Mardi Blah

Football in Louisiana has taken a downturn

by Justin Day | @JDayErrday |

Being a football fan in the state of Louisiana has been very tough over the last two seasons, and it doesn’t look like things will get better anytime soon. I will try to put a spotlight on the problems that have plagued both the LSU Tigers and New Orleans Saints and try to predict the questionable, dull futures of both.

Les, Please Don’t Geaux

Rewind to the beginning of last season, many questions were there for the Tigers. What will the offensive rebuild look like after Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham Jr., and Jarvis Landry all ascended to the NFL? Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris, which was still the question heading into this season as well. The only thing we knew for sure was that the defense would be good and we had Leonard Fournette and Malachi Dupre to carry the load on offense.

Fournette indeed did deliver as a freshman but Dupre never really seemed to get into a rhythm, maybe because the questions at quarterback never seemed to figure itself out. All those things lead to a 8-5 season culminating with a loss to Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl. The offseason saw the end of an era as John Chavis left to become the DC at Texas A&M.

Kevin Steele & Ed Orgeron, those were the two guys dubbed to continue the dominance on defense for LSU and they have done more than answer the bell. Brandon Harris seemed to be ready to step in and make this team a true contender, and Leonard Fournette was deemed the Heisman trophy winner it seemed before the season began. In the beginning, things looked great, but it came crashing down very quickly.

LSU began the season 7-0 and were even ranked #2 in the first tournament rankings of the season, following that now they have dropped 3 in a row and are out of the top 25 altogether. Leonard Fournette doesn’t look the same and Brandon Harris hasn’t been able to consistently get the ball to his playmakers. Which leads us into the title of this section, now the question becomes Les Miles future, or lack thereof at LSU.

LSU would be making the biggest mistake in program history if they let Les walk. As I am writing this the indications are that LSU will indeed do that, buyout Les Miles and search for a new head coach. There is only one way I could live with that, and that would be if Jimbo Fisher took over the program. Worst case scenario is that we don’t get Jimbo, Les goes to Mizzou and makes them a relevant program again. I’m not willing to risk one of the best coaches in college football staying in the conference and changing the face of a program without Jimbo. It just wouldn’t make sense.

In conclusion, LSU fans be careful what you wish for. Les Miles has always been the most underappreciated coach in college football and letting him go would be program suicide. Honestly, I don’t think Jimbo is leaving FSU and so therefore you can’t let Les go. In the end, I think LSU will ultimately make the wrong decision and buyout Les Miles. Jimbo will stay at FSU and the Tigers will live in mediocrity for the unforeseeable future. While Les Miles starts racking up wins for the Missouri Tigers and then the Michigan Wolverines once Harbaugh goes back to the NFL.

Who Can’t. Who Can’t Beat Them Saints?

I mean honestly, can we just stop chanting “Who Dat” for the remainder of time until we once again have a winning record? It’s become embarrassing. Let’s stop pretending as if we aren’t one of the teams that every other teams fans’ look at on their schedule as an easy win? We have entered the realm of the Titans, Texans, etc as the laughing stock of the league, but we haven’t realized it yet, which is the saddest part of it all.

Last season ended as a 7-9 failure, and there were no shortages of changes on both sides of the football in the offseason. Kenny Stills, Jimmy Graham, and Ben Grubbs were all traded away, bringing in most notably Max Unger, Danell Elerbe, Stephone Anthony, and Tyeler Davison. Junior Galette was released which is a move that we can be proud of, since we aren’t as low as the Dallas Cowboys who gladly employ a domestic abuser, so there’s that at least. Delvin Breaux a New Orleans native who battled a life threatening injury was also brought in to strengthen a god awful defense.

All those changed have amounted to a 4-6 record and more of the same on defense which ultimately lead to the inevitable firing of embattled, check stealing, inept defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. As happy as we all are that Rob is gone, don’t fool yourself, Dennis Allen isn’t going to make this defense better overnight. The bright spot is how well the rookie linebackers have played (Anthony and Kikaha) and they seem to be very big parts of this team’s future. Delvin Breaux looks like a top 10 corner, Kenny Vacarro has had a resurgence this year and Cam Jordan has produced at times, but the bad simply outweigh the good by a very large amount.

Two huge wastes of money have been Jairus Byrd who just has never put it together in New Orleans, which I am still holding out hope that he can return to form next season, and the worst corner in the NFL Brandon Browner. Browner has simply been the worst and it hasn’t even been close. He’s either getting penalized or giving up huge plays through the air and with Keenan Lewis still not healthy they are almost forced to stick him out there each and every week. He must go in the offseason if this defense plans on being successful next season.

The success of this defense hinges on the development of Breaux, Kikaha, and Anthony. It will probably take more than one offseason to get it figured out, but they will need a DC that will put them in spots to succeed. Rob Ryan wasn’t getting it done and now he is gone, Browner must be next, and Byrd has to get his game together or he will have to go soon as well.

The End of Two Eras?

Les Miles’ situation has already been accessed but one more coaching situation must be evaluated as well and that’s Sean Peyton, whom many Saints fans’ want gone. Once again I caution, be careful what you wish for! Peyton has been a pillar of success during his time in New Orleans and it is more likely that he will ask to be let go, rather than the front office firing him. Which I ultimately think will happen at the end of this season, when the Colts job becomes available.

One thing fans are failing to recognize is that if Sean Peyton goes, why would Drew Brees want to return? Later on in his career why would he want to go through a coaching and system change that will force him to divorce a friend and a coach that trusts him more than any other coach trusts their quarterback in the entire league? That makes no sense. I have always viewed Sean and Drew as a package deal and until it’s proven otherwise, I always will.

Drew wouldn’t go to Indy, he would simply retire, and the Saints cannot afford to move on without Drew Brees. There is no clear plan B. Garrett Grayson, I’m not buying that stock, and what big name QB wants to come into the situation we have right now? The progression of players like Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead are predicated on them continuing to play with an all-time great at the quarterback position.

Simply put this is a rebuilding phase, which is weird to say when you have Drew Brees at quarterback, but it is what it is and Saints fans’ need to realize that and let Peyton and Loomis work together to figure this out. Sean Peyton leaving could ultimately end in Drew retiring, which means 7-9 may be the best season we see in a very long time. The best case scenario would be that Indy would want Brian Kelly or Nick Saban over Sean which will force him to stay in NOLA.

Get the Paper Bags Ready

In conclusion, football in the state of Louisiana is in a state of panic. As it should be, but fans and the people in charge are looking to make drastic changes that could be catastrophic to both programs. I’m no psychic but I don’t think either situations end well, and I don’t see winning football occurring on either level in Louisiana for a very long time. Both situation have become tumultuous and the result will be catastrophic.

LSU will buyout Miles and spend the majority of the next decade regretting that decision and become a cellar dweller in the SEC. Searching for a new head coach multiple times during that decade and never being as good as they once were. Sean will leave the Saints behind, Brees probably to follow, and the second reign of the Aints will begin. Year after year of top 10 picks and new head coaches will commence and even a season of HBO’s Hard Knock will follow.

Best advice? Go watch highlight of Tracy Porter picking off Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl and watch Leonard Fournette for as long as you can, because trust me friends, things are only going to get worse from here.

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