The Season is Over...Not Really, But Really
The New Orleans Saints are 5-8. It's not so much that they're three games under .500, but how they got here. At one point, the Saints were 4-4 with three of their next four games at home. Things hadn't started on the right foot at the beginning of the season, but they were looking up. Not anymore. After reaching .500, the Saints have proceeded to lose four of their past five games, including two at home. There will be no playoffs in New Orleans for a third straight year and with three games to go, these dudes in black and gold are playing for pride, or just for their fat paycheck. The fanbase is angry, screams of: "Fire the coach! Fire everyone!" are being heard and believe me all of them are justified. Not because I believe that the Saints should let go of head coach Sean Payton, but because no matter how small their influence is, the fans, the people who keep this whole NFL thing going should let their displeasure be known, be heard. There should be some accountability from the Saints' front office for the three years of putrid football they've subjected us to in the Big Easy, yet there has been none. Not from Sean Payton, not from Mickey Loomis and sadly, not from team owner Tom Benson, who has been completely MIA for quite a while now. Who captains this sinking ship? That at least we would love to know.
Three Field Goals and a Safety
This sounds like the title of a bad "direct-to-DVD" movie. But it isn't, three field goals are all the scoring plays that the potent, high-flying New Orleans Saints offense could muster yesterday in Tampa. The defense provided some help, not only by holding the Bucs to 16 points, but by forcing a safety, which added to the meager nine points that the Saints' offense could produce. In the past two games, the Saints have scored 13 and 11 points respectively. With the offensive line playing arguably its two worse games of the season, Drew Brees has also been a shell of himself, throwing six picks and zero touchdowns the past two weeks. Yesterday against the Buccaneers, the Saints felt the absence of center Max Unger and of rookie wide receiver Mike Thomas, who has clearly become the Saints' best pass catcher. But regardless of who was absent or not on Sunday, the Saints offense has vanished since dismantling the Los Angeles Rams in the Superdome two weeks ago. Maybe the football gods have come back to bite Sean Payton in the butt after he clearly ran up the score against his old pal Gregg Williams.
If You Fire Everyone, Please Keep Dennis Allen
Dennis Allen is making chicken salad...and he's getting pretty good at it. The Saints haven't had a very good defense this season when you look at the numbers as a whole. However, what hasn't been talked about enough is the reality that in several games, the Saints' defense has been much more than serviceable. Such was the case again yesterday when New Orleans allowed only three points in the second half, a feat they had already accomplished this season. The rest of the Buccaneers numbers weren't better: 4.3 yards-per-play, 3.0 yards-per-rush, 6 for 13 on third down, 82.9 quarterback rating for Jameis Winston, and 16 total points. That's the type of defensive performance you dream of as a Saints fan. Alas, Drew Brees and the offense didn't get the memo.
So, You Say We Should Win Out Huh?
The Saints' best possible record this year would be 8-8...Yay! I know how most of you feel: you want them to win out! You want to at least enjoy your football Sundays, you hate how sad it feels the Monday after a Saints' loss, you just want to experience the taste of victory again before the season is over. I get it, I even empathize a bit. But it is crazy to want that at this point. The Saints aren't making the playoffs and any win just makes their draft positioning worse. "But JR, a high draft pick doesn't guarantee that it's going to be a good player and they could botch that too." Of course, they could, and if you don't play the lottery you have 0.000% chances of winning, so even if your chances of winning are only 0.001%, they're still better than nothing. Also, it is much harder to botch a top-10 pick than it is to screw up at position 14 or 15, where the Saints have been for the past two seasons. It sucks when the Saints lose on Sunday, but between a meaningless win in December and the potential of a big time defensive player for the future, I choose the future.
Note: I deny all allegations of the use of subliminal images in this piece.