As the Giants and 49ers prepare for the NFC Championship Game, Drew Brees admits he hasn’t watched a lot of television.
Out of sight; out of mind.
Brees has been invited to the Pro Bowl and plans to attend. By then, he hopes the disappointment of losing in the playoffs will have subsided enough that he can look back fondly on New Orleans record-shattering season.
“I haven’t been able to enjoy it yet, to be honest with you. It’s been tough this week. I really have tried not to turn on the TV,” Brees told reporters. “It’s hard not to think about what could have been. But you know what? I take solace in the fact that we fought our heart out, we gave it our best and you know what? It just wasn’t meant to be.”
And, for Brees and the Saints, it may never be “meant to be” again. While Brees said he would be “stunned” if he didn’t return as a free agent, this team likely squandered its best chance to win a Super Bowl.
Brees might be back, but whether some of the key hired help returns is questionable.
Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks and receivers Marques Colston and Robert Meachem are all free agents.
“My No. 1 priority, and it always has been this, is keeping our team together and making sure we have the right guys in the right positions to make a run at this for a long time,” Brees said Friday. “We all kind of work together on this thing.”
In 2011, Brees set NFL single-season records with 468 completions, 5,476 yards passing and a completion percentage of 71.2. His prolific passing numbers helped the Saints set a new NFL high for total offensive yards in a season with 7,474. But Colston has already indicated he won’t give the club a hometown discount. Nicks also is expected to leave for a bigger payday.
“Put it this way,” Brees said. “I’m not worried one bit about my contract or our ability to keep guys at key positions.”
He might not be worried, but a lot of Saints fans are doing more than enough worrying for him.
PLAYOFF NEWS & NOTES
So, the question 24 hours before kickoff is this: Can a tiny stomach bug do what Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints failed to do?
That would, of course, be to bring down the New York Giants.
There appears to be a stomach bug being passed among the Giants. Eli Manning had to leave practice on Wednesday because of intestinal distress. Centre David Baas couldn’t practice on Friday for the same reason.
He’s listed as probable for Sunday’s game, but it makes fear the bug may spread a reality.
Jacke Ballard may wish he just had flu. He remains questionable with a wonky knee and he has not looked 100% in either of the team’s playoff games.
* Meantime, the Patriots removed Tom Brady from the injury report, much to nobody’s surprise.
* Alex Smith is in his seventh NFL season. During that time, he has played with seven NFL offensive coordinators, three head coaches and 17 starting wide receivers. So is it any wonder that he’s looked a little confused sometimes?
* Last week, fans at Candlestick Park evidently took a few head shots of their own — at visiting team fans. There were complaints. Now there will be undercover police. Root for the home team, but abusive behaviour will not be tolerated — unless your name shows up on the 49ers roster sheet.
Tony Romo may be getting somebody new to watch his back.
Dallas’ new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan is high on rookie tackle Tyron Smith and the club is considering moving him to left tackle.
That would allow Doug Free to return to his natural spot at right tackle. It would also likely give Romo some peace of mind, not to mention a few less bumps and bruises.
Free didn’t have a great year — at least, not on the field. He did quite nicely at the pay wicket, cashing in on his four-year, $32-million extension. While he fell into a nice, soft pile of the green, Romo was picking grass out of his earholes.
“We’re trying to make the best fit for our football team and for each of those guys so they can play their best,” head coach Jason Garrett told the Dallas Morning News. “If we were to do that, we’d try to do it earlier rather than later, just to give them enough opportunity to do it and get better at it.”
JOB 1 FOR NEW JAGS’ ASSISTANT
Greg Olson has been hired as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ new quarterback coach.
Job One? Making Blaine Gabbert into a real NFL quarterback instead of the league’s most expensive tackling dummy. Olson has worked with the Bucs the past three years so he knows a bit about putting up the “Work In Progress” sign.
Gabbert, last year’s first round draft pick, was supposed to become the franchise quarterback. But he was also unexpectedly thrown into the No. 1 job without having much time to learn the ropes.
Now Olson gets the task of showing Gabbert those ropes and how not to hang himself with them.
It will not be a simple task. Gabbert seemed to play worse as the season progressed. It didn’t help that the Jags’ offensive line also played poorly. He hurried throws. He was inaccurate. He had the worst passer rating in the league, at 65.4. He also had the worst yards-per-attempt average in the league, at 5.4 yards a pass.
But it isn’t hopeless. After all, a lot of people at this time last year thought Tim Tebow couldn’t play in this league either.
Olson could be the making of Gabbert and, in so doing, Gabbert could end up making Olson a head coach somewhere, some day.
MCNABB REBUFFED BY BEARS
Donovan McNabb couldn’t help the Redskins.
He was a flop with the Vikings.
But when Minnesota waived him, he thought for sure he’d get a chance at Strike Three in Chicago.
“I thought the Bears would call,” McNabb said on ESPN in Chicago.
There was rampant speculation after Jay Cutler was injured that the Bears would claim McNabb.
McNabb spent the rest of the season watching on TV as the Bears, Vikings and Redskins all missed the playoffs.
McNabb believes he could have helped Chicago. “So many people continuously talked about the Mike Martz offence and things of that nature. I personally didn’t care about that. If you want to win and win now, you go out and get a better quarterback and you cater your offence to his strengths, and obviously the strengths of your team. Obviously, it didn’t work out well for them. It’s unfortunate. I wish things would have worked out, but it didn’t. We will see what happens from now on.”
What happens from now on is that McNabb might want to make a phone call to his NFL satellite provider. You know, because that’s as close as he’s likely going to get to calling another audible on a line of any kind.
Take a knee, Donovan. It’s over.