Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bad news for Saints = good news for Panthers?

Bad news for the New Orleans Saints may end up as slightly good news for the Carolina Panthers – two of the Saints’ prominent defenders have been suspended and will be out for the Panthers’ home opener against New Orleans Sept.16 unless they win their appeal.

The NFL announced today that Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma is suspended for the entire season without pay due to his role in the bounty scandal. Defensive end Will Smith is suspended for four games.

The Panthers’ already powerful offense will thus face a Saints defense missing a couple of its key players. However, the Saints knew something like this was coming (and it certainly could have been worse). They signed a new linebacker, Curtis Lofton, who will likely take Vilma’s spot. And they have enough depth at defensive line that the Panthers’ offensive line still won’t be able to rest easy. Given that all the Saints’ suspensions have now apparently been handed down, I would still consider them as the NFC South’s favorites (assuming they re-sign Drew Brees) until proven otherwise.

Two other players were also suspended, but both are now with different teams: Scott Fujita (Cleveland) for three games and Anthony Hargrove (Green Bay) for eight games.

All of the players can appeal and are expected to, but given that their appeal will be heard by the same man who punished them (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) I doubt there will be much change. There wasn’t for the administrators who previously appealed their own penalties.

The Saints already have lost head coach Sean Payton for the season due to the same scandal, which involved the Saints’ defense ponying up money that would be paid out if certain opposing players were injured during the game. The program was administered by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is suspended indefinitely and who I think shouldn’t ever coach in the NFL again.

Panther quarterback Cam Newton was one of the players targeted by the Saints, although the Saints were unsuccessful in knocking him out of the game in their two 2011 wins over Carolina.

While there were close to 20 more players who actually participated in the bounty program, apparently only these four players will be punished. The NFL release on the matter included this paragraph:

“Commissioner Goodell concluded, as he did with the Saints’ non-player employees, that it was appropriate to focus on those individuals who had a higher degree of responsibility and whose conduct warranted special attention. While a significant number of players participated in the pay-for-performance program, whether by contributing funds to the pool or collecting cash rewards, the players disciplined participated at a different and more significant level, Commissioner Goodell noted.”

18 comments:

John said...

Two observations:
#1, I think the only reason more players weren't punished is the NFLPA's determination to be more concerned with defending the guilty than in protecting the innocent.

#2, These suspensions lose some of their sting when coaches and players who are under suspension are able to take a TV gig (see Sean Payton) in the booth or studio while serving that suspension. They should be completely out of the game while serving the suspension!

John said...

Too bad it's not like the NHL and the Saints would have to just play with 9 defenders while the other two were suspended... ;)

Anonymous said...

Pnathers will roll the Ain'ts the 1st time around. That defense is weak to begin with...that offense won't be what is was last either.

Anonymous said...

This just in...Drew Brees and the Saints aren't close on a contract...he doesn't even want to play there...Lol..

Anonymous said...

The Panthers will rock the Saints like a Hurricane! Lol...Saints Superbowl is tarnished. They'll end the season 6-10/0-2 against the Panthers. 3rd in the NFC South while the Panthers finish 1st and 10-6. Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:55pm...why you mad Bro?

Anonymous said...

Ain'ts will finish 5-11....Just sayin'

J said...

Word is the players are going to skip appealing to Goodell and go to court. I think we all know how that will play out - they will sue in Minneapolis, and will win. The NFL will appeal to the court in St. Louis, who will overturn the Minneapolis court's decision.

The Saints have no chance against us. We have all our offensive weapons, and with the second-round pick, we now have 3 NFL-calliber O-linemen instead of 2 (Kalil and Hangartner are the others; Otah, Bell and Gross are hot garbage), and slightly better defense and much better special teams.

Week 2, Panthers roll to a 49-7 lead, then the backups give up 2 garbage-time TDs, but Panthers win, 49-21. We'll win 9 others by similar scores. Nobody's stopping the Cam Machine!

Wade said...

Early in the season, the Saints will be in a tailspin if for no other reason the team has to adjust to losing the coach and the constant talking about how the team will adjust without Sean Peyton. The second half of the season they should be stabilized, but by then the damage will have done and they will likely be out of the playoffs. The Panthers get them at the right time, week 2 and the Saints first road game.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 4:06,

I didn't want to have address this but holy crap dude. You went too far. That was a man's life and nothing to joke about. You need to check your morals. Junior has nothing to do with these bounty suspensions. I'm glad that you posted as anonymous like I am.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Fowler has you drinking the kool-aid if you really think that these two players suspensions are going to equal an instant boost for a win for your Panthers. We anticipated Vilma being out a year- any NFL person with a brain would have done so- and we have signed some very capable linebackers. Curtis Lofton (from Atlanta), David Hawthorne ( from Seattle) and Chris Chamberlain (from St. Louis) just for starters. Spags will have a solid defense in place. And then there is still Drew Brees at QB, who operates like a coach on the field.

Never underestimate a team with a chip on its shoulder is all I am saying. Living here in Charlotte, you don't need to underestimate the Saints. But keep on dreamin' if you choose to get so overconfident like all of that talent on the Saints roster has suddenly gone away. See you in September- WHO DAT!!

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 8:01pm. I'm sorry, I didn't realize Drew Brees signed his one year tender, reached a contract with the Saints or even reported to any of the team's workouts to date.

As of right now, you don't have a QB. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Saints will stink....Drew Breeeeesss doesn't want to even play for this dirty team...the Panthers will beat the Ain'ts TWICE...We'll hit'em harder than Katrina did... Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Armanti Edwards would compliment Cam in the backfield. Put him at tailback and snap it to him occasionally.

Anonymous said...

Panthers will win the NFC South...Saints finish 3rd...Just sayin'...Holla!

Anonymous said...

I think the absence of Payton is huge. Not sure why that part is being left out by Saints fans? Throw in the fact that the Saints D was hot garbage last year with Vilma & Smith & you could make a case that they will be worse this time. I also am starting to wonder if Brees is even going to start the year with the Saints. I think his holdout may last well into Training camp. I think with Brees the Panthers will win a close one. Without him the Saints get rolled. Who Dat!

NFL's Greatest of All Time said...

FUNNY STUFF!!!

Drew will throw for 500 yards on our joke D secondary.

8-8 at best for the kitty kats.

Anonymous said...

Delusional Charlotteans,

You realise you have to get by the Atlanta Falcons as well, right?