New Orleans is a great place.
Now, I haven’t been there since Katrina hit, but I’m pretty sure the bits that count (bars, titty bars, blues bars, irish bars, cajun bars, um, bar bars) are still there. They probably still have too many crap blues (is there actually anything worse? Even bad country music is more tolerable) and not enough good blues, and sadly definitely not enough people who talk like John Candy in JFK.
They also have the Saints. For a while there, as their stadium was turned into an open toilet and their city was ringed by FEMA trailers full of asbestos it looked like they may have been San Antonio or LA bound. But for various reasons (not a few of them political from the US Government and the NFL) they have stayed, and after a period of total voodoo madness (see photo below) the Saints have become one of the most entertaining and winning teams in the league.
There are two main reasons for that: coach Sean Payton, and QB Drew Brees, who both arrived in 2006 and changed football in the bayou immediately.
Payton was a small jobbing QB who played pro American football in the UK (!) before he became one of the smartest position coaches in the league under the close patronage of Bill Parcells who hired him in NY and in Dallas.
While QBs are usually the smartest guys on a team (not you JaMarcus Russell! Sit down and go back to sleep!) they have a spotty history as coaches (see Zorn, Jim – Washington Redskins). After the dark forgettable days of the Ditka and Jim Haslett eras, New Orleans finally had a decent man at the helm.
Then San Diego and Miami made the colossal mistake of thinking Drew Brees wasn’t still an elite quarterback. The Chargers went with Phillip Rivers who they had drafted and were already paying a ton of money to, and Miami chose to trade for Daunte Culpepper over Brees. Rivers is very good, but not quite in Brees’ class, and Daunte was almost completely terrible from the minute he put on a Dolphins uniform.
Meanwhile Brees, a considerate classy guy with superb QB skills quietly went about shredding every NFL defense he could get in front of. And becoming a very (VERY) passionate Saint.
In 2008 he came within 30 yards of besting Dan Marino’s yards in a season record (take that Miami!) and in the first two games this year threw for nine TDs. He’s cooled off since, but the Saints haven’t.
They are undefeated, and this week meet the NY Giants, who are also undefeated. While the Giants are a VERY good team, I think this is the moment the Saints finally put themselves into the absolute top rank of NFL teams this season.
OTHER INTERESTING GAMES:
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS v WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Wow this is going to be a terrible game. People are already putting bets on which teams will go winless this year with Kansas City looking good for the title just vacated by the Detroit Lions (who broke their winless stretch against Washington two weeks ago). The Redskins are just plain bad. So that’s the Caps (terrible) the Wizards (terrible) the Nationals (something worse than terrible) and now the Redskins. Washington DC, sports capital of the USA!
HOUSTON TEXANS v CINNCINATI BENGALS
The Bengals are back to being good, so let’s see if they can put away a team they should beat easily. I never know what to make of the Texans. They are maddeningly inconsistent and devoid of charisma. This is a team from Texas people! TEXAS. A team like this from Jacksonville or Seattle, sure. But you Texans are not worthy of the name.
BUFFALO BILLS v NY JETS
The Jets get back to winning with this. TO is claiming that he is ‘committed’ to staying in Buffalo. He’s ‘committed’ alright.
– Mark Tierney