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Thread: Week 9 Notes: Saints at Bengals

  1. #51
    Notebook: Gio looks good to go; Brees weathers chill; Look back at how Bengals beat Drew's 510

    Geoff HobsonSENIOR WRITER

    Giovani Bernard; appears good to go.

    With head coach Marvin Lewis indicating that running back Giovani Bernard (knee) is good to go for the first time since Sept. 30 in Sunday’s game against the Saints at Paul Brown Stadium (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 19) even though he was limited all week, here are a few numbers from the five games they played in 2014 when wide receiver A.J. Green didn’t have a catch because of injury.
    During a stretch they went 3-1-1, Bernard had a career-high 137-yard game, a 90-yard game and averaged 4.3 per his 76 carries. Jeremy Hill had a 147-yarder and went 4.8 per pop. With Green (toe) out Sunday, Bernard and running back Joe Mixon team up for just the third time this season. By the time Mixon came back from arthroscopic knee surgery following the second game, Bernard was out with a sprained knee. It looks like the bye week sped up some things.
    “We add another good player in the mix. Lose one and gain one. Have to feel good about that,” Lewis said after Friday’s walk through. “He feels better each day. He’s had a productive week, seemed to fit in and feel good about things each day. I think having Monday was great. It was an advantage for a guy like Gio as he works his way back. A little bit of going out and getting used to being out on the football field again and out there within the offense. The little work he got on Monday and to work through the week can be good.”
    But wide receiver Josh Malone couldn’t hide his frustration. After playing just 59 snaps and getting four targets and one catch and tuning up for a bigger role this week with Green out, Malone suffered a hamstring injury Thursday and was ruled out Friday. That leaves them with rookie Auden Tate as the seventh-rounder figures to make his debut as the fifth healthy receiver. The four expected active receivers other than Tyler Boyd have combined for 18 catches.
    With right guard Alex Redmond (hamstring) ruled doubtful Friday, it looks like he’ll miss his first game the week rookie center Billy Price returns from his foot injury suffered 19 snaps into the second game. That may mean Trey Hopkins, who filled in for Price, now fills in for Redmond. He made 12 starts at right guard last season.

    So the only pre-game question is if former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, signed a few days ago, is active for the Saints. Lewis’ inactive list figures to be Green, Redmond, Malone, linebackers Vontaze Burfict (hip) and Nick Vigil (knee), slot corner Darquze Dennard (neck) and tight end Tyler Kroft (foot).
    WEATHER KNOLL: Bengals equipment manager Adam Knollman is preparing for a kick-off temperature of 43 degrees under partly cloudy skies, a negligible wind of about four degrees and no rain. That doesn’t look like it’s going to be any kind of advantage for the hosts. According to, the Saints are 3-2 in games between 44 and 41 degrees during the 13 seasons of head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. No problem for Brees. In those five games he’s got a 100.8 passer rating and 70 completion percentage. No, it’s not this year’s 120.6 and 76.3, respectively, but it still gets you to Canton.
    LOOK BACK: Both Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer have bested Brees and the Bengals’ Nov. 19, 2006 win in New Orleans is truly remarkable. The Saints rolled up 595 yards and Brees went off for what is still a career-high 510 yards (second most against the Bengals behind only Phil Simms’ 513), but lost the only way they could in a 31-16 Cincy victory.
    Brees threw two end-zone picks to safeties Madieu Williams and Kevin Kaesviharn when the Saints drove inside the Bengals 10 and when they got in there again Bengals right end Justin Smith dropped running back Deuce McAllister for a one-yard loss on third-and-one from the 5 to force John Carney’s field goal on the third snap of the fourth quarter. That tied it at 10 and the fun was just beginning.
    In a span of less than three minutes, Palmer hooked up with wider receiver Chad Johnson for TD passes of 60 and four, as well as a 48-yard bomb, to give the Bengals a sudden 24-10 lead with less than eight minutes left. Then in the first defensive series of his life, rookie safety and special teams maven Ethan Kilmer went 52 yards with a pick-six of Brees with 6:14 left. Johnson ended up with 190 yards, giving him the NFL record of 450 yards in consecutive games.

