Saints’ early performances signaling gloom, doom
Can it get any worse?
Of course. Over the next five games, the Saints play at Carolina, Philadelphia and Indianapolis and host Dallas and Atlanta. And, the Saints do so with a quarterback who may suffer lingering effects from a shoulder injury suffered in a 26-19 loss to the Bucs.
Suddenly, the Saints, once seemingly invincible at home, have lost six straight on Poydras Street.
What did running back Mark Ingram think of the Saints’ continuing failures at the Superdome?
“I don’t think it has anything to do with home,” he said. “We can’t do that here, anywhere, if you are not executing, you are not taking care of the football and you are not playing complementary football – offense, defense, special teams. You are going to get beat, no matter where you are at.”
The bottom line is bad football is bad football.
And, it is telling that one of the Saints’ worst performances of the Payton/Brees era came against the Bucs. New Orleans had won seven straight in the series. In the last three wins at the Superdome, the Saints had scored 120 points.
So, what’s wrong with the Saints? It is a problem that can’t be fixed, now, in the 2015 season. The Saints' roster lacks talent and is void of difference makers.
As the Saints huddled in the first half against the Bucs, Drew Brees was looking at an offen- sive skill set that was average, at best.
Rewind four years. In that huddle was tight end Jimmy Graham (99 catches in 2011), running back Darren Sproles (86 catches in 2011) and wide receiver Marques Colston (80 catches in 2011), still very much in his prime.
The Saints were a feared outfit, especially at the Superdome. In that 2011 season, the Saints scored 40 points or more in six regular-season games. Teams knew that if they came to the Superdome, the odds were they would fall behind early and never catch up.
Now, that role, playing catch up, belongs to the home team. In the post-game interview, I saw a Brees I had never seen in 10 seasons here. In the past, even after bad losses, Brees was brimming with optimism. But, last Sunday, Brees spoke in almost hushed tones.
The Saints and Brees used to have a quiet but supreme confidence. Not anymore.
In many ways, the loss to the Bucs reminded me of some other pivotal times in Saints football. In 1993, the 5-0 Saints traveled to Pittsburgh. The Steelers routed the Saints and exposed their inability to deal with eight defenders in the tackle box. The Jim Mora era was never the same. The Saints won only three of their last 11 games.
Nine years later, Saints head coach Jim Haslett refused to bench an ailing quarterback Aaron Brooks. The Saints lost their last three games and missed the playoffs. Backup Jake Delhomme signed with Carolina and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
The commercial says “protect this house.” The Saints apparently can no longer.