Turn the Page on 2022 New Orleans Saints: Numbers Don’t Lie

New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton (14) is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith during the first half in Pittsburgh. Photo Credit: Don Wright / AP

The New Orleans Saints have hit a new low.

At 3-7, it’s time to turn the page on this season. Rip the Band-Aid off now.

Face facts and admit that these Saints are not going anywhere in 2022, and major changes are needed – starting at the top with Dennis Allen. It’s their worst start since the Hurricane Katrina season 2005.

The Saints have been lifeless for two games in a row. First the Monday Night Football beatdown by the Ravens, then Sunday’s lifeless show at Pittsburgh.

Seems hard to believe Sunday’s game was tied 10-10. Andy Dalton even led a nice 2-minute drill before halftime.

But after receiving the second half kickoff, the Saints did absolutely nothing.

Why don’t we let the numbers tell the story?


Bad teams do bad things.

The Saints are the third-most penalized team in the NFL, averaging 7.2 penalties per game. This can’t happen 10 weeks into the season if they hope to win consistently.

Dennis Allen’s response?

“It’s disappointing.”

We’ll get them corrected.”

He doesn’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong, Dennis Allen thrived as Saints’ defensive coordinator. I think the Saints should’ve kept him in that role.

Back to Sunday, six defensive penalties gave the Steelers first downs. But it’s not just on defense.

The Saints’ first drive of each half began with – you guessed it – penalties. Offensive guard Calvin Throckmorton leads the team with five false starts on the year. That’s a lot of mistakes.

They’re simply not resilient enough to overcome these crucial errors week after week.

Team leader Cam Jordan put it bluntly, “It’s a disgusting feeling. We have to find our way, or this is going to be the result of every game.”


Najee Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers ran for 217 yards Sunday. The New Orleans Saints mustered just 29 yards as a team. Photo Credit: Getty Images

So much for Alvin Kamara’s breakout performance against the Raiders (who are now 2-7).

The Saints’ 29 rushing yards at Pittsburgh were their fewest in nearly 12 years.

They had 27 rushing yards in a 30-24 loss to the Ravens on Dec. 19, 2010 (thanks to Jeff Duncan for that ugly statistic). It’s only the 11th time in team history when they’ve run for fewer than 30 yards in a game.

Not surprisingly, they’ve lost all 11 times.

On the other hand, the Steelers had a season-high 217 rushing yards on 43 attempts (5.0 yards per carry).

Time of possession tells a similar story:

  • Steelers 38:56
  • Saints 21:04

The Steelers sustained drives against the Saints’ defense (28 first downs to the Saints’ 10). The formula for winning football games is pretty simple – players have to do their jobs. Don’t commit penalties, and take care of the football.

Speaking of that…


The Saints sit in the cellar of the NFC South, and they also remain last in the NFL in some other grim categories:

  • Giveaways (19)
  • Turnover margin (-12)
  • Defensive interceptions (2).

Former Saint and current Eagles safety CJ Gardner-Johnson racked up his sixth interception last night. That leads the NFL

Anybody else sick?

Jan. 1 in Philadelphia should be quite the rematch. Too bad nothing will be on the line.

Remarkably, the Saints are favored in Week 11 against the Rams.

When I saw Dennis Allen’s message for this week, I literally rolled my eyes.

To borrow a line from a famous ESPN segment – Come on, man!

We should have heard this much, much earlier – after the Bengals game a month ago. Instead, because the Saints are still “mathematically alive” in the playoff chase, we’ve heard nothing but rosy optimism from Dennis Allen.

Meanwhile the Saints are missing tackles, committing turnovers and penalties, and looking out of position and uninspired overall.

Now the L.A. Rams (3-6) are also going nowhere fast. Cooper Kupp is out Sunday (ankle surgery), and QB Matthew Stafford didn’t play in their loss at Arizona.

But seriously, come on, man. We the fans have clamored for leadership all season long. Can the Saints cobble together a win against another struggling team?

New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen meets with reporters after an NFL football game at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Nov. 13. Photo Credit: Don Wright / AP.


Let me know in the comments below:

  • What change would you like to see the Saints make before the season ends? Is it time to fire coach Dennis Allen and start a fresh coaching search?

Who’s Ready for a Wild Finish in the NFC South?

New Orleans Saints DE Payton Turner sacks Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr. Photo Credit: Michael Johnson / Nola.com

Will the real New Orleans Saints please stand up?

I wrote last week how the Saints were “borderline unwatchable” against Arizona.

What’s the opposite of that? Completely watchable? That’s how the Saints played in their 24-0 shutout of the Raiders.

That dominant winand it was dominant – puts the Saints right in the thick of the NFC South hunt. The leaders are the Falcons at 4-4 (the only division foe the Saints have beaten), the Bucs and Saints are tied at 3-5, and the Panthers are 2-6 after an overtime heartbreaker Sunday.

