Sports apparel shops around town are reporting increased sales of Saints merchandise, as fans get ready for the team’s first home game of the preseason Friday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On Wednesday afternoon, Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez threw his first perfect game , and the first perfect game in franchise history. It was as dominant a pitching performance as you’ll ever see — King Felix struck out 12 Tampa Bay Rays batters, all with off-speed pitches on the strikeout throws. It was the third perfecto of the 2012 season, and the 23rd in Major League Baseball history.
It also got us thinking of what might be a football equivalent. There really isn’t anything in the NFL that has the same every-play sense of suspense, but in an interesting coincidence, there have also been 23 instances of a quarterback putting up a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in a single game. Per Pro Football Reference’s Play Index , we started with the 1960 season and demanded that our qualifiers throw at least 20 passes in a game. Of course, passer rating isn’t a perfect stat as it doesn’t adjust for opponent, but as it’s the only performance metric that currently spans the NFL’s modern era, we’ll take what we can get. None of the quarterbacks threw interceptions (obviously), and each of the 23 perfectos resulted in wins.
There were a couple of unexpected names on this list, but the three players who have thrown more than one NFL ‘perfect game’ should come as no surprise — Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, and Tom Brady.
Manning threw his perfectos in 2000, 2002, and 2003. The first, which came in a 30-23 Week 8 win over the New England Patriots, saw Manning complete 16 of 20 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Manning 2002 game was a 35-13 Week 10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, in which he completed 18 of 23 for 319 yards and three more scores. The most statistically dominant game of Manning’s three — perhaps the best game of any of the 23 named — came in 2003, when he shredded the New Orleans Saints’ defense in Week 4 of the 2003 season. The Colts won, 55-21, and Manning completed 20 of his 25 attempts for 311 yards and six touchdowns.
Yeah, it’s hard to do better than that … though Manning’s most celebrated quarterback rival came very close.
Warner’s three perfectos came in the 1999, 2000, and 2008 seasons, and it’s typical of Warner’s unusual career arc that he’s the only guy with two of these passer rating miracles a decade apart. The first one came in his Cinderella season of 1999, when he completed 17 of 21 passes for 310 yards, and three touchdowns in a 38-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. About a year later, he went back to the well with another 158.3 performance against the San Diego Chargers, completing 24 of 30 passes for 390 yards and four scores. Few expected that Warner would do such a thing again after his failed mid-2000s turn with the New York Giants, and having to beat out Matt Leinart in Arizona. But there he was, throwing 19 completions in 24 attempts for 361 yards and three more touchdowns.
Tom Brady is the only other quarterback to put up a perfect day by our standards — he first accomplished this feat in his amazing 2007 season, when the poor Dolphins were waxed by Brady in a Week 7 49-28 win.
Berrigan wants to clear up a question about whether the NFLPA, asked the NFL to delay imposing its discipline on players
New Orleans and Cleveland competing for first place
Based on the statements she made in her August 10 hearing of the NFL’s appeal of New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s defamation suit against Roger Goodell, it seemed that U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan had some serious doubts about the league’s process in issuing a number of suspensions. In her most recent order given to the league, Judge Berrigan advanced those doubts, and may be interested in providing a thorn to the NFL’s side. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio , who obtained a copy of the order, Judge Berrigan has asked the parties involved in the suit to identify the date the NFLPA asked the NFL to defer discipline against the players.
It was March 21 that the NFLPA allegedly did so, and that was the date that Goodell said he would have dropped the hammer on the players at the same time he did to the Saints’ coaches and non-players. Goodell made that clear in national media appearances, and Judge Berrigan wants a bit of clarification. From the written order, per Florio:
“The Court is aware that Goodell stated, during the March 21, 2012 interview with the NFL Network and ESPN, that he would have disciplined the players at the same time as the coaches but for the NFLPA’s indication that they ‘wanted some time to investigate [the allegations] and talk to its own players. The Court is asking for the specific date on which this request occurred. If the date is already in the record, the parties may simply cite to the relevant document in the record; if it is not, then the parties shall submit the relevant evidence.”
What Judge Berrigan wants to know is whether the NFL had or had not made the decision to suspend the players when Goodell made that statement. If not, as Florio points out, “the statements made on March 21 by Goodell regarding Vilma could be viewed as unnecessary to the disciplinary process and thus not within the confines of Goodell’s job duties and, most importantly, completely beyond the scope of the labor agreement’s arbitration procedures.”
