June 9, 2008

Saints Need To Open Checkbook To Young Stars

DE Smith, WR Colston more than deserving based on past performance, youth and leadership position

OTAs: The Saints are in the middle of voluntary practice sessions - organized team activities - and are working hard in what is really a full-scale training camp without pads. Coaches are "installing" packages on both sides of the ball and young plays and veterans alike are preparing for training camp.

Ellis, Smith, Colston Missing OTAs: DE Will Smith is present but continues to sit out of the voluntary workouts as a signal to the Saints that he is waiting for his new contract.

Top draft pick DT Sedrick Ellis was also excused for personal reasons.

WR Marques Colston was not excused from the voluntary sessions per se, but head coach Sean Payton stressed that he had yet to hear from Colston as to why. Smith and Colston are both represented by Joel Segal.

While Ellis is awaiting the signing of his first contract, Smith and Colston are awaiting their second.

Lehr Missing OTAs: Veteran OL Matt Lehr is not participating in the voluntary practices due to personal reasons.

Lehr is involved in an investigation into a steroid dealer's disclosures to league officials that Lehr and Titans LB Ryan Fowler had bought steroids from David Jacobs, the convicted steroids dealer. Both Lehr and Fowler were members of the Cowboys at the time of their alleged involvment with Jacobs.

Lehr has already served a four-game suspension in recent years as a member of the Falcons.

Jacobs was found dead in his home last Thursday, along with a woman, in what has been ruled a suicide, despite the fact that Jacobs had two gunshots wounds. Jacobs had a history of domestic threats of violence.

Ugly Stats: Pro-football-stats.com, one of the best football stats blogs, posted some ugly numbers for Saints fans. According to a June 5 blog entry, the Saints' pass defense in 2007 was historically bad.

"New Orleans allowed 1.48 more adjusted yards per pass than the average team.

The Saints had a pretty easy schedule last year: they faced Byron Leftwich, Alex Smith, David Carr, Marc Bulger, Kyle Orton, Matt Moore, Vince Young, Chris Redman, Joey Harrington and Luke McNown, all players that were below average in 2007. So when you adjust New Orleans’ actual average yards per attempt allowed number (1.48 below average) for their strength of schedule (0.49 AY/A below average), we can give a value of -1.98 for the Saints, meaning that’s what we’d have expected New Orleans to allow if they faced an average slate of quarterbacks.

As you can imagine, that’s really awful. The Saints pass defense last year looks historically bad without recognizing a below average schedule. Basically, the ‘07 Saints pass D was about as bad as it gets."

On a similar performance-based metric that was adjusted for strength of schedule, Saints QB Drew Brees was slightly above average and ranked 14th overall. Tom Brady, David Garrard and Peyton Manning were rated 1-2-3.

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