally own Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.  Despite the ridiculous absurdity of the circumstances, and of course, the inherent danger of the situation, the Saints are about to take the field for some reason Friday night. Let's not waste this opportunity to get our practice licks in in the meantime.

For example, we've got nicknames to finalize.
While we're on the subject of dicks, Junior Galette sure has been swinging his around lately. And by most accounts, not the least of which being Rob Ryan's, it's been glorious. This guy… this is my kinda guy.

We here at moosedenied have been trying to come up with the obligatory clever nickname for him, because Message Board Guy ain't getting the job done with bland shit like "Beast" and any number of intentional misspellings of "Junior" and other such nonsense. And with all due respect to the man himself, "NuLa C.E.O." doesn't exactly tickle the ole ball sack either.

Personally, I've grown quite fond of "Beard Al Gankabitch" but I'm not quite fool enough to think that'll actually stick. Unfortunately. Because it's goddamned awesome.
In a word, no.  That's definitely not what we're going with.  Not saying that I've got anything better in mind.  The best I've come up with so far is a play on my growing annoyance with the obsessive discussion over who gets to play the "Jack" linebacker position in the new defense.

It's one thing to appreciate the composition of the 3-4 "under" alignment. But it's a little tiring to see everyone flaunt the word "Jack" like an Uptown Lady with a fashionable new accessory.

And there are only so many times one can quietly snicker at all the enthused speculation over who gets to line up in the Jack Backer position and... you know.. take the quarterback down from behind... and... right well I said it was getting tiresome, right? Anyway all this is to say that the best nickname I have so far for Galette and his fuzzy beard is Jack Scratcher which is, of course, also terrible.

The point is we've all got a lot of work to do and we need to get after it quickly since, and this is no surprise, the key question may already be moot.
METAIRIE, La. —  Running back Pierre Thomas and outside linebacker Junior Galette both would be deemed questionable if this were a game week after sitting out both practice sessions Thursday, coach Sean Payton said.

Payton wouldn’t give specifics on either of their injuries, saying only, “We’ll see where they’re at.”
We'll see where they're at.  And then we'll adjust our forecast accordingly. 

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