Welcome to 2007, bitches. I've got ten large on the table for anybody who wants to kill and/or affect my head. Fire up that John Deere tractor!

At this point, I can't tell whether I'm conflicted, or just confused as hell. (Not quite as confused as the Saints defense, of course.) On one hand, your mileage may vary, but I actually saw a number of reasons for optimism Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, as Ralph so astutely pointed out during the postgame podcast, in a way that kinda makes it even worse, doesn't it?

At the risk of piggybacking too much on Ralph (I just agree is all, and he said it before I could) let me try to explain…

It wasn't all bad out there Sunday. 27 rushing plays, 163 rushing yards, 6.0 yards per, including 110 for Pierre(!!!) at a clip of 12(!!!) yards per. Good stuff. Penalties were down, time of possession was up. They finally remembered to take Sproles out of the little suitcase they carry him around in and he went all 13 for 128 receiving. Jimmy Graham appears to be largely immune to this stunning outbreak of general incompetence, which is a beautiful thing. Third down and red zone efficiency were improved. For most of the first quarter, it kinda felt like the good old days offensively. Hartley was awesome.

Hell, the Pants even had to punt 5(!!!) whole times! Holy shit!

The disturbing thing is that it still wasn't good enough. It should have been. It wasn't.

Sure, maybe you still consider it a C performance at best, and it's hard to argue with that. But in recent years we've all kinda gotten used to a C performance still usually being good enough for the Saints to pull out a close, nerve-wracking win.

Almost none of week 1's excuses/explanations (depending on your perspective) applied Sunday afternoon either. No (arguably) bullshit pass interference flag in the end zone nullifying a stop on 4th & 1 and handing the opponent a touchdown instead. No "Roman Harper got illegally picked/held on an 88 yard touchdown pass that should have been called back but wasn't." The Saints didn't "come out flat" and/or "uninspired" and they didn't sleepwalk through the game. It doesn't make sense that the Saints would have been overconfident, or overly-emotional about sticking it to Roger, as people were saying after week 1. No "this is the first time anybody's seen the opposing quarterback." And on and on like that. None of those things applied in week 2.

The Washington game could be chalked up as a random shitburger. (Which is precisely what we here at moosedenied did last week.) A 20/20 hindsight argument could have been made that the Saints were ambushed, the deck was stacked against them in ways that couldn't have been predicted or accounted for ahead of time (or that we were just too stupid/cocky to see it until afterwards.) It was week 1, after all.

This one? Not so much. This one was pretty cut and dry. The Saints simply weren't good enough to avoid getting their asses kicked (and they did get their asses kicked, again, regardless of the box score.) And that's a hell of a lot more soul-crushing a thing to have to deal with.

Seriously, somebody kill my head already and collect your damn money. I'm beggin' ya.

So what the fuck is going on around here? There has to be some underlying reason, doesn't there? Some kind of legitimate explanation. Some way to make sense of the results not matching our expectations.

Some of us are choosing (surely with tongue firmly planted in cheek) to blame the Football Gods, or the music of the cosmos, or something.

Others continue to ridiculously assert that it's because Drew Brees makes a shitload of money. That if only Drew had Done His Job™ in the offseason, not only would he not have thrown those picks, it would also have turned all those drops by the wideouts into catches somehow. And if Drew weren't such a greedy cockbag, the Saints would somehow have Carl Nicks, Robert Meachem, Mario Williams, Vincent Jackson, Brandon Carr, Eric Winston and Matt Flynn on the roster.

Still others are choosing to go full-on new age with it and are blaming crazy shit like "energy" (or lack thereof.) Intensity. Mojo. Their feng shui is all fucked up. Or something. And it's all because they've lost their guru. How in the hell are they supposed to maintain their proper chakra without their spiritual guide? Just check out their aura, it looks like shit!

Clearly Sean Payton possesses some kind of magical energy-regulating power which manifests itself through well-timed yelling and pursed-lipped menacing glares and whatnot. Which… uh… keeps their consciousness in balance. It supercharges their collective competence by preventing them from… um… forgetting how to play football. No wonder the offensive line suddenly blows, the wideouts can't catch, and Drew Brees has turned into Kevin Kolb. It's the only logical explanation! By golly, Roger done gone and killed the head, he affected the head, and now the body is dying.

