The Advocate: Saints Roundtable

In this The Advocate: Saints roundtable discussion, Advocate sportswriter Ted Lewis and contributors Gary Estwick, Guerry Smith and Brian Allee-Walsh answer three questions about the New Orleans Saints.

Thoughts on the Atlanta radio station's Steve Gleason rant?

TL: Back when I was a kid, there was a song we sung in Sunday School that started out, "Be careful little mouth what you say." Apparently the Mayhem in the AM crew didn't go to Sunday School. I'm as much of a fan of tasteless humor as the next guy, but not only did this cross the line, but it wasn't even funny -certainly not as much as some of the self-depreciating things Steve has said about his condition himself. Maybe now that the Mayhem in the AM crew is out of the streets looking for work they'll remember the verse we made up for the end of the song, "Be careful little feet where you step," although it's too late for that now.

GE: Here's an advantage we enjoy in the newspaper industry: The ability to stop - if just for a second - and think about what we're writing. No such opportunity live on the airwaves. That's not an excuse for their on-air antics. Somebody should have had the common sense to realize how hurtful their skit was and bowed out, right there on air. Would that have been easy? No. But if you can't handle the moral responsibility that comes with disseminating information to the public, find another gig.

GS: I have a hard time getting worked up about stuff like this. The Mayhem in the AM crew got exactly what they deserved --pink slips--and let's leave it at that. Their offensive, lame attempt at "humor" was an unmitigated disaster, but that's what radio has become--guys trying to create a stir with outrageous negativity and snark. Three guys paid with their jobs. No reason to give them any more attention.

BAW: To the 3 stooges in Atlanta, or Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest, I ask what were y'all thinking? Certainly, not clearly. Hopefully, they will learn from their mistakes. To Steve and his family, Team Gleason and Who Dat Nation and all those who are on a mission to find a cure for ALS, keep the faith, stay the course and let's move on.

TL: That was a classy reply by Steve. But he didn't say they deserved to have their jobs back and it doesn't sound like it's going to happen. It's hard to believe an NFL team would be tied up with a station that had a show like that.

GE: One of the fired hosts wrote this on Twitter: "ALS not a joke, bit or game. 20 yrs on the air, 2 bad mins on a show, look at the whole picture I hope..." I'm writing this: Some mistakes are forgiven (over time), but they might cost/damage your career. If you can't handle the heat...

What's the deal with TE Jimmy Graham absent from NFL Network's Top 100 Players list?

TL: In 1999, when Tulane was picked fifth in Conference USA after going undefeated the season before, one of the Green Wave players responded by saying, "Consider the source!" Well, the source in that case was a vote of the coaches.
Same thing with Saints' fans getting huffy about Jimmy Graham being left of the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2013." Consider the source - which this case are the players themselves. Are they the best judges? Perhaps But are they judging strictly by talent, production on the field or other factors? Reggie Wayne being picked one spot ahead of Larry Fitzgerald had the feel of a career achievement award for the Ehret graduate. The point is, ranking players who perform different functions on a football team is not only totally subjective but just a fun offseason discussion starter. But if Graham, going into a contract year when he'll be seeking to become the NFL's highest-paid tight end uses this "snub" for motivation, then it's all that much better for the Saints.

GE: I've seen NFL guys vote for these kinda polls. They tip toe around the locker room like teenage girls lobbying for prom queen. They ask, "Who are you voting for?" before sharing giggles. Not exactly scientific based.

GS: Any credible list would have Graham well inside the top 100. I'm genuinely surprised at the snub. With Gronkowski's health issues, I think Graham would top a lot of people's lists as the best TE in football. He led the NFL in drops last year because of the hurt hand the Saints illegally concealed. There's no reason to expect a repeat of that problem. I'm not sure about the motivation angle, though. Coming off last year's frustration, he will already have as much motivation as anyone in the league.

Which defensive player has the chance to make the biggest impact in 2013?

TL: Martez Wilson. With Victor Butler out, he becomes even more important as a pass rushing outside linebacker and the third-year man from Illinois is highly motivated to prove himself as both a player and a leader.

GE: Way to steal my pick... I'm staying on the line of scrimmage with DE Cameron Jordan. He and MLB Curtis Lofton were the most productive players on last season's severely underachieving unit. I think Jordan's continued improvement, which includes his ability to play anywhere on the D-line, gives him the opportunity to become a Pro Bowler for the first time. Can he hit double-digit sacks as a DE? Maybe not in the 3-4 scheme if the OLBs are earning their paychecks. But his impact will be measured by more than that one stat.

GS: OK, now Gary stole my pick, so I'll take a different tack and go with New Orleans native Keenan Lewis. He may not even start at cornerback in a three-way battle with Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson for two spots, but the Saints will be in trouble if he doesn't beat out one of them. Although their secondary is nowhere near as bad as it looked in last year's defensive debacle, it needs a significant upgrade. Lewis led the AFC in pass breakups last year with 23, and he's bigger and more physical than Greer or Robinson. When healthy, Greer was terrific in his first year in New Orleans --The 2009 Super Bowl season-- playing better than he ever had in Buffalo. The Saints need Lewis, who had only one interception in four seasons with the Steelers, to match Greer's first-year production.

BAW: The safe pick here would be MLB Curtis Lofton, who seems a perfect fit in Rob Ryan's 3-4 defense and is a model of consistency. But I'm going to stick my neck out and project rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro to not only win a starting job but to become a playmaker in the back end which has been sorely missing since Darren Sharper in 2009

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