"For the first six months you wonder how the hell you ever got here. For the next six months you wonder how the hell the rest of them ever got here." ~ Harry S. Truman, or possibly Steve Spagnuolo

Cha-ching! 2-4, bitches! DEE-FENSE! DEE-FENSE! DEE-FENSE! How 'bout them Spagheads?!? We here at moosedenied would like to take this opportunity to officially christen the back 7 as "The Ohm Patrol" because they offer juuuuust slightly more resistance than… well, none at all. I always wondered what those Ω symbols on Malcolm Jenkins's arm were about. Makes perfect sense now.

Of course, the Saints defenders would rather you view it as their "making the plays when [they] need to." Which continues to seem disturbingly overconfident at best, and downright delusional at worst. (How long do you think Jenkins is gonna ride that one "game-saving" hustle play this time, by the way? I've got a hunch it's not gonna be nearly as long as the 23 months he got out of Thanksgiving 2010's Jenkpalm™.)

But hey, you've got to give them their due, don't ya? It's pretty clear at this point that they are in fact making significant progress.

“How many times do you have to get hit over the head until you figure out who’s hitting you?” ~ Harry S. Truman, or possibly everybody but Angry Who Dat

Oh sure, they've given up more yards of total offense through six games than any team in NFL history, including a season-high 513 total yards to a team that even after yesterday is still 20th in the league in total offense with an average of 347 yards per game. (Those 513 total yards were the second-highest total in Bucs franchise history, by the way.)

Sure, they allowed Josh Freeman to throw for a career-high 420 yards and post a 115.2 passer rating. Before yesterday, Freeman had a whopping four 300-yard passing games in his career. And even after yesterday, Freeman is averaging 256.3 passing yards per game which is good for 15th in the league, and a passer rating of 91.2 which is good for 11th.

But to hell with all that. They held an opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards for the first time this season. They made the Bucs punt three times. THREE! They held the Bucs out of the end zone twice in goal-to-go situations. And most importantly of all, for the second game in a row they held strong on the last drive of the game and singlehandedly carried the team to victory despite paltry offensive outputs of 31 and 35 points respectively. Hell, they haven't allowed an opponent to put up 30+ in 4 straight games!

So yeah, clearly they're great. Or at least headed in that direction. And it's pretty easy to identify the predominant factor contributing to the consistent week-to-week improvement we've been seeing from this here defense lately. It's that they're playing a hell of a lot smarter these days. Strateegerizing like a motherfucker and whatnot.

In Green Bay, they unleashed the ole "Stab the opposing QB in the eye (free of charge, just for the record, Roger) and wait for the backup to fumble the ball back to you on 1st & Goal at the 2" gambit. Exceptionally clever, I tells ya! And by golly, it was almost enough. (Say Malcolm, any chance you could go ahead and pull that one back out sometime early Sunday evening in Denver? Might come in handy.)

Then for the San Diego game, Spags opened up the defensive playbook a little more, and pulled out the ole "Back the opponent up 27 yards on three consecutive penalties with less than 2 minutes left in the game" strategy. Wily veteran Roman Harper contributed to that by pulling one out of his own personal bag of tricks as well, the ole "Trip over your own feet while relatively close to the receiver, thereby drawing a phantom offensive pass interference flag." And then of course there was the tried-and-true "Hope the opposing coaches don't realize their own left tackle is injured, then run right around his gimpy ass and end the game on a sack-fumble" ploy.

And then on Sunday, there was the ole "Give 'em the 95 yard pass to your 1 yard line so you've only got 11 vertical yards left to defend, at which point you can stack everybody up on the line and shove it right up their asses" play. Followed by Patrick Robinson's incredibly savvy "Push the receiver out of bounds, then wisely just let him catch the goddamn ball for the tying touchdown while trusting that the official will see what you did there, agree with your interpretation of the sequence of events, and actually throw the flag." My god, it's downright diabolical.

I mean, how many moves ahead of everyone else do you have to be to hatch a scheme wherein you intentionally allow the tying touchdown pass to be caught, because you "know" ahead of time that the act of catching it is illegal and the resulting penalty will end the game and give you the win? It's fuckin' brilliant! Because, you know, it's not like officials ever blow calls like that or anything. I mean, why not leave it all up to the officials' impeccable competence? Bet Schiano never saw that coming!

Clearly at this point Spags and crew are playing chess, while everybody else is playing checkers. Or something.

Next thing you know, they're gonna be banking on an opposing kicker doinking the extra point off the upright. Awesome.

“It is ignorance that causes most mistakes.” ~ Harry S. Truman, or possibly Greg Schiano

Meanwhile, Greg Schiano is apparently still playing college football. 4th & 9 at the Tampa 33 with 14:54 remaining and Garrett Hartley is lining up (oh shit) for a 51-yard field goal to put the Saints up 10. Mason Foster apparently shouts out what Mike Pereira called a "disconcerting signal" and Tampa's d-line quick-shifts, causing Bushrod to false-start.

To quote Pereira: "You might be able to get away with that at Rutgers, but not in the NFL." 

Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 1st & 10 Saints at Tampa's 18. Hahaha, you dumb bastard. It's not a schooner, it's a sailboat!

Saints run another minute and a half off the clock and put the ball in the end zone to go up 14 rather than 10. (And to Hartley's credit, he did nail the shit out of that kick. So that was nice.)

If we discount any Butterfly Effect wackiness and assume that the rest of the game plays out reasonably similar to the way it actually did, Tampa gets the ball back for their final drive with 3:20 left (rather than 1:50) to score a touchdown for the win, and they'd have also had the option to settle for a field goal to take it into overtime if all else had failed. And I don't know about you, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that last drive goes a lot differently under those circumstances.

