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No Panic for Saints, But Fans Are Becoming Anxious

The Saints are entering week six with a surprising 3-2 record. It seems like lightyears ago now that they were a virtual scoring machine, putting up 40+ points per game like it was nothing and humbling some of the best defenses in the league in doing so.  In fact, they’ve gone from being one of the best redzone scoring offenses in the league last season to only being able to produce a meager 25 percent touchdown percentage in the redzone this season. So it stands to reason that fans would be a bit concerned with the offense’s current inability to find the endzone on a consistent basis.

According to Coach Sean Payton, however, there is no panic on the part of the team. As a matter of fact, his direct words were,

“Fortunately I don’t have to categorize it as one of those things. That’s something that you guys (in the media) can categorize it as. It’s a period where it’s a loss.  You know how this league is, it’s week by week. Do I think we can play better? Yes. And that’s the thing that’s encouraging, that’s the thing that gets you here and started on the next plan. And that’s the thing that gets you driven and motivated. So we don’t have to identify it as anything other than this is a setback clearly. Anytime you lose a game, we feel like it’s disappointing. But what’s most important is what you do about it. That’s the real good thing about the jobs we have. We get to come back and take another test this weekend.”

To make a long story short, the coach doesn’t want to come out and say that the team (particularly the offense) is in a slump.  But I don’t know what else you’d call it.  The Saints began the season basically with the same starting offense it did last year;  Mike Bell was the only notable departure there.  All of this was prior to the Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas injuries.  Yet, they didn’t move the ball any better in week 1 than they did in the weeks that followed.  Sure, we attributed the struggles to the stout Vikings defense at first.  But since then, they’ve failed to exploit undermatched defenses in order to get the offensive scheme back on track.  There have been way too many penalties and the turnovers have proven to be fatal in most cases.  So I ask you, if the New Orleans Saints aren’t in a slump right now, where in the world are they?

But being in a slump isn’t the worst thing;  staying there and sinking further into it are far worse.   The Saints have far too much talent to be struggling just to put up points.  It makes no sense that they have had marked success getting into the redzone, but very little getting into the endzone.   I think a lot of it has to do with play calling in the red zone and the rest with execution.  Luckily, Payton and the rest of the coaching staff are smart enough to get it straightened out–whatever it may be.

When I think about how many times I’ve heard sports analysts and commentators say in the last couple of days that the Saints need to change their gameplan, I get angry.  There’s nothing about the way our team is playing right now that indicates it’s duplicating anything from last year, offensively or defensively.  And frankly, I think that’s a big part of the problem.  I think they’ve tried so hard to bury the successes of last year, that they’ve completely abandoned their own identity and are therefore lost without it.  Those successes of 2009 provided the team with a solid foundation at last.  But rather than fortify and build on that foundation, they’ve apparently opted to rip it up and start from scratch.  I don’t think anyone doubts that other teams are going to watch film and prepare for the defending Superbowl champs week after week, but they would’ve done that anyway.  That’s part of football.  All the Saints need to be concerned with is (as one fan put it), forcing their will on other teams.   If they play their game the way they know how, no one–not even those analysts and commentators–are going to know whether the success comes from a page ripped from last year’s playbook or something totally new.  Offensively they need a spark, regardless of where it comes from.

So what are the fans saying?  Well, I’ve read dozens of comments since the game against the Cardinals.  And I can tell you that while the majority of them were extremely positive, there has been an underlying hint of concern in all of them.   For the most part, Saints fans are still very optimistic that the team can get things turned around. They just don’t understand why the offense is not producing or playing up to its potential.  I think the big question on everybody’s mind is, what’s causing this slump?  Fans are becoming anxious, to say the least, but they’re not losing hope.

I can understand why Coach Payton doesn’t like putting a label on the issues the team is facing right now.  But it doesn’t matter whether you put a name to it or not, there’s no denying that something is wrong.  And even though the season is still young, it’s definitely not too soon to be concerned.  Every game counts, so they surely need to win the ones they’re supposed to win and a couple that they aren’t just to be able to think about making the playoffs.  It’s great that there isn’t a sense of panic resonating through the locker room, but there should certainly be a definite concern.  The Saints are so much better than the way they’re playing right now.  Let’s just hope they can soon recapture some of the fire and purpose with which they played last year.