All that stuff is a bunch of mystical bullshit. I'd say you're overthinking it. But it's probably more accurate to say that you're overfeeling it right about now. Shit don't make no sense, so you're grasping at straws and believing in fairytales and making stuff up in a desperate attempt to manufacture some semblance of order from the current chaos. To try to regain some sense of cause and effect. Not that I blame ya. Sucks not knowing what planet you're on, what year it is, which way is up and which is down. It's baffling and exceedingly irritating.

Look, Sean Payton and his mystical powers ain't walking through that door anytime soon. Drew ain't about to take a pay cut (not that Mickey Loomis is around to do anything with it even if he did.) And the Football Gods have always hated us and always will.

The good news is that none of that stuff really matters all that much. It's just noise. Shit being thrown against the wall in a desperate hope that something sticks. Because if you're hopelessly boned, there's some solace to be found in at least "knowing" how and why.

The thing is, the problem isn't nearly as complicated as all that. Not nearly that intangible. That hopeless and beyond remedy.

To the contrary, it's all really rather simple. The defense blows.

A lot.

A whole fuckin' lot.

Gee, Wang. Ya think? That's some solid insight right there. Got any more wisdom you wanna drop on us?

Fair enough, asshole. My point is that really that's pretty much all it is.

Which sounds like a glib assessment and is surely small consolation at this point. Because yeah, hey, it's only one half of the fucking football team that's completely dysfunctional and all-but-helpless. Oh yeah, no problem. 14-2, bitches! #wegotthis

Again, fair enough. And by all means, if you wanna go ahead and start shoveling dirt on the 2012 season because of it, well, more power to ya I guess. Hey, at least you'll be among the first 10 on your block to do just that. High five! Or something.

All I'm saying is that there's nothing magical about it. Spagggs* doesn't have a magic wand and neither does Sean Payton.

(*We'll be adding another G to Spagggs's name with each successive week of soul-crushing defensive incompetence. Should the defense improve, we'll start taking them back. We'll call it the Spaggggometer.)

Sue me, but I just don't think anything would be different right about now even if Payton were here. I mean, aside from the absence of the distraction, that is. And it just doesn't make any sense to me that Drew Brees was distracted by Sean Payton's absence when he was throwing that pick-six Sunday. Nor do I think Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston and Lance Moore forgot that they might oughta go ahead and catch the ball when it's in their general vicinity because Sean Payton wasn't around to remind them.

All this nonsense is like Darryl Strawberry hitting yet another home run for the Springfield Power Plant's softball team, and Monty Burns proudly proclaiming "I told him to do that." It's ridiculous.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that coaching is completely irrelevant. I'm not saying that Payton's absence and all the other bounty bullshit isn't a distraction, because of course it is. It damn sure doesn't help that Payton isn't around, no argument there. It's just not the root of the problem. The "leadership void" is just some superficial national media lazy bullshit analysis. It's the low-hanging fruit. It's the easy "explanation" for those who don't give enough of a fuck to really put any elbow grease into paying attention to what's actually going on out on the field.

It's also the most hopeless, fatalistic and conveniently intangible/non-debunkable explanation. (And therefore the most appealing to the national media, Jeff Duncan and Message Board Guy. "Called it! And you can't prove that it wasn't the prevailing factor! Ha!")

Drunk Bobby: No. Let me tell you, if you look at it…

These are grown-ass men. They're professionals. They haven't forgotten how to play football, and they haven't forgotten what their jobs are. They're not wandering around in some kind of fugue state because their guru isn't around to keep their spirits in balance.

And so far there's no indication that they're cutting up and being dicks like a bunch of high school kids because there's a relatively meek and inexperienced substitute teacher in the classroom. I could give credence to that notion if this roster were chock full of psychos, dumbasses and slackers like it was under Haslett. But until the rumors start coming out that these dudes are shooting dice in the locker room and banging one another's wives and stealing from lockers and no-showing meetings and shit, I'm not buying it.

These guys don't need to be yelled at, and they don't need daily therapy from some kind of spiritual guru. They know they need to block, tackle, catch, cover.

