So…do we have our answer? I suppose that depends on the question, since questions abound.
The Kromer era continues to look more like the Kramer era. Drew Brees continues to look like he’s about to get killed at any moment. The defense continues to look like dogshit. But hey, we only had two penalties all game! Who dat say dey gonna get penalized less!
I gotta be honest: I’m not up for this. For the second week in a row, a game that should have been far out of hand wound up close, due solely to the residual excellence of the Saints’ offense. But in the end, it was just out of reach…by eight points, if you consider that “just.”
This time, though, it shouldn’t have been that close. Brees should have thrown the ball away at the 9. Lance Moore should have caught a touchdown. Patrick Robinson should have had two interceptions. That’s a 28-point swing, maybe more. The Saints should have blown out the Panthers, and last year they would have.
This year? Meh. The offense is only going through the motions. And the defense is crapping the bed.
It’s almost like what musicologists term “call and response”: the offseason from Hell is requiring an answer from the season. And the season is responding.
I think it’s time to delve into history, specifically the 2007 New York Giants. Steve Spagnuolo’s first two games as defensive coordinator did not go well: the Giants gave up 80 points and lost twice. And this was a team that started Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka, and incidentally included Justin Tuck on the roster. It took those guys a few weeks to settle in; but when they did, they were Strahan, Umenyiora, Kiwanuka, and Tuck. Does Spagnuolo really have comparable talent with the Saints?
Maybe. Will it do any good if Robinson and Corey White are constantly out of position? If our safeties cover like whitewash over grease? If the Saints continue their lock on the presidency of the International Brotherhood of No-Catching Motherfuckers?
Let’s delve into some different history, specifically the 2007 New Orleans Saints. In their first two games, the defense surrendered 72 points, and lost twice. But for the Saints, the bleeding didn’t stop there. It continued against Tennessee (31 more points), before tapering off somewhat in another loss against Carolina. In all, the Saints’ defense gave up nearly 30 points a game to open the season 0-4. That was, of course, the nightmare days of Jason David and Josh Bullocks, and we all know that can’t happen again. Right?
That wasn’t a rhetorical question. Right?
Anyway: which team does this year’s Saints squad most resemble? Themselves from 2007, or the Giants? Because those Giants turned things around and actually won the Super Bowl…with defense. The Saints turned things around and actually reached 4-4, before a 3-5 pratfall in the second half of the season. The good news is: Drew’s passer rating so far is a full 5 points higher than it was after two games in 2007. The bad news is, it’s only 71.4. That’s Rex Grossman territory. It’s lower than Tim Tebow’s rating last year. Of course, Tebow wasn’t running for his life (no, he was running for 660 yards).
Well, the other good news is that Drew is on track for another 5,000-yard season. Plus, he’s now had 45 games in a row with a touchdown pass, and may yet take the record away from Johnny U. Is that enough? Would you be satisfied with that?
Near the end of the game, as hope began to leak away like air through a broken airlock in some bad science fiction movie, my wife, the lovely Acadie, remembered the days when all Saints fans had to cheer were isolated moments of glory. Great plays in lost causes. Dominating wins in the middle of 3-13 seasons. Those were the days when we didn’t expect more…when a victory by the Saints was a delightful surprise, and a loss was…well, the Saints. Just reality. Great food, great music, sucky football. The Way Things Are.
Now, we have great food, great music, and anguish. But do we want to grow back that scar tissue on the heart that made it less painful to watch your team blow chunks? Or should we hold out for excellence, and continue to bleed with every loss?