Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mike Detillier Interview, Part II

This is the second installment of The Onside Kick's interview with college football expert and NFL Draft analyst Mike Detillier. Mike covers the Saints' past season, the upcoming NFL Draft and head coach Sean Payton's recent move to north Texas. TOK: Were you surprised about Jeremy Shockey’s release? MD: I thought he would be back but at a reduced price, so yes. TOK: Are the Saints going to aggressively try and sign Lance Moore, Roman Harper and Jonathan Goodwin? MD: I think they will aggressively try and resign Moore and Harper. Drew trusts him immensely and he is the most consistent receiver they have on the roster. Harper is someone who progressed more than anyone under Gregg Williams. He had a horrible game against Seattle, but he is good football player. You can’t judge him on one game. On Goodwin I think they would like to get him to sign a short term deal. They really love Matt Tennant. They really like him, but Jonathan is solid as a starter and he is versatile. He is getting up in age and it may be a money issue, but I think if it is close, he stays on a short term deal. Lance and Roman need to be back. You never get better by losing good players. TOK: How about Randall Gay? MD: No , he doesn’t return. Too much money and age and injury concerns. TOK: How much of a factor do you think the first-round bye would have had for the Saints? Would it have changed anything or simply delayed the inevitable elimination? MD: I don’t think it would have changed much. You just weren’t good enough this season and they couldn’t overcome the weaknesses on both sides of the ball come playoff time. TOK: Do you expect Jonathan Casillas and Lynell Hamilton to make comebacks next season? MD: I like them both. On Casillas it is can he hold up. He has been banged up quite a bit in just two years and you wonder if his body can hold up in the NFL for a 16 or an 18 game season. He has the talent to start and play well in this league, but it is a health issue, just like Chris Ivory. Lynell was a Sean Payton favorite. He raved about him before the start of last season. He is built like he is carved out of stone, and it is a shame he got hurt in those practices against New England. He is a tough runner, good field vision and body lean and he catches the ball well. Yes, I think he bounces back and he is a good football player. TOK: You and Hokie Gajan talked a lot about this in the off-season. Gajan loved Chris Ivory and you agreed, but brought up that he had a host of injury problems in college and you wondered if he would hold up in the NFL. That turned out to be correct? MD: Well, Chris is a good player, but he wasn’t picked at draft time because of a lack of talent or any trouble he got into in college. He didn’t get picked because teams were afraid he wouldn’t hold up in the league. I wish I was wrong on that feature, but it has turned out to be accurate. I love his aggressive nature and he is super physical, but as much as he gives out, he takes. That doesn’t add up to a long NFL career at running back. TOK: Let’s stay at running back. Do you think Reggie Bush will remain with the Saints on a new deal or will he play elsewhere next season? MD: I think he stays, but at a much reduced price. If he insists on staying at a super high pay level, then he goes, but he is more valuable to this team than any other and Coach Payton loves him. In my opinion he has been given the chance to excel and really not produced at the level you want and need from him. He is hurt way too often, he has not been super productive and when given the chance not stepped up his play. Pierre Thomas doesn’t have his talent, but he is a much better NFL player. I think he stays, but at a much lower number and then write the incentives in playing time and production. You can’t pay him big bucks on potential anymore. TOK: Regardless of Bush’s status with the team, do you think the Saints need to pursue a running back in the draft or free agency? MD: Yes and Yes. The Saints need a veteran back, someone with some mileage and pass catching and pass blocking skills, but with some experience and a young back that can carry the rushing load. They need to use their 2nd or one of their 3rd round choices on a back. It is all about competition and finding the right mix. You never have enough good backs. Never. It is a high impact spot and one you need numbers. Just look at the Green Bay Packers and the Saints at that spot. TOK: Can Adrian Arrington help this club and where does he fit? MD: He is not a starting NFL type end. He can help as a #4 or a #5 wide receiver. He has matured as a person and he finally was healthy for the most part last year. In the way the Saints use multiple receiver sets..he can help. But he is not a starting type end. TOK: Which player was unjustly snubbed from the Pro Bowl? MD: Malcolm Jenkins…. Best player the Saints have on defense. He can play the free safety slot, some cornerback, cover the slot guy and can play all the nickel and dime packages. Terrific football player and he deserved to play in the Pro-Bowl. TOK: In your draft book a few years back you predicted the Saints selecting Jenkins and you stuck to that pick throughout the process. You really liked him didn’t you? MD: Yes… early on I had the Saints taking Ohio