They're all wasted!Say, how’s that whole "Keep the grizzled veteran who sucked for 4 years, but has been PERFECT AS A SAINT over a sample size of 5 whole kicks" strategy workin’ out for ya? Pretty good?

Told You So Guy is a douchebag. Not as big a douchebag as Marteen, but a douchebag nonetheless. So I’ll refrain from being that guy. Instead, I’ll just say this: IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.

But on the plus side, how about that performance by Joey Harrington? Good thing we picked that guy up, and right in the nick of time too. 

It’s all so bizarre, and it’s getting stranger by the week. What in the hell are we supposed to make of this team? You can count on two hands the number of plays that are the reason this team isn’t 3-0 right now. But at the same time, you can count on those same two hands the number of plays that are the reason they’re not 0-3.

On one hand, I actually feel a lot better about this team overall today than I did last Monday. They showed an awful lot of testicular fortitude coming back from a 21-3 deficit on the road against an opponent that’s probably superior to them. Unlike last week, this was not a horseshit performance. Just about everyone had this one chalked up as a loss anyway, and the Saints kept it a hell of a lot closer than most anyone expected. The offense had their most productive day so far (albeit against a bad defense) and the defense sucked less than might have been expected against the best offense in the league.

On the other hand, they’re currently riding a 2-game streak of pissing away games they were this close to winning.

After each of the three games so far this year, one could reasonably argue that "they shoulda won by two scores" and could just as reasonably argue that "they shoulda lost by two scores." Every week! How does that even happen? Is this team good enough to compete with any team in the league, or are they "just good enough to lose" on any given Sunday?

If I had told you before the game that the Saints would put up 502 total yards to Denver’s 369, 
that Drew Brees would complete 81.25% (EIGHTY ONE percent!!!) of his passes for 421 yards and no interceptions, 
that Reggie Bush would put up 148 yards of total offense, 
that four Saints would have 75+ receiving yards each, and two others would put up 40+ each,
that the Saints would score 30+ for the first time this year,
that the defense would hold Jay Cutler to 50 yards less than his previous average and intercept him once, 
that the defense would hold Denver (averaging 143) to a relatively paltry 105 rushing yards,
that the Saints would win the time of possession battle by almost 6 minutes,
and that the Saints would win the turnover battle 2-1, wouldn’t you have been pretty confident that the Saints would win?

Guh.

The problem is that there’s always a "but…" or ten. 
But… Marteen shit his pants… twice. There’s 6. 
But… the Saints had a 1st & Goal at the 1 yard line and came away with zero points. There’s another 7, or at least 3. 
But… Reggie Bush fumbled and even though it seemed like all 53 guys on the roster had a chance to bring the guy down, they didn’t. (Thanks a lot, Joey Harrington.) There’s another 4 or maybe 7.
But… this team can’t run the ball for shit.
But… this defense is capable of making just enough plays to create the illusion that they don’t suck horribly.

And therein lies the big problem. It’s not just any one thing, but it’s always something. It’s like a game of Whack A Mole, but the moles have loaded handguns.

Sean Payton is gonna take a lot of heat this week, but for the wrong reasons. Most of it is gonna center around his players’ inability to execute on 3rd & short. It’s in fashion to bitch and moan about Payton’s "lack of creativity" on 3rd & short, but I’d just like to remind you once again that THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED. You demanded that Payton stop "being cute" in situations that call for straight up, conservative calls. Just line up and punch ‘em in the mouth, you said.

Run the damn ball, you said. Well, they ran the ball 24 times yesterday. For 3.67 yards per carry. Again. And although I know it’s cheap to "take away the one big run" I’m going to do it anyway… take away Reggie’s 23 yard long run and the other 23 carries went for 2.82 ypc. Give the ball to Pierre, you said. Six carries for 15 yards, 2.5 ypc.

These days, running a reverse while trying to run out the clock isn’t so "cute" anymore. Play action on 1st & goal at the 1 isn’t "cute" either. Now that Payton is giving you the straight up, conservative playcalls you clamored for, and they’re failing miserably, "cute" has become "creative" and Payton’s being too "predictable" and "vanilla."

But in the end, it’s what it’s always been. This team can’t run for shit. The problem isn’t Payton’s "lack of creativity" on 3rd & short, it’s the players’ complete inability to execute that kind of play.

If you want to blame Payton because "he ought to know that his players can’t execute that kind of play" then I’d tell you to make up your mind, asshole. He does know it, you’ve just never been able to accept it, which is why you’ve called him "too cute" and "pass happy" and all that other crap. Now he’s trying it your way. And guess what? Your way sucks. It doesn’t suck because it’s "too predictable" or "lacks creativity." It sucks because the players can’t get the damn job done on the field.

Now if you want to blame Payton for burying Dulymus, I can get with you on that. There’s something going on beneath the surface there, and I have no idea what it might be. Obviously Dulymus wants to play. The man kept his helmet on all game while standing on the sideline. Personally, that strikes me as a "message" on Dulymus’ part. Payton’s postgame response to why he didn’t play Dulymus, "Never even considered it…" strikes me as a retort.

Maybe Dulymus gets the 6 on that goal line stand. Maybe Dulymus converts the 3rd & 1. We’ll never know, and we’ll probably never know why we didn’t get the chance to find out. You want to lay that on Payton, I won’t argue with you.

The only explanation that makes sense to me, and allows me to not lose a ton of respect for our head coach, is that maybe Dulymus looks like shit in practice. If that’s the case, then you know what? Love ya, Deuce. But bidness is bidness. If that’s not the case, then I shudder to think what it might be.

But other than that, the playcalling is the last thing people ought to be bitching about after this game. Playcalling is what put this team in a position to steal a game on the road from a superior opponent. Execution is what lost it.

As cheesy as it is to say this, I think this team might be "at a crossroads" right now. They’ve shown a lot of testicular fortitude 2 out of 3 weeks (Tampa, Denver.) But they’ve pissed away two games in a row. To me, this wasn’t a demoralizing loss. To the contrary, it could be a confidence building loss. The deficiencies have been on display all three weeks, but they withstood them in week 1 (at home) and have been damn close to withstanding them in weeks 2 and 3 (on the road.)

Coach Payton is at a crossroads too. Does "Little Tuna" still work here? Or was that characterization of him bullshit from the start?

Tuna would have the contents of Marteen’s locker packed up in a cardboard box and waiting for him at the airport when the team gets home. In fact, I’m pretty sure Tuna once did exactly that a couple years ago.

The other Sean Payton? Hell, he’s just as likely to bring Kenny Chesney in to help the team get their minds right at a local waterpark.

The cynic would also tell you that he’s far more likely to watch another game slip away as Marteen shits the bed again than to admit that he made the wrong call at the kicker position. And that cynic would also tell you that when it happens again, and it will, he’d rather go out and dig up a Zendejas of some kind, or maybe give Morten Andersen his long overdue victory lap around the Dome, rather than correcting the mistake and inviting Mehlhaff back.

So who in the hell can figure where this thing is going? The good news is that the next three weeks we’re looking at JT O’Sullivan, Gus Frerotte and JaMarcus Russell. 4-2 is not only not out of the question, it’s perfectly plausible. The bad news is that we’re looking at Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden. Fuck.

But by golly, everything’s gonna work out in the end. Know why I’m so sure? Because we’ve got Joey Harrington, bitches!

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