Everybody plays each other one more time. Buckle up.

If you’re like me, with Thanksgiving around the corner, you’re starting to think about ingredients to cook your favorite recipes. So here are two key ingredients for the Saints to keep winning.


If you need a reminder of how strong the Saints’ defense was against the Raiders, it’s this statistic right here:

The Raiders didn’t cross midfield until 2:25 remained in the game.

Derek Carr wasn’t even in at QB anymore; it was Jarrett Stidham in relief. Say no more.

We wanted to see that “swagger” from the whole Saints team, but especially the defense – and boy did they bring it. The energy was palpable, especially after each of their 4 sacks, two by Payton Turner and one by David Onyemata.

That brings their season sack total up to a much more respectable 19, but who’s counting?

A few more nuggets for the defense to use for motivation as Monday night’s home game against Baltimore and QB Lamar Jackson looms:

  • They held Raiders RB Josh Jacobs to 43 rushing yards. But we know the Ravens are a different beast with Lamar Jackson. And the Saints aren’t the best at defending dual-threat QBs even when they’re a highly-ranked defense. (Cue bad memories of Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen last season). The run defense needs to show up again – the Ravens average 165.6 yards rushing per game and 5.7 yards per carry.
  • CB Alontae Taylor kept Davante Adams in check (1 catch for 3 yards). He’s definitely one to keep watching.
  • The Saints won the turnover battle thanks to Tyrann Mathieu’s second-quarter interception (he dropped another one on the Raiders’ final drive), and equally as important, the offense capitalized off the turnover with a touchdown – not a field goal. That’s the complementary football they need to win the NFC South.


New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) eludes Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Divine Deablo (5). Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY

Alvin Kamara woke up big time Sunday.

He scored all three of the Saints’ touchdowns and racked up 158 total yards.

As a whole, the Saints were as balanced as it gets on offense.

32 rushes for 136 yards. 31 passes for 231 yards.

Controlling the clock 34:51 to 25:09.

QB Andy Dalton was not sacked.

But – the elephant in the room. Injuries at WR.

Dennis Allen announced today Michael Thomas is officially on IR with his toe injury. I don’t think Saints fans anywhere are surprised to see this.

But we have to move on. Thomas has played a grand total of three games this season. Caught 16 passes for 171 yards and 3 TDs.

Hopefully we’ll learn more about Jarvis Landry’s status for Monday night. I’d love to see more production from Rashid Shaheed and of course Taysom Hill in the running & receiving game. Good things happen when he’s on the field.

We talked about the Ravens’ rushing offense earlier, but don’t sleep on the Saints’ rushing attack. They average 141.2 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry through eight games. If the Saints can jump out to a lead Monday like they did against the Raiders, running the ball and chewing up clock with Alvin Kamara’s legs will be their best friend.


We’re almost halfway through the football season – Week 9 starts tonight with the undefeated Eagles facing the Texans. (Could it be a game ripe for an upset?!) I’ve always said Thursday Night Football is the ultimate equalizer. Philadelphia is trying to go 8-0, Houston has the worst rushing defense in the NFL, it’s Jalen Hurts’ homecoming …

OK, back to the Saints.

They’re nowhere close to the Eagles in the NFC. However, their goal of winning a division title is still right in front of them. That’s how wild the NFC South is. They got their must-win game. Now it’s time to keep the momentum going and put together a winning streak.

Easier said than done with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens coming to town.

A national TV audience will be watching. Will the Saints be ready Monday night?


Let me know in the comments below:

  • Can the Saints beat the Ravens and gain ground in the NFC South?
  • Who will win the NFC South?

Andy Dalton to Replace Jameis Winston as Saints QB

Matt York / AP Photo

Who cares?

That was literally my thought when I heard Andy Dalton will replace Jameis Winston as starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints Sunday against the Raiders.

And not just Sunday, but for the foreseeable future.

It’s news, don’t get me wrong. But the quarterback can’t fix this team’s pitiful turnovers and self-destruction all on his own.

The Saints were borderline unwatchable last Thursday night in a loss at Arizona. My friend and columnist Jeff Duncan eloquently wrote that the Saints are everyone’s “get-right” team.

I don’t know how it got this bad this fast, but I do know one thing. Somehow, the Saints could still snag a playoff berth.

But the pressure is on. If they want it bad enough, we need to see passion. Fire. Fundamentals.

Keep reading.


With a win Sunday at Atlanta, the Panthers will be in first place in an unimpressive NFC South.

Need I remind you they fired coach Matt Rhule three weeks ago and have benched Baker Mayfield for P.J. Walker.

Everything the Saints want in the division is still in front of them, remarkably, because doors have been opened by other teams (Tampa Bay Bucs, we’re looking at you).