    It’s another example where November has been a good month for Lewis. That win scratched the Bengals back to 5-5 and ignited a four-game winning streak that put them at 8-5 and needing just one win in the last three games to secure a second straight play-off berth. They didn’t get it when one of the streakiest Bengals team ever ended the season out of the ’06 hunt with three straight losses.
    There have been some huge PBS wins in November under Lewis. In ’03 they beat the 9-0 Chiefs, in ’09 they bracketed the month by securing a sweep of the division with wins over Baltimore and Cleveland, in ’12 they began a 7-1 finish to reach the postseason with a win over the defending Super Bowl champion Giants and in ’15 they prevailed on a Thursday night in convincing fashion over Johnny Manziel’s Browns to become the AFC North’s first 8-0 team ever.
    NO CHANGE: The Bengals defense is beat up and Saints quarterback Drew Brees is on a historic pace. But neither Lewis nor offensive coordinator Bill Lazor plan to let that impact what the Bengals offense does.
    “His job is to score points. Offense’s job is to score points, defense’s job is to get the ball back to the offense,” said Lewis of Lazor. Lewis says it’s not a time of possession thing but a points thing.
    “It doesn’t matter how you do it, but can’t win the game if you don’t have more points than the other team,” Lewis said. “You’ve got to score points. I’ll take nine touchdowns. That’s what we want. We want to score points. That’s the important part. Our offense has to be productive and continue to score points. The quarterback has to continue to play and do his thing. Stay in rhythm.”

  2. #52
    Haslett, Saints Meet Again

    Geoff HobsonSENIOR WRITER

    Bengals linebackers coach Jim Haslett was an NFL Coach of the Year with the Saints.

    When Jim Haslett sees the helmets of the New Orleans Saints before they play Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 19) at Paul Brown Stadium, he figures it won’t be as emotional as it would have been a decade ago.
    “It’s going to be more like, ‘That’s a heck of an offense they’ve got,’” says Haslett, the Bengals’ third-year linebackers coach.
    The Saints are flying. They’re 7-1, they’ve won seven straight and just beat the best team in the league with quarterback Drew Brees re-writing the NFL record book. But then, off and on, it’s been kind of that way since Brees and head coach Sean Payton arrived in 2006 and teamed to give the Saints their first Super Bowl championship three years later.
    But before there was Brees and Payton and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the voluminous NFL record book, there was James Donald Haslett.
    “It was just kind of a weird situation,” Haslett says about his made-for-TV-but-no-one-would-believe six-year run as head coach of the Saints that began with sweeping out losing and ended up sweeping up parking lots.

    “It’s something that never happened before and I hope it never happens again.”
    Jeff Duncan, New Orleans’ esteemed sports observer who covered the Saints for the Times-Picayune when they began the century still the ‘Aints, thinks the current fan base needs a history course.
    First lecture? The impact of Haslett.
    “Has restored the franchise to respectability and respect that had been lost in the Ditka era,” says Duncan, headed to Cincinnati this Sunday as the newspaper’s sports columnist. “It basically had become the laughingstock of the league. He’s underappreciated in Saints history. There are a lot of fans here that joined up with Brees and Payton. It wasn’t always like that. They don’t really have a regard for the history.”
    Haslett’s first year in 2000 changed it all. After a four-year run of 18 wins, the Saints stunned the world at 10-6, won their first play-off game in franchise history shocking the defending Super Bowl champion Rams and Haslett was named coach of the year. They never got back to the playoffs and while a December 2002 loss at PBS to the worst Bengals team ever that would have put them back in it may have defined the inconsistency of his run, Duncan argues it shouldn’t take away from what Haslett built.

