Anyway, glad you could all make it.
Look, five games into the season, here’s the real issue in the national media: how will the Saints ever be able to recover from that devastating loss in last year’s NFC championship game?
BWAHAHAHAHAHA. Claude Coupee told you what was going to happen – kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out. This is rock ‘n’ roll, baby, the Sean Payton Saints 2019 Scorched Earth Tour. Get your T-shirts on the way out the door and drive home safe.
The NFL’s shadow government made just one tiny mistake last year at the end of the season.
They left some of us alive.
One way or another, the NFL’s had a bounty on Saints fans for 50-plus years, but here we still are.
I speak on behalf of those who have been in that number since 1967: most days, this all still feels like a dream.
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Big day on Sunday for Teddy Ballgame, and the fan chants for “Tedd-ddy, Tedd-ddy, Tedd-ddy”…makes you tear up. I mean, nobody embraces an underdog hero faster than Saints fans. Lance Moore, Pierre Thomas, Anthony Hargrove, Steve Gleason, Beerman….hell, all the way back to Tom Dempsey and Billy Kilmer, no fan base on the planet gives good rescue dog better than we do.
But all this warm feeling has obscured a sudden and obvious truth: there’s no Brees career window to close.
While it’s great to have a good backup QB in an era when a lot of teams don’t even have a decent starter, this organization is so strong right now it even doesn’t matter what happens to the most skilled passer in NFL history.
Coming off one of the most brutal playoff losses ever, the Saints walked into a very difficult season-opening schedule, facing three division winners and a wild-card team in the first four weeks, including a two-week west coast trip in the middle. Early in game two, in Los Angeles, Drew Brees goes down, which is really the one thing that really couldn’t happen about now. Everything felt like a set-up in a detective movie in a shitty bar on a bad, hot night.
Then, in the middle of what should have been doubt, the coaches and players promptly shook off the nightmare worst-case scenario with three straight decisive victories against quality opponents. The Saints are 4-1 against four playoff teams and a not-that-bad Tampa team that has a real coach for once. The Saints’ first five opponents are now 15-10 overall, but 14-6 against the other teams they played, and 12-4 when they don’t play the Saints or each other.
In English, we are kicking the asses of the teams that are kicking everybody else’s asses, playing .800 ball against a string of division champs (which in effect, it was, since Houston, LA and Dallas all won their divisions last year, and Seattle was a wild card team). Fuck yeah. Kill ’em all, let God sort ’em out. And without Brees.
Hanging like the Sword of Damocles, like a quiet little dark cloud of doubt, were always the questions: what happens if Brees isn’t there any more, or he suddenly can’t play any more? What ever shall we do?
Losing a savior is tough, but what’s even tougher is the waiting. The gift of the last three weeks is that the future is now. Without us even realizing, the cloud is now lifted. The owner, the GM, the player personnel staff, the coaching staff, the astonishing base of young talent on the roster….it was like the painless pulling of a sore tooth, while you were busy looking at the hygienist unbuttonning her blouse, the dentist reached into your mouth and….wait, wrong website… Anyway, so much of the stress was the worrying, and now we’re on the other side of it.
After the Dallas game, in the locker room, Sean Payton said to the players, “No limit, right?” These guys probably feel invincible right now, and you can’t blame them.
There was never a window. There was always only a wide-open field, for those who could run across and take it. And here we go.
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On Sunday, while I was watching the game, I realized that I had a feeling that I hadn’t felt since the Dome Patrol days of the early 1990s: when we were on defense, I couldn’t wait for the other team to snap the ball.
In football, that’s damn counter-intutitive, because almost all of your scoring comes when you have the ball on offense, so when the opponent has the ball, worry no. 1 should be “can we stop them??” Now, I have so much confidence in this new defense, particularly the defensive line, that I have the feeling that they’ll make something good happen – a big stop, a sack, a quick three-and-out to get the ball back, and maybe for fun a big takeaway or a defensive score. We used to have that feeling briefly in 2000-2001, in the Jim Haslett era, and now it’s back in a big way.
The old saying in the nascent NFL TV era of the 60s was “offense sells tickets, defense wins ballgames,” and it still may be true today for casual fans. (And, certainly, for fantasy football players, but that’s an abstract universe of no interest to me.) However, if you’re AT the game, nothing is more exciting, and nothing brings a home crowd more to a frenzy, than a big defensive play. The expectation, marginal gain/loss, probably has something to do with it, and not to put too fine a point on it, this is football and your guys just kicked their guy’s ass in.
Moreover, at the stadium you feel like you can actually help the defense by screaming like a lunatic for three-plus hours (I have only read about these people) and making it harder for the offense, while maybe providing a little emotional energy for tired defenders; I fully understand that all these guys are professionals, but they’re also human, too.
Great to have that mojo back in the Superdome, that’s for sure.
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On the spot: It’s getting way ahead of myself, but whoever is in charge of convincing Saints draft/player guru Jeff Ireland that he really doesn’t want the headache of trying to be a GM again, he can just hang here with whatever salary he wants (always happy to spend Mrs. Benson’s money for a good cause) doing what he does best and finding 6-7 new starters and rotation players out of the draft & undrafted free agents every year. Just a reminder, a team that went 13-3 last year and was jobbed out of the Super Bowl has eight rookies on the 53-man roster, five of them undrafted free agents, and a smattering of other recent draft picks and UDFA’s who’ve already played games for us either on injured reserve or on the practice squad. It’s why the future is now. We didn’t buy it, we built it.
Long way from idiots like Bum Phillips and Mike Ditka trading most or all of a draft away because they lost interest in the process.
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Looking forward to Sunday at Jacksonville, where we turn the Jaguars’ rookie QB Gardner Minshew into a real-life Danny McBride. Not fearin’ any team.