State LB. James Laurinaitis in a trade down, but once Jenkins didn’t blaze the trail at the Combine, I had a feeling he would be there. I thought he could be an All-Pro back then and I know he is one now. TOK: Back then there was a caller on WWL-Radio that would call and ask about DT.B.J. Raji from Boston College every week. You really liked him, but you thought he would be picked before the Saints selected him. He has turned out to be special, right? MD: Yes, that gentleman was a Boston College graduate living in New Orleans and he insisted that B.J. would last until the Saints picked. I had him going 5th overall to Cleveland, but I knew that he could fall a little because of some off-the-field concerns and he had some weight and conditioning issues, but there was little chance he could fall to 14. We laughed every week because I knew he was going to ask about Raji. Someone on another web site wrote that I said the Saints would pick him and he called and laughed it up about how some have some comprehension problems. I would figure someone could tell the difference between my voice and someone from Boston, but apparently not. Raji has turned out to be outstanding for the Packers and his work ethic and maturity has really been lifted. The big guy is a load in the middle. In a 3-4 you need a very active and tough man in the middle to take on blockers and tie up the inside so the linebackers have a free shot at the running back in the hole. He can do it. TOK: Will Smith had a Pro-Bowl year in 2009. What happened this year? MD: He got a lot more attention in blocking schemes and he had a tougher time getting off of blocks in 2010. Will is a very good NFL starter, but he is not an elite pass rusher like Mario Williams, Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, Julius Peppers or John Abraham. The Saints were running in the left hand lane in 2009 and that gave him more chances to really pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. The games in 2010 were much closer and his extra opportunities to gain sacks disappeared. TOK: Why didn’t Gregg Williams interview for the Tennessee Titans job? You wrote during the season that he was very close to Titans owner Bud Adams. MD: Two things. One it was a timing issue. His closest friend in this business is Jeff Fisher and he had great respect for what he brought to Tennessee. But Gregg got caught in a bad position in Buffalo and I can tell you that the Titans aren’t loaded with talent on defense and they have a huge void at quarterback. Had Fisher been fired right after the year I bet he goes for the interview, but it was real late and it would have been hard for him to piece together a strong staff that late. I was in Mobile at the Senior Bowl when that story broke and that is late in the process and I think he didn’t want to get caught up in another muddled organizational issue like what happened to him in Buffalo. He is close to Bud and he told he probably would have taken the defensive coordinator spot in 2009 with the Titans, but he insisted that he could work with his son and Adams didn’t want close relatives on the same staff and that opened the door for the Saints to land him and his son. He wants to be a head coach again, but it has to be the right spot. He knows what it is to fall short and I think the Titans job was appealing because he knew everyone inside the organization, but the timing was bad and just look at that roster and you can see that it will take some time to retool that team. Jeff squeezed all the lemonade out of that orange. TOK: What do you make of the Sean Payton to Dallas-moving issue? MD: I don’t cover his personal life. I don’t really care where he lives. All I want is for him to win games in New Orleans. I grew up here and didn’t leave a few years back because I had both of my kids in high school. They didn’t want to relocate and my wife didn’t really want to leave either, so I stayed in Louisiana. I understand other people’s feeling on this issue, but to me it’s a non-issue. All I know from being married for almost 30 years is that when the wife and kids aren’t happy then it doesn’t make any difference how much money you make. Your life is not easy when those events occur. Ed Orgeron is a friend of mine and when he left the Saints to coach at the University of Tennessee his wife and kids stayed in Louisiana. He is in his second year at USC and his family still lives here. He commutes weekly from Los Angeles. What some people don’t realize is that in a coaches’ life you hardly see your family at all during the season. It’s not a 7 to 5 job. It’s 6:AM in the morning until midnight or later during the week. It’s a personal decision and it doesn’t concern me. The one thing that is news worthy is to hear the coach say he would not be a lifer as a head coach. He has two more years on his contract and I wonder today just how much longer he will continue to be a head coach in the NFL after that. TOK: Do you think Jerry Jones would offer him the GM position in Dallas. MD: No.. Jerry is a lifer as general manager in Dallas. The only person Jerry gives the GM job to is his son Steve Jones and that may be quite a while before that happens. TOK: How can they order the draft book? MD: They can log on to or and pre-order the book. It will be out soon.

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