    “He had a really good coaching staff. Has never got outcoached,” Duncan says. “But you just never knew what they were going to do. One week they’d beat the Rams in their hey-day and the next they’d lose to a team like that Bengals team.”
    Haslett’s offensive coordinator was future Super Bowl head coach Mike McCarthy and his defensive coordinator was Ron Zook, who vaulted into college head coaching after a top ten ranking.
    “Good staff,” Haslett said. “We had fun. We were all in there just trying to turn it around. When we got there we really didn’t have a starting quarterback. By the time we left we had three. Aaron Brooks, Jake Delhomme and we drafted Marc Bulger. Really, the offensive and defensive lines were the strength of the team.”
    But nothing could withstand Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. The Saints were in Oakland playing a pre-season game when they watched one the nation’s deadliest disasters hit their city.
    “We’re sitting there and we’re saying, ‘My God, what are we going back to?’” Haslett recalls. “But we never got back.”

    There had already been intense rumblings about the Saints moving to San Antonio and that’s where the offices and some games were re-located, nearly 600 miles from New Orleans in the Alamodome. Other games were played in Baton Rouge at LSU, but it wasn’t only the logistics and rumors of a move that were overwhelming for a football team. It was just surviving. Haslett’s house had its windows blown out and floor torn up, but he had players that lost everything.
    “When you have a team, your whole life is around winning,” Haslett says. “But then the people in the building, suddenly their No. 1 priority is just living. Just surviving. It has to be. Families were torn apart. People’s lives were upside down. The people were great to us in San Antonio. Very gracious.”
    But who could plan for this? They had to leave the Alamodome because of a volleyball tournament and he remembers the Saints moving to an old water works plant for their meetings. That’s where he had to sweep off the parking lot when it rained so they could do a walk-through. Players would have to drive to practice. Haslett remembers the Baton Rouge Holiday Inn the night before games and coaches sleeping on air mattresses.
    “Hard to win… It just wasn’t NFL-ish” Haslett says. “Looking back on it, the NFL didn’t react to it very well, but how can you blame them? Something like that had never happened before. I’m sure now they’ve looked into it and have plans, but you just never think something like that is going to happen.”
    They went 3-13. "An anomaly," Duncan says. "No team could have gone through that. Unprecedented." Haslett says it was pretty much a mutual parting of the ways after the season.

    “I think everyone needed a fresh start,” Haslett says. “There’s no question when they got Drew (in 2006) that’s how they ended up winning the Super Bowl and both he and Sean have done a great job there. They’re fun to watch. I’m happy for the city.
    “My kids grew up there. I’ve still got friends there. My wife still has friends there. The people are nice and friendly. It really is southern hospitality.”
    Haslett is an old-school linebacker. Bloodied but resolved and respected. There is no time to think about how things might have gone if the winds never came.
    At the moment he’s preparing for Brees’ 76.3 completion percentage without his best linebacker, his fastest linebacker and a middle linebacker that has been hobbled since Opening Day. So there have been other things to think about this week.
    “Maybe if it was ten years ago. Eight years ago,” Haslett says of the pull of emotions. “Not now. Like I said. That’s a heck of an offense.”

  3. #53
    Been a crazy week personally so haven’t been able to pay much attention. But who is starting RG this week?

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by JBandJoeyV View Post
    Been a crazy week personally so haven’t been able to pay much attention. But who is starting RG this week?

    No announcement but the expectation is Hopkins

  5. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by JBandJoeyV View Post
    Been a crazy week personally so haven’t been able to pay much attention.
    Same. I live in Thousand Oaks.

    I won't bore anyone with personal stuff, but I just read about Andrew Whitworth donating 60k to the families of shooting victims. Just wanted to say publically how much I respect the gesture made by Whit and his wife. Football stuff aside, this community is very lucky to have Whit and his family as neighbors.

    Might sound crazy but I'm really looking forward to mindlessly watching a football game today.


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