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10 Responses to “No Panic for Saints, But Fans Are Becoming Anxious”

  1. Risha Holmes says:

    The one thing that resonates with me after reading Coach Payton’s book is his “crisis” creation. Payton said when things were going good, he would create a “crisis’ to keep players on task, and focused on winning. I think he realizes (after film analysis) that he is in a true crisis now, and I really believe that he along with Drew are going to stop short of NOTHING to fix what is broken. They know the problems, and I am going to reserve any harsh judgement until I see a few more games.

    I agree the talent is there, they just need to execute and make better decisions. I look forward to Sharper & the Saints getting the Running Backs back in action.

    I do know that we as fans need to trust that they are giving their all to getting this thing fixed, and I will admit I was negative and overly emotional after that loss Sunday, however, it does our team no good to perpetuate the bad feelings we have. We must realize that they feed off of the Who Dat Nation’s energy and we must strive to be positive and give them our support. I love my team, and I resolve to be more positive and hope that it turns around….after all, these are the WORLD CHAMPION NEW ORLEANS SAINTS! WHO DAT!

    • Very well said. Thank you so much for this comment. And let me be the first to say that this should be the attitude of every other Saints fan. We must stay positive because the Saints problems are fixable in the short term. They will get it together.

  2. Rhonda says:

    I have asked the question to my husband many times so far this year, “Why?” as I too have tried to figure out just what has gone wrong and where the problem might be.

    We have discussed the theory of the injuries like I have read from several other comments, but they have too many good players as an individual to not be able to maintain a win, even with Reggie and Pierre out. I personally think that Ivory and Betts have done okay considering they haven’t played all that much.

    We also went over the fact that it was such a high goal to work for to win the Superbowl. Sort of like wanting something until you get it, then you haven’t got that to want (or work) for anymore.

    I really don’t know what the problem is, but I feel that each member of the team is an excellent player, but somehow they just are not working together like they should. I think they need to incorporate passing and running in the game to make it more strategic. And most importantly for them not to lose their confidence and to get out there and fight to the end to defend their championship!

    • I agree with you, Rhonda. It’s so hard to pinpoint any one thing in this situation. That’s why I say they need to just get back to playing Saints football and stop worrying about anything else. Ours is not a successful pass-only team. The running game is critical to the success. And even though the back-up running backs have made some critical mistakes, they have actually carried the load well considering all things. I really do believe that a screen or a bootleg in the redzone would’ve been more productive than trying to throw three times on the crowded line. But hopefully, Sunday will bring with it some improvements.

  3. Sheila Reeves says:

    I believe that each player has gotten caught up in winning the superbowl and the fame that comes with it. they look like they are play by themselves and not together because someone else will get the big play. I love the saints and believe that they will pull it all together and realize what they have been doing and come together. never gonna give up and the ones that do was never a true fan to begin with. i will still watch the games win or lose. Will never give up.

    • Thank you for this comment, Sheila. Your positive attitude is exactly the kind of support the team needs right now. I think that the Saints problems are coming from them trying too hard to shed or “bury” their success of 2009. Do you remember the “funeral” they had in 2007 to bury their success of 2006? It proved to be disatrous for the 2007 season. I fear that the same thing is happening here, minus the “funeral”. This time the burial is more symbolic as they try to prove to everybody that they’ve actually forgotten all about last year. It’s not working out very well because they’re trying to get away from last year’s gameplan, I guess for fear of being predictable. But they’re not thinking about how hard it was to defend them last year, no matter how much teams prepared (which is part of their job to prepare weekly regardless). I know they’ll get it figured out. I just hope it won’t be mid to late season when they do.

  4. Great job. I will spread the word about this site.

  5. Meechy says:

    I’m a newbie here; yet an oldie to what was once the Black&Gold Nation website. Keep the faith, Saints fans!

    • Thanks, Meechy for coming back. The site name may have changed, but the love for the black and gold is still the same. We are still the best fans in the world–the fans of the New Orleans Saints. I hope you will continue to read and comment. We’d love to hear what you have to say.

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