An eclipse, dozens of fires in the western United States, Cat 4 Hurricanes Harvey and Irma pummel Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, a tiger roaming in Atlanta, the Patriots lose an opening game, and LA Tech has a play with 3rd down and 93 yards to go………I am ready for this Jumanji game to end.

But before we move on, IT IS TIME for us to remember September 11, 2001 – the day evil attacked our country and changed the world forever. It is a day of memorial and remembrance. It is also a day of that reminds us of the bravery of our first responders, the genuine kindness of Americans, and the value of understanding we may disagree but the uniting spirit of a common love of freedom is uniquely American.

We have seen this goodness not only demonstrated on 9-11, but we have seen it in south Texas, Houston, south Louisiana. We have seen it in the generosity and the care. We have seen it in the uniformed responders and we have seen it in the Cajun Navy.

If we want to create a world that is better for our trailing generations IT IS TIME for us to put emphasis on what we have in common, not focus on where we disagree. IT IS TIME to encourage each other to discuss our issues, debate our ideas without trying to just shut the other views down. IT IS TIME for us to avoid being caught up in the distractions of identity politics designed to tear down. IT IS TIME to stop fretting over pieces of concrete that mark a time long gone. IT IS TIME to stop showing athletes sitting, standing, or kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner. IT IS TIME to understand that freedom allows us to be a very diverse group of individuals that at our core have a single, simple, binding commitment – FREEDOM!

IT IS TIME, to note the calendar has turned to the second Monday in September 2017 and that means one thing………

IT IS TIME for New Orleans Saints 2017 Kickoff!

253 days ago members of the New Orleans Saints walked off the Georgia Dome floor after their ninth loss of the season, not knowing what the off season would bring. Tonight, from the U. S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota will learn if the changes made will result in the start of a successful 2017.

Changes were made!

A quick comparison of rosters indicate up to 20 team members will hit the field in Minneapolis that were not wearing the Black and Gold on January 1, 2017. Seven (including Hendrickson who is ruled out) are representing the 2017 draft class. That class includes 2 First Rounders, a Second Rounder and 3 Third rounders. Five of those picks were to make improvements in a struggling defense; four of those dressing tonight should be major players on the field. Two of the picks were on the offensive side of the ball – Ramczyk was thought to add depth on the O-Line, but Armstead’s injury forces him straight to the important left tackle spot. Alvin Kamara was selected as the offenses new wrinkle – a luxury for Payton and Brees – until Sneed is suspended and his role changed over drinks.

The Saints started out Free Agency by re-signing nine key members of the 2016 squad. Today’s active roster only has four of those players making it past the final cuts. This alone could speak to an improved roster. Eight new free agents were signed and all eight of those are on today’s roster.

The 2017 roster has an interesting mix of youth and veterans. The team is noted for the 10 players that are over 30 years of age but with the youth move of the last two aggressive drafts, the average age of the roster is a little over 25 years of age.

Veteran coaches were released, new coaches were brought in. New energy, new focus, new strategies, all changes made to stop the 7 and 9 trifecta and push this team for a final push in the Brees Era.

Will it work? IT IS TIME to find out!

This week’s keys:
1. Offensive Line Communication and Teamwork: The addition of Larry Warford was to return athleticism to the offensive line. The return of Terron Armstead, the development of Andrus Peat were to add to the experience of Warford, Unger, and Strief. Drafting of Ramczyk was a move for improved depth and development for Strief’s future replacement. Then Unger had foot surgery and missed most of camp. Then Armstead  has surgery that puts him out at least four games. Add the injury to Ramczyk and the limited veteran play in three pre-season games and tonight starting group has had less than a handful of plays as a group. Will Coach Roushar’s strategy and motivation result in an effective line? Will they communicate effectively in hostile territory? Will they provide room for Ingram and Peterson to grind out yardage? Will they keep Drew upright and clean? IT IS TIME?

2. Defense Proves that Pre-season effort was Real: The second year under Dennis Allen’s scheme brings several key changes.  Can new coaches for the line and linebackers bring respectability to the pass rush. Can they fill the gap created with Farley’s departure? Will linebacker additions of Klein, Mateo, and Anzalone add speed and agility? Can the defensive backs avoid mistakes in coverage and match-up? Can they cover the loss of Breaux? Can this defense rise to levels that take the pressure off the offense? IT IS TIME?

3. Controlled Emotions: Opening night, national television, on the road versus a team that started 5 – 0 last year, a defense out to prove they are no longer ineffective, Adrian Peterson first game back in Minnesota, Ramczyk’s first start, Drew demanding a fast start, Payton with new options (Kamara, Peterson, Ginn) – man, if there were ever a game that it is important to come out and weather the emotions – this is it. If the veteran leadership mixed with the energy and talent of the new players can manage to keep this game competitive in the first 30 minutes, the Saints can come out of Minnesota tied for the division lead. IT IS TIME?

It is hard to think about the season opener as a must win, but this maybe a close as it comes. A win tonight can make the next 3 more winnable; a loss tonight and it puts more pressure on Sunday’s home opener. Can the Saints offense score against a very good Vikings defense? Can the Saint’s defense hold Bradford and the offense in check? I believe they can… and while we may not know who will snap the ball to either Morstead or Daniels, it will take a couple of Lutz field goals to provide the final margin. Saints 27 Vikings 23