But the Panthers are no joke. They were 13.5-point underdogs to the Bucs after trading away Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey and still pulled a 21-3 upset. They’re not just a team that’s looking to “keep doing what we’re doing.”

I despise coach-speak.

Interim coach Steve Wilks is restoring pride in the Panthers. Look what Wilks said this week:

“I stood in front of these guys at the beginning when I first took over here, and I said, ‘you know, in order for us to go forward, we are going to have to surrender their individual me for the greater we.’ That’s what it’s all about.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to see a little fire from Dennis Allen? I bet it would translate to the rest of the Saints.

They have born leaders like Demario Davis, who admitted that the team “had to get back to our swagger.”

I know they’re hurt. Michael Thomas is about to miss his fifth game and Jarvis Landry his fourth. I’m sorry – health is no excuse. every NFL team battles injuries.

The Saints have no time to waste.


Cara Owsley / The Enquirer

One more thing: the Saints must correct self-inflicted mistakes.

I’m talking basic fundamentals.

I’ve said it all year – I love the Saints, but they’re simply not good enough to make even one mistake, let alone throw three interceptions if they want to win a game.

Let’s look at their two wins this season.

  1. at Atlanta: turnover margin +1 (1 fumble lost, 2 fumbles recovered)
  2. vs. Seattle: turnover margin -1 (1 fumble lost, 1 Dalton interception, 1 fumble recovered)

How were they able to win vs. Seattle with a negative turnover margin? It wasn’t easy – the Seahawks scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. But the Saints won time of possession by 15 minutes (37:35-22:25), went 3-for-3 in the red zone and rushed for 235 yards (4.9 yards per rush).

We all know red zone efficiency went out the window in Week 6 against the Bengals (1-for-5), when the Saints were +1 in turnover margin but crumbled late.

Turnovers win and lose games. The Saints are dead last in the NFL at -10 total turnover margin and 16 giveaways.

But what’s most striking of all? The giveaways directly led to 28 opponent points. The Saints have been outscored by 25 so far this season.


Until the Saints win a game, my thoughts will be consistent on the quarterback situation.

Who cares?

Whether it’s Andy Dalton or Jameis Winston, the Saints just need a starter who can take care of the football, stick to the fundamentals and execute, especially in the red zone.

Their season depends on it.


Let me know in the comments below:

  • What’s your prediction for Sunday against the Raiders?
  • What about the rest of the NFC South? Are you surprised it’s so mediocre?

A Tiger Did The Gator Chomp! 4 Powerful Lessons From My Florida Graduation

You ever hear the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans?”

One of my road assignments as chief sports writer for LSU’s Daily Reveille newspaper was the LSU-Florida game in 2010 – my first trip to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.

I’ll never forget it. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow had been drafted by Denver the previous year. That night’s game was still a thriller to cover. The visiting Tigers won, 33-29, on a touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee to Terrence Toliver with six seconds left. I did my duties as a reporter, thinking for sure that was the professional path I’d take.

I did for a while.

Family Photo

But … fast forward 12 years to April 28-29, 2022. I was back in Gainesville again – this time with my parents and husband, attending Florida’s graduation in a master’s hood!

Master of Arts in Mass Communications. Concentration: Public Relations.

Lo and behold, Tim Tebow was commencement weekend speaker. A lot had changed for both of us.

Tebow’s NFL career is over, like my career in sports journalism. Tebow is now a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and expert on living a life of true significance.

Tebow gave a powerful message as I embark on a new chapter in Baton Rouge. I kid you not, my eyes filled with tears as I thought about living a mission-driven life in a new city.

Yes, I went back for my master’s in public relations to expand my knowledge on creating integrated communications campaigns, and I’ve achieved that. But what’s become even more clear in the past 20 months is how much I want to dig in and build relationships in my next job … and in my daily life.

With that, here are four lessons from from my nearly two years as a Florida Gator.

Family Photo


We live in a world where we’re constantly tempted to compare ourselves to other people. In my opinion, social media only adds fuel to that fire.

Look what they have that I don’t! She’s got a better job than me! Why can’t I have the money or house or clothes or kids that this person has?!

Cue the vicious cycle of impostor syndrome.

My devotional journal helps bring me back to center. Today’s reflection was on Romans 12. We read in verses 4-5, Just as each of us has various parts in one body, and the parts do not all have the same function: in the same way, all of us, though there are so many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another.”

What is the message here? We shouldn’t try to be something we aren’t. God created each of us uniquely.

Each one of us, from you and me to Tim Tebow, has a story – I’m a woman from Louisiana who’s married and has epilepsy. I dream of raising a faith-filled family and using my master’s in communication to serve a nonprofit organization or agency. Most of all, I just want to get up every day & help others.

Remember, God won’t bless a pretend-version of ourselves. Write down your values if you need to. I did!


