But, before everyone -- including some self-appointed "experts" on ESPN -- bury the Saints as yet another "passing" team that flamed out to the supposed "reality" that only running teams and defense wins, allow me to remind you of this fact:
That Saints offense that was supposed to wither on the vine against a good defense?? It didn't.
In fact, it took the full blows that the Frisco D threw at them, even the KO to Pierre Thomas early, and not only came back swinging, but was at the end every bit the force it has been. To put it bluntly, Drew Brees showed huge future Hall-of-Fame BALLS by taking his team back not once, but TWICE in the 4th quarter against arguably the best D he's faced, on the road, outside, on grass. At the end, they put the fear in the Niners' D, and nearly won the game.
[TBC following the jump]
Problem was, sadly, the Saints D couldn't hold serve.
Just like they almost lost the Tennessee game. Just like they nearly lost the first Detroit game were it not for the Lions' lack of discipline then. Just like they gave up 400 yards against Eli Manning. Just like they were a Roddy White drop from potentially losing the first Atlanta game.
That's what happens when you can't cover, when you blitz and don't get to the passer, and when you don't resolve your deficiencies in personnel. And, you leave their only viable receiver alone to run through your "coverage".
No, ESPN's Pat Yasinksas. the Saints do NOT need to "learn from the lesson" and go back to the old school Jim Mora, Sr. "ground and pound" days. And no, they do NOT need to "take pressure off Drew Brees", because from what I saw on Saturday, he not only handled the pressure just fine; at the end he was applying the pressure.
What the Saints do need to do, though, is completely overhaul their defense, and get some legitimate players, as well as a defensive coordinator who actually gives a you-know-what about rushing the passer with your down linemen, about finding linebackers with actual abilities to cover people, and who is able to put the right people in the right positions at the right time. Whether it be Steve Spagnola or Mike Nolan replacing Gregg Wiliams matters least, the important thing is that change comes quick.
All the Saints need to do offensively is to lock up their free agent core (Brees, Carl Nicks, Marques Colston), allow Lance Moore and Dave Thomas to return from injury, and perhaps find a return specialist to take pressure off Darren Sproles and allow him to be the freak on offense that he was. If they do that, they will be a force for the next 3-5 years, and will probably be right back in the upper crust of the NFC again.
And maybe, like Bum Phillips once famously quoted, they'll actually kick the sumb*tch down (again) and not give it away in 2012-2013.
Either way...a bow to Drew Brees and the Saints offense, for a hell of a show. However it may have ended, it was a hell of a ride...and best of all, the show's not over by any means. Bless 'ya, Boys, just prepare for next year.