The silver linings in the Saints loss to the Cardinals


Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) carries the ball past Arizona Cardinals defenders during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

By now, you’ve probably heard some interesting things being thrown out following the New Orleans Saints 31-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the desert. I’ve heard everything from ‘Sean Payton needs to give up playcalling duties‘ to ‘This team should cut Marques Colston‘. It’s that insane right now after just one game. I get that society has moved to the way of ‘instant gratification’, but are we really looking at this from the right angle? Here’s some food for thought.

Overall, the offensive line played very well

Remember last year when the offensive line couldn’t give but two seconds to Drew Brees? The impact of Max Unger was evident yesterday, as Brees had outstanding pocket protection. Traditionally, that’s where Drew Brees is the most lethal. However, the Cardinals answered by only allowing short dump offs, and the receivers didn’t help out Brees. Running backs Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson also looked solid.

This was arguably their toughest road game of the year

I prefaced this week’s matchup by reminding everyone that the Arizona Cardinals sport a 13-3 home record over the past two seasons, which includes their 7-1 performance from a season ago. The Cardinals were a 10-6 playoff team last year. They honestly have a ton of talent on their roster, and maybe even draw a scary parallel to the 2011 New Orleans Saints. Arguably, when you assess the rest of the road games for the year, you can say that Arizona posed the toughest challenge. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not downplaying Philadelphia, Houston, or any of the NFC South foes. However, maybe the worst is behind them.

25 new players

If you didn’t see the FOX graphic yesterday and haven’t exactly been paying attention to the team, there’s 25 new players on the Saints roster this season. That’s right, nearly half of the roster was turned over from a season ago. That just doesn’t happen by chance. This roster was assembled with a future in mind.

How the young players respond is the key here. This is where you lean on your tenured veterans for leadership and guidance. Clearly, that wasn’t in the equation last season. The football intelligence of players like Stephone Anthony, Delvin Breaux, and a host of others should shine through as the year progresses.

Five of last year’s playoff teams dropped their opening game

Are you honestly suggesting that the season is over for the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Detroit Lions? Of those, the most perplexing loss was from Andrew Luck and company. However, an opening day loss isn’t a death sentence. Now, if you see the Saints lose at home to a team that let Marcus Mariota torch them in the red zone, then there might be a few reasons to get concerned.

Sean Payton’s track record indicates rebound

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reacts in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Saints 31-19. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Excluding 2012, Sean Payton boasts a 7-1 Dome opening record. The Saints have outscored opponents 193-129 in their first home game dating back to 2006 under Coach Payton. The lone loss for Payton came in 2007, when the team dropped a 31-14 contest to the Tennessee Titans. What’s even more encouraging is that the Saints take on the Buccaneers, who have lost seven straight contest to the black and gold. The Saints have won four straight at home against the Bucs.