How many of us ever considered our team would be sitting at 1-3 at the end of the first quarter of the season? Not me. We looked at the talent, the moves, and most of us spent our summer debating if we could come out of the first quarter 4-0 or 3-1; 2-2 appeared to be a worst case scenario. What a shock reality has become. It frustrates all of the WhoDat Nation, to try to understand how a team with some much intact from last year, some nice improved talent slots that we could be where we are. But a dose of reality is what we have to deal with. A dose of reality is what our team has to come to grips with.
To me, that reality is simply, we have a very talented team that is playing very bad football…. Everywhere. Some stats look good, some stats look bad. In this world of so much data, we are destined to spend too much time analyzing, finding trends, and picking out obscure factoids to try to explain the one problem. Every player keeps pushing the we are a better team than we performed, we have to fix it, and we will review and get better.. yada, yada, yada. Our coaches, management, and players have lived so long in a non-bulletin board mentality that the answers appear shallow and just words.
The source of our team’s problem, they have yet looked at their performance as a crisis. Management guru, Patrick Lencioni writes in his book “Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars” that sometimes you need a crisis, sometimes you need the “qualitative rallying cry” shared by all members of the team. The mayor of Chicago is often quoted for the political strategy of, never allowing a good crisis to go to waste. From a distance I keep watching and listening to our team, I see lots of acceptance of individual responsibility, light-weight answers, defending a coach or a scheme … what I do not see is that “rallying cry” that gets them all focused on the showing up prepared, knowing what your are supposed to do, and then doing it full speed at the best of your ability.
I have made two road games in the first quarter (Atlanta and Dallas, thanks, NOLAGirl for recommending combat pay); at both of these games I have yet to see anyone of our team perform at their best. Where have our front four vanished to? What is up with our safeties? Safeties are supposed to be ball-hawking, tackling machines. Where is our receiver that says “toss it to me, I will get open”, or the OL that says get behind me and let’s go? Where is the coach that says, we are going to control by being innovative, aggressive, and fast? Where is the QB that down by 21 points at Miami, put the team on his back, told the coach not to try a field goal and dove in for a TD?
If our team was waiting before creating a crisis – Sunday night was it. The stands were full of Saints fans and the team let each and every one of them down. Losing was tolerable- bad play is unacceptable.
Unleash the hounds, stop trying to not lose, not make a mistake, and go balls to the wall, un-relenting, put the team on my shoulder, and let’s destroy the competition. Too many of our guys appear to be playing to avoid a mistake and they make two. Too many of our guys still believe we have the talent to win. Start playing like your job relies on it. Get off blocks, drive the defender off the line, get open, fire the ball in there, stop hesitating, run with wild abandon….stop trying to finesse and be cute. Play like your ass is on fire! Coaches, stop trying to make corrections, fix the problem. Make aggressive calls, if the guys on the field can’t execute, put someone else in. If someone can’t make it happen, cut them. Our window is open, I don’t care how much salary cap you have to eat … it is about winning…NOW!
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe, I will always believe in my Saints, I am just tired of watching them under-perform.
I have been very much out of the loop the last two weeks. The missus and I spent a week in Paris. After a visit to Normandy, I felt over-whelmed at the bravery and courage of our ancestors, I felt very proud when the guide said he had heard of a great museum in New Orleans and I had a chance to brag on our city. We capped Saturday night at a concert with a New Orleans guy, a real WhoDat – Jimmy Buffett. He even responded to my WhoDat chant with a mention that he was at the Viking game! I rushed home for that Sunday night debacle. Monday morning, I was on a plane to Guadalajara. I write this sitting in the airport, with little news over the past weeks.. I am basically writing blind to current happenings.
Keys to the Game
All that to say I am left with one key, Play Hard, Have Fun, Play Aggressive. Quit worrying about losing – Go WIN!
I have stuck my neck out several times this year thinking we would come out with an innovative offensive game plan – pack on a 40 burger, get a big lead, and turn the defense loose. Play on both sides of the ball have not allowed this to happen. If it does not happen this week, it will not happen this year. Saints 44, Bucs 17.
COMMENTARY POSTCRIPT: Darren Sproles, quiet whining. You are a professional athlete that get paid millions of dollars to play a kids game. You are very good and talented. I was a fan of yours in San Diego and was ecstatic when you joined the Saints. In the first years, you added to our offense and was very productive. That began to deteriorate in the Saints offensive scheme. Right, wrong, or indifferent, your fault, Sean’s fault, doesn’t matter. Management made a decision that your time in NO was up — cost, production, and value, whatever it is they have to live with that decision. The WhoDat embraced you, supported you, and even when you left wished you the best.
Shut up. This is a business. When SP pulled you in to tell you they were releasing you and word got out – teams that wanted you made offers for your service. Out right releasing would have been zero value to the team and would have allowed you to be more selective where you ended up, I get it. When the opportunity came for a trade, the team must consider. I hate that the delay and negotiations removed your flexibility and frustrated you and your wife… BUTT get over it. Where could have gotten a better situation than the one you are in. You fit in the offense, you play on a contender, you have a new extension, and more money. Sometimes I have not liked where I was transferred, but I lived with it or I shut up. I would have more respect if you would do the same.