The Panic of 2012

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Things aren’t looking too good for Aaron Kromer lately. Last year, he was considered a legitimate contender for a head coaching job; instead, he was handed the keys to one of the best franchises in the league, and all he’s done so far is to smack into a tree and drive into the bayou. I think he hasn’t got the hang of the clutch, yet.

What’s that you say… “unfair”? True; but what place does fairness have in Today’s NFL™? Nobody will remember the chaotic offseason, the frantic improvisation, the uncertainty; all they’ll remember is the record. 0-2 is a career-killer, whether it’s a deserved one or not.

Does Kromer deserve it? Don’t know, too little data. My own hunch is, probably: most head coaching candidates, after all, don’t go on to be successful head coaches. They have a short run at the top, get fired, go back to being coordinators or position coaches. The NFL is unique in that the Peter Principle is actually reversible…and sometimes you’re really happy to get one of these retreads. There’s nothing better than someone who knows, and is comfortable with, his own level of competence.

So I’m not sure yet what I think of the Kromer era. But I do know this: I’d take Kromer in a heartbeat over Pat Yasinskas and a million dollars. (Shit, who am I kidding? I’d take the million, fire Pat and hire Kromer. That’s how things work in Today’s NFL™.)

Pat, knowledgeable expert that he is, is advising the Saints to panic:

The Saints started 0-2 once before in the Brees era. That was in 2007. The Saints opened 0-4, spent the rest of the season trying to dig themselves out of a hole and didn’t make the playoffs.

That’s why it’s not too early for the Saints to panic. If they don’t do it now, they might find themselves in a situation where it’s too late to panic.

pan•ic  (pănĭk)
n.
1. A sudden, overpowering terror, often affecting many people at once. See Synonyms at fear.
2. A sudden widespread alarm concerning finances, often resulting in a rush to sell property: a stock-market panic.
3. Slang One that is uproariously funny.
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or resulting from sudden, overwhelming terror: panic flight.
2. Of or resulting from a financial panic: panic selling of securities.
3. often Panic Mythology Of or relating to Pan.
tr. & intr.v. pan•icked, pan•ick•ing, pan•ics
To affect or be affected with panic. See Synonyms at frighten.

[From French panique, terrified, from Greek Pānikos, of Pan (a source of terror, as in flocks or herds), groundless (used of fear), from Pān, Pan; see Pan.]

I’m going to assume, charitably, that Pat isn’t as linguistically incompetent as he appears to be. Maybe he simply means it’s time to come up with a new plan. But that’s not what he said: he said he thinks the Saints ought to give in to sudden, overpowering terror. And then…what? Scream? Flee? Cower?

Contrast that to the words of Aaron Kromer, quoted in the very same article:

“No one’s going to panic,” interim head coach Aaron Kromer said. “Are we going to heat it up, and are we going to keep working harder? Yes, we are.”

Maybe that’s not enough. Maybe, eventually, the Saints will succumb to the sort of frantic, mindless, random activity not usually seen away from a keyboard, and almost never seen in professional sports. But I doubt it. If you think the Saints are staring at 0-16, you’re panicking. Maybe that’s what Pat’s doing.

But the Saints aren’t, nor will they. They’ve been here before—specifically, in 2007. But metaphorically, they were in this same spot in 2010. After two embarrassing losses—the first a come-from-ahead defeat to the Falcons, the second an epic collapse against the Cardinals—then head coach Sean Payton (remember him?) had this to say:

“It’s not time for any chair throwing, ” he said in response to a question about how he should react to the team’s 3-2 start. “I think more importantly than anything else, it’s teaching, all the things that we feel when we win we do very well, our work week, our preparation, the fundamental values that we’ve held onto that have made us successful these past few years.”

Lest you forget, the Saints ended at 11-5 and in the playoffs. Leave us ignore, for the moment, how that ended…the point is, they punched their ticket. If the Saints concentrate, play as they’re capable of playing, and get a few breaks, they could find themselves, at the bye, with the same 3-2 record they had in 2010.

And if they duplicate their feat from last year—pulling themselves together and going on a season-ending tear—then 12-4, 13-3, even 14-2 are not out of reach.

Panic? Panic is for pussies. Or sportswriters. But I thank Pat for writing this column, because even I still can have the occasional ephiphany (he said humbly). What Pat has made me realize is not so much that fan bloggers are superior to sportswriters, but why they’re superior. It’s this: we give a damn. To most journalists, objectivity can be used as a stand-in for Astroglide—it’s that good. Leave a reporter alone for long enough with his objectivity, and there’s no telling what kind of mess he’ll leave. But he eminently, radically, proudly does not give a damn.

No fan, on the other hand, would counsel panic. Even if he were unsure exactly what the word meant, he’d still intuit that bouncing around like a vampire in a tanning booth isn’t going to accomplish much more than make you a laughingstock. In front of Falcons fans, no less. It might be his homerism that makes him smack face-first into the truth…but at least he finds it. At least he doesn’t make a living saying stupid things and not giving a shit.

