In Loomis We Trust

Saints General Manager will be challenged to right the team’s wrongs

            The math says the New Orleans Saints are still a viable playoff team, but on the field they look like anything but. Three weeks ago the team stood at 4-4, having crushed the Green Bay Packers by 21 and was looking ahead to a three-game home stand. Three weeks later, the team stands at 4-7, going 0-3 at “home” for the first time since the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged 2005 season when the Saints were displaced from New Orleans. Prior to that, the Saints hadn’t lost three consecutive home games in the previous 15 years. The last three games were supposed to propel the team toward the post season; instead it looks like time for the front office to brush up coming opportunities with free agency and the draft.

Coaches and prognosticators are scratching their heads, trying to find an answer to the team’s woes. Is the injury bug annihilating the team? How has the defense gone from one of the best to one of the worst? Is Drew Brees showing signs of age and diminishing skill? No one can seem to put their finger on it.

There’s no doubt that this team has been decimated by injuries – including Jairus Byrd, Mark Ingram, Jimmy Graham and Pierre Thomas, to name a few. But it also appears that many players’ skill sets have diminished.

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            While the offensive line has been respectable in the passing game, it hasn’t been able to open holes for our backs. In the last two games against the Bengals and Ravens, the offense was stuffed within five yards of the goal line. Center Jonathan Goodwin was manhandled by Cincinnatti’s Domata Peko and was pushed into the backfield too often at critical times against Baltimore.

Dropped balls, missed assignments and injuries have plagued the receiving corps, but from the beginning of the season it appeared the unit wasn’t as talented as it has been in recent years. The Saints need players with the speed to stretch the defense, opening shorter routes for players like Marquis Colston and our stable of tight ends and running backs.

While most of this focus has been on offense, the collapse of the defense many thought would carry this team to the Super Bowl has been an enigma. Great expectations for the line and secondary were had at the beginning of the season, and haven’t been met. It begs the question, if the team had a better line backing corps, would the D be better? It seems that the squad has lost continuity and leadership since Jonathan Vilma departed.

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The scariest thought for Saints fans, though, has been the emerging idea that they might be witnessing the beginning of Drew Brees’ end. There have been too many times this season when Brees has been wildly off target. The quarterback injured his oblique muscles this summer and missed most of the preseason. If it is not fully healed, his power and accuracy are definitely compromised. Or, it could be that Father Time may have Brees in his clutches, dragging him down slowly.

Right now, there are too many questions about what has gone wrong. While the Saints haven’t been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, hosting, even watching, a home playoff game – possibly as a team with a losing record – doesn’t appear too appealing at the moment. The Saints need to do what they can to salvage the season, but it may be too late. If so, there is no doubt that general manger Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton will conduct a post-mordum on the season and see the need to bring in game-changing talent at multiple positions through free agency and the draft in order to hold our spot as one of the NFL’s top teams. Lord knows it’s been a fantastic run for Saints fans. Let’s hope it’s not over.


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