This would jibe with what NFLPA Lead Outside Counsel Richard Smith told Shutdown Corner via e-mail in May. “If these matters are not barred altogether by the release in the CBA, they are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the System Arbitrator, not Roger Goodell,” Smith told us. “If the System Arbitrator were to find that he does not have exclusive jurisdiction over the entire matter, the only conceivable issue remaining would fall within the on-the-field provisions of the CBA that culminate in an appeal. None of it is within Roger Goodell’s jurisdiction. He had no jurisdiction to take the action he took, period.”
And if that’s the case, Judge Berrigan might rule that Goodell violated the CBA in his disciplinary process.
The New Orleans Saints have a very crowded backfield, with four players capable of starting at running back for many NFL teams. Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas are proven veterans, while Mark Ingram had a good rookie season in 2011, before an injury shut him down early. Furthermore, Chris Ivory has struggled to stay healthy, yet he led the team in rushing in 2010 despite starting only four games. Coming into the 2012 preseason, most fans assumed the running back position was settled. Then we saw Travaris Cadet.
“Frankie, just so you know, if I were to, uh suddenly go away for a while, I want you to be the head of the family.
As of last year, the Saints have put themselves into the “team with the best tight end” argument. Jimmy Graham exploded onto the scene, being the first tight end to break Kellen Winslow, Sr’s record of most yards by a tight end in a season. Graham was eventually passed by Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, the other team in the argument.
As of now, there are six tight ends on the active roster. Graham is obviously a given to make the team, but from there anything can happen. In the past, the Saints have brought either three or four tight ends into the season depending on the number of fullbacks they keep. I predict they will keep three this year to free up that extra man at fullback. Therefore, five guys will be battling it out for the last two spots at tight end.
Make the jump to see my opinion on which tight ends make the final roster. After you finish, stop by the comment section to voice your thoughts.
Jimmy Graham, David Thomas
Jimmy has established himself as the starting tight end with his magnificent performance last year. The 6’7″ 265 lbs. monster had 99 receptions for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. The scary thing is, that was only his second season in the NFL and third season of football period. He has barely scratched the surface of his talent level. Graham was also able to stay healthy and play in every game.
David Thomas is a very versatile player for the Saints that would love to stick around. He is able to play the fullback and H-back positions to go along with his traditional spot at tight end. Last season , Thomas played in only five games before having his season cut short due to a concussion. Every other year with the Saints though, he has provided good depth and decent contribution to the team. Look for him to be the true back up.
Michael Higgins is a relative unknown guy for the Saints. This year I expect him to change that and make the final roster. Last season was his first with the Saints and he only played in two games, totaling one reception for four yards. So far though, he has had a promising camp. In the preseason games, he leads the tight ends in receiving with four catches for 46 yards. Although, it has been said that his downside is his blocking. If he wants to see more of the field, he will need to improve in that area.
On the Bubble
Daniel Graham seems to be the only guy that could push Higgins for a roster spot this year. The 33 year old veteran has spent time with the Patriots, Broncos, and Titans in his 10 year career. It might be a concern that he has only broken 400 yards in a season once, but Graham has been primarily a “blocking specialist.” If the Saints feel they need to shore up their blocking at the position, then Graham might get the nod. But otherwise, he will be cut.
Derek Schouman, Jake Byrne
In Derek Schouman’s relatively young career, he has not made a big impact. He was drafted out of the seventh round to the Bills in 2007 and has yet to gain over 200 yards in a season. Last season with the Rams, he played in three games and didn’t record any offensive stats. Yikes! My guess is that the Saints brought him in to be a camp body and he will be cut shortly.
Jake Byrne came to the Saints as an undrafted, rookie free agent this year. While at the University of Wisconsin, Byrne’s tenure was nothing more than abysmal. His “career year” was gaining 43 yards and a touchdown off of five catches during his junior season. In his senior year, he had one catch for 14 yards. Im not trying to be disrespectful towards the guy, but he does not belong in the NFL. Byrne will be lucky if he makes the practice squad.
A Saints fan is taking to the sky breathing new life into the “Free Sean Payton Campaign.” The Who-Dat buzzing over Saints headquarters towing a banner that reads, “Free Payton” is commercial airline pilot and New Orleans native Phil Marshall.