Let me first apologize to all the other Saints fans out there that I may have offended with my post-game Debbie Downer rant last week. What was I thinking expecting better from mostly the same team that won the Super Bowl the year prior? That's preposterous!
Just in case you can't detect the sarcasm in my voice, let me just come right out and say that I actually don't apologize. I'm just trying to be clever, witty and maybe a bit douchey. That's the way I felt at the time and those feelings continue to linger. It's cool if you disagree. No, seriously it's cool. That's what makes this blog thing so totally kick ass. But the Saints offense just didn't do everything they
could should have done in their close victory over Carolina; I've got every right to be disappointed in my team. Putting the ball on the ground twice after driving 90 and 47 yards? That's not okay. Dropped passes? C'mon! And where the hell is my big play!?
Okay, so maybe I went a little overboard; took it a little too far. After further examination and a toxic blending of over-the-counter medications not legally allowed to be sold together to the same customer, I've calmed down and seen a tiny flicker of light at the end of this long, scary tunnel. Damn, that's a bit dramatic. They may not be putting up as many points, but as other people, like Bradley Handwerger, have also pointed out, it's really not so bad.
No, I'm not talking about that "They're getting everyone's best game" crap. I'm talking about cold, hard stats. Like their 3rd down conversion rate on offense, which is 46% and good for fifth best in the league. Or the passing game which, albeit not as stellar and on point as the last few years, is still better than 27 other teams in the league. In fact the Saints are currently ranked twelfth in total offense, putting them in the top half of the league which, if we're being honest with ourselves, means we can only call them mediocre at worst. Certainly not bad, though.
Even better news is the fact that things seem to be going in the right direction. The offense has averaged almost 100 yards more per game these last two weeks (390.5) compared to the first two (297.5). They dominated time of possession last week and have been moving the ball well. Really. And the running woes? Well there is nothing like losing your two "best" running backs to jump start your team's ground game, which is what happened last week when the Saints finally ran the ball effectively and eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time this year, using an Ivory/Betts combination as opposed to the originally planned pair, Thomas/Bush.
I'm not saying everything is perfect. Far from it. Red zone percentage sucks. The offensive line isn't the same (particularly the right side). And, of course, those aforementioned fumbles! But all the signs of this eventual "offensive breakthrough" that we've all been waiting for are definitely there, with just a few minor tweaks.
It's just that the Saints can't seem to get everything going at the same time. They were +5 in turnovers during the first two games but couldn't average more than 300 yards a game or move down the field worth a damn. Then when they finally do gain some momentum on offense, that's when they decide they're going to start turning the ball over. And of course neither one of those scenarios allows them to gain a lead early and help keep their offense balanced. It's called inconsistency and it's a bitch when it comes to winning in the NFL. Put it all together, however, and we're once again looking at the incredibly dangerous offense we've all come to know and love.
This is a team ready to burst, it's simply a matter of firing on all cylinders. Passing the ball well and running it well. Gaining yardage and winning the turnover battle. Getting into the red zone and executing while there. Achieving separation on deep routes and holding onto the ball. It's all got to come together at once. That has been the problem to date. With the fourth worst defense in the Arizona Cardinals next up on the dockett for the Saints, now is the perfect time for them to return to form.
So let's all just take a deep breath, myself included, and get ready for the offensive explosion we're about to witness the Saints unleash tomorrow afternoon. It's long overdue. And if we still don't see that happen this weekend...then it will be time to sound the alarm.