Confidence is no longer part of Saints’ game plan

daniels    It has been a long time since I have seen “the look” on the faces of the New Orleans Saints.
    That look is a dazed one. That look is a lack of confidence.
    Ever since the Saints got on their Super Bowl run in 2009, New Orleans has oozed confidence. Head coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees, and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had what I guess these days they call swagger.
    See you, swag. Welcome, doubt.
    Don’t believe me? What I saw Sunday in Carolina was Brees making one of the worst throws of his career that turned into a gift nine-yard pick-six touchdown for the Panthers.
    Wide receiver Lance Moore dropped a touchdown pass. So did Jimmy Graham.
    And, after the game I heard interim head coach Aaron Kromer say something that perked the ears. “At the end of the year,” said Kromer, “we will win more than we lose.”
    We didn’t expect to hear that from the New Orleans Saints. These, after all, are the Saints. This is the outfit that won 13 regular-season  games in two of the last three years.
    Who has that confidence now?
    Well, that would be the San Francisco 49ers. Ever since the 49ers beat the Saints in the divisional playoffs, they have been a different team. The 49ers have started the season with an impressive win at Green Bay and returned home on a Sunday night to hold the Detroit Lions to four field goals and a touchdown in a 27-19 victory.
    The 49ers also have something the Saints do not. That would be an outstanding defense.
    Again, my ears perked when Kromer said the Saints have played two of the most “unusual offenses” in the NFL. Of course, he was speaking of Washington rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and Carolina’s Cam Newton. In addition to being the past two Heisman Trophy winners, both QBs are equal run/pass threats.
    Unusual, yes. Playoff teams? Likely not.
    As I watched the Rams beat the Redskins last Sunday, it only reinforced what a bad loss the opener at home for the Saints to the Redskins truly was.
    The Saints have several issues. One is a lack of a downfield threat. With Devery Henderson out with a concussion, 33 of Brees’ 47 targets against Carolina were to running backs Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas and tight end Jimmy Graham.
    And, of course, the Saints have issues on defense. A leaky secondary killed the Saints’ 2008 playoffs chances. One year later, that issue was addressed, and the Saints were on their way. Against Carolina, former LSU Tiger Brandon LaFell looked all-world, pulling in six catches for 90 yards.
    So, what do the Saints do now? Well, for starters, they must beat a bad Kansas City team. And then make some major improvements on defense.
    The Drew Brees I saw Sunday at Carolina was a quarterback who was pressing. He understands that his defense isn’t getting stops, so he feels like he should score on every possession.
    But that isn’t reality. And reality has smacked the Saints in the face earlier than anyone thought.
    Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .