I've waited all week to watch this game. I am out of the country and had to wait until it became available online. I've just watched it and I am pissed.
Why'd the Saints lose?
Was it because of the turnovers? Sure it was a big factor but it's not the rotten apple at the core of the problem.
Was it the needless penalties? Again they didn't help but they could have been over come.
Was it Sean Payton's injury? Nope, I think the Saints coped pretty well bar the lack of timeout call with 2.15 left on the game clock.
Ok so what was it? Well you see it's that big old elephant in the room that we all keep pretending/hoping isn't there but has been the achilles heel the past couple of seasons. I am of course talking about our O line.
What the one with 3 pro bowlers on it?
Yes the very same. Last year we all thought it was the injuries that did it for the running game. Having a revolving back door of backs was certainly a problem and made us throw more than was necessary. But it actually hid the underlying reason.
You see it doesn't matter how good your backs are, and for me we have the best trio of backs and balance in Saints history. No it's all to do with the fact that the big men up front could not open a hole in a soggy paper bag if their lives depended upon it. In fact they would lose out to my grandma at doing it.
All Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas saw through the middle all day was white jerseys. If they saw a black jersey it was 3 yards in the backfield being pushed fast in their direction. It was like looking for light in a vacuum!
I don't know how or what the Saints are going to be able to do about it but it all starts up front and frankly these five are going to be the undoing of us.
All comes back to Pre Season
It goes right the way back to pre season. I was bitching about it back then but got sucked into that 'well they seem to open holes in the 4th when we're winning so I guess they're ok' but frankly they're not. They have no push whatsoever. To say Nicks and Hicks are big men with big reputations is a source of embarressment. Those two need to look themselves in the eyes and figure out how to make the most of their athletic gifts or this promising season will crash down all around us when the potential is there for a genuine tilt at the big game.
Plain and simple we were in a position to win the game late in the fourth on 4th and 2 and Brees threw an interception. Why's that not on Brees you may ask? Well most other teams in the league would trust their inside running game to at least ground out some yards to get it in or failing that to have pounded out some inside yards at some point in the game on 2nd and 3rd and short situations to set up some genuine play fakes.
Instead Brees had to go to the air yet again when it was not necessary - or at the least he would have been able to make a genuine attempt at a play fake had there been any kind of a running game but instead the Bucs just sat back in coverage knowing very well it was going to be Brees or nothing.
In Mark Ingram we have an inside back who can pound out good yardage if given half a chance. He has 2nd and 3rd efforts that really do mark comparison with the great E.Smith. He's a guy who could be the mainstay of this team. Instead we hand him the ball time and again and ask him to beat the whole front 5 or front 7 all on his own. It's not fair on the kid. The big men up front are vets and they are letting him and the team down.
Time to put up or shut up in the trenches or this season is going to be one massive missed opportunity.
Big shout outs
Malcom Jenkins for impecable reading of the game. Ok he was at fault for a TD but he got there on 3 battered balls to kill drives. Heck of a team leader.
Patrick Robinson for continued development reading game and anticipation. Killed one series single handedly in its tracks.
Jimmy Graham for being the most immense addition to any Saints team in history. I love this guy.
Marques Colston for getting back to his best.
Thomas Morstead for always giving the Saints D a chance with booming kicks.
Sean Payton for dealing with a horrific injury by making it look like he'd merely been stung by a wasp and for getting on with it.
Drew Brees for almost getting it done despite a poor first half by his standards. Yes there were 3 picks but one should have been caught by Meachem, the other I've discussed leaving only one that he really put out there as a bad throw.