Photo by Robert Smith (left)

One of my favorite parts of graduate school was my classes that met live online.

Connecting with students and professors enhanced the learning experience much more than just listening to recorded lectures. The education I gained at Florida was tremendous; I’m only emphasizing how much I enjoyed the classes that included additional live meetings.

For me, those were two electives: Branding Using Social & Mobile Media and Seminar in Mass Communication Teaching, taught by Brianne Fleming and Cheryl Oberlin, respectively.

I also talked regularly with students and my professor in Capstone in Public Relations. So close to the finish line, we were determined to dot every i and cross every t in our final projects! My Capstone professor, Rick Holberg, was an incredible resource and reference in the field.

You can see a group of us was even able to connect at graduation and celebrate our achievement!

We should always be looking to expand our networks, meet new people and share ideas.

Volunteer. Don’t be afraid to get in the room you want to be in. Thankfully, the world is opening up again post-COVID-19 isolation. I can’t wait to find my community in Baton Rouge.

While it’s important to be confident in your own core values (see #1), it’s also important to have conversations with others and consider differing perspectives. We never know what doors certain relationships (like graduate school alumni, for example) might open in the future.


These next two go hand in hand. We all face some downright terrible events in our lives – death, natural disasters, tough days at work, struggling to find work, whatever the case may be.

When I think back to my first day of graduate school August 31, 2020, I had to summon perseverance. Hurricane Laura had just wrecked Lake Charles, where we lived at the time, and knocked out power and water. I felt blessed when I saw our house suffered only minor damage compared to others.

Thank God for generators.

Schoolwork was a welcome distraction amid the destruction around us. Did I mention I took three classes my first semester? I had way too much to dive into!

Navigating Hurricane Laura in my first semester set the tone for the perseverance we’d need in the coming months. Lake Charles was about to face a multitude of weather events – Hurricane Delta, a February ice storm, the May 2021 flood, and even an EF-3 tornado about a mile from our house in October.

We tried to pull some good from these tragedies. My husband fixed fences in our neighborhood, and I found inspiration for my graduate school portfolio from Louisiana Catholic schools coming together in the hurricane aftermath.

As we read in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.”

That brings me to #4.


Family Photo

Tim Tebow was a big reason why I couldn’t wait to attend graduation weekend in Gainesville.

Yes, the pomp & circumstance of wearing my master’s regalia, crossing the stage, and walking onto Ben Hill Griffin Stadium field Friday night was awesome, but Tebow’s message to us – the graduates – about having the courage to live for significance, not personal success, was exactly what I needed to hear.

I mean, exactly.

I felt tears well up in my eyes as he spoke about how each of us was created in the image of God for a purpose! Tebow had such courage and fearlessness. Nothing held him back.

I pride myself on having a strong faith, but I know it can always be stronger.

Tebow writes in his newest book, Mission Possible, “You may not win a popularity contest by being mission driven, but you’ll certainly gain the favor of your Father in heaven. And isn’t that what counts?”

I’ll be first in line to raise my hand yes.


Let me know in the comments below:

  • Which of the four lessons hit home for you?
  • Did you watch Tebow’s speech? Bill Heavener introduces him as “a fighter for those who can’t fight for themselves.” Inspiration at the highest level!

Time to Try a New Ministry? God is Calling, You Just Have to Listen

When was the last time you wanted to try something new?

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Maybe it was a new food or drink? Or you were planning a trip to a new destination? What about a new job?

But how often do we raise our hands and get out of our comfort zones to try a new ministry in the Church?

God calls us in ways we don’t expect.

Mary is a wonderful example. When she was about 14, God chose her to be the mother of His son, Jesus Christ.

Talk about a shock. Imagine how Mary must have felt receiving that news.

But Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation? “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). Then she embarked on her journey to visit Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, and she stayed there about three months.

In January I wrote about surrendering to God’s plan for our lives and how everything that happens is part of our journey. God doesn’t make mistakes. He knows your gifts, and it’s our purpose to use those gifts for His glory.


I’m very open about how I was laid off my sports journalism job almost seven years ago. Clearly that did not align with God’s purpose for my life. If I would’ve still been a full-time journalist, it’s unlikely I would’ve had time to try a new ministry this year.

Here’s the story.

I’ve been a lector at Mass for nearly 20 years, but in August I added something new. After our parish priest repeatedly asked for volunteers for Our Lady of Good Counsel’s religious education program, I dove in.

The first step: Take the hint.

The more you feel ” a gentle tug” inside you, don’t ignore it. Consider it God’s call.

Looking back at summer 2021, I would’ve kicked myself if I would’ve passed up the chance to be a religious education teacher.

