New Orleans Saints

Current, former Seahawks respond to Drew Brees’ comments about the flag

Current, former Seahawks respond to Drew Brees’ comments about the flag

Drew Brees has come under intense criticism since offering his first public comments on Wednesday in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

During the interview with Yahoo! Finance, the New Orleans Saints quarterback mischaracterized the protests of Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players as “disrespecting the flag.”

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said. "Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played, and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place."

The star quarterback’s comments drew a sharp rebuke on social media from many of his Saints teammates including Malcolm Jenkins and Demario Davis, who are among leaders of the players coalition seeking social justice and racial equality. 

Brees’ stance startled many current and former Seattle Seahawks players, including outspoken wide receiver Doug Baldwin who called Brees part of the problem. 

Former Legion of Boom enforcer Kam Chancellor responded to a post from a fan that encouraged him to return for one game to “drop the hammer” and light Brees up. 

Chancellor’s response: “That would be a nasty scene.” 

Richard Sherman, who played for the Seahawks from 2011-17 before joining the San Francisco 49ers, called Brees “beyond lost” with his remarks about kneeling in the NFL. 

Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett quote tweeted a video regarding how Fox News host Laura Ingraham responded to LeBron James and Kevin Durant’s ‘freedom’ of speech, which blasted President of the United States Donald Trump, and Drew Brees’ comments about taking a knee during the anthem. 

Second-year wide receiver DK Metcalf shared this post following Brees' apology on social media.  

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has long idolized Brees for paving way for shorter quarterbacks in the NFL. During last year’s Pro Bowl, upon Brees retirement rumors, Wilson gave up his starting spot to the future Hall of Famer.  

When speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Wilson said he hadn’t yet gotten the opportunity to see Brees’ full comments on taking a knee the anthem. He did say, however, that he believes former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was trying to do the right thing. 

I was in meetings. I just got out of meetings. I didn’t get to watch the whole thing. The reality is, Colin was trying to symbolize the oppression that was going on in America, that has been going on for 400 years. And I think people go into a box of, ‘OK, this person is this, and that person is that, because they didn’t do this, or they didn’t do that. The reality is what Colin was trying to do was sit down and do the right thing and try to stand up, figuratively, for what is going on in America. 

It’s heavy on me. ...Colin, for me, he was trying to symbolize the right thing. People may have taken that the wrong way, but he was trying to do the right thing, the bottom line. And he stood up in so many amazing ways to really stand up for black lives and what is going on, and the oppression that is going on. ...I think it is the right thing is that he has been trying to do.

[RELATED: With a heavy heart, Russell Wilson shares poignant thoughts on racism in America]

Brees has issued an apology for his comments. You can read the full statement below. 

View this post on Instagram

I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character. This is where I stand: I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening...and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on

Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston hitting reset button -- who will be better?

Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston hitting reset button -- who will be better?

It appears that Jameis Winston is signing a free-agent contract with the New Orleans Saints.

And now that Marcus Mariota has signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, it leads me to think that perhaps, after five seasons in the NFL, we still don’t know which of those guys is the best quarterback.

They were drafted in 2015, Winston No. 1 out of Florida State by Tampa Bay and Mariota No. 2 from Oregon by Tennessee, in a year when the draft wasn’t exactly loaded with blue-chip quarterbacks. Both players had previously won a Heisman Trophy.

And it’s certainly time to ask the question, are either of these players going to emerge as a high-quality NFL quarterback?

Of course, regional bias in these parts will always say that Mariota is a star in waiting. The storyline has always been that he hasn’t been used properly, the offense hasn’t been tailored to fit his skill set, he hasn’t had quality receivers, hasn't had a good offensive coordinator, too many coaching changes, etc., etc.

I’m not going to bury you with statistics, you can find Mariota’s stats here and Winston’s here. Just see for yourself and cherry-pick the ones that bolster your argument.

But in summary, I would state the obvious: that Mariota is the steadier of the two, less prone to mistakes. More careful. But Winston, who has been in a Pro Bowl, can be more spectacular, more likely to take chances.

Everyone talks about Winston’s 30 interceptions last season, but he also had 33 touchdown passes, a figure Mariota has never approached. Mariota’s all-time high in picks is 15 and he has only 44 in 63 career games. Winston has thrown 88 interceptions in 72 games. On the other hand, Winston has tossed 121 TD passes while Mariota has thrown just 76.

Both quarterbacks get to hit the reset button -- Winston for a team that resurrected Teddy Bridgewater’s career and Mariota with a coach who seems to love him.

