You see? This is exactly why I was so hard on the Saints these past few weeks and so disappointed with their play, despite the fact they were winning their games. This is exactly why I was worried.
Even though the Saints were able to narrowly avoid defeat multiple times this season, the actual on-field product in those games still left a lot to be desired. We can all agree on that. Struggling running game. Crappy in the red zone. Offensive line regression. Kicking troubles. Curious playcalling. Turnovers!!!! It was only a matter of time before they played down to an opponent and lost a game because of it.
Because there are such a thing as style points and they do matter when it comes to setting expectations for your team. The Saints hadn't showed style in any of their wins so far, which is why we shouldn't be surprised that lack of style finally caught up with them today. Because a win isn't just a win. It's how you play the game. When the Saints were winning ugly, the signs of trouble were obvious in their play. We should have all expected that the bounces wouldn't always go in the Saints direction.
That's exactly what happened today against the Cardinals and though it might not have been what we hoped, it certainly should have been what we expected. Give credit to Arizona for playing a great game but this one was definitely winnable for the Saints.
At some point the Saints must make the undesirable transition from being regarded as an NFL super power to being acknowledged as the team that their record and stats this season say they are: a mediocre one. Now just might be that time.
It's official: this is a team with issues. The Saints are in third place now, behind both Atlanta and Tampa Bay. We still love them, of course, but they aren't making it easy for us. Sound the alarms. Let them ring long and loud. Sound the f***** alarms.