Wednesday afternoons from 4:30-5:45 (plus prep time) are some of the highlights of my week. It’s a chance to not only deepen my knowledge of the Catholic faith I’ve held since childhood, but also to hold real discussions with the Confirmation candidates.

I express to the students why it’s critical to have a relationship with God because He will never abandon you. I quickly discovered most of the kids aren’t exposed to regular prayer at home. They don’t know the basics like mysteries of the Rosary or Order of the Mass. Therefore, my co-teacher and I mix in our own personal stories and group discussions along with required lessons to bring them closer to the Catholic faith we hold dear.

Last week before Ash Wednesday, a vibrant college student from Cowboy Catholics spoke to our class. It had been a goal of mine to get a guest speaker closer to the students’ age to address their struggles and talk to them directly.

I sat there, in awe, listening to this student talk about how he was growing a Bible study at his fraternity … praying that these Confirmation candidates would be as grateful as I was to hear his wisdom. It wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have heard – and listened – to God’s call.


Lent is a perfect time to reflect on how we can try a new ministry.

As we begin this season of renewal and repentance, let’s think about ways to invite God into our lives more fully.

Here are what I liked to call the big 3:

  1. Prayer
  2. Fasting
  3. Almsgiving

Think about almsgiving. Pray about how we can serve others and try a new ministry this Lent.

The key here comes from Matthew 6:2-4: “When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the street to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Now might be the time when God is calling. Will we take the hint?

So You Didn’t Get The Job. Take a Deep Breath and Let These Bible Verses Be Your Guide

I’ve got the anticipation of Christmas morning as a child.

Photo by Davis Sanchez from Pexels

My graduation from Florida is less than three months away.

Almost every day for the past 18 months I’ve treated this master’s program as a full-time job, working to finish it in five semesters. Now I’m applying for new careers in the marketing & communications field.

I’ve also volunteered this year in religious education and Christian formation. (More on that in an upcoming blog post).

If you’re graduating soon, I’m sure you can relate. You’ve got feelings of excitement, overwhelm, maybe a little of both. We’ll miss some parts of school, but mostly we can’t wait to show the world and the workforce the skills we’ve been training for.

Recently I interviewed for a job at a school, and they chose someone “with a lot more years of experience.” I was sad – (who wouldn’t be?) – because I’m more ready than I’ve ever been to make an impact and serve my community. But the thing is, even when we think we have the timing figured out, only God knows.

I came back to Earth a little bit, reset, and made a commitment that I encourage you to make if you’re in any kind of transition — maybe your own job search or a move to a new city (if it’s the South, we welcome you to be fans of the New Orleans Saints!)

Surrender to God’s plan.

Yes, I wanted that job. But something even better for me and God’s design for my life will be revealed in the right time.


1. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you … plans for welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 Verses 12-13 are equally as hopeful, as the Lord writes to His people who were exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon: “When you call me, come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me.”

How inspiring to reflect on God as a loving, merciful father who will always be here when we ask. In prayer, at Mass, in the sacraments. No matter what, no matter when. In good times, in bad times.

2. “I pray that the eyes of your hearts may be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones.” Ephesians 1:18 In my devotional journal called 100 Days of Believing Bigger by Marshawn Evans Daniels, she wrote something powerful on the entry I read today: “God neither consults your past nor your resume when He maps out your future. And he isn’t confined to your passions either.”

Wow. This perfectly fits the feedback I received when I asked the director what I could do differently for future job openings I apply to. She said volunteering – service – is a great way to grow, and that excited me.

Ironically, a guest speaker in my seminar class a few days later said the same thing – volunteering – when I asked for advice on breaking through when I might lack experience. I think that’s a sign. Most importantly, don’t give up. God will open the right door.

5 Takeaways from a Wild NFL Week 18

For the first time since 2016, the New Orleans Saints won’t be in the postseason. It’s a tough way to end a season where the Saints always seemed to have their backs against the wall.

From Hurricane Ida, to COVID adversity, to too many injuries to count, not many people expected the Saints to be in the hunt until the end. But the Saints-Falcons season finale turned into an unexpected storyline of Week 18. If the Saints won and 49ers lost at the Rams, the fighters from the Big Easy would earn a trip to sunny L.A. for Super Wild Card Weekend.

Only half that puzzle came true.

The Saints’ season ended on a high note with a 30-20 victory over the Dirty Birds – their sixth win on the road this season. But when Matthew Stafford’s overtime interception landed in the waiting arms of 49ers rookie Ambry Thomas, New Orleans’ locker room had “a hollow feeling,” QB Trevor Siemian said.

Even more annoying was the Rams won the NFC West anyway despite the loss, thanks to the Arizona Cardinals’ continuing freefall at home, where they’re just 3-5.

It’s onto the offseason for New Orleans, reflecting on tremendous progress in year 1 without Drew Brees.

