On the halftime show, Terry, Howie and Jimmy would join Simon, Theodore and Alvin in saying the Saints were giving that young whippersnapper Redskins quarterback a rude welcome to the NF of L. Every game would be 49-0 and the Saints would become the first team to host a Super Bowl. All of New Orleans could not wait for them to TEE IT UP! And then the first whistle blew, the lights went on, and … the lights went back out.
Since training camp opened, our Fan Poll at the bottom of this page asked fans what their biggest concern would be going into the season. The choices included Brees'continued dominance, defensive improvement, more production from the running game, lingering Bountygate fallout and Sean Payton's absence. There should have been one more choice: "All the above!"
Let us take our preseason concerns and apply them one at a time to Sunday's Saints loss.First, Brees does not stand on an island when you talk about his production. He must have receivers who do not drop balls and an offensive line that can keep the defense off his back. None of that was apparent Sunday, although we kept thinking it might until that final interception in the fourth quarter put the game away for Washington. Concern No. 2 is defensive improvement, which obviously was stymied by the superb introductory performance by QB Robert Griffin III. He proved to be a rare commodity, and not one the Saints will face every week. But there was no Saints pass rush to speak of and certainly no hint that the Saints will win many turnover battles this season. The defense must be disruptive, and Sunday it appeared dazed and confused, giving up 40 points.
The running game was non-existent since the Saints were playing catch-up most of the game, and the question of Bountygate fallout is an intangible that defies measurement. However, the final concern will be debated all week in Who Dat Nation. Could Sean Payton have changed anything? Interim to the interim Aaron Kromer showed zero emotion on the sideline, at least when the cameras were focused on him. Payton would have been in players’ faces, cajoling, threatening and demanding that they start playing football.
So here we are, just where we wanted, in the season we have all waited for. But after the unlikely smacking at the hands of the Redskins, all we have to be thankful for is that the Saints have 15 more games to turn it around.
by Jim W. Miller, former Executive VP of the New Orleans Saints
His new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com
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