December 18, 2017

Saints: There’s Always Next Year

Leading up to the Saints versus Seahawks game it was considered a sure bet that the Saints would walk away the victors and move on to face either the Chicago Bears or the Atlanta Falcons. It was a game pitting the defending world champions against a team whose place in the playoffs was questionable. The Saints record of 11-6 proved that they were still a top team in the NFL and Seattle’s record of 7-9 had them losing more games than they had won against low ranked teams. When the analysts picked the winner they unanimously chose New Orleans and made comments such as, “It’s a sure bet,” and “This is like a bye for the Saints.” All of this sure bet talk made me cringe! There is no guarantee in the realm of sports and the Saints tend to beat the strong and struggle against the weak. Case in point, they lost to the Browns and beat the Steelers. Last year they crushed the Patriots and lost to the Bucs.

            There were many factors going into Saturday’s loss. The team had numerous injuries to some of its star players. On defense, Malcom Jenkins was out and by the end of the game there were no healthy running backs forcing the Saints to rely only on Drew Brees throwing the ball. They played in a city over 2,000 miles away and in a very boisterous, opposing stadium. Above all I think the biggest factor in the 41-36 loss to the Seahawks was the Saints undervaluing their opponent. Yes, they are defending world champions and could go toe to toe with any team in the league but when you are constantly being told what a superior team you are and that the opposing team is just a small roadblock on your way back to the championship it’s easy to let your guard down and that is exactly what this team did. They let their guard down and focused on defeating the dreaded Falcons.

            This has been a season of great highs and also great lows. The expectations of a repeat were daunting. The nagging injuries kept the Saints from ever really playing on all cylinders and reports are that even Drew Brees had a lingering knee injury for weeks. From the first game of the season the team’s mojo was missing.

            It’s shaping up to be a long off season with personnel changes and lengthy contract negotiations. Hopefully, Sean Payton, Drew Brees, and Jonathon Vilma can keep the team together and move on to future championships. For now, I will cherish the Super Bowl 44 Championship and focus on how much the Saints season brings my family and friends together to celebrate their triumphs and dissect their losses because we are all backseat coaches.

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