I was going to write my usual quarter by quarter report but two things happened:
1. It was Saturday night and I needed a break after a long hard week and,
2. We went to a rib shack pre game and I could barely move as game time approached (burnt ends, pulled pork and cream corn for those that are interested... My night definitely peeked at that point but more on that later).
So the Cowboys came to the Dome and the air of anticipation was thick with excitement. Could we remain unbeaten? Could we pretty much secure that home field advantage that we all hanker for? Could our D start making tackles again at the point of contact? The answer to all 3 was a big resounding NO.
It's the Super Bowl or nothing
Now I'm not worried about the undefeated record. Sure it would be nice for the record books but if I could trade the perfect season for a Super Bowl title no question which way I'm leaning. Hell I'd take the Giants record of a couple of years back in return for that nice silver trophy they named Vince.
So now that Albatross is removed from around our necks. How we respond will be key. My hope is that it re-energises the whole roster because, make no mistake, we've had this loss coming for a while now.
You can only ride your luck for so long and finally it has run out despite a great attempt by the Cowboys kicker to hand us an extra dose just for old time’s sake.
Back to basics for the Saints
What's important is the team gets back to basics and does it fast. They need to remember how to execute on offence in the first quarter again. Not since the Giants game back in week 6 have we really come out and dominated that period. Why not?
It is key to the way our team plays when it is at its best. If we can jump out to the early lead it gives the D every chance of making the big play as the opposition look to chase the game. It’s what they are built for afterall. They are no all consuming stop em and hurt em D. They are a big play ‘do just enough to get the ball back in the O’s hands’ type unit. But they’ve not been given that chance of recent and so we’ve not seen the best of them for some time now.
It's easier said than done of course. It's not like the Saints O goes out there and intentionally self destructs in the early rounds... but they do. They've got to get back to running the ball, building drives, mixing it up more. We seem to have the horn for going for it all on the 1st play from scrimmage. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don't. But when it don't the pressure on the D increases and frankly we ain't good enough on that side of the ball to hold most potent attacks.
Saints D needs license to practise
Which brings me to another point. It's time to start practising full body contact tackling in practise. Put the D up against the practise squad and let them go all out on making a tackle at the point of contact because patently we've forgotten how to do it. Yes we risk injuries to an already fragile unit but frankly if these guys don't get this side of their game fixed and fixed up sharp it doesn't matter how banged up the D is come the playoffs as we won't have a hope in hells chance of stopping the likes of Adrian Peterson.
Man I'm ranting. OK get perspective. It wasn't all bad, far from it, but this has been coming for a while and needed saying. Coach Payton and the boys know all this shit anyway so it's not like it's news to them. Bar for Devery Henderson dropping a certain touchdown (after putting 3 passes on the floor last week - bad time to pick up a bad habit) this would have been a tie and another over time game which could have gone either way. As it was we lost because we didn't get into the game until the second half.
Finally some good news
Now onto the good news. The Carolina Panthers did us a hell of a favor last night to run over the Minnesota Vikings and hand us back pole position for home field advantage. Knock over the Tampa Bay Bucs next Sunday and we should be there which then means we can rest up some starters for the closing Panthers game.
Some people are against that but for me the perfect record has gone, we've got too many banged up to risk them in such a meaningless game and it gives them the best part of 3 weeks to retrain and refocus. Also I would pull Drew Brees for that final game because the way Julius Peppers got to Favre last night does not bode well for Drews health given the way DeMarcus Ware was all over Jermon Bushrod Saturday night. It's not worth risking the health of our ace in the pack for such a potentially meaningless game.
Ahhh, that's good. Feel's like I've got some off my chest. What d'yall think? Am I being too hard on the boys? Like telling your kid not to play with matches it's only cause I care.
Right, so anyway, back to them Ribs... F*ck me if they weren't the best thing I've eaten since birth... Oh right I forgot, only my inner monolgue is interested in talking about BBQ ribs!
Til next time, big love to the Who Dats.
P.S. Vilma is excused from the Saints D tackling rant... He's the only one that showed up again in that area of the team.