Here are some informative, “weird,” and funny odds and ends related to this week’s Falcons-Saints game I wanted to share with my fellow DirtyBirds.
Saints’ kicking game is boom or bust
Saints punter and kickoff specialist Thomas Morstead boomed kickoffs last year good for the fourth most touchbacks in the league. He also did a solid job punting for New Orleans during the regular season with a 46.9-yd average. It appears new Falcons return specialist Devin Hester will have more opportunities to return punts than he will on kickoffs. Of course, the NFL’s all-time record holder for combined punt and kickoff return TDs may only need one or two chances to break one for the end zone.
Unlike Morstead, place-kicker Shayne Graham busted so many field goal attempts this preseason, only 3 of 6, head coach Sean Payton preferred to have no PK on the roster after the cut to 53 rather than keep Graham from free agency. He might just be a genius after all since he foresaw 31 other teams passing on Graham’s “talents.” He was able to re-sign Graham 3 days later.
I’ll venture Payton punts or keeps the offense on the field for every 4th down except for the highest-percentage of field goal attempts, but I hope I’m wrong.
“Is that goalpost bigger, or are you just happy to see me?”
Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez celebrates a touchdown in the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
In addition to outlawing the cross-bar-dunk TD celebration, made famous by former Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, finally putting a stop to Saints TE and rip-off artist Jimmy Graham’s plagiarism, the NFL raised the goalposts from 30 to 35 feet. Known as the “Tucker Rule,” for Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, whose controversial kick went over an upright to beat the New England Patriots in game 3 of last year, it’s supposed to help officials make more accurate rulings on field goals.
An interesting choice of words for New Orleans Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan
Ryan declared over the summer that when it comes to being creative with his defensive scheme, “I’m always ready to get weird.” While an affinity for the weird seems to be a Ryan family trait given reports on the, um, interest in feet his brother and Jets head coach Rex Ryan appears to have, I think both Falcons and Saints fans alike hope he chooses another way to describe his strategic style so we never have to play that in our minds ever again.
“I’m always ready to get weird.”-Saints DC Rob Ryan”
I couldn’t resist sharing this “story” I found about a fledgling DirtyBird in enemy territory:
On the first day of school a first grade teacher explains to her class that she is a Saints fan. She asks her students to raise their hands if they, too, are Saints fans. Wanting to impress their teacher, everyone in the class raises their hand except one little girl.
The teacher looks at the girl with surprise, “Janie, why didn’t you raise your hand?”
“Because I’m not a Saints fan,” she replied.
The teacher, still shocked, asked, “Well, if you are not a Saints fan, then who are you a fan of?”
“I am a Falcons fan, and proud of it,” Janie replied.
The teacher could not believe her ears. “Janie please tell us why you are a Falcons fan?”
“Because my mom is a Falcons fan and my dad is Falcons fan, so I’m a Falcons fan too!”
“Well,” said the teacher in a obviously annoyed tone, “that is no reason for you to be a Falcons fan. You don’t have to be just like your parents all of the time. What if your mom was an idiot and your dad was a moron, what would you be then?”
Janie smiled, “I’d be a Saints fan.”