If a man in a New Orleans Saints shirt ever passed a man wearing a Phoenix Suns hat on a street somewhere, you can be the two would briefly lock eyes and exchange looks of empathy. For, the man in the Suns hat knows what the man in the Saints shirt is going through. The Suns fan has spent the better part of the last five years rooting for a juggernaut offense to carry his favorite team to a title.
Sadly, the old saying Defense Wins Championships isn’t just a way to coax focus in young athletes during the boring drills at practice––it actually has merit. So, for the Suns fan, each postseason has proven to be nothing more than emotionally-expensive foreplay, outfitted with “We Believe” signs, thundersticks and homecrowd-unifying T-shirts.
The Saints fan hasn’t even gotten to taste that much of the playoffs. After exploding for a magical post-Katrina 2006 season that saw first-year head coach Sean Payton and new quarterback Drew Brees carry the club to the NFC title game, the Saints have become a beacon of disappointment (7-9 in ’07, 8-8 in ’08). None of the blame can be dumped on Payton or Brees. This offense ranked first in scoring and yardage last season, despite being without top receiving options Marques Colston, Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey, and despite having an utterly putrid rushing attack.
If Saints fans are frustrated seeing the team’s high-octane offense go to waste, imagine how general manager Mickey Loomis must feel. Since shrewdly signing Brees––who, you may recall, was originally a risky free agent investment after major shoulder surgery––and striking gold in the ’06 draft with Bush (first round), Colston (seventh round) and outstanding right guard Jahri Evans (fourth round), Loomis has wisely focused on constructing a formidable defense.
Click HERE to read the rest of this preview