So no, Pat, no panic here. Depression? Sure, lots of it. Watching the Saints lose games they should win is like running out of objectivity on a first date (I needed an analogy Pat could relate to, here). But that just encourages more drinking, so the world ends right-side up anyway.

Anger? That too. The NFL is entertainment, after all. It’s like paying for Citizen Kane and getting Battlefield: Earth instead. Losing to Magic Ghost 3.0 pissed me off; losing to Magic Ghost 2.0 made me want to take a blowtorch to my television, but I had guests. So yeah, lots of anger.

Anxiety? Absolutely. What if they don’t turn things around? That’s got to rank right up there with having a feckless incompetent in the White House (choose your own interpretation there). Maybe not quite the same amperage, but the voltage can still sting you pretty good.

So I’m not saying that right now things are just minty fresh in Saintsville, for us or the players. But the time to panic, Pat, is when you run out of give-a-damn.

What the hell. 14-2, bitches.

Posted by Himself in Douchebag Alert, Media Malpractice, Panic | 20 comments

20 Comments

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  • GSO Saints FanSeptember 18, 2012 at 10:23 am

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    14-2?!?!?

    Fuck that noise: 17-2, motherfucker. Gotta get the post season accounted for as well.

    SEIN FEIN!!!!!

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  • sagehawkjhSeptember 18, 2012 at 10:45 am

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    This fan is going to flee. I got a 9am flight outta Philly to Nola Friday morning. I’ve mentally checked out of work already. Gonna be right there when we turn this around with KC.

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  • Breesus Christ SuperstarSeptember 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

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    Beautiful post. Superb analogies. We never run out of give a damn.
    And if we run out of luck, by god, let’s do it with some class–not like those bush league buccaneers and their wannabe coach.

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  • vjdancerSeptember 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

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    Depression – check
    Anger – check
    Anxiety – check

    Still…

    What the hell. 14-2, bitches.

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  • SaintsW1nSeptember 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

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    Unfortunately, ESPN refers to their NFL divisional writers as “bloggers.”

    That’s a stain on our lowly endeavors. We need a new name for those guys.

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  • jonrocketsSeptember 18, 2012 at 9:29 pm

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    If I may, how’s about we refer to the “legitimate” media from hence forth as; floaters and sinkers, because their all turds. Floaters = positive media folks and Sinkers= negative.?

    Well they all suck, because their not fans.

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  • PhilistineSeptember 19, 2012 at 1:00 am

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    After all the off-season BS and the resulting dissociation, I have been properly prepared for the trials and tribulations of the regular season. So far, I seem to have avoided the depression I would have experienced a year ago after this season’s 0-2 start. It’s all just more of Goodzilla’s end-game playing out. Sucks now, but I think things will even out – exactly when or to what end, I’m not sure at this point; I estimated a 10-6 season earlier in the year, but now have to reevaluate. Sadly, the two NFC teams that I hate as much as the Cowboys – the 49ers and the Falcons – are both 2-0. That pisses me off.

    Great. Now I’m depressed.

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    • Breesus Christ SuperstarSeptember 19, 2012 at 10:36 am

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      Yeah. It’s a rigged game. Roger fucked us up more than I realized before the season started. We can still be dangerous. And if all else fails, we can still spoil things for the falcons. That would be enough to make my season right there.

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      • FriarBobSeptember 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

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        I don’t know how much BountyGate alone actually caused this. But I do think that Roger bears a HUGE chunk of the blame because of the putrid refs. I didn’t get to watch Carolwhina so I don’t know that the refs jobbed us there, but they arguably jobbed the heck out of the Broncos and definitely did so to us in week 1.

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        • HimselfSeptember 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm

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          In like manner, I didn’t get to watch the Broncos (okay, I CHOSE not to watch the Falcons). So how did the Broncos get screwed by the refs?

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          • FriarBobSeptember 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm

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            I don’t know for sure. I didn’t watch either. I just read (skimmed) some bits about how putrid they were, including one situation in which they (arguably) may have given the ball to the wrong team after a Bronco fumble.

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        • Breesus Christ SuperstarSeptember 19, 2012 at 8:20 pm

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          Well a second round pick could be playing better on defense than the fifth round pick we are forced to start who has been getting absolutely abused. The coaching has had a noticeable drop off. I’d say in the razor thin difference between winning and losing it has been more than enough to put us at 0-2.

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          • HimselfSeptember 19, 2012 at 9:22 pm

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            The difference between winning and losing has not been razor thin for the Saints over the past three years. We have been obliterating some opponents.

            Like I wrote regarding the Panthers game: last year, we would have made the plays that we missed on Sunday, and the score wouldn’t have been close–it would have been something like a 34-14 victory.

            That’s what a lot of people are missing: one great play on defense can stop a drive. One stopped drive can add another offensive score. And then everything snowballs. In the past, the Saints have captured momentum and rolled to dominating victories. Now? Not so much.

