LSU, Saints keep perspective after vastly different weeks
“Worry about your frickin’ meat,” was New Orleans Saints heads coach Sean Payton’s reply to a Whole Foods butcher last Sunday when asked about a failed two-point conversion in the loss earlier in the day to the San Francisco 49ers.
The defeat knocked the Saints from atop the NFC Playoff standings. While they can finish no worse than third in the conference and are guaranteed to host a Wild Card round game, the Saints now need help, with three games left in the regular season, to reach their goals of achieving a first-round playoff bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Injuries caught up to the SaInts last week. It was evident the defense wasn’t as good without linebackers A.J. Klein and Kiko Alonso. Tight end Jared Cook scored two touchdowns in the first half before he was concussed and removed from the game. The loss of key players led to a last-second, game-winning field goal – just after the Saints scored a touchdown to take the lead – that felt reminiscent of the team’s loss in the NFC Championship last season.
After the game, we learned that the team lost defensive linemen Marcus Davenport and Sheldon Rankins for the remainder of the season. That’s a tough blow as the team is fighting for post-season glory.
The Saints will look to get back to their winning ways on Monday night when they take on the Colts (6-7) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans is an eight-point favorite for the nationally-televised game, which will feature a 10-year anniversary celebration of the 2009 Super Bowl winning team.
History may also be made Monday night, as Drew Brees needs just two touchdown passes to tie Peyton Manning’s record of 539 career touchdown passes.
This team has a razor-thin margin of error if it wants to reach its goals. They are favored against the Colts, and should be in their remaining two games against the Titans (8-5) and Panthers (5-8).
LSU dominated their on-field competition and did the same Thursday night as awards for the nation’s top players and coaches were announced at the College Football Hall of Fame.
As expected, Joe Burrow’s name was called often. LSU’s gunslinger won the Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards for player of the year and earned the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s top quarterback. Earlier in the week, he was named the AP College Football Player of the Year and won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
Burrow wasn’t the only Tiger to shine.
Head coach Ed Orgeron won the Home Depot Award as coach of the year, Grant Delpit won the Jim Thorpe Award as best defensive back, Ja’Marr Chase won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best wide receiver, and Joe Brady won the Broyles Award for being the best assistant coach in the country.
But the Tigers aren’t done, yet.
Tomorrow, Burrow is expected to win the Heisman Trophy, college football’s most prestigious award for an individual player.
The accolades have been great, but the Tigers’ players and coaches have their sights on winning a title. They’ll play No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl in a couple of weeks. A win will advance them to the National Championship Game in New Orleans on Jan. 13.
“If I could drop the award just to win a national championship and have the whole team here, I would,” Delpit said after winning the Thorpe Award. “It’s a true honor and blessing to win this award, but we’re not done yet. We’ve got bigger dreams.”
His quarterback has his eyes on the prize, too.
“We’re still trying to win a national title, so I think if I take time to reflect yet, I’m selling our team short,” Burrow said. “I’m not going to do it quite yet.”
Tigers on the prowl
The 13-0 LSU Tigers have earned several awards for their 2019 season. Quarterback Joe Burrow is expected to add the Heisman Trophy to the tally tomorrow evening. The team will resume its championship drive in the Peach Bowl against Oklahoma on Dec. 28.
Award Category 2019 Winner
Maxwell Award Player of the Year Joe Burrow, LSU
Walter Camp Award Player of the Year Joe Burrow, LSU
Home Depot Award Coach of the Year Ed Orgeron, LSU
Jim Thorpe Award Best Defensive Back Grant Delpit, LSU
Davey O’Brien Award Best Quarterback Joe Burrow, LSU
Biletnikoff Award Best Wide Receiver Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
Broyles Award Best Assistant Coach Joe Brady, LSU
End of watch for Dome Patroller
It was sad to learn of the passing of former Saints linebacker Vaughn Johnson, who died at his home in North Carolina after battling a kidney disease. From 1986 to 1992, Johnson was one of the Saint’s four linebackers in the vaunted “Dome Patrol,” which included Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, and the late Sam Mills. All four linebackers were invited to the 1992 Pro Bowl, the only time four linebackers from one team have made the NFL’s All-Star game together.
Johnson, 57, played with the Saints from 1986-1993. The four-time Pro-Bowler compiled 664 tackles and 12 sacks.