Regardless of what word or adjective you use to describe the Saints' 34-7 loss to the Seahawks on Monday night in front of a sellout CenturyLink Field, a stadium that, for all intents and purposes is shaped like an open baked potato, was far and away the worst loss in the Payton/Brees era.
And while Who Dat Nation this morning is shaking their heads and trying to figure out what went wrong in Seattle, I figured that I could list several reasons that didn't involve the words "outdoors" and "cold weather" for the debacle we saw on last night.
1.No sense of balanced offense
We're all aware that the Saints' offense is one of most pass-happy offenses in the NFL, something that has been the case ever since Sean and Drew arrived in the Big Easy almost eight years ago.
However, in last night's game, the Saints, who in their victory over Atlanta on November 21st had 33 pass attempts and 25 rushing attempts (57% pass 43% rush), had 69% of their offensive plays based on passing and 31% of the plays based on rushing.
The Seahawks' offensive plays on the other hand?
56% rushing and 44% pass.
2. You blitz, I teach
As a former basketball player and coach, the one thing you're taught from the time you go to your first practice in pee wee basketball is never reach for the basketball when playing defense.
Because when you reach for the basketball, chances are you're gonna get burned.
The same could be applied for dialing up blitzes in football.
If your defense is constantly bringing blitzes and not dropping back two or three in the secondary, chances are you're going to be taught a hard lesson.
Every time Rob Ryan brought the house (another word for blitz) Russell Wilson made the Saints' secondary pay, especially in the first quarter when he connected with Zach Miller for a 60-yard gain and early in the third quarter when he connected with Ricardo Lockette for a 33-yard pass, making guys like Malcolm Jenkins and Corey White look like the famous "Quicksand Kids" for those horrible Chicago Cub teams in the 1950's.
3. Bad Drew
I can only think of a handful of times in which Drew Brees looked like Blaine Gabbert over the years, most notably last year in which he threw for five interceptions in the Georgia Dome against the Falcons.
But on last night, Brees' stat line read like this: 23-38, 147 yards, one touchdown, and of course, that costly fumble in the first quarter that was returned for a touchdown, good for a quarterback rating of 22.7.
4. Jimmy Graham, Where Are You?
According to the box score, Jimmy Graham was targeted nine times, making three catches, including his touchdown grab in the second quarter to make the game 17-7.
Meaning that Graham was successful on 33% of balls that were targeted for him.
As I made my way to my office this morning, I thought about what happened in 2002 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that historically failed to produce in the cold.
In week 7 of that season, the Bucs went to old Veterans Stadium and lost to the Eagles 20-10 to fall to 5-2, denying them a chance to lock up the #1 seed for the playoffs.
After dispatching the 49ers in the divisional round, the Bucs returned to Philadelphia to face those same Eagles for a right to go to the Super Bowl, this time defeating them 27-10 in what would be the final game ever played in Veterans Stadium.
A week later, the Bucs destroyed the Raiders to claim their first Super Bowl.
The moral of this story?
Just because you beat a team in the regular season, regardless of how dominant that team is, it doesn't mean diddly poo when the second season starts.