Fans won’t forget their heroic efforts on defense either, especially in the season sweep of Tampa Bay. But home losses to the Giants (4-13) and Falcons (7-10) are ones that got away. And don’t forget the 23-21 Titans loss back on Nov. 14. If the Saints made their extra points, that could’ve been a win too.

New Orleans Saints defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (22) celebrates his interception against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
  1. The Raiders and Chargers didn’t tie! I only caught the fourth quarter of this insane game – after the 49ers won, I confess I poured myself a large glass of wine, had dinner with my husband, and forgot about football while I let lingering sadness pass that the Saints’ season was over.

    Looking at Twitter, I think I’m in the minority, but I’m so glad the Raiders didn’t tie the Chargers. From the Raiders’ perspective, isn’t it more satisfying to prevent your division rival from going to the postseason AND be a higher seed in the playoffs? Chargers coach Brandon Staley is getting a lot of heat for taking a timeout, but if the Chargers would’ve stuffed the Raiders on 3rd down and made the winning field goal longer than 47 yards, or maybe Daniel Carlson misses it, then we’re having a different conversation. Bill Barnwell breaks down the wild ending nicely – the Raiders had ZERO intention of settling for a tie on purpose, and I’m glad it didn’t end that way. (As I know Pittsburgh Steelers fans are, too!) Wasn’t it famed coach Herm Edwards who once said, “You play to win the game?!”

2. Colts squander golden opportunity – for second straight week. What’s happened in Indianapolis?? Jonathan Taylor was looking like an MVP candidate, and all the Colts had to do to punch their postseason ticket was beat 2-14 Jacksonville, after failing to beat the Raiders at home in Week 17. They were favored by 15.5 points – and the Jaguars wanted next year’s No. 1 overall pick. Cakewalk, right?


Talk about a clown show – the Colts lost at Jacksonville for the seventh straight time, fell to 0-7 when Taylor doesn’t reach 100 yards, and find themselves OUT of the playoffs. Oh, and the Jaguars clinched the No. 1 pick anyway when Detroit beat Green Bay Sunday. Ouch.

QB Carson Wentz was brought in to win big games, and he failed to deliver. The Jaguars sacked him six times and forced two turnovers, which they converted into 10 points. Big decisions to make in Indy, and plenty of blame to go around.

3. Black Monday off and running … Part of NFL Week 18 coming and going means Black Monday, when many NFL coaches and general managers are inevitably, or surprisingly, fired. One head-scratcher I woke up to today was Dolphins coach Brian Flores getting the boot.

It wouldn’t have seemed too difficult to imagine, say, midway through this season when Miami was 1-7. But the Dolphins closed the season winning eight of their final nine games and stayed in the playoff race until Week 17, swept the Patriots, and had winning seasons in two of Flores’ three seasons (including 10-6 in 2020 when they narrowly missed the playoffs).

Owner Stephen Ross made it clear he’s confident in QB Tua Tagovailoa, who finished 7th in the NFL in completion percentage this season while struggling to stay healthy. Ross harped on communication and collaboration in announcing the coaching change – remember the Dolphins were a team mentioned in Deshaun Watson rumors – so perhaps that influenced the decision. Either way, expect Flores to be a popular name in the hiring circles this offseason.

Who else has been fired? No real surprises – Broncos coach Vic Fangio, Bears coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. Meanwhile Giants coach Joe Judge is still employed (until Tuesday, when Judge was canned after just two seasons). ESPN’s Ryan Clark teed off on the Giants’ “despicable display of football.” As if I needed another reason to be angry about the Saints’ loss to them in October.


4. It’s playoff time. I’m all aboard the AFC train this postseason. I always like to see my fellow LSU Tigers Joe Burrow & Ja’Marr Chase do well … so I’m on the Bengals vs. the Raiders Saturday. I also like the No. 1-seed Titans, mostly because they’re playing the shadow of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, whom they waxed 27-3 in Week 7. How did defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons not get picked for the Pro Bowl? 8.5 sacks, five quarterback hits, and 39 quarterback pressures. If Simmons and the Titans have anything to say about it, they’ll have other plans that day.

Super Wild Card Weekend Schedule

Courtesy of NFL.com

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Christmas Comes Early with New Orleans Saints’ Sweep of Tom Brady, Bucs

New Orleans Saints fans will never forget last season’s 38-3 drubbing of Tampa Bay in their stadium on Sunday Night Football. Drew Brees and the defense helped the Saints make the ultimate statement on their way to winning the NFC South.

But that was then. The Saints couldn’t possibly sweep Tom Brady (in the regular season) two years in a row?

2021 is a different season, after all. Brees is retired, now sitting comfortably as an NBC studio analyst, the Bucs are on the verge of clinching the division, and the Saints are clinging to wild-card hopes with an injury-riddled roster.

Wait just a minute.