            I don’t know if it’s coaching or not, but the difference has become razor thin, and that’s why we’re in trouble. But frankly, I think at this level, and with this team, too much is made of coaching. These guys are pros, who have been to the top of the mountain; they’re under no illusions regarding what’s expected of them, what the opposition is capable of, or what they need to do in order to win. The defense has been playing badly, but it’s made up of players who aren’t this bad…and so, for now, I favor the “not yet used to the Spags system” theory. Maybe by the end of the season they can improve to the point where they’re only the 20th-ranked defense, instead of the 32nd.

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            • FriarBobSeptember 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

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              I mostly agree. I also think Harper needs to bulk up and become an LB already. I know, I know, it’s not an easy conversion. Tough. Do it or cut him next offseason. He blows chunks as a DB. And Jenkins needs to move back to corner… assuming we can actually find a semi-competent pair of safeties to replace them with on the field, of course. But even 50% competent would be an improvement over the steaming pile of cow dung we currently have.

              But the front 4 needs to improve even more-so. If Smith and whats-his-face can’t handle it (and right now it doesn’t look like they can), let Wilson and Galette have a try. Even if they suck just as bad, at least we can blame it on their inexperience, and maybe they’ll get a bit better with more experience.

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              • FriarBobSeptember 19, 2012 at 9:44 pm

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                Meh… misphrase… Should have said:

                But the front 7 needs to improve even more… especially the DEs.

                The DTs don’t seem that bad right now. LBs I’m less sure on, I didn’t watch but about half the foreskin game so I don’t really know for sure on them, but I haven’t heard a huge amount of screaming about them. But the DEs seemed totally incompetent on what I watched of Game 1 and I’ve heard nothing to convince me that changed in Week 2.

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            • PhilistineSeptember 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm

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              These guys are pros, who have been to the top of the mountain; they’re under no illusions regarding what’s expected of them, what the opposition is capable of, or what they need to do in order to win. The defense has been playing badly, but it’s made up of players who aren’t this bad…and so, for now, I favor the “not yet used to the Spags system” theory.

              I mostly agree with this. Spags has to pull it all together by October 21 (at Tampa) or, at latest, by November 12 (home against Atlanta). They need to string together a few wins before then. If they can fix the defense enough to give the offense a breather and spare them the adrenaline rush of playing from two touchdowns behind, the season could be salvaged.

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            • Breesus Christ SuperstarSeptember 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm

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              My intended meaning was the difference between winning and losing In the NFL is razor thin (margin of victory is irrelevant). It doesn’t take much to tip over the entire apple cart. Roger gave it a good push. And coaching does matter. Teams are so evenly matched athletically, coaching accounts for one of the biggest differences in outcome. You’re telling me Caldwell would have called an insides kick in the superbowl? Norv Turner would go for it on fourth down in opposing territory rather than punt. Look at the production Sean got out of sproles versus Norv’s misuse of him. Look at Brees meteoric rise under Payton. Coaching is huge in this league.

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              • HimselfSeptember 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm

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                I see what you mean…and I feel another Civil War analogy coming on. Sean Payton is the Robert E. Lee of the NFL. His assistants may be competent as assistants, but without his directing hand they’re bound to reveal their deficiencies. Think Longstreet during his independent Tennessee campaign in 1864 that ended in humiliation at Knoxville. Or think Early in his campaign in the Valley that started out with so much promise and collapsed at Cedar Creek when he couldn’t control his troops. Same men that Lee led to victory over and over again, and against stiffer odds too. Under Lee, either of those campaigns would have been successful.

                So…it’s all on Longstreet? Er, Kromer?

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                • Breesus Christ SuperstarSeptember 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm

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                  Exactly. One would think a veteran group of assistants would be ok on their own, but apparrently not in these cases. Also there is the issue of the defense just being out gunned/out manned. We keep pushing the same old worn out troops.

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              • PhilistineSeptember 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm

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                I keep thinking of this through the lens of the Patriots and Spygate. Belichick got caught filming opposing teams’ practices after the league sent out a memo warning against doing so. After a thorough investigation, Goodzilla fined Belichick, the Patriots organization the league maximum, and took a first-round draft pick – all for doing what a lot of other teams were doing. Intent: find a scapegoat. Result: Patriots go to the Super Bowl, and, according to wikipedia, “As of the conclusion of the 2011 NFL season, the Patriots had the best record in the NFL since Spygate, compiling a 48-16 record from 2008-11 (the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints were second best over that span at 45-19).”

                Now, here comes Bountygate. The NFL conducts a thorough investigation and finds evidence of a coach and players paying out awards for hurting opposing players, and of the organization failing to stop that practice after being warned by the league. Obviously, fines and draft picks are insufficient punishment, so, in addition to the league-maximum fine and two draft picks, Goodzilla suspends the GM, three current and former coaches and four current and former players. Why the difference? I see three probable reasons. One, a big fine and a draft pick didn’t seem to be enough punishment. Two, the concussion lawsuit demanded a fig leaf, a demonstration that the NFL cares about player safety. Finally, I suspect that Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, a large-market franchise, has more clout in the NFL than Benson, owner of a small-market franchise.

                So here we are, reaping what Goodzilla has sown. I can only hope that the Saints’ troubles on both sides of the ball are straightened out – and I think that they are fixable.

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