So hey, 'preciate that, Coach. Thanks for continuing this recent trend of the opponents themselves lending the Saints a huge, much-needed helping hand.

Gotta love having a relatively firm grasp on… you know… the rules of the fuckin' game. Am I right P-Rob? High five!

“If you can't dance then you are a loser.” ~ Harry S. Truman, or possibly Lance Moore

Lance in your motherfucking pants! 9 for 121 with a long of 35. Six catches on 3rd down, with every last one of them moving the chains. Bob Snagit, bitches!

"Used to know a bitch named Eric Wright…" ~ Dr. Dre, or possibly Harry S. Truman and/or pretty much every Saints receiver

Jack Hunt: 3 for 75 including one for 40. Ballin'.

Colston: 7 for 73 with a touchdown. Just another day at the office for the best wideout in Saints history. (Sorry, Hollywood.)

Dave Thomas: Only 2 for 27, but that 20 yard touchdown catch was one hell of a reasonable facsimile of Jimmy Graham. And not just because of the finger roll over the goalpost. That was a classic Jimmy route and a classic Jimmy catch. Beautifully done, and every bit as responsible for the Saints coming away with the win as any other play all day.

"The 'C' students run the world" ~ Harry S. Truman, or possibly Message Board Guy

But yeah, it sure is a good thing that the Spagheads and the Ohm Patrol "made the plays when they needed to" and carried the team to victory (again) Sunday, right?

Because for some reason this damned offense (especially the quarterback) still suffers (very) short bouts of non-perfection which results in their not dropping 50+ on a weekly basis. Do you know what kind of pressure that puts on the defense?

I mean, they were on pace for 56 points at halftime! And they only scored 7 in the second half? What the fuck??? Drew had 313 passing yards in the first half and only 64 in the second half? That's just horseshit! I blame Drew's contract. And don't even get me started on the complete refusal to run the goddamn ball!

They had a 14-point lead with 13:23 remaining in the 4th quarter for crying out loud! RUN THE BALL AND KILL THE CLOCK, FOR FUCK'S SAKE!!!

Here's the problem: That's precisely what they tried to do. And guess what? It failed. Miserably. Not that pretty much everybody else in the world saw that coming or anything.

“Carry the battle to them. Don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive. And don't ever apologize for anything.” ~ Harry S. Truman, and damn sure not Pete Carmichael

Late last week, Mike Triplett floated the notion that this year's Saints are lacking that "killer instinct" they've usually had under Sean Payton. And Sunday was a damn fine example of that. They took their foot off the gas pedal and played not to lose. Which boggles the fucking mind, given that in the last 21 minutes of the first half, down 14, this happened:

3 for 10 rushing, 5 for 80 passing: touchdown
4 for 11 rushing, 5 for 69 passing: touchdown
2 for 2 rushing, 3 for 77 passing: touchdown
1 for -3 rushing, 7 for 75 passing (excluding one spike to stop the clock): touchdown

Totals: 10 for 20 rushing, 20 for 301 passing, 28 points

And then in the 4th quarter with a 14 point lead, this happened:

Drive 1:
Pierre up the middle for -1
Ingram over right guard for 3
Drew incomplete to Lance (for perhaps the first time all day) on 3rd & 8

Drive 2:
Pierre for 5
Drew to Colston for 4
Ingram for 3(!!!) on 3rd & 1
Pierre for 5
Drew to Lance for 2
Sproles for 1 on 3rd & 3

And that was it. 4 for 14 rushing and 3 for 6 passing. Pete Carmichael went full-on Les Miles with it, complete with mistaking DREW BREEEEE$(!!!) for fuckin' Zachy Football, and his tailbacks for Jeremy Hill and Michael Ford. What could possibly go wrong?

That's all fine if you actually are Les Miles and your quarterback actually is Zachy Football and your tailbacks actually are Jeremy Hill and Michael Ford and your defense actually does feature Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo and Kevin Minter and on and on like that. But unfortunately, none of that is true for the Saints. It's pretty much the exact opposite of that, actually.

Wanna know why the Saints offense "fell asleep" in the 4th quarter and didn't put their heel on the Bucs' throat? Because of all that. Because they attempted to do what you're "supposed to do" in that situation, ignoring that they're not built to play that way because their rushing game and their defense both fucking blow. Because they went "by the book" and tried to do it Message Board Guy's way.

“We must have strong minds, ready to accept facts as they are.” ~ Harry S. Truman, or possibly Drunk Sean Payton

And here is where the Saints have really been missing Sean Payton this season. "To hell with the book, and to hell with Message Board Guy. Screw doing it the way it's 'supposed to' be done. This defense fucking blows, we can't run the ball for shit, and Drew Brees threw for 313 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half. The Bucs have the 3rd-ranked rushing defense in the league and the 31st-ranked passing defense. Hey Drew, got another 313 in ya? Because we're slinging the ball all over this bitch for another half hour. Ya like that? Do ya love it?"

That's how the 2nd half shoulda gone down. And you can bet your ass that that's precisely how it would have gone down. There was blood in the water. But nooooo. Evidently, Pete Carmichael and Aaron Kromer figured their best chance was to lean on the rushing game and the defense. Guh.

“The reward of suffering is experience.” ~ Harry S. Truman, or possibly the cover letter of Aaron Kromer's résumé

Welp, it's been fun, coach. Or something. Now can we please commence with restoring some semblance of order around here?

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