I caught up with Tony Dunn of CarolinaCatChronicles.com to talk about the recent Saints additions and he was nice enough to share some of his time. Make sure you check them out on Twitter. Here’s what he had to say about Ginn and Klein:
Andrew Juge, Saints Nation: Let’s go with Ginn first. He’s 32 next month and the Saints signed him to a 3 year deal. With Cooks gone, the Saints really need a field stretcher. How realistic is it to assume he can maintain his speed at this age?
Tony Dunn, Carolina Cat Chronicles: Ginn can run for days. He hasn’t slowed up yet after being in the league for ten years. The problem with Ginn isn’t his speed, it’s that he can’t catch. What should be his greatest strength, hurting defense over-top, is really his greatest weakness. A lot of it is in his head at this point. He gets nervous running under the ball, his arms shrink to T-Rex size, and he will drop the most wide open of opportunities. I’m not sure how much a guy who has trouble catching the deep ball, no matter how fast he is, stretches the field. It’s almost to the point of being a decoy, and Drew Brees being the one who is fooled most. We don’t call him 50/50 for nothing.
Does Ginn still have return value? Because the Saints return game has been AWFUL for years. How much is ball security on returns an issue for him?
Ginn was a great punt returner. After he left Carolina in 2013, the Panthers saw a precipitous drop-off in the return game. Oddly, he has no problem catching punts, despite his troubles tracking the deep ball. We’ve always joked that Cam should kick it to him and maybe he would actually catch it. Ball security shouldn’t be a problem. Ginn, however, has improved tremendously as a receiver in the past four years. As his receiver play has improved, it seems his return skills have plateaued. Ginn seems to be going through the motions on kick returns. Returning kicks is a young man’s game. As Ginn has gotten older, he’s lost a little of that edge/mental instability needed for special teams.Don’t get me wrong, this guy is as fast as they come. If you give him a block or two, he can take it to the house.
Do you feel like this is an overpay? He’s almost 32 and already had inconsistent hands. How good of a signing do you feel this is for the Saints? Are you glad he’s gone or did you want him back?
This is certainly not an overpay. He’s worth this as a receiver. Ginn has been instrumental in Carolina’s offense for the past two seasons. He didn’t play his way off of the Panthers team, but I think the Panthers organization has seen the ceiling with Ginn and believed that money could be allocated in some areas that have been more difficult for the Panthers to fix in recent years. The problem with Ginn is that he is too good to cut, but not good enough to bet on. He’s had over 700 yds the past two season and 10 TDs in Carolina’s Super Bowl run in 2015. He’s been the best receiver in Carolina for the past two years. Where Ginn maddens Panthers fans is that he could have had 18 TDs in 2015 if he wouldn’t have left so many plays on the field. He will probably be a nice addition in New Orleans. Where I would be concerned most is with Brees spreading the ball around so much, what will happen if Ginn blunders on his few opportunities? One of the reasons he did so well in Carolina is that Cam Newton would often go right back to Ginn after the most disappointing of plays.
AJ Klein – now that he’s out of Luke Kuechly’s shadow, do you feel like he’s a quality NFL starter – or just a role player?
This is a hard question to answer. Klein played behind two of the best linebackers in the NFL. When his number was called in the past two years when Luke Kuechly missed time with injury, he played well. He’s fantastic against the run, but can struggle in coverage. He’s a natural middle linebacker, but I wouldn’t ask him to play the weak-side too much. The real difficulty in assessing just how good Klein is comes from him playing on one of the better defenses in the league for the past four years. Carolina’s defense, aside from last season, has been in the Top 10 for the most part. This may have covered up some of the warts. Klein’s a good player, who I think you guys will be pleased with for the most part.
Can Klein start for the Saints? He mentioned he can play anywhere, but what’s the most natural fit for him position wise?
Klein is a middle linebacker. He doesn’t match well against speed in open space. I think he could be a starter. As with any linebacker, they will look great if the defensive line holds up against the run. If guards get to the second level anyone is going to have problems. Klein is a smart, hardworking player. If he can sit back there and read the play, he will be a tackling machine.
What’s the sentiment losing these two players to the Saints? Whatever, or disappointed?
No one is happy at losing either of these guys. Ginn is good enough, and always fast enough, to make it difficult for a younger player to take his spot from him. The Panthers staff likes those reliable veterans who know their assignments and run good routes. I’m happy Ginn is gone because I think forces Carolina to work someone new into this role. We saw what I think the best Ginn could be. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either.It’s sad to see Klein leave, but we have more linebackers than you can shake a stick at. Kuechly is the best. Thomas Davis is a legend, and we’re anxious to see what Shaq Thompson can be. We’ve got some other rotational guys that could step in if need be. Panther fans are happy for Klein, not because he left, but because he’ll get a real shot on another squad.