Well, wasn't that fun?
My lovely and patient wife called me a 'hater' yesterday for picking Carolina in my office football pool. I explained that when it comes to money, I make decisions based on facts not wishes. I would've won except I picked the Cowboys to win in Seattle, so the whole weekend turned into a big annoying loss for me. How was your weekend?
But enough about my minuscule problems, we've got bigger trouble on Airline Drive. Make the jump for the six things I took away from Sunday's
game debacle in Charlotte.
1. Spagnoulo is good but he's not as good as the 2007 season would have you believe. Being stuck with the New York media's constant whining about the Giants and laughing at the Jets, I'm pretty familiar with Steve Spagnoulo's defensive schemes. That familiarity doesn't give me a lot confidence in the big turn-around we're all hoping for. In '07 the locals were screaming for Coughlin and Spagnoulo's heads before the entire team got it together late in the season. The '07 Giants had a far more talented defensive unit than the Saints do, but they only squeaked into the playoffs with a defense that never really performed to the level everyone expected. Is Spagnoulo good enough to keep the sinking Saints from completely drowning? I'm not too sure.
2. Special Teams: Can't live with 'em, can't win without 'em. Okay, okay, the Saints kickers are pretty good. What else you got? How about some protection for Sproles? Maybe he could gain a couple of yards on punt returns if he had some blocking in front of him. The rest of the special team's play on punts and returns was dull, flat and uninspired. Sadly, special teams were the bright spot of the day.
3. The O-Line is disinterested and now so is the receiving corps. Brees was 31/49 with a 72.2 passer rating and was only sacked once. Of course he gave Carolina seven points on a poor decision because he was rushed, but the majority of time he stood in and tried to make plays in spite of the fact his O-Line was completely out-classed on almost every play. Brees was also pressured so much because his receivers pretty much seemed shut down. Okay, Jimmy Graham had some catches and looked like he was putting in the effort, but he also had some critical drops on passes that should have been routine. Colston and Moore were flat, and Joseph Morgan looked completely and utterly lost out there. Teams need critical catches at critical times to be successful and the Saints receivers don't seem able to make the plays when it counts.
4. Are the other Saints defensive backs afraid of catching something from Corey White? White is a rookie and he's struggling, but he's getting absolutely no help from his teammates in the backfield (or his coordinator on the sidelines). I find it hard to believe the Carolina Panthers were able to figure out how weak White is and Steve Spagnoulo, Malcolm, Jenkins, Roman Harper and Patrick Robinson weren't. White was out on an island all day and the Panthers made him pay.
5. The replacement refs aren't horrible, but they sure blow their whistles fast. The one thing that stood out to me during the Saints-Panthers game and other games I watched was how fast the refs stopped plays when things got jammed up. I can understand protecting the players during High School and Pop Warner games, but this is the big league boys. I saw at least five plays yesterday (one in the Saints game) where the whistles were blown before the play had come to its natural conclusion. The Saints desperately need a few takeaways and since interceptions are apparently out of the question they're going to need to recover a fumble now and again, but if the refs are on the whistle as soon as a scrum develops, takeaways are going to be drastically reduced league-wide.
6. Apparently the Saints are experimenting with whether they need a head coach or not. I know Aaron Kromer didn't ask Sean Payton to completely mis-handle Bountygate and stick him with the horrible job of being a head coach in the NFL, but geez, Aaron, ya think you might want to step it up a little? Think what your future job prospects might be if you seized this opportunity of a lifetime and ran with it. From what I observed, the Saints are playing without any input whatsover from their head coach. No strategic moves, timely time-outs, no trick plays to fire up the team. Nothing. Except for that blank stare that tells me we're looking 0-5.
On a positive note, the Panthers aren't really all that good this year.