It would be my final season as a Saints executive, and my angst was explainable because when you are an NFL lifer who understands that the iconic “NFL” really means “not for long,” a loss of a game can mean loss of a job. That shoe fell the following May 17 when owner Tom Benson called me into his office after a week at Manresa, the Catholic retreat, to tell me he had experienced a vision which included me in another line of work. My wife Jean was heavy with our second child at the time and gave birth to our son Charles Connor two days later, on May 19, in what the family today jokingly calls our “Benson-induced labor.” But I am straying far from our topic of the day which agony over a Saints’ loss.
Who Dat Nation has a right to its sackcloth and ashes this morning after their heroes stunk up AT&T Stadium with a 38-17 loss to the Cowboys that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. They were beaten on the ground, in the air, on special teams, in the coaching booth and on the sidelines where Coach Sean Payton stood by helplessly as if his headset was turned off. This might have been the ugliest performance during the Payton Era when expectations have been high and the team performance has usually come close to matching them. But Sunday night was a low point that has Saints fans walking around in a daze after expecting so much more.
I will admit that I, too, was sucked in by all the hype perpetuated by the Saintsations cheerleaders who are disguised as local writers and even the national press. In fact, let me give you the Top Ten Lies, in no particular order, that we all heard when we believed the Saints were going to the Super Bowl: 1. Free agent safety Jairus Byrd will turn a fourth-ranked defense into an impenetrable force. 2. Junior Galette and Cam Jordan could be the best pass rushing line combo since Gino Marchetti and Gene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb. 3. Patrick Robinson is ready to take over the other corner spot. 4. The offensive line is underrated. 5. Drew Brees can play at a high level for ten more years. 6. Mark Ingram will take advantage of his “contract year” and finally live up to expectations. 7. Brandin Cooks will give the offense more than Darren Sproles did. 8. Sean Payton is one of the top three coaches in the NFL. 9. Kenny Stills and Joe Morgan give the Saints the deep threat they’ve lacked. 10. Jimmy Graham will show that he is worth every penny of his new contract.
Now, as a public service and a counterpoint to the above, I will present a list of Top Ten Truths that we have all learned after four games, although trimming it to ten is difficult: 1. The team has no killer instinct, losing leads to Atlanta and Cleveland before losing the game. 2. The passing game is too predictable. 3. Graham is double-teamed every time he gets two yards beyond the line of scrimmage. 4. The offensive line can't make a hole, but is as full of holes as a Swiss cheese. 5. Khiry Robinson is not the answer at running back. 6. Cooks needs more touches. 7. Marques Colston has lost a step or two. Or three. 8. Kenny Vaccaro has the sophomore jinx. 9. The defensive line couldn’t stop Brownie Troop Six. 10. The only players who can tackle are offensive players after a Brees interception. Feel free to add your own “truths” here.
The only thing that will take the Saints and Who Dat Nation out of their current agony is to apply the Rule of Holes. Since the Saints have dug themselves into a big one, they should stop digging. Or else the agony will continue, and I’m not sure how much longer Who Dat Nation can take it.