Saints vs. Falcons: The Road Starts Here

Chris Graythen

This is it, time to put up or shut up. The New Orleans Saints have dug themselves into a hole any groundhog would be proud of. But like the 2011 NY Giants, the Saints may just march right into the wild card spot. We'll find out today.

The "Mutiny on the Bounty" was a revolt aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty on April 28th, 1789. The mutiny was headed by Fletcher Christian against commanding officer Lieutenant William Bligh.

According to historians, the majority of the crew were drawn to the idyllic life on the Pacific island of Tahiti. The dream and hope of a better living were furthered by the ill treatment from their captain. So the captain and eighteen of his supporters were thrown off the Bounty onto a small boat.

The nineteen abandoned sailors made the back breaking journey home to Britannia's shores which lasted over 2 years, where they immediately sought justice. The British government dispatched a ship to capture and return the mutineers. Ten surviving mutineers were arrested and eventually brought back to England. The British naval courts tried the ten surviving prisoners. Three were hanged, four acquitted and three were pardoned.

While most of us have had to labor under a boss that is less desirable, few would think of throwing him out of the office like the crew of the Bounty did.

Fast forward 223 years and the punishments endured by the Saints this season have been swift for the coaches and organization, but have they been just? The jury is still out as the NFL's head office is trying to figure out proper suspension for the players alleged to have taken part in a "bounty" system.

What isn't up in the air is the effect not having a head coach has had on the New Orleans Saints record and the their season. Long past is the time for mourning and bemoaning the short comings. The present and future of the Saints season is in full focus as is the runway to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. The New Orleans Saints have the Atlanta Falcons on the schedule tonight following a less then pleasing performance.

This is it, time to put up or shut up. The New Orleans Saints have dug themselves into a hole any groundhog would be proud of. The Saints, to their credit, have clawed all the way back to a 5-6 record and are on the upper lower half of the wild card race.

Most don't give them a chance to go into Atlanta and New York unscathed. Both are division leaders in the NFC and are looking to solidify their playoff seeding. The Saints' climb to the playoffs is a treacherous one, a single slip is all it takes for them to fall. How can they do it?

It can't be done some say. Others simply shake their heads and tell us to take our league prescribed medicine. The New Orleans Saints, their fans and Drew Brees aren't the type to take anything laying down. So, can it be done? Are we the fans as delusional as Hunter S. Thompson on one of his great trips? Maybe not.

Rewind the clock back one year and take a stroll down memory lane with me. The New York Giants were mired in a mid to late season slump that had most of the league believing the only place Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin would be spending their January is on a warm beach with their toes in the sand and a drink in their hands.

They started 6-2 and then went 0-4, losing all four games to NFC opponents. The Giants went from the top of the NFC East to finding themselves right in the middle of a fight for their playoff lives. What looked like a promising season for the Giants and their fans had suddenly turned into a world of uncertainty.

Could the Giants recover from a November/early December swoon? Questions swirled around the Giants clubhouse like an airliner circling JFK waiting to land. Cooler heads prevailed and a week after losing their fourth straight game, the Giants won a crucial away game against their division foe Dallas. All seemed right with the world, the Giants were going to do it. They had played their best ball against the Packers some said, before dispatching the Cowboys in a fierce rivalry game.

Then all of a sudden, as the Giants exhaled, they lost another game at home to the Redskins. Hold the phone! The Giants, it seemed, didn't know what was best for them and which way was up. Many wrote them off and said Eli wasn't the elite quarterback some had suggested. The 2011 Giants were cooked. They were done and the idea of them in the playoffs seemed to some a little ridiculous.

Then, with all the chips down and Vegas taking bets on other teams, the Giants did what they could only do. They took care of business and reeled off two wins in a row, something they hadn't done since Week 9 of the season. The culmination of their hard work and efforts paid off in a playoff run that ended with a plane ticket to Indianapolis.

The New York Giants were the second team in a row to win the Super Bowl from a wild card draw. The first being the 2010 Green Bay Packers who failed to find consistency in the last 7 weeks of the 2010 season until the very end. The Giants and Packers were able to find their footing late and run with the hot hand to the Super Bowl.

Why mention any of this? The New Orleans Saints have started the season 0-4 and now find themselves one game below .500 in what many consider a 'no win' situation. Sound familiar? A Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterback struggling to deal with the harsh reality of a team that isn't playing to it's potential? A schedule that Vegas isn't putting odds on? Is this the 2011 New York Giants all over again?

No, this is the New Orleans Saints. The odds are long and improbable. Don't tell them that. These Saints are driven and determined to show everyone that the strength of the team doesn't lie with a head coach who isn't there, but underneath every single jersey with a Fleur-de-Lis on the sleeve.

The road is long and hard, but now the time is right. The Saints may just march right into the wild card spot. They may not. But don't be surprised when it happens. If there was one team that was built to withstand what they have endured this season, it would be this New Orleans Saints team. Just don't act like no one told you if and when it happens.

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