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.
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.
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.