I don’t think I’d be betting on either of them becoming a breakout star with their new franchise, but anything is possible with a fresh start.

At this point, though, I think it’s probably fair to say that neither man has lived up to expectations.

Russell Wilson steps aside, gifts starting Pro Bowl roster spot to Drew Brees

Russell Wilson steps aside, gifts starting Pro Bowl roster spot to Drew Brees

Russell Wilson may have just delivered an early retirement gift to Drew Brees.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback was selected as the NFC’s starting quarterback for the Pro Bowl on Sunday, but instead gave up the start in favor of the New Orleans Saints quarterback. 

Wilson has long admired Brees, even calling him his favorite player to ever play the game. 

“I think about his legacy and what he’s meant to the game,” Wilson said ahead of the Seahawks-Saints Week 3 matchup. “He’s helped open up the door for me to play as a shorter quarterback. There’s been some guys before him too that I know he would acknowledge as well. Guys like Doug Flutie as well and others. Steve Young and different players. I think about Drew and his ability to make great plays and just when he’s in the game, he’s a spectacular football player. One of the best to ever step on the field."

Wilson said he first met Brees during his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2012, his rookie year. The two have stayed in touch ever since and what began as mutual respect has since blossomed into a friendship.  

“We got to know each other and throughout the years, we’ve stayed in touch,” Wilson added. “We get to see each other in the off season some and all that stuff. Our kids are close and stuff like that, so they get to play together sometimes. It’s cool. Like I said, we developed the relationship over the years and he’s arguably the best to ever do it.”

Wilson made his seventh Pro Bowl appearance on Sunday, while the 41-year-old Brees took the field for his 13th Pro Bowl appearance. It’s quite possible Sunday was the last time we will ever see Brees on the football field. 

Brees has openly admitted that he’s considering retirement and is expected to make a decision at the start of free agency. 

“I’m really waiting until football is totally done,” Brees told Nola.com. “Obviously being here, I’m just very much focused on my family and this opportunity to be around the guys, playing the game. Then, I’ll kind of lay low for a little bit, get away and then assess. I kind of have a process in mind. And I’ll give it a month or so.”

Max Unger leaves NFL as one of the best OL products Oregon has produced

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USA Today

Max Unger leaves NFL as one of the best OL products Oregon has produced

When Seattle traded center Max Unger to the New Orleans saints in 2015 for tight end Jimmy Graham, the move was met with mixed reactions.

Graham, who had become a star receiving target for quarterback Drew Brees with the Saints, seemed like he would become a deadly weapon for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, as well. But, at the same time, many wondered if that would matter if the Seahawks' offensive line suffered with the loss of Unger.

Well, the line did suffer, and in the end, Graham's contributions in Seattle, although strong (2,048 yards, 18 touchdowns in three seasons) on the receiving end, were negatively offset by his lack of run-blocking ability. The football world should always view the Unger-for-Graham deal as one of the greatest examples of how the flash and sexiness of an offensive weapon can prove to be no match for the grit and heart of an offensive line that makes everything go. 

This week, Unger, drafted by the Seahawks out of Oregon in the second round in 2009, called it a career. His run should be regarded as one of the greatest ever put forth by a former Oregon offensive linemen. He's easily the best center to ever come out of UO. The gold standard for NFL offensive linemen out of Oregon is Gary Zimmerman, who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

During Unger's 10 years (four in New Orleans), Unger made it to three Pro Bowls, was named All-Pro in 2012 with Seattle, appeared in two Super Bowls with the Seahawks and won one following the 2013 season. 

Just 32, Unger told reporters that his ailing body told him to retire. 

“At the end of the day, I guess I’m retiring because I didn’t think I could make it through another season," Unger said. "I’ve got some health issues and you kind of evaluate how you’re playing and where you see life after football going. And I just made the decision to retire."

Unger explained that he has some "lower body" issues that made it difficult for him to get into his stance and would require surgery. That process, he said, would take most of the offseason so he decided that it's simply time for him to leave the game. 

“Just looking back, I’m getting older,” he said. “There’s no way for me to replicate the play of me five years ago, or a couple of years ago, and that’s just the reality of life. And that’s a tough pill to swallow, too. But that factors in. Was I playing bad? No. Was I playing up to my standard? I don’t think so, either. So that was a factor.”

Sorry to see Unger go is Brees, who posted the following on Instagram: "I had the great honor of playing 62 games with Max Unger as my center. There is no better teammate or leader. I’m going to miss you brother." 

