As the New Orleans Saints head into the offseason and not the postseason, interim head coach Joe Vitt said that the feeling is a bit of “depression” as the door closes on each year. For this one, it is a bit of a relief as well as that.
The Saints went into this season with a bit of a vengeance vibe due to the bounty scandal and the “us against the world” mentality. Instead they leave with a sour taste of a “what could have been” story.
I mentioned in several articles and numerous podcasts that instead of the Saints and the fans getting ramped up over what was being billed as a special season, that the team should just focus all their efforts on playing the game and let the season be special on it’s own if it fell that way.
Although looking good in the Hall of Fame Game against the Arizona Cardinals, the new defense headed up by Steve Spagnuolo left much to be desired many times this year.
It was the preseason game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars where the kinks began to show itself a bit and a team that is destined to have at least the second pick in the upcoming NFL Draft were besting the once stellar Saints.
That was followed by an 0-4 start and a series of ups and downs as just when the team seemed to be getting into a groove, would jump the tracks and give fans an entire week of head scratching and high blood pressure.
Although players and coaches said that the absence of head coach Sean Payton would be overcome by everyone pulling together, he was definitely missed. Not just for his play-calling ability, but for his method of preparation he gives the team and knowing when to put his finger down to get it’s pulse.
After Sunday, the Saints will miss the postseason for the first time since the 2009 season and will force fans to watch another team play in what was supposed to be “Domefield advantage” for the Black and Gold.
Also starting Monday will likely see a bevy of players leave out of the facility for the last time. Players like linebacker Scott Shanle, who has been inactive since November 11th, could be part of the revamping of a defense that is still learning as it goes.