This is not how the season was supposed to start for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. 0-3? Miles away from the 3-0 division leading Falcons? Believe it, because the Saints are stuck in a rut, and they are on the precipice of falling off the deep end. 3 defeats to the Redskins, Panthers and Chiefs are hard to believe, especially with two of those coming in the Superdome is nothing short of remarkable.
With no Sean Payton and new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo implementing his new scheme, we expected some growing pains, but nowhere near this level. Drew Brees has not been his efficient self thus far, already having thrown 5 interceptions.
These interceptions are coming at crucial moments in games as well, when the Saints really need a play.
If Payton is there, does Brees make those throws? It’s too hard to decide, but this team is definitely lacking something. WR Marques Colston has yet to find a groove either averaging a little over 3 catches per game, with 0 touchdowns.
There is no semblance of a running game on this team as well, with Pierre Thomas the leading rusher with 138 yards. Mark Ingram has regressed thus far in Year 2 and that is only putting more pressure on the shoulders of Brees.
The real killer for this team is its 32nd ranked total defense. They are allowing 477.3 ypg and 34.0 ppg. It does not matter how potent your offense is, that is nowhere near good enough, especially when the offense is having struggles of their own.
These were supposed to be three games for this team to ease into the season without much stress. The exact opposite has happened and now things don’t get any easier. A trip to Green Bay this week is followed by games with a sturdy San Diego, upstart Tampa Bay, Denver, Philadelphia and finally at Atlanta. That’s just the next handful of weeks. A result is absolutely necessary this week against Green Bay. The Packers are vulnerable and Brees and Co. must take advantage. However, Rodgers will be licking his chops for a shot at this maligned defense. Spagnulo does not run an overly complex scheme, so it is still a mystery as to why they are having such a hard time grasping the concept and what is expected of them from play to play.
An immediate improvement is needed for this team to make any surge this season. They don’t need to be a Top 10 defense, but a solid 11-15th while forcing a few turnovers should be exactly what the doctor ordered. It’s going to be tough sledding for this team from here on out, but if there is a leader capable of dragging his team along by sheer will and determination it might be Brees.
For now, the Saints are looking more like the “Aints” of years past, and Step 1 to a healthy recovery starts this week at Lambeau. Let’s see what they have left in the tank.