September will be key to Saints’ success or failure

ed_daniels    The kickoff of training camp is upon us.
    Saints fans, anxious for any morsel of information, will get their Twitter updates about who is hot and who isn’t.
    For every Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas, two free agent runners who earned jobs in camp, there’s the flip side... Onome Ojo and Courtney Watson.
    Ojo, a wide receiver, was a fifth-round draft pick of the Saints in 2001. He was an August star. And, he never caught a pass in an NFL regular-season game.
    Watson, a 2004 second- round pick, was supposed to be Jim Haslett’s answer at middle linebacker.
    A training camp wish became September’s wishful thinking.
    In camp, the hope is that the Saints can get to the start of the regular season healthy.
And, for the Saints, it is all about September.
    In 2012, the club could never recover from an 0-4 start that included losses at home to Washington and Kansas City.
A start like that leaves even talented NFL teams with no margin for error.
    In 2011, the exact opposite occurred. The Saints fell one yard short in a loss at Green Bay to open the season.
    But, then New Orleans reeled off four consecutive wins. Because of that start, the Saints were able to regroup even after two bad road losses to Tampa Bay and St. Louis.
    NFL head coaches, including Sean Payton, will never say much about schedules.
    True to form, Payton said the following in a news release issued by the Saints when the 2013 regular season schedule was announced:
    “It is hard to look at the schedule now, and pencil in what teams are going to look like,” said Payton. “A lot of times the game prior to when you play a team factors in.”
    So, basically just your standard stuff. But, Payton knows that a quick start is possible.
    The Saints’ first four games are Atlanta, at Tampa Bay, Arizona and Miami.
    The most difficult four weeks appear to be in November and early December when the Saints host San Francisco, play at Atlanta on a Thursday night, at Seattle on a Monday night, then host Carolina six days later.
    In 2006, the Saints began the season with five wins in their first six games and reached the NFC Championship Game.
    Three years later, the Saints’ Super Bowl winning season began with 13 consecutive regular season wins.
    Momentum in football is a very real thing.
    The 49ers found it in New Orleans when they beat the Saints in Colin Kaepernick’s first NFL start. The Ravens found it in the playoffs. And, the Saints need to find it in September.
    So, in late July and early August, in the heat of camp and the drudgery of meaningless preseason games, Saints chatter will be going full steam, like a blast furnace.
    But, September is when the real revelation begins.
    Wake me up when September ends, and we will all have a solid barometer on just who are these 2013 New Orleans Saints.
    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. .
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