Pandemic Football

Pandemic Football
Rules, Rules, Rules…
It now appears that the 2020 NFL preseason is finally over.  The Saints appear to be getting their act together as they defeated the Lions on Sunday.  There are still a large number of injuries plaguing the team.  Add Ryan Ramczyk to the ever-growing list of starters who are down.  Ryan left the game at Detroit with a concussion.  That makes seven first-string players who are all questionable for this Monday’s matchup with the Chargers.  The team formerly from San Diego is having their own injury issues.  Quarterback Tyrod Taylor is still recovering from a punctured lung and rookie Justin Herbert has been filing in respectably.  Receiver Mike Williams and DL Joey Bosa have missed a few games with injuries and RB Austin Ekeler was assisted off the field last weekend and is expected to be out for the next six weeks with hamstring and knee injuries.  Could be worse, I guess.  Two more Titans’ players tested positive for Covid on Tuesday, thus tossing their season farther up into the air.  Their game against Pittsburgh was postponed last Sunday and their game against Buffalo this weekend looks to be cancelled as well.   The Saints had a scare last Saturday as they arrived in Detroit and FB Michael Burton tested positive for the disease.  Protocols in place started the contact tracing of whom Burton was with previous to the test and from where he may have contracted the virus.  Burton had spent time with Alvin Kamara and social media lit up with the $64,000 questions of “Who is Michael Burton?” and “Why was he with Alvin Kamara?”  The answer is that Burton is the Saints’ Fullback.  Michael is now with his fourth NFL team since entering the league out of Rutgers.  He has played for the Lions, Bears and Redskins before landing a job with the Saints to replace Zach Line who retired in January.  Since he was not exhibiting symptoms, he was allowed to take a second test.  The second test came back negative and Burton and the Saints were able to play last Sunday.

New England’s Scam Newton also tested positive last week.  Both times.  Scam was asymptomatic as well, but tested positive twice.  Haven’t heard anything about the contact tracing on his whereabouts, however.  No other Patriots tested positive until two days ago when Stephon Gilmore, 2019’s Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the year, and Bill Murray each tested positive for Covid.  NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, is just beside himself over the fact that the players, coaches and staffers in his league are largely ignoring the health protocols set up for this season.  New safety measures were put in place this week via a league-wide memo sent out by The Jolly Roger himself.  Included in those guidelines are that all players and staff must wear masks at all times while in the club facilities or the practice field unless they are “in the game.”  Groups of more than three are prohibited from gathering outside of the club facility or while traveling.  Clubs are now required to install video surveillance systems, similar to those used in the elevators at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, to monitor compliance with the new rules.  Goodell further said that teams who continue to violate the rules may be subject to forfeiting games or face the loss of draft picks for their indiscretions.  He also said that he is looking forward to penalizing the Saints whether they step out of line or not.

Why on earth would they fire ME?
Because you’re a LOSER!  No.  Wait.  I’M the loser!  Uhhhh-Ohh…
The new NFL PPE safety suits on display at League Headquarters
Atlantic City video surveillance, circa 2014
It sure does seem like the Saints are getting penalized a lot this year.  The defense is doing well, ranked sixth in the league through four games.  The offensive unit is stuck in the middle of the pack at 16th in total offense.  The team IS leading the league in penalty yards.  Four games have amassed 398 penalty yards against our guys.  70 yards against the offense, 328 against the defense.  Well over half of the defensive yardage was a result of pass interference calls.  Could it be that since the officials were called out for the NOLA No-Call and were subjected to having their manhood questioned last year with those PI challenges, that they are taking it out against the boys in Black and Gold?   Or am I just trying to create conspiracy theories to pad this newsletter?  Either way, I do find it interesting that many calls, including that horse collar tackle penalty against Malcolm Jenkins for tackling the Packers’ Jamaal Williams around the waist, do seem to come at times that keep the opponents’ sputtering drives alive with 15 extra yards and all those automatic first downs.  Sometimes it feels like the team is haunted by the ghost of Brandon Browner.
Four weeks into the 2020 Pandemic Season, there are six undefeated teams still out there.  Four teams in the AFC are unbeaten and lead each of the divisions.  They are Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Kansas City.  Two teams in the NFC, Green Bay and Seattle are 4-0 entering week five.  On the flip side, there are only four winless teams out there.  The Giants, Falcons, Texans and Jets are all 0-4. Interesting to note that the state of New York is off to an 0-8 start this year with really no signs of improvement in sight.  The Texans have fired their Head Coach and General Manager, Bill O’Brien, after six years of service.  It seems that the four division titles in his six years just wasn’t good enough to help him keep his job after an 0-4 start.  Perhaps trading star receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals in the offseason for a handful of magic beans wasn’t such a good idea?  Or could it be that their playoff loss to the Chiefs last year was the last straw?  In that AFC Divisional game, the Texans were up 24-0 with ten minutes left in the second quarter.  By halftime, they were down 28-24 and would go on to lose by a 51-31 score.   Kansas City set a record that day by scoring seven touchdowns and a field goal on eight consecutive possessions.  It never looks good on your resume to lose a playoff game after being ahead by 24 points.  Unless, of course, you coach the Atlanta Falcons.  Falcons Head Coach, Dan Quinn, could possibly hold the record for spectacular come-from-ahead losses.  His team was ahead 28-3 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI before losing 34-28 to the Patriots.  No to be outdone or forgotten since then, Quinn’s Falcons have logged two epic failures this year by blowing both a 15-point lead against the Cowboys in week 2 and then a 16-point lead against the Bears in week 3.  Instead of going for three-in-a-row, the Falcons changed speeds on us in week 4.  Facing the Packers last Monday, they went DOWN by 17 points just before halftime and pretty much stayed there until the end of the game going away with a 30-16 loss in Green Bay.  On the bight side, they only had only 3 penalties for 23 yards…
Sure, I hate the Saints. Doesn’t everybody?
Just my luck. Covid AND a bad hair day at the same time.
Former Chargers Rivers and Brees.
Jalen Ramsey and Golden Tate duke it out after the game.
Week five of the season finds our team at home again against the Chargers.  Early betting lines had the Saints as much as a ten-point favorite in this contest.  Former Saint and Hall of Fame candidate, La’Roi Glover, is now the Assistant Defensive line coach for the Chargers.  Another former Saint and Tulane Green Wave, James Campen, is the Chargers’ offensive line coach.  Saint’s offensive coordinator, Pete Carmichael, was an offensive assistant for Los Angeles from 2002-2005.  In 2006, he came to New Orleans along with Sean Payton and Drew Brees.  Brees was released by the Chargers after five years of loyal service and leadership after his shoulder injury in the last game of the 2005 season and replaced by Philip Rivers.  Rivers was released by the Chargers after sixteen years of loyal service and leadership after the last game of the 2019 season and is now the starter for the Indianapolis Colts.  Since none of the 750 fans in attendance at the Packers game in the Superdome on September 27th tested positive for coronavirus, both the Saints’ front office and the league have petitioned Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Governor John Bell Edwards to allow more fans for this Monday’s game.  Edwards gave his blessing, but Cantrell has given an emphatic “No.” to the request.  It may not matter in the grand scheme of things anyway as Hurricane Delta, sitting just offshore, may make landfall and the game may have to be moved to a different location.  Stay tuned for details…
Going around the league, Antonio Brown and Earl Thomas remain unsigned as no one, including the players, seems to want them on their team.  Tom Brady was named the NFC’s offensive player of the week.  The Washington Football Scream has benched quarterback Dwayne Haskins and plans to start former Panthers’ backup, Kyle Allen, this Sunday against the Rams.  Alex Smith will be in the back-up slot.  Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow got his first win as a pro by defeating Jacksonville by a score of 33-25.  Burrow was 25 of 36 for 300 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  After the Rams-Giants game, New York’s Golden Tate and L. A.’s Jalen Ramsey got into a fight.  It seems there is much bad blood between the two.   Ramsey has fathered two children with his girlfriend, Tate’s sister.  Ramsey reportedly dumped Tate’s sister for another woman while she was expecting their second child last year.  While no suspensions are expected, fines for violating the league’s PPE protocols are still in play.  Commissioner Goodell said “I’ve seen the video and we’ve got the situation under control.”
We’re looking forward to seeing all of your smiling faces out at Fast Times for the fun and excitement that is Saints Football. Thank you all for playing by the rules last week! Rules for indoor and outdoor dining, as you know, are a moving target. For this week, the County of San Diego Health Department guidelines are:
  • Indoor dining is at 25% of capacity – Fast Times will have 25 seats available inside.
  • All people sitting inside will give the staff their name and phone number
  • No bar seating
  • Food must be ordered to have alcohol served
  • Masks to be worn when moving about the restaurant, but not while seated 
  • Due to the current health regulations, please understand that is only able to seat guests on a first come, first served basis
Come out and support the team as well as the gang at Fast Times.  We really appreciate their efforts to make all Saints Fans feel at home.  Next game time is this Monday, October 12th at 5:15 PM.