When I did my preseason playoff selections, besides the scoffing that my now pathetic Chiefs prediction got, the biggest criticism I was met with was my guess that the New Orleans Saints would be watching the NFL postseason from their collective living room sofas. But after how they’ve looked in the first two weeks, some are starting to see what I saw.
The Saints are too good of a team to throw in the towel this early, but the dreaded 0-2 start is the kind of spot a team never wants to find itself in. Because you start to panic, start pressing and try to do something wild to light a fire under the team, and most of the time, it backfires.
A leader like Drew Brees is unlikely to let that happen, but the tea leaves aren’t looking too good at the moment for a team that has a lot of red flags.
The reason I picked the Saints to miss the playoffs this year was simple; a team doesn’t just shrug off a scandal like they went through all offseason. You don’t face that, lose your head coach for a year and face all that criticism without suffering from some sort of hangover.
But the biggest red flag for New Orleans coming into the season was the porous defense, which has taken on yards like the Titanic took on water. Through two games, the Saints defense has allowed a league worst 461 yards per game. Add to that, they’ve also allowed the most points in the NFL at 37.5 per game. I don’t care how good Drew Brees is, you just can’t win with defensive play that terrible.
So is it time to panic? Well, I’d say it’s past time.
With explosive offenses, like San Diego, Atlanta, Green Bay and others on the first half schedule, to think it’s going to get better before it gets worse is delusional. And as far as the 0-2 hole, teams that have started 0-2 since the playoffs were expanded to 12 teams in 1990 have made the postseason only 12 percent of the time. So the averages don’t look too good.
Without a defense that can’t get their opponent off the field once in awhile, it’s hard to believe Brees and the Saints offense can come out and put up 40 points every week, and that’s about what he’d have to do right now to get in the win column.
New Orleans is now the only team in the NFC that is winless and with all three opponents in the NFC South looking great to decently improved, things could get really ugly going forward.
Like I said, I expected this. The bountygate scandal, Brees’ contract negotiations and all the court battles over suspended players were just going to have a crushing outcome for this franchise, at least for a year. Regardless of what the players say, they feel like the league is watching them closely and it’s showing in their defensive performance. Paranoia rarely stimulates success.
Should New Orleans throw in the towel? Of course not. They’re paid professionals who owe it to their fans to be competitive. And they could surprise me and turn it all around en route to yet another successful season under the Brees era. But keep this in mind; the last time New Orleans started 0-2 since Drew Brees was signed was 2007. They finished that season with a 7-9 record and a place on the sofa when the postseason began.
I hate to tell a team to panic after an 0-2 start. But there is a point where if you don’t panic, you may have waited too long to do so. By that time, it’s usually too late.