We should have known the second THIS happened pregame that we were in for a special night.

“I will not make the mistake that all of you are making right now. I’m taking the Saints,” Brees said with a smile in his pregame pick.

In Drew we trust. Or more accurately, in the Saints defense we trust.


The Bucs came into Sunday night averaging 31.5 points per game offensively, but when Marshon Lattimore almost intercepted Tom Brady’s first pass, we were off and running.

Tampa Bay didn’t reach the Saints’ red zone. Closest they got in 73 plays was the Saints’ 21. In fact, they ran just 3 plays all night inside the Saints’ 35-yard line. This was the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense & total offense — with their first opportunity to clinch the NFC South.

Did we mention Sean Payton was out with COVID-19? Yea, defensive coordinator Dennis Allen gave a pretty darn good head coaching audition. The Saints deliver some gritty performances when (almost) no one believes in them.


This has been an up-and-down season for the Saints, and by extension the Who Dat Nation. We’ve had Hurricane Ida, a 38-3 throttling of Aaron Rodgers & Green Bay in Week 1, Jameis Winston’s season-ending ACL tear Oct. 31, a five-game losing streak, and now an ultra-satisfying sweep of Tampa Bay.

The Bucs couldn’t even find the scoreboard in Sunday night’s 9-0 loss. The closest they got was a missed field goal and a Brady fumble, recovered by Lattimore. The Saints sacked Brady four times, and CJ Gardner-Johnson had a late interception.

Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, Demario Davis, Gardner-Johnson, Lattimore, everyone came to play on a night when the Saints had to win to keep any realistic playoff hopes alive.

Seeing Brady frustrated and downright flummoxed all night was a thing of beauty. Brady hadn’t been shut out in 15 years.

I was so proud of the defense’s energy and emotion. The Saints needed it, because we can’t ignore the fact that their offense mustered only three field goals (a victory for their kicking woes, but no one likes to see 0-for-2 in the red zone or 3-for-16 on third downs).

Now we have to ask ourselves how the Saints can build on this improbable win.


Last time the Saints beat the Bucs when Jameis Winston went down, they went on to lose five in a row. There’s no time for that now. With three regular season games left, the formula is pretty simple for what the Saints have to do.

Keep winning.

Beat the Dolphins (Dec. 27) and Panthers (Jan. 2) at home & the Falcons on the road (Jan. 9), and the Saints will have a chance to slide into the postseason. But it’s just a chance. The Dolphins have won six straight games after starting 1-7, and predicting division games is always difficult.

Ironically, it might serve the Saints better if they had more away games to play because defense travels well. They’re just 1-4 in the Caesars Superdome this season (one “home” win came in Jacksonville against the Packers), and 5-3 on the road.

However, the playoff race is wide open — in both conferences. Only the Packers have locked up a spot, clinching the NFC North this past weekend. If the Saints win out, they’ll finish 10-7 and be firmly in contention for two wild card spots with teams like L.A. Rams (9-4, hosts Seahawks Tuesday), San Francisco (8-6), Minnesota (7-7), Washington (6-7, plays at Eagles Tuesday), Philadelphia (6-7, hosts Washington Tuesday) and Atlanta (6-8).

It wouldn’t be a New Orleans Saints season without making us a little nervous, would it?

But what a time for the Saints’ 15th shutout in franchise history — 6 days before Christmas and with the season on the line.

Whether the Saints make the playoffs or not, we’ll remember this win for a while.

Merry Christmas, Who Dat Nation!

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Fight Like Luke Siegel During Football Season (And Every Day)

Every time Drew Brees fired up the New Orleans Saints’ pregame huddle with his words and his inspiration, it was something special to see.

Wow! That 2019 season opener against the Texans, a heart-stopping Monday night victory, brings back memories.

While we won’t see Brees in those huddles or orchestrating 2-minute drills anymore, he recently gave a powerful speech at the funeral of 15-year-old Luke Siegel, that I wanted to highlight as we usher in the 2021 NFL season.

Luke was a young boy I had the privilege of meeting for just a minute through my computer screen after I interviewed his father, Tim Siegel, for my 10th podcast episode earlier this year. Brees was Luke’s hero and the Saints his favorite team – a bond he shared with his father that I also share with my own dad.

As Tim recalled on our podcast for Brain Injury Awareness Month in March, Luke suffered a devastating injury in 2015 when a modified golf cart landed on him and his brain was deprived of oxygen for more than 7 minutes.

In the interview Tim explained how Luke motivates him to never give up. You can see that determination through the foundation he started, Team Luke Hope for Minds, to provide financial help, emotional support and education to families of children impacted by brain injuries.

