The New Orleans Saints didn't look competent in any particular department on Sunday afternoon in the Superdome. The running game sucked until Khiry Robinson gave it some life, the passing game is just as bad, with Brees continuing his declining (that word) arm strength display and the receivers either dropping the ball or fumbling it after catching it.
The coaching staff isn't better. Sean Payton's playcalling continues to baffle me, Rob Ryan's defense is doing its best, but its best isn't exactly good. We're going to need to return our bandwagon to the store, it is too big for the few people that are staying.
if you can still stomach it, here are Five Big Things that stuck out to me during the game this afternoon:
1) The Saints Are A Bad Team
We have all been hopeful that the 2015 vintage of the New Orleans Saints would be a decent team. Maybe even make the playoffs. We were wrong. This team is bad. They have now lost six home-games in a row dating back to last season. Drew Brees looks like a shell of himself and his receiving corps hasn't been helping. The defense has had great moments, but has also looked extremely porous in stretches. Maybe more shocking is how little spirit we saw from the Saints today. They seemed to go through the motions for most of the first half, as if they expected Tampa to just lay down for them. So if you had high hopes for 2015, the best way to feel better is to dramatically lower your expectations. Stock up on burgers, it's going to be a rough season.
2) Saints Sorely Miss Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills
We all thought Sean Payton had a plan when he traded Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills this offseason. Well, Payton had a plan alright, but so far it's simply not working. The Saints look out of sync on offense, because of a somewhat rebuilt offensive line, coupled with youth and inexperience (and let's be honest, lack of talent) in the receiving corps. When Graham and Stills were on the Saints, although they still went 7-9 last year, Brees never looked like he had nowhere to throw the ball, even when given time in the pocket. Brandin Cooks is MIA, Colston is old and the rest of the receivers, from Coleman to Snead or Morgan are wildly inconsistent. Payton's plan may eventually work, but for now, the grade is C-minus.
3) Offensive Line Has a Long Way to Go
Bringing center Max Unger on board was a great move. Yes, I just said the Saints missed Jimmy Graham (who was traded for Unger) but at least with Unger, Brees can regularly step up in the pocket and find open...I mean blanketed receivers. The problems right now are the left guard spot occupied by Tim Lelito and the right tackle position manned by Zach Strief. Lelito and Strief had no business being on an NFL field this afternoon in the Superdome. Sean Payton has hinted that rookie Andrus Peat could play every position but center on the Saints offensive line...it might be time to put him in for Lelito. At the very least, it would be something to try.
4) Khiry Robinson is Better than Mark Ingram
But clearly, Sean Payton hasn't realized that just yet, or refuses to. No, I'm not saying that just because Ingram fumbled when the Saints were down four and trying to take the lead. I'm saying that because when Robinson entered the game, New Orleans suddenly found its running game, found lanes that made Brees (fairly poor) play-action fakes work decently well. But Payton refuses to "ride a workhorse" in his "multiple" offense. When the rest of the league has caught up to what you do, do something different. Payton should've given 20+ carries to Khiry Robinson, but somehow, he just loves to switch running backs on nearly every play. Can you tell I'm frustrated?
5) Where You At, Drew?
Brees is the recipient of my "Where You At?" this week. What was that terrible duck he threw on the Saints' first possession of the second half? The ball to Cooks was woefully underthrown and intercepted by the Buccaneers. Brees has never had a cannon for an arm, but that was some weak sauce. Could it have been due to the hit Brees took on his first sack, when he was seen shaking his right arm? Well, as is the Saints' tradition, we will never know. What we know however is that Brees has looked everything but the dominant franchise quarterback we were promised during the offseason. You know, the guy who is healthy now, whose oblique isn't hurting anymore and whose throwing mechanics are better now, blah blah blah. Through two games, all I see is a 36-year old, aging and floundering quarterback.