The deal worked out well for the Saints, who in the process also got a first-round pick from Seattle, making the exchange highway robbery. The move, Unger said, surprised him when it happened. 

“I was not expecting to be traded,” he said. “I loved my time in Seattle, I liked living up there, I was close to a lot of things. It was a good setup for me. And then I got traded down here, I’d never lived in the South, I’d only really ever lived on the West coast. Get down here, new city, new team, new system – it was hard. And then we kind of got into it. And it ended up working out.”

With his career over, Unger said he is looking forward to the next chapter in his life. 

“It’s not easy," he said. "This is obviously not…it’s not easy. There’s a lot of very close relationships and guys that I have a lot of respect for, and to have to call them and tell them this, it’s tough. But the last month, I think I came to the realization that I was done.”

Is there anything Drew Brees can't do?

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USA Today Img.

Is there anything Drew Brees can't do?

Doesn't seem possible, but Drew Brees is getting better and better. The 39-year-old future Hall of Famer is putting up numbers this season alone that cause your jaw to drop. If you are reading this, Drew Brees has beaten your team; he defeated the then undefeated Los Angeles Rams last week; and today, he put up 51 points on the Cincinnati Bengals. Numbers galore.

https://twitter.com/benbbaldwin/status/1061712073758068738

Brees finished his day 22-for-25 for 265 passing yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Brees has this Saints team rolling and arguably the hottest team not just in the NFC but in the NFL right now.

The Saints (8-1) return home to face the reigning Super Bowl Champ Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) in New Orleans.

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.22 - Brandin Cooks

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.22 - Brandin Cooks

Oregon State has a long list of great receivers that have worn the orange and black; Mike Hass, Sammie Stroughter, James Rodgers, Chad Johnson, Markus Wheaton, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh just to name a few. But the greatest of them all was Brandin Cooks.

Cooks played for the Beavers from 2011-2013 and was the favorite target of Sean Mannion (the most prolific passer in Oregon State history). Cooks is second all-time in career receptions (226), third in career receiving yards (3,272), and first in career receiving touchdowns (24) at Oregon State.

His 128 receptions in 2013 are the most ever in a single season at OSU. That season he also had 1,730 yards receiving, which is also an OSU single-season record. And to think, he had another year of eligibility left when he decided to go pro.

Cooks was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and he spent three seasons in New Orleans before being traded to the New England Patriots. He spent just one season with the Patriots before being traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Rams where he was reunited with Mannion.

In his NFL career Cooks has 280 receptions for 3,943 yards and 27 touchdowns. On July 17 the Rams signed Cooks to a five-year, $81 million extension.

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.30 - John Didion

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NBCS NW

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.30 - John Didion

Didion was at the center, pun intended, of the success at the famed 1967 “Giant Killers” of Oregon State University. Didion anchored a tough, hard-nosed OSU offensive line, and twice earned All-America honors. He went on to be drafted by the Washington Redskins in the seventh round of the 1969 NFL Draft.

Didion showed off his athleticism and versatility playing the first two seasons of his NFL career as a linebacker for the Redskins. He was traded to the Saints in 1971 and would move back to the center position. Didion’s quarterback that first year in New Orleans was a then 22-year-old rookie by the name of Archie Manning.

Didion passed away in 2013. He was 66. 

 

Good job, Raiders -- going for two is often the smart play

Good job, Raiders -- going for two is often the smart play

I don't claim to be a statistical wizard like these guys, and can't tell you too much about the percentages of such things, but I've watched a lot of football games in my time -- too many, perhaps -- and I think the Oakland Raiders made a brilliant move by going for two after a late touchdown Sunday at New Orleans.

Winning the game in regulation -- and the odds are close to 50-50 on two-point conversions -- seemed much preferable to giving the ball back in overtime to Drew Brees, who had already passed for 423 yards. It makes sense, if the coach is secure enough to handle the second-guessing if it doesn't work, to just go for it.

What I've seen most is college teams reluctant to make the same gamble. And I've watched several games when I think they should have. Tired teams on the road at the end of one of those four-hour college games should consider going for two, rather than heading out for overtime periods when their defense is getting run out of the stadium.

Especially in college games, when the rule is now that if the teams are still tied after two overtimes they must then go for two after every touchdown, anyway. Just go for two after a TD late in regulation when the momentum is going your way and you've likely had the opponent's defense on the field for a while. I especially like this without a timeout prior to the PAT. Good teams have excellent two-point plays in their arsenal just for such situations. Score and go for two -- fast.