Photo from Tim Siegel

Luke died Aug. 19, but his legacy will live forever. And not just in New Orleans, where Tim was born. He coached tennis at Texas Tech, so Patrick Mahomes, the Red Raiders football team & Kansas City Chiefs,

The Red Raiders attended Luke’s funeral, and Kingsbury is donating $5,000 to Team Luke Hope for Minds for every Cardinals win this season.

and former coach Kliff Kingsbury (now with the Arizona Cardinals) are prominent Team Luke ambassadors, along with many tennis players worldwide.  The Red Raiders attended Luke’s funeral, and Kingsbury is donating $5,000 to Team Luke Hope for Minds for every Cardinals win this season. -

I still remember how seeing Luke after our interview impacted me. His room was filled with New Orleans Saints paraphernalia, and I felt an instant connection to him. Tim told Luke how he’d just talked to me about Drew Brees, and I saw Luke’s tongue move, exactly the motion Tim described when he or a therapist would ask Luke, “Can you do this for Drew?” or “for the Saints?”

His fight took my breath away. Since then, I’ve been inspired to hug my loved ones tighter and not take a single day for granted. When life gets overwhelming, I also remember these 5 inspirations from Luke that Tim shared on the podcast:

  1. Find your passion.

  2. Don’t ever quit.

  3. Lean on friends, family, coaches, siblings and counselors.

  4. Make good choices.

  5. Have faith.

And you know what?  If the Saints fight like Luke this season, they might shock the experts and string together some unexpected wins. - I’ll end with some of Drew Brees’ words at Luke’s funeral, where he called him the Saints’ good luck charm.  You can see the whole video on Tim Siegel’s Twitter account:

And you know what? If the Saints fight like Luke this season, they might shock the experts and string together some unexpected wins.

I’ll end with some of Drew Brees’ words at Luke’s funeral, where he called him the Saints’ good luck charm. You can see the whole video on Tim Siegel’s Twitter account:

“Your strength and courage and your fight motivated us more than you ever could imagine. To watch the extraordinary love of your family, your father Tim, and your community as they rallied around you was truly awe-inspiring. I’m a better person for having had a chance to know you. The best of you will live in all of us for the rest of our lives.”

I agree with Drew. I’m a better person for knowing people like Luke and Tim Siegel. I’ll carry Luke close to my heart this Saints football season. May he rest in peace, and may we all fight like Luke every single day.

A Trip Down Memory Lane with Mike Hoss: Lessons from Jim Henderson, Mike’s Goals as the Voice of the Saints


It’s a New Orleans Saints tradition: Turn down the sound on your TV, pause your DVR and turn up the Saints radio network. Can you hear color analyst Deuce McAllister reciting the promotion between plays? Football season is almost here, and Deuce will have a new play-by-play announcer in the 2021 season – broadcasting icon Mike Hoss – since Zach Strief became the Saints’ assistant offensive line coach.

Hoss arrived in New Orleans in 1989 with no attachment to the city at all. But that changed during his 30+ years in local television – New Orleans is more than a workplace. He met and married his wife here, had children, and saw the Crescent City was different than his previous jobs in Charlottesville, Virginia, Lawton, Oklahoma, or Lubbock, Texas. Hoss moved up the ranks from #3 sports reporter at WWL-TV under former Voice of the Saints Jim Henderson, transitioned to the news side, and became an avid Saints fan and season ticket holder himself (Section 317, anyone?)

So Mike Hoss has worn many hats in the media era, from broadcaster to communications strategist and more. Tune in to Episode 28 of Black and Gold Rush, as host Rachel Jones takes Saints fans behind the scenes of his journey from aspiring pro golfer at James Madison University to being named the newest Voice of the Saints.

  • Mike Hoss grew up in Manassas, Virginia, and went to college on a golf scholarship (8:28)
  • No plan B until his junior year
  • Golf stories on his resume helped him get a job at WWL-TV in New Orleans, a “national powerhouse” (15:35)
  • Lessons from Jim Henderson: “He is a brilliant writer and orator” (22:42)
  • What sparked Mike’s deep connection to the Saints – this time as a fan (29:00)
  • “I became like a crazy person … beyond fanatic” (30:00)
  • What are the final stages of preparation like for his new role (32:39)
  • “Zach and Jim are polar opposites” (37:35)
  • Nerves for his first call? (44:13)
  • Random Round (48:55)

Plus, you might have heard the Saints now have the highest paid right tackle in the NFL! Ryan Ramczyk just signed a five year $96 million contract extension, including $60 million guaranteed.

When I think of Ryan Ramczyk, I think of Mr. Dependable and Mr. Reliable on the Saints offensive line. He’s part of the Saints’ banner 2017 draft class, only missing one game in four seasons. In 70 career games, Ramczyk has been on the field for every single snap 64 times. Now that’s dependable! In 2020, he gave up just two sacks and committed only five penalties.


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Mike Hoss named play-by-play announcer for New Orleans Saints game day broadcasts on WWL

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