For all intents and purposes, the New Orleans Saints’ season ended Sunday … in Week 3 … against the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs … in the Superdome.
It’s painful, yes.
I picked the Saints to finish 11-5 prior to Week 1. In doing so, I grossly underestimated how much of a loss suspended coach Sean Payton’s offensive play calling would be to this team.
It is obvious now, painfully so.
I return to the word painful because there is no other way to describe this march. This is a 17-week second line minus the celebration. Only five teams since 1970 have rebounded from 0-3 starts to reach the playoffs. The Saints are not likely to be in that number – unless some Buddy D-inspired miracle occurs.
Here are five thoughts from the Saints’ loss to the Chiefs Sunday.
1) The most disappointing thing about the second half Sunday was not the defense sucked – that’s just what they do this season. No, the most disappointing facet of the Saints’ “performance” was the team’s offense failed to put points on the board on its final six drives. How does an offense that is dominating a defense at the line of scrimmage suddenly start getting dominated? Why were no adjustments made to account for the lack of time in the pocket Drew Brees had? Also: The Saints’ lack of balance offensively is killing them right now. Not only is the offensive line averse to pass protection but it’s facing more blitzes because opponents do not fear the Saints’ rushing game.
2) Did I mention the defense sucked Sunday? How does a team with a 24-6 lead give up a 91-yard touchdown run? You start Roman Harper at safety, that’s how. Harper took an atrocious angle to Jamaal Charles. Granted, it would have still been a huge play, but it didn’t need to be a touchdown. Perhaps there was a hold on the play but you have got to assume the peewee refs will miss the call. It’s like the Saints took an 18-point lead and decided to stop playing. Where’s the leadership on the sidelines? PS: Speaking of leadership, who decided it was a good idea to call two timeouts in a row in the fourth quarter???
3) Replacement refs reversed five calls Sunday. Three Saints touchdowns came back – the first and second were borderline plays, the third should never have been allowed in the first place. The officials were putrid. Not only did they wipe out two touchdown catches by wide receiver Lance Moore (like I said, they were debatable) but they slowed the game to a crawl due to repeated mistakes in judgment. C’mon, Roger Goodell! Pay the real refs! (Ed. Note: I wrote this Monday afternoon prior to the Packers-Seahawks game.)
4) The defense allowed 510 total yards, almost 300 of which came from the rushing and receiving exploits of Charles. That is unacceptable. Give credit to the Saints defense, however, for slowing Charles on his last 10 or 11 carries or he could have had a record day. The Saints’ defensive stinginess in the last 10 minutes of regulation and then overtime should have resulted in victory, if not for the team’s offense entering hibernation mode. Why this team is incapable of putting together a total performance for more than two and a half quarters is beyond me? They did win 37 regular games over the past three seasons, right? (Oh yeah, they’re missing the architect of their success. D’oh!)
5) The more I think about it, the more I think the Saints could start the season 0-9. It’s only a matter of time before Brees gets injured the way his offensive line – particularly his tackles – keep blocking like 300-pound matadors. It’s also painful to consider how upcoming offenses like the Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, and Atlanta Falcons, just to name a few, will abuse the Saints’ defense. Hey, at least the Saints will have a Top 10 pick in next year’s draft to replace soon-to-be free agent tackle Jermon Bushrod.