I would think the Oregon Ducks would profit from such a strategy this season. I think they are going to be a scoring machine without much defense -- college football's version of Loyola-Marymount basketball in the old days. And a team like that should choose to decide a game with its offense, rather than its defense.

Go for two. And if you don't make it, know that at least you've made an aggressive move that shows confidence in your team. And as a coach, if you fail to convert, you've taken the heat off your team for losing a close game and put it on your own shoulders for what will be called a bad gamble by the second-guessers.

And as a coach, taking the heat off your team is always the right move.

 

 

 

NFL Training Camps: A look at the young Beavers

NFL Training Camps: A look at the young Beavers

With training camp in full swing I figure there was no better time to take a look around the league and see how some former Oregon State Beavers are performing.

For this particular piece we will look at some on the younger Beavers. There is no need to talk about players like Brandin Cooks, Derek Anderson, or Brandon Browner, as we all know how well those guys are doing. Instead we will look at some young bucks; players who are making noise, turning heads, and battling for a position on the depth chart. Let’s take a look.

Sean Mannion –

The second year quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams is a lock to be at least third on the depth chart, and depending on how Case Keenum and Jarod Goff perform, could realistically slide into the No.2 spot. Goff is the starter of the future for the Rams, so the real question is who is the true backup; Keenum or Mannion?

Mannion continues to improve, and has garnered some high praise from teammates early in camp.

Via Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Times:

“Everything’s slower to him now,” said receiver Bradley Marquez, who caught two of Mannion’s six career completions. “He’s able to know the plays, so in the huddle, he commands that respect when he comes in there. He’s coming in with confidence, telling everybody what they’re gonna do.”

…“From last year to right now,” said punter Johnny Hekker, “he’s leaps and bounds ahead of where he was.”

While it may not be this season, Mannion may end up being the Rams backup of the future. Mannion played in just one game for the Rams last season, going 6-7 for 31-yards. In four years at OSU, Mannion amassed 13,600 yards passing and 83 touchdowns.

Connor Hamlett -

Hamlett has yet to play a snap in the NFL since leaving OSU in 2014, but that could change this year. Hamlett has been a standout at Browns camp, and is the favorite to be named the backup to Pro Bowler Gary Barnidge.

Via Patrick Maks of ClevelandBrowns.com:

“He’s done great. That guy is tall,” head coach Hue Jackson said, laughing. “He’s got long arms. You can kind of throw it up there and he goes and gets it. He’s done a great job. I’ve been really pleased with him.

“One thing about him, the guy is really accountable. He’s always here. He’s always out here competing. I’m very, very impressed with the things he has done.”

Tight Ends coach Greg Seamon had the following to say with regard to the position battle at backup TE:

“Connor is a long, tall, spidery guy with excellent hands. He’s very smart,” Seamon said.

“We’ll see how it plays out. Right now, those jobs are available. What we’re attempting to do in practice is give everybody enough repetitions at all the various spots so that when we get to the games, they can go in and show what they can do.”

Hamlett played in 34 games at OSU, amassing 1,109 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.          

Isaac Seumalo –

The third round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles is playing catch up at Eagles Camp. Due to Oregon State’s quarter system, and ridiculous NCAA rules, Seumalo missed Philadelphia’s OTAs this spring. Now that he is with the team, he is a little behind the eight ball. However, with a world of potential in front of him, the hill should be easy to climb Seumalo. When healthy he showed Pac-12 foes why he was a top-round pick, and if not for those lingering injuries he may have been drafted even higher. But Seumalo is ready to battle.

Via Les Bowen of Philly.com:

"It's a tough drill. The NFL's no joke," Seumalo said. "You gotta bring it and be near-perfect every time you go, if you wanna win, and even then, it's hard. I just look for improvement."

             Seumalo said he knows the only way to get better is to be "really objective and coachable."

…"I expect that out of myself, to compete, but most importantly, get better every day," Seumalo said. "I don't make the depth chart. The best five will play. If that's me, I'm excited. If not, I'm still excited."

Seumalo is currently listed as the back up to nine-year veteran Allen Barbre at Left Guard, and with the Eagles projected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Seumalo get some playing time this season.           

Steven Nelson –

Nelson was a stud at Oregon State, grabbing eight interceptions and making 122 tackles in just two seasons in Corvallis. His ability to shut down some of the best receivers in the Pac-12 was a big reason the Chiefs picked him up in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

The Chiefs have a young, talented defensive backfield making snaps hard to come by for Nelson in 2015. However, he still managed to make an impact, playing in 12 games for KC. 

