AMC has announced a new show to their fall lineup. It’s about a high school chemistry teacher in New Orleans who learns he has terminal cancer, and just wants to live long enough to see the Saints pull their heads out of their asses.
This one sounds boffo. It may have a long run.
So we’re 0-3 now. And as I stated in my last post, the result makes the Saints officially the worst team in the NFL. It’s time for all the commentators to stop with this talk about it being difficult to come to the Superdome and face the mighty Saints. Let’s face it: New Orleans is party town again. It’s where you go to set records, capture needed wins, and acquire an unwanted lodger in the celebration afterwards. (Full disclosure: I have no personal experience in any of the foregoing.)
The incredible thing is, the Saints so far have been one of the most unpredictable teams in the league: we’ve lost three games in totally different ways. Against Washington, we simply failed to show up: the Saints looked flat and uninspired, barely ran the ball at all, had nine miles in penalties, and allowed a rookie to walk away with a signature win. Against Carolina, we ran the ball with authority and determination, but lost because our defense played as though they were wearing cement boots. Against Kansas City, the defense played as though they liked wearing cement boots…but it was the offense that unaccountably collapsed with the game well in hand.
This one may have been my fault. With under six minutes to go in the third quarter, and the Saints owning what used to be (last year, at any rate) a commanding 24-6 lead, I mentioned to my wife that in the old days I would not be happy. I would not think to myself—or even be tempted to think—that the game was well in hand. Oh no: there was plenty of time for the team to collapse, allow 21 unanswered points, and wander off to the locker room to get high on drain cleaner. But surely, those days have not come back, have they?
Well, let’s consider the evidence. In the last 29:04 of the game:
- The offense rushed five times for 5 yards.
- Drew dropped back to pass eleven times. He only got off nine passes, because he was sacked twice. Once for a safety. Of those nine passes, he completed two for 40 yards. And an interception.
- Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ offense rushed 26 times for 188 yards.
- Matt Cassel dropped back to pass 23 times. He was “sacked” once by Will Smith (who happened to fall on him). He completed 12 passes for 103 yards.
- While the Kansas City defense was busy OUTSCORING the New Orleans offense, the Saints’ own defense was busy allowing six third-down conversions and two fourth-down conversions. They also had costly penalties, including pass interference on Patrick Robinson, and a bone-headed attempt to call two time-outs in a row when nobody could figure out whether or not Jabari Greer was supposed to be on the field.
- Oh…and they gave up 19 points.
The second half was—let’s be fair—a total team effort of desperate suckitude, much like the first game. It’s tempting to place the fault for this loss on the defense—which is undeniably steaming hot seafood restaurant dumpster-type garbage—but while the defense was busy allowing the Saints’ lead to evaporate, so was the Saints offense. So were the Saints’ special teams. So were the Saints’ coaches. Could the fans be responsible as well? Maybe if they threw some batteries we could claim it was a total community effort. Obviously, the fans aren’t doing their part.
But, again, let’s be fair. It’s not realistic to assume that Drew and the offense ought to be able to move the ball at will, against any opponent, whenever we need to. After all, if that were the case, we could just put the cheerleaders out on defense and still win games. (The cheerleaders! Did they share any of the blame? Frankly, I didn’t notice them making any tackles out there.) No, the offense is entitled to take a pratfall from time to time, even if they make it look gaggerific when they do. They ought to be able to depend on this defense to accomplish something.
But they can’t. The Saints’ defense hasn’t been this bad in …ever. Even in the baghead year of 1980, when we started 0-3 on our way to 1-15 (by a point), the Saints’ defense gave up 144 fewer rushing yards, 195 fewer passing yards, 339 fewer total yards, and 19 fewer points over the first three games. That difference represents pretty much a full game’s worth of stats…and it’s very nearly just what they gave up to the Chiefs in two quarters of play.
Anyway…give props to Ralph Malbrough: he called it (he even got the Saints’ score right). Until the Saints prove otherwise, they is what they is. Bill Parcells expressed it best years ago: you are what your record says you are. And this time next week, when the Saints are 0-4, they will be indisputably the most wretched team in the NFC, and vying with Cleveland and perhaps Oakland for the overall league lead in aimless asshattery.
Wherever he is, Sean Payton has to be feeling pretty conflicted right about now. On the one hand, it’s got to hurt seeing his guys make buffoons of themselves like this. But on the other hand, he may have dodged the biggest bullet in American sports…because there’s no way of knowing if something like this may have happened even without Bountygate. 2007 took us fans by surprise; but in retrospect, it shouldn’t have. Should we have seen this coming, too?