In a game in which many had already counted in favor of the Saints, the black and gold come up short out west in the desert. For the fifth game in a row, Saints fans are left scratching their heads and wondering what has happened to the Saints offense.
This game was marred by turnovers from the start, although things started out pretty encouraging for the Saints in that department.
Jabari Greer intercepted Max Hall’s second pass on the Cardinals’ opening possession and returned it for 26 yards, but our offense was only able to get three points out of it when John Carney kicked a 31-yard field goal. Their sloppy, sluggish performance only went downhill from there. After jumping out to an early 10-0 lead, the offense went virtually stagnant.
Drew Brees made poor decisions and poor throws all afternoon long, something that we’re definitely not used to seeing from him. At the Saints 1-yard line, he rushed an ill-advised checkdown pass to Ladell Betts which deflected off the running back’s hands for an interception by the Cardinals’ Paris Lenon.
Soon after, they scored a touchdown on one of the freakiest plays ever when on 3rd and 1, Max Hall fumbled the ball after having the wood laid down on him; LT Levi Brown scooped up the ball and ran it into the endzone to tie the game up at 10. Talk about a momentum smasher! The Saints first half ended uneventfully with a slight 13-10 lead.
I kept waiting for the second half to swing back in New Orleans’ direction, but it never happened. The Cardinals 29th ranked defense forced them to a three-and-out on their first possession after halftime. Penalties, turnovers, and lack of success on offense finished them off.
When I watched this game, I was uneasy at how little Sean Payton ran the ball at times. The team had much better success when there was balance rather than having Brees trying to throw on every play. It wasn’t as if there was no success with the running game. Minus the fumble by Betts, the duo of he and Chris Ivory ran very impressively.
Let’s face it–the Saints clearly are not designed to be one-dimensional. They have a definite need to be able to run and throw if they are going to be successful. I’m also left wondering what has happened to the screen, which is an extension of the run. I know with Pierre Thomas out, the dynamics are changed drastically, but you’ve got to think that at some point Payton is going to have to find a way to reinsert that play into the offense.
As I read comments from Saints fans, I notice a lot of disillusionment and disappointment. I’m disappointed too. But Saints fans, we’ve got to remember that regardless of what a lot of t-shirts say, Drew Brees is not Jesus and there was no miracle for the Saints today. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times–somehow our offense has lost its confidence.
I don’t know why and I don’t know how. But I don’t notice the same fire in them as I see on the defensive side of the ball. I wish Payton would just get back to playing Saints football and stop worrying about not sneaking up on teams this year (as the analysts and commentators call it). It’s not about those teams; it’s about the Saints remembering what made them successful. Instead of trying to get away from what worked so well for them and trying to win in new ways, they’re going to have to embrace their former success and build on it rather than try to shed it.
Each team has its own identity, it’s own unique style of play. Coach Payton, I appeal to you to stop this campaign of absolute newness. It’s okay to tweak some things, but the Saints have to play their style of football. You still have very loyal fans who believe in the team wholeheartedly.
It’s time you guys start back to believing in yourselves. This game wasn’t an upset–it was a wake-up call! It’s time to straighten this thing up. The Saints are too talented to be lagging in this way.