The 6 Most Overrated New Orleans Saints Who Are Expendable
After writing this article Wednesday about the nine reasons the Saints have a chance to win the Super Bowl—and getting mostly positive responses back from readers—I have to be the bad guy now. Just like the cop who shuts down the party, I am the innocent evil one.
So, all the love I was getting earlier this week I fully expect to be taken away, and in its place I'm sure hate mail will pour from the skies as if it were God’s wrath manifested upon me. I'm mentally preparing as I write this. Come on, bring it! I'm game!
Here is what I really believe, that there are six players on this particular Saints team who are overrated and could easily be replaced with little to no difference in production at their positions. In fact, in some cases the team may actually be better with certain players taking the others' spots.
Bring on the hate mail. I want it more than anything in the world. Let’s go!
MLB Jonathan Vilma
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In Wednesday's article, I wrote that the addition of Curtis Lofton was a huge get for the Saints' defense and Mickey Loomis. He is iron-solid and a playmaker to boot.
At 30 years old, and great wear and tear on his body, Jonathan Vilma is not going to be extremely productive for many more years.
It certainly didn't help that he was called out by Commissioner Goodell for his role in "Bountygate." As a result, he will miss this season, and the Saints will likely thrive anyway.
I suspect Steve Spagnuolo and the defensive coaches will make a friendly recommendation to Mickey Loomis after the year to leave things the way they are, and simply let Vilma go.
RB Chris Ivory
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To call Chris Ivory overrated is like trying to call one of my favorite rapper Lecrae's recent mixtape release overrated. Check it out here if you're into rap, or even if you're not.
The point is that most people reading this have never heard of Lecrae and had no idea he released a mixtape. The only way you would know is if you are a fan of his record label Reach Records, or just know everything there is to know about rap.
The same can be said of Chris Ivory. Few fans around the league would even know of Ivory if not for the insane phenomenon that fantasy football has become. Even then, it's possible people only know him as a numbers-producer, and know nothing of his story or his role in the Saints' offense.
Yet in New Orleans, Ivory sometimes is associated with such status that he would get his own floats during the week of Mardi Gras. I'm exaggerating of course, but the point is that many Saints fans think more highly of Ivory than is deserved.
Remember, he's the fourth running back on the squad. Remember, he doesn't get on the field if one of the top three backs aren't hurt. Most of all, remember that Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram can do all the same things Ivory does, plus so much more.
I'm not saying I don't like Ivory or that he shouldn't be on the roster, but the Saints could definitely do without him. And he doesn't need to be on the field, ever, unless the Saints are absolutely desperate at running back.
K Garrett Hartley
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My hope isn't to drag anyone through the dirt in this article. Certainly, Vilma and this next player played a huge role in the Saints' Super Bowl victory in 2009 (as will be the case with others on this list as well).
But the Saints proved last year they don't necessarily need the former Oklahoma Sooner as their kicker to have great success finishing off breakdown drives. Old Man River, John Kasay, filled in quite nicely in Hartley's stead in 2011.
As the 2012 season commences, it will do so with the Saints likely choosing the younger Hartley over Kasay, simply because of age and the consequences of releasing Hartley. If the Saints were to choose Kasay over Hartley, they'd have to release him out into the wild jungle that is the NFL free-agency market.
When Kasay finally does run out of gas or adrenaline, or whatever keeps him going, the Saints would be left searching again for a kicker; a proverbial problem for this franchise under Sean Payton until it found Hartley.
But sticking with Hartley means risking more heartbreaking moments, like relatively easy game-winning kicks at home versus division rivals Tampa Bay and Atlanta separated by just one regular season home game.
At this point, Hartley is living off one or two big kicks in the playoffs from the 2009 season. I'm not saying he isn't a good kicker, but the Saints could find someone just as powerful and clutch.
Heck, they already got one old guy right now who is his equal.
Guard Jahri Evans
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Get the canons loaded and fire! Or simply throw me off the plank. Either way, a pirate analogy seems to fit well here, since I am probably officially a traitor of #WhoDatNation for suggesting that Jahri Evans is overrated.
Hailed by Sean Payton for years as the Saints' best offensive lineman, despite the presence of Jammal Brown, Evans was once underrated. Now? Overrated.
In recent years (since he got his contract extension), Evans has turned lazy and has been flagged for almost as many holding calls as Brown was back when he was the most overrated offensive lineman in football.
Again, by no means am I saying Jahri Evans isn't a good football player. He might even be deserving of his All-Pro selection in 2011. But there are guards in the league who could replace Evans and do just as well in this Saints offense.
Left Tackle Jermon Bushrod
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Jermon Bushrod's Pro Bowl bid in 2011 was also a testament to the New Orleans Saints' offense, Drew Brees and the success the team has had overall in the past six years.
The Saints' offense is annually among the finest in the game, and one of the best in terms of fewest sacks allowed. Because offensive linemen have no significant individual statistics to boast of, the position tends to be judged at the pro level based on the success of a running game and pass protection.
In 2011, the Saints were of course the sixth-best rushing team in the league. And you don't need me to tell you that the Saints had the most successful year in the history of professional football in terms of passing yardage.
Brees makes any lineman look good because of his devilish skill in the pocket to throw the ball effectively against pressure. And his own ability to avoid a sack and at least get a throw off makes the Saints one of the strongest in pass-protection stats.
The Saints could insert my dead grandma at the left tackle spot, and Brees wouldn't blink an eye. He'd simply step up in the pocket and fire before pass-rushers could get to him. It is one of his finest attributes (that and about 20 other things).
DT Brodrick Bunkley
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You never want to speak of a player you just acquired in free agency for five years, $25 million as an overrated expenditure. Sadly, that appears to be the truth.
Based on conversations I've had with former NFL scout Russ Lande, Bunkley is known around the league as a player with limited conceptual understanding (that's probably putting it nicely). Lande wasn't afraid to insinuate that the Saints will have to be very careful and considerate of what they do with him in their defense.
The primary silver lining is that Steve Spagnuolo coached him in Philadelphia, thus knowing him and all his capabilities, or lack thereof.
I'll make this prediction: The former Seminole won't produce up to his contract. And though I wasn't exactly thrilled about the drafting of Regina's Akiem Hicks, he will outplay Bunkley by year three of these players.
Here's the good news, Saints fans: I had to really stretch to come up with six overrated players on the current Saints roster. Perhaps I could have added one player and taken away another, but overall I'm fairly satisfied with this list.
But I believe the Saints have one of the top five rosters in the entire league. That I had to scramble to come up with six overrated players ought to tell you something about this team.
So put your shotguns away. Leave the canon on the pirate ship. And don't even think of kicking me off the diving board. I'm good. We can all get back to our little Saints love fest now.