Nelson really started to find his groove late in the season, and if that upward trend continues he will easily crack the lineup for the Chiefs.

Via of J Kissel of Chiefs.com:

Throughout offseason workouts this year, Nelson has been one of the standouts for the Chiefs defense, making plays all over the field on both the outside as well as inside at the nickel cornerback position.

“He really started picking up towards the end of last year,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid recently said of Nelson. “I thought he kind of took off the last quarter of the season. We were excited to see if he’d continue to grow at that inside position.”

…Nelson has spent a lot of time this offseason at that nickel position—a spot he hopes to earn and one that he hopes to show Reid and the other coaches he can handle.

“He has made some plays in the inside with the first group there,” Reid said of Nelson’s offseason playmaking thus far.

The nickel package is a great spot for Nelson to fall in. It fits his skill set well, and will continue to give him an opportunity to grow. The position for those young DBs in Kansas City will be a very interesting one to watch.

D.J. Alexander –

Not a lot of news coming out of Kansas City with regard to the linebacker, as the Chiefs have one of the strongest linebacker corps in the NFL. Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, and Tamba Hill make up a formidable first unit, while Dee Ford, Ramik Wilson, Frank Zombo, and Alexander anchor the second unit. 

The Chiefs’ second unit is strong, stronger than what some teams trot out on their first team. For Alexander, cracking the starting lineup will be very hard to do. But there is a tremendous amount of potential with Alexander, and 12-year veteran Derrick Johnson sees it.

Via BJ Kissel of Chiefs.com:

            After practice on Monday, Johnson gave a little breakdown of each of the young guys:

“Well, ‘Little DJ” (D.J Alexander) is probably our fastest linebacker,” Johnson explained. “I hate to say that because I've always been the fastest, but his speed to the ball is unbelievable. He's still young and he's still learning, but his potential is through the roof.

Not only has Johnson seen Alexander’s potential, Alexander has leaned on the veteran’s leadership as he continues to grow:

For Alexander, the leadership of not just Johnson and Mauga, but from all of the guys in that defensive room, is special.

“They're all like big brothers,” Alexander explained. “They want to see us do better and they're pushing us. They’re staying on us and challenging us and we look up to them because we want to be like they are.”

Alexander looks to be a large part of the Chiefs defense this coming season, and if he isn’t able to crack the starting lineup I would not be surprised to see teams contact KC trying to trade for the young linebacker.

Obum Gwacham –

The former wide receiver turned defensive end looks like he may have found a home with the New Orleans Saints. Gwacham was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2015, but was let go in September of that year. A day after being waived by Seattle, he was claimed by the Saints. Now in his second season with the Saints, Gwacham has found a sense of comfort as he enters his first training camp with the team.

Via Amos Morale III of NOLA.com:

"It's nice that I'm able to be here with this team during camp because I was with a different team last year," he said. "It's nice that I can grow with everyone and we can go through the struggles of camp days together."

Gwacham has been working at camp with Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson and pass rush specialist Brian Young to improve his technique. Specifically, he worked on his zero-step technique which he says involves initiating contact with the offensive lineman or tight end first.  

"It allows you to push-pull him and it makes it much easier to control them," he said. "So that's one of the biggest things that I worked on and I've definitely seen it pay off."

Saints head coach Sean Payton said the key with Gwacham's development will be how he handles playing against the run. 

            "That'll be a challenge," he said. "That'll be a little more new."

            Overall, Gwacham thinks training camp has gone well so far.

Gwacham had eight tackles and a forced fumble in nine games last season, and is currently listed as the backup defensive end behind Kasim Edebali. He is in a great spot in New Orleans, as they don’t need him to be a starter yet, and a year as a true No.2 will really help his development.

Terron Ward –

There hasn’t been a lot of noise with regards to Ward coming out of Falcons training camp. Ward his missed a few days of practice recently due a lingering ankle injury, but he still could be a factor for Atlanta this year. Ward was used sparingly last season, carrying the ball 29 times for 95-yards, but could see a little more action as he has the inside track to be the teams No.3 RB.  If his touches in the offense don’t see an uptick, that doesn’t mean he won’t see more playing time. With the recent release of kick returner Devin Hester, the special teams spot is up for grabs. Ward returned kicks at OSU, and worked on kick returns during offseason workouts.

Whether at running back or on special teams, Ward should have a chance to help Falcons, if he can stay healthy that is.