…and it’s only gonna get worse unless we strike back

By The GOAT and Claude Coupee

Part 2 of 2

Link to Part 1: https://girodstreetendzone.com/the-saints-are-absolutely-getting-hosed/

Did anyone catch the post-game presser from Sean Payton after the Falcons game on Thursday night?  I did.  Yeah, he was tired from a short week.  Yeah, giving up those onside kicks made it harder than it should have.

To me, he didn’t sound tired.  He seemed to a be somewhere in the overlapping Venn diagram middle of frustrated, resigned and scared.  He knows what’s coming, and it’s getting worse.  The Saints have been called for 42 penalties in the last four weeks, against 21 in their favor, as the rate differential increases….and now against shit teams.

“It’s hard to win on the road in this league. I’m proud of our guys. I’m proud of Mrs. B (Gayle Benson) and ownership. A lot of work goes into putting the right team together. It’s a challenging business. It’s all worth it when you win, you have a chance and you’re playing for something. It’s very difficult if you’re not winning. It’s good.”

Translation, with body language: “For the love of god, we have a really great team for the third year in a row.  This is insanely difficult.  I can’t call anyone out on it, because it would be over immediately, but somehow I am begging you guys to call off the dogs give us a chance – haven’t you done enough??.”

Payton, who’s been around for ages and who has seen the dark side of the NFL, knows it in his soul. He sees it in the eyes of the refs he respects who can’t look him in the eye anymore, and in the voice tone of the refs who used to be intimidated and now can’t wait to let him know.

Meanwhile, he is forced to cover everything up with “we gotta clean some things up.” Bullshit. This is already a great and well-coached team.

Hey, it’s not just that in 12 games this year, we’ve been called for more penalties in nine of them…. It’s when they’re called, and how they’re called, that’s so heinous.

Yeah, this is an anecdotal rumor, from Message Board Guy [tm – Moosedenied], from September, but stay with me.

“This past summer at the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls, I was able to briefly talk with Charles Davis of Fox. We talked a bit of football in general and also talked Saints. He told me the Saints would not make the playoffs this year, to which I asked for his reason. He said simple – the refs are not happy with the actions of everything Saints following the NFCCG and they will make many crazy calls that go against the Saints this season.

[H]e flat out told me that there will be quite a few head scratching calls go against the Saints. But more of all, while there will be some will be just flat crazy calls, many will not be extremely noticeable like phantom holding calls to kill a drive.”

Credit where it is due:  https://saintsreport.com/threads/summer-conversation-with-charles-davis-of-fox.414285/

Yeah, just some random guy spouting off about a convo that probably never happened, with some third-tier TV guy.  But as Claude will show, it’s worse than you think.

* * * * *

We looked at five major penalties that you can call on almost every applicable play: offensive holding, defensive pass interference, defensive holding, illegal use of hands (i.e., hands to the face, or contact more than five yards downfield), and blocking above the waist (mostly on punt returns).  These are the essence of judgment calls, where the ref can have the precision of a financial auditor or the blindness of a WWE ref in the ring.

First, a quick look at offensive holding, called against us, versus the league average, versus called in our favor (all through 12 games, with the applicable league rank in parentheses after the yards total):

Called on the Saints League average Called on the opponents
23 for 225 yards (3rd) 18.6 10 for 100 yards (31st)

We have an amazing pass rush and a terrific offensive line.  Go figure.  We have 40 sacks and have given up just 21….could it be that we are so good at holding?  But these penalties are just drive killers, instantly you are at first or second and 20, not to mention the yards you lose on the play called back, which are tough to quantify, but still.

Now, here are the ones on the defense that can make or break your defense, and you’re largely in the hands of the referees’ mood that day.  Bear in mind, each of these is also an automatic first down, again through 12 games:

Defensive pass interference

Called on the Saints League average Called on the opponents
9 for 122 yards (2nd) 6.6 2 for 11 yards (30th)

Defensive holding

Called on the Saints League average Called on the opponents
9 for 45 yards (2nd) 5.8 1 for 5 yards (T-31st)

Illegal use of hands

Called on the Saints League average Called on the opponents
8 for 39 yards (1st) 2.4 0 for fuck all (T-31st)

Of these judgment calls on defensive fouls in the middle of hand-fighting, full-speed mortal combat, the score is 26 to 3.  Three penalties in the opposing secondary or D-line in 12 games? We must be playing the most technically-skilled defenders in NFL history!! [Dennis Leary voice speaking French:] Donnez-moi un fucking break.

Blocking above the waist

Called on the Saints League average Called on the opponents
7 for 69 yards (T-1st) 3.8 2 for 20 yards (T-22nd-28th)

Not fatal, but it kills your return game and in the field position battle.  And we have one of the best punters in the business.

So, on all these flow-of-play, you can call ‘em any time judgment calls:

Saints 56, Opponents 15.  And in every category, we’re in the top 3 in the league against, and, save one, in the bottom 3 for.

I am a huge proponent of Hanlon’s Razor, which, in English, means “Never assume malice if can also be explained by incompetence,” but…..sorry.  This is beyond coincidence, and beyond incompetence.  This is statistically fucking impossible.  The only reason our penalty ratio isn’t worse is things like our 11-to-19 advantage in false starts, and random five-yards-a-pop crap like that.  These guys aren’t idiots.

Don’t worry, it gets even worse.   Only one team (the Raiders, natch) has been called for a penalty granting an automatic first down more than the Saints, with 28.  But absolutely no team, and certainly no contender, has been called for an automatic first down penalty on 3rd and 4th down more than the Saints, with a league leading 15.  It’s funny, because on 1st (rank 17th) and 2nd (rank 18th) downs, we’re about the league average, but when it’s nut-cutting time, we’re getting the flag.

If you go back to the 34-11 deficit in penalty first downs overall, I’d love to have two drives extended by penalty every game, wouldn’t you?  Think it would make a difference?

If it’s not clear as day to you that something’s going on, I can’t help you.

* * * * *

Great work, Claude, and many thanks.

Look, we’re not trying to depress anyone.  We just want you all to get mad as hell, Howard Beale-level mad, and start yelling. 

We’re getting hosed, and it’s only getting worse in the last few weeks.  This team, these players, this GM, this coach, these fans, all deserve a real chance, and right now we don’t have one.  You know it, I know it, Payton knows it.  Payton can’t do anything without making it worse.  But we can..

Text or email your favorite Saints beat writer, and link him to these two blog posts.  Hell, the data’s all there in the public, even a cavem–, umm, Cajun like Claude Coupee can do it.  Ride them.  Ask them why this is so irrelevant, and not even worth a follow-up.

I’d love to know why not one of the local beat guys has bothered to look at available data and call Greg Bensel, or Al Riveron, or a national guy like Mike Florio, and said hey, doesn’t this look funny?  Particularly in light of what’s gone on with the Saints and the league and the refs, off an on, espeically after last year?

Or is this just an inconvenient truth that might risk a paycheck for a wave-maker?

Maybe we’re completely wrong.  But somebody oughtta ask.  We sure are.  Call these bastards out.  Make it a public issue.  Make it harder for them to fuck over our team.  Make them think twice.  Make them know that everyone’s watching.

And never let them forget who makes the rules.