Coming off a two-game winning streak, the Saints looked to continue their mild success against the Kansas City Chiefs. They lost. The defeat and its tone are sobering for those Saints fans who, like me, had held onto their optimism.
The season isn’t necessarily over. With two more wins, the Saints would be sitting relatively pretty at 4-4, in a somewhat weak division. Statistically, we’re still in the playoff chase. The Saints would need to start winning though this Sunday against Seattle.
It’s not so much the record that’s sobering, but the quality of the losses. Take the game against Kansas City, for example. Yes, the Saints came into the game badly banged up, at LB, CB, and OL. And for a number of games, that has been a reasonable explanation for the team’s performance. But against the Chiefs, a number of backups stepped up and played very well. We got just about everything we could ask for from our third-string CBs and from the banged up O-Line. Nate Stupar, starting for the ever-injured Dannell Ellerbe, made a number of impressive plays. Terron Armstead played very well despite aggravating his injury early in the first quarter, and Tim Lelito held his own in place of Andrus Peat and Senio Kelemete. But it wasn’t enough.
I’ve said it before: there’s talent on this team. I still believe that will be apparent if the Saints can ever field their full defense, Delvin Breaux and Ellerbe included. But the game against the Chiefs made it perfectly clear. There may be talent, but it’s just not being realized, whether by the coaches or by the execution on the field.
The offense is potent, yet it seems to stall at the most important moments of the game. And the defense, which is without a doubt improving every week, is still making crucial, game-changing mistakes.
I support Sean Payton and most of the coaching staff. I believe that, in time, they will right the ship. But I’m starting to lose faith that time is running out for this season. There’s too much to correct, too much youth to overcome. I don’t mean to sound fatalist. I do still believe that they can turn it around this season. The improvement is there, week to week. It just hasn’t been dramatic enough.
If they can pull out a winning record, I will gladly eat my words. Indeed, I’m probably one of the last people ready to acknowledge the deficiencies on this roster. But I’m tired of seeing ostensibly talented players underperforming.
This week there cannot be any mistakes. Simply put, the Saints must play a perfect game in order to beat the Seahawks. This is really it for the Saints. There’s no question, that this is simply the last chance to remain optimistic. A 2-5 start would be too deep of a hole to climb out of. It’s do or die.