So why the fuck haven't they been doing that, smart guy?

Because, this just in: It's not exactly that easy, people. It's the fucking NFL, and the other guys are getting paid too. Contrary to popular opinion, not even Green Bay and New England can just do whatever the fuck they want whenever they want. Might wanna go ahead and come to grips with that.

Meantime, let's take a deep breath here and take stock of what we "know" (or at least still believe at this point) and what we don't. Join me, won't you?

–Do we really believe Drew Brees suddenly kinda blows? Forget the "reasons." Forget the holdout. Forget the solid gold house and rocket car and army of monkey butlers. Forget the fast food sammich empire and the #spon tweets and all the bullshit that annoys you and makes you kinda-sorta hate him. You really think he's turned into Kevin Kolb? Really? Because I don't.

–Do we really think the offensive line has suddenly gone to shit? That the difference between Carl Nicks and Ben Grubbs is the guard equivalent of going from Willie Roaf to Daryl Terrell? Because I don't.

–Do we really think that Marques Colston and Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham have forgotten that they probably ought to go ahead and catch the ball? Or that suddenly they're all just incapable of doing so? Because I don't.

–Do we really think that these guys just can't keep themselves motivated without the all-important stinkeye, angry-kiss bitchface and various Kenny Chesney lyrics being shouted at them? Do we think they're missing the sweet, calming aroma of Juicy Fruit wafting through the air? Because I don't.

–Do we really think this offense is no longer capable of putting up 40 or so on a weekly basis? Because I don't.

–Do we really believe that Steve Spagnuolo is a fraud, and that his well-established reputation around the league is just a load of bullshit? Really? After two games? Because I don't.

–Or, alternatively, do we really believe that Spag(gg)s simply has NOTHING to work with here? That until/unless he finds himself one of them there magic wands, he's pretty much shit out of luck, because all he's got to work with is a bunch of chumps? Because I don't. (Although I'm gonna have to go ahead and acknowledge that it's damn tempting to go ahead and say "Yeah, that's pretty much precisely what I believe." I get it.)

It ain't that bad, folks. It might feel like it is right about now, but it's not. It's just not.

Don't get me wrong, it ain't exactly good. Not right at the moment anyway. But it damn sure ain't that bad.

Unless you're one of those "Lombardi, Right Now, Or Fuck Them!" Uptown Ladies, that is.

0-2 most definitely sucks ass. Right with you on that. Sue me, I'm just not willing to resign myself to all hope being lost. Not after two fuckin' games, for crying out loud. I'm not willing to set aside the fact that Drew Brees is still a goddamn superhero. That for the most part, Pierre Thomas and Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston and Lance Moore and Darren Sproles are still mindbogglingly competent.

Nor am I willing to resign myself to the notion that this defense is precisely what it's looked like the last two Sundays. That there's nothing Spag(gg)s can do about it (not any time soon, anyway.)

No sir, not this guy. I'm more than willing to ride it out.

Talk to me when they're not starting a 5th round rookie corner from Samford because they don't have any other choice. Talk to me when their middle linebacker is healthy. Talk to me when it's reasonable to expect that everybody ought to be fluent in the scheme and no longer have to stop in the middle of a play to consult Google Translate.

And if it hasn't gotten any better by then, well then I promise to defer to whatever doom and gloom you're peddling that week. Even if it's some bullshit about a lack of belly fire or a leadership void or a fucked up chakra. Hell, I'll be up for anything at that point.

But until I see any compelling reason to abandon my current position, I choose to maintain my belief that this is all temporary, and not the least bit hopeless.

I do concede that it might take more time than some of us are willing to bide. Hell if I know, maybe it ends up taking all season. Maybe we really are barreling headlong toward 7-9 or 6-10 while this all gets sorted out and put back on track.

Uptown Lady: Oh no!!! How ever shall we survive 7-9?!?!? My God, the horror!

Hey, it's not like a reloading year is the worst thing in the world.

Or is it???

The answer… is no. No it's not. Not by a long shot. And that's pretty much the worst case scenario, for fuck's sake.

It ain't that bad, folks. It's just not. Hang in there.

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