Playing for Pride

Jeff Zelevansky

Now that the Saints are out of the playoff picture, they've only got one thing left to play for.

Pride. A word that means nothing other than one's achievement or self-esteem.

It seems like an NFL player making millions of dollars a year would have a bunch of pride. But after watching the past three Saints games, it appears that they have only a minuscule amount of it.

All questions aside, the past few performances by the Saints have been pathetic. From every facet of the game there is a considerable amount of disappointment. Drew Brees has thrown half of his interceptions (9) in the Saints' past three games. In that stretch, he has thrown for only one touchdown pass, and has posted QB ratings of 33.0, 23.4, and 45.1. Those numbers are supposed to come from rookies, not All-Pro, Super Bowl MVP, record-setting quarterbacks.

Against the Giants, the Saints allowed a combined total of 453 yards between penalties, kick returns, and yards from takeaways. 31 of the Giants' 52 points came from those categories. That is just embarrassing.

Ironically, the defense is really the only part that has looked semi-impressive. But even though they are light years ahead of their performances from the opening half of the season, they still are not as sound as they could be. They surrendered 394 total yards to the Giants and registered zero sacks. All of the starting defensive lineman (Smith, Bunkley, Ellis, and Jordan) were selected in the first round of the draft and they generate absolutely no pass rush. Robinson and Greer are the team's best cornerbacks, and they are repeatedly beat like a drum.

At the beginning of the season, the Saints had so much to play for. The entire world was against them. Even though the team was missing Payton, Vitt, and Loomis, they still had basically the same (if not better) roster than they had last year. They began the season 0-4, and everybody completely wrote them off. Five weeks later, the Saints started what could have been one of the most magnificent comebacks in NFL history and were only one game out of a playoff spot with destiny in their hands. What more could you ask for?

From there, well, you know what has happened.

To me, the only issue that seems apparent is a sense of pride. By the fourth quarter of the game against the Giants, everybody looked depressed and lifeless. At least when Gregg Williams was here, they were allowing big yardage while being lunatics. The fire just isn't there anymore.

Only the Saints themselves can prove if they are motivated or not. Right now, they look like the offseason can't come any quicker. All the Saints have to play for right now is their pride and their city. No more home Super Bowl. No more playoffs. Two games will be at home out of the remaining three on the schedule. The Saints have an opportunity to show the Who Dat Nation that they still care. I guess we will see how it goes.

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