NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Saints and Tigers playoff-bound
With the Saints regular season right around the corner, it's time to look into my crystal ball for 2015.
Right now the Saints have numerous concerns in the secondary with: Keenan Lewis, Jairus Byrd and possibly Brandon Browner missing time. The defense was a major problem in 2014, and in 2015 it's still a unit with problems.
Luckily for Saints fans the offense looks lights-out once again. I expect Drew Brees to "bounce back" from a 2014 that was un-Brees like. Running backs, receivers and the offensive line look stronger this time around.
One thing that hasn't changed for the Saints is their division. It was weak in 2014, and just about the same in 2015. I think the Saints win the NFC South finishing 9-7. The black and gold win on wild card weekend, but get knocked out in the divisional playoffs.
LSU, like the Saints, had a 2014 to forget. I expect a drastic improvement in 2015 from Les Miles' team.
The offensive line will open some massive holes for Heisman contender Leonard Fournette. Plus, give better protection to Brandon Harris as he adjusts to his time as "the starter." The wide receiving core is one of the best in the SEC.
The defense will show marked improvement now that John Chavis is gone. I foresee Kevin Steele and Ed Orgeron turning the Tiger defense into one of the top units in the conference.
LSU's schedule sets up perfectly for a national championship run. Playing Auburn at home is a huge advantage. Mississippi State isn't the same as 2014, even with Dak Prescotte back. LSU will go into Tuscaloosa undefeated at 8-0. The Crimson Tide will give the Tigers their only loss of the regular season.
LSU wins the SEC Championship, and makes it to the College Football Playoff. They lose in the National Champ Game to Oregon.
Can the USMNT get it together?
The U.S. women notched their third World Cup title this summer in convincing fashion beating Japan 5-2. The question I get asked a lot is, "When will the men contend for a title?" My answer is not anytime soon.
The big-time names on the roster are at the end of their prime. The defense, not counting the goal keeper, is sub-optimal. Losing to Jamaica in the Gold Cup was an utter embarrassment.
If U.S. host the World Cup in 2026, possibly a quarterfinal spot is in the cards. Until then, getting out of the group stages is a victory for the Stars and Stripes.
Batting 1.000 in the kitchen
In New Orleans some of most recognizable faces are athletes and chefs. Both of these professions are well-known for the countless hours it takes to hone their skills to be one of the best. During the regular season the Saints players get one day off, Tuesday. In the restaurant industry it's no different.
Brian Landry, executive chef and co-owner of Borgne, estimates he works 65-75 hours a week overseeing and cooking at his restaurant. He's in charge of the kitchen and also the face of Borgne, along with John Besh. All those responsibilities get you one day off per week.
"In general restaurants are a customer-demanded business, and the level of performance that we need to cook at on a regular basis basically requires me to be here when the customers are here," Landry said. "We're open every day for lunch and dinner. So when customers are here, I'm generally here."
Athletes and chefs are really more alike than you think. Their skills can be dissected daily. Both can give us utter joy after watching them score on the playing field, or eating a fantastic meal from their kitchen.
A baseball player can be a star batting 3-for-10. That .300 average could also get you in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Drew Brees' completion percentage sat right under 70 percent last season. He's easily in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he retires.
The restaurant industry isn't that forgiving. Patrons of fine dining expect their meals to be on-point 100 percent of the time. As Landry pointed out, "People are much more likely to share bad news. If you have a bad meal you'll probably tell ten people. If you have a good meal you might tell one or two people because it is the expectation to have a great meal every time you come."
Landry's key to a great experience at Borgne is to give all customers the same kind of treatment: the best.
"We make sure to treat individuals that dine here as individuals, and as people that we would cook for or serve in our own homes. It takes a lot of that pressure off. If you take the mindset that everyone who eats in your restaurant is the VIP, then the expectation level is set ... It's not so much of we've got to bat 1,000, but the expectation is we bat 1,000," Landry said. "We'll manage those small mistakes. A small mistake is we overcooked a steak once today, we can handle that. When we set the expectation that everyone is important, then it's not so pressure-packed."