The New Orleans Saints bent, but they aren’t breaking
By John Hendrix
It’s funny how a loss to an inferior team brings the worst out in people. The New Orleans Saints certainly failed to deliver in what was supposed to be their ‘get back above .500 game’. Unfortunately, the Tennessee Titans had other plans. The Saints haven’t been a winning club in quite some time, going back to the 2013 season specifically. The ‘blame game’ starts amongst fans and the media as to who lost the game for the Saints on Sunday, and it’s borderline comical as to the common scapegoats surfacing these days.
Let’s call it for what it is. Brandon Browner and Rob Ryan are probably the two most disliked people in the state of Louisiana right now (LSU’s Les Miles might be up there for some). For starters, it’s not fair to single out Brandon Browner. Sure, his post game tirade which he later apologized for isn’t something that goes unnoticed, nor is his exorbitant amount of penalties. Rob Ryan’s defense that is giving up nearly 30 points per game (29.8) that ranks them 31st in the league also doesn’t go unnoticed.
Head coach Sean Payton has certainly kept his cool, which seems like the norm this season. He basically summed up all you need to know about Browner in his Monday morning press conference.
“He is an asset to the team, absolutely. He is a captain and anything we would do from a team standpoint wouldn’t be for announcement here, but absolutely I do (value him),” Payton said.
Specifically on the debacle against the Titans, he’s in the right state of mind.
“Listen, the setback is a game. I mean you know the sky is not falling today and I know in your industry you need it to, but it’s a game and it’s disappointing,” Payton added during his presser.
The reality remains that these Saints, the team you were just so high on when they won three straight games against opponents you didn’t really think they’d be that great against, are still very much alive at 4-5. Of course, they’re going to need help and take care of their own business. However, I don’t believe a team that went so far as to getting rid of some of their absolute best players (because they were locker room cancers) throws in the towel on a season with 7 games remaining, especially with a favorable setup. Not these Saints.
You can call me naive or a glass half full type of person, but that’s not the case. I’m encouraged by what Drew Brees is able to do, despite the enormous amounts of pressure in his face. I’m also encouraged by getting key players like Keenan Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, and Hau’oli Kikaha back at full strength. I’m encouraged because the schedule puts the Saints in a place where they can ultimately succeed, but it all boils down to whether or not they’ll be able to execute or not. On Sunday, they didn’t execute, and the amount of miscues really ended up coming back to haunt them.
Do some things have to change? Absolutely.
Not involving C.J. Spiller, who you shelled out $16 million for over the next 4 years, is certainly puzzling. A pass protection that was stellar in the three previous victories may only be sub par to mediocre when you think about it, and simply has to play better. The pass rush, or lack thereof, was a clear problem when you couldn’t even get after an offensive line that had yielded one of the league’s highest sack totals (28.0). The little things, like the poor snap on the potential game winning field goal and the near interception that turns into a touchdown, are frustrating. In a nutshell, those plays seem ‘so Saints’.
Overall, the problems are common ones, and it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. I urge you to save your judgement for the 2015 New Orleans Saints until a further date. Let’s see where things go, and all focus on the black and gold rebounding against another lowly opponent, the Washington Redskins.