Last night I finally made myself watch the Saints 31-21 loss to the Rams. It was better and worse than I expected.
By most reports, it was one of the very worst losses of the Sean Payton era, one of the worst performances Drew Brees has had as a Saint, and it has effectively shattered New Orleans’ hopes of being a serious contender this year.
Here are my thoughts on the game and what it means for the Saints going forward.
First, this one appears worse than some other losses the Saints have suffered under Payton’s tenure because of the high expectations surrounding this team.
Personally, I have thought from the beginning of the season that this years’ Saints were overrated and expectations were too high. They had a very poor running game and defense last year, and have done little to improve either one.
The decline of Jon Stinchcomb necessitated the play of Zach Strief and Charles Brown, neither of whom has been very good this year.
Jermon Bushrod is still Jermon Bushrod, and a solid Jonathan Goodwin gave way to a shaky Olin Kreutz and unproven Brian de la Puente. Pass protection has suffered, and the run game is just as bad as it was last year.
On the defensive side, the Saints’ first-round selection, Cam Jordan, has been mostly ineffective, Sedrick Ellis is still mediocre, Will Smith is clearly not playing at his usual high level, and the D-line in general is neither stopping the run nor generating a pass rush.
Coverage isn’t very good, either.
So, with a bad run game and (in my opinion) one of the bottom defenses in the league, it is going to take a nearly flawless passing game to help the Saints win games.
They can do it, but it really should come as little surprise when they fall on the road to mediocre or even bad teams. It’s going to happen. This team just is not as good as the 2009 team. Expectations have been too high.