Our season just had its plug pulled and now it's time to start the seven month process of rebooting. After Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory went on IR this past week, it started becoming clear that we should lower our expectations for a TWO DAT this season. A struggling running game plus a banged-up defense plus a struggling return game plus a Drew Brees not quite at last year's form were going to seriously limit our chances at a second Lombardi trophy this year. Better to get eliminated now than later. This way the team can get more rest and healing time in preparation for next season.
I didn't believe in Super Bowl hangovers until this year. Our guys looked tired and less focused for the playoffs this past Saturday. They looked like a team that had been playing hard for almost two years straight. I'm just happy they broke the streak of Super Bowl winners not making the playoffs the year after. Last season's championship is enough to keep me happy for two or three years. Wasn't it appropriate that the Colts were also eliminated Saturday? They had their own problems this season including a long list of players lost to injury. They looked beat down and tired also. Something seems different about the sport than when the Patriots won back to back championships in 2004 and 2005. It seems the offseason distraction of TV appearances, advertisements, etc. have become more numerous these days for star football players. I think both the Colts and Saints just needed the rest.
The Seattle Debacle
Dave and others have already thoroughly discussed the game and I agree with most everything I've read so far. I can't read it all. It's too depressing. The defense let us down big time and Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem looked totally lost when returning kicks. The effects of losing Courtney Roby and Pierre Thomas to IR were on full display every time Seattle kicked off after their numerous scores. Roman Harper only seemed to be present in body and not in mind. He's definitely worthy of the "goat" tag on defense. It appeared that the losses of Jenkins, Hargrove, and Clark were more serious than we thought they'd be. Even though the offense struggled to run the ball and Reggie Bush (The $8 Million Man) didn't contribute like we'd hoped, they were still able to score 36 points. In most games, this would have been more than enough, but in a game where the defense was shredded like a shrub before Edward Scissorhands, it fell short.
Some are concerned that there may not be a 2011 season, but I disagree. The owners aren't so blinded by greed that they're going to risk diminishing the sport's overwhelming popularity. They'll reach an agreement by March and all will continue as normal provided they drop the 18-game schedule idea. Players' bodies had enough problems trying to get through this year's 16-game season and there's no way they'll agree to that this year.
It's time for Mickey Loomis to go to work and add to the great team he and Sean Payton have already assembled. The running game looks like the biggest problem area right now. I hope they don't hastily kick Pierre Thomas to the curb. He's a valuable weapon when healthy. Chris Ivory has potential if he can fully dedicate himself to the offseason conditioning program and get his body strengthened to handle the pounding he likes to give it. Reggie Bush simply isn't worth the money he's getting paid. If he doesn't renegotiate his contract, they should let him go and focus that money some place else.
My current hope for our first round draft pick goes in this order - Mark Ingram, a strong pass-rushing DE, or an OLB. It's never easy to predict who Pay-Loo will select, but I think a RB may be high on their list. I know they've had lots of success with UFAs at RB, but something tells me they'll be looking to draft one if a high enough rated player falls to them. Last I heard, Ingram was projected to go in the mid to late 1st round.
After reading this press conference transcript, I don't think Gregg Williams will leave this year unless the perfect head coaching offer comes his way. Denver just doesn't seem like a place he'd be interested in.
A Positive Spin
The Seahawks rose up to a level of play that they hadn't displayed all season, so full credit should go to them. They definitely looked like a playoff team against us and in their own building. Will it continue? I think not. The Bears are about to get the easiest playoff win in their history this weekend. There's no way the Seahawks play that well on the road in Chicago. I was hoping that the Falcons would face the Hawks this week so they would get the easy win and advance further. We should all hope our arch-nemesis advances to the Super Bowl and maybe even wins it. Then we can see how they handle the long season, lesser offseason down time, and all of the media distractions they'll be bombarded with. My guess is that they won't handle it all that well and will experience their own "Super Bowl Hangover" next year. This will help us win the division in 2011. The Bucs may pose a challenge, but they're a young team and may go into their offseason program thinking they've arrived and then come out for the season less mentally prepared than they should be. That's when we'll spring the trap on them. The Panthers? Anything is possible in the NFL, but it looks like they'll have a very long way to go before they become competitive.
Many others have probably already pointed out many of the things I've posted here, but like I said earlier, it would be too depressing for me to read through everything that's been posted since the game. It's time our guys go back to being an anonymous team that few in the national media talk about. That's how Payton likes it and that's when our team seems to play its best.