Welp, it just keeps getting worse, doesn't it? Guh.

Oh, I'm not talking about the Saints' preseason performance thus far. Now might be a good time to go ahead and remind ourselves that there's a reason "midseason form" is a thing and "preseason form" isn't. No, I'm talking about the relentless barrage of excruciating absurdity which continues its full-force assault on our collective sanity on pretty much a daily basis. Is this really what it's come to? Sadly, all indications are that it is. And it's got me about ready to shove a screwdriver up my nose.

I mean, shit, where to begin? I suppose we'll kick it off with this week's dose of inevitable preseason overreaction coming from Message Board Guy and the Legitimate Local Media™… in that order (more on that later.) Specifically, the continuing evolution of The Legend of Toussaint L'Overture Cadet, and the beginning of the end of the honeymoon for the New and Improved SpagNOLA Defense.

Toussaint BLEW THE FUCKIN' ROOF OFF THE BENZ™ Friday night to the tune of 3 rushes for 28 yards. Holy shit! That's 9.3 yards per carry! He also went all 5 receptions for 62 yards with it (12.4 ypr) including an absolutely scintillating 24-yard touchdown reception (with less than 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter, in which he broke the tackle of some chump from Middle Tennessee State named Rod Issac.)

If you're scoring at home, and evidently a lot of us aren't, that puts Cadet at 18 carries for a whopping 51 yards on the preseason. 2.8 yards per carry. 19 receptions for 171 yards. 9 yards per catch.

For some reason, this electrifying display of basic football competence has many members of our esteemed Legitimate Local Media™ sporting a huge throbbing boner here lately.

Mike Detillier seems to think Cadet has "looked outstanding running the ball" while the guys at NOLA Media Group™ and elsewhere have been falling all over themselves churning out impeccably capitalized and punctuated chunks of legitimate online journalism humoring us on how difficult it's going to be for the Saints to cut him. And here I always thought that the cuts were the easiest part of any coach's job. Go figure.

On the other hand, I suppose humoring the fanbase on their annual preseason legend in the making is a hell of a lot better for bidness than repeatedly calling them dumbasses. (Am I right, Dunc?) "If that's the way the wind is blowing, let no man say I don't also blow."

Good for you, Negative Fuckin' Larry. There will be plenty of time for the wailing and gnashing of teeth when Cadet does end up meeting the turk, no reason to make yourself the asshole by preemptively crushing their hopes and dreams by forecasting it.

Of course, Message Board Guy would like to go ahead and take this opportunity to point out that he's been sporting this particular throbbing boner for weeks now. Ever since Toussaint's 6 for -3 / 8 for 80 performance in the Hall of Fame Game, in fact. Friday night's electrifying performance is just further proof of what he's been saying all along. That it's not a myth, it's history! Or something.

Furthermore, never to be outdone, Message Board Guy calls your "difficult cut" and raises you one mid/late-round draft pick for Ivory. Make it happen, Loomis! Somehow! Because clearly not only is Toussaint "uncuttable" (for some reason) at this point, surely teams are falling all over themselves to fork over a pick for the guy he's "obviously" beating out for the privilege of standing on the Saints sideline in street clothes until somebody gets hurt.

Wait, what do you mean there's not a chance in hell anybody's giving up jack shit for Ivory? Alright fine. You win this round, asshole. But Message Board Guy has an even BOLDER idea. Keep 'em both and trade Ingram! How do you like THAT in your face?!?

Please kill me.

Meantime, let's not give The Great Joseph Morgan the short shrift here. Just as his own legend was in real danger of fading from the glare of the overwhelming brilliance of Toussaint, Joe went ahead and hauled in an absolutely magnificent 53-yard touchdown reception from Chunky Chase in the third quarter, when some white defensive back (wait, what?!?) from Wyoming (oh, I see now) named Prosinski was apparently mesmerised by the Saintsations. (Yeah, I know, but keep in mind that this dude is from Wyoming. Limited options and all.) Nice. Eat THAT, Travaris!

So clearly the bottom of the offensive depth chart is in GREAT shape! Unfortunately, the top of the defensive depth chart is suddenly a trainwreck. Or something. OH MY FUCK TACKLE!

John DeShazier and "the venerable" Pete Finney agree that the bloom is most certainly off the rose at this point. Pete, in his inimitable style, mentioned something about the defense "erasing all their brownie points" which I can only assume is some kind of reference to the culinary stylings of Thomas Morstead's mom.

Message Board Guy agrees with the general sentiment, but once again never to be outdone, MBG goes one further by suggesting that the eventual book should probably be titled "From Spags to Bitches" (OMFG SHANLE!!! GRRRRRR!!!)

Fortunately, Sheldon Mickles was kind enough to go ahead and point out that of the 8 "missed tackles" by the Saints' first string defense Friday night, four of them were by Patrick Robinson. You know, the guy who had only practiced twice in full pads during camp due to a shoulder injury, and who was playing in his first "actual game" since January? And a fifth was by backup corner Marquis Johnson on Justin Blackmon's touchdown catch, in which Johnson was clearly selling out playing the ball and going for the pass breakup (which he just missed by about half an inch.)

(Too bad nobody reads the Advocate's Saints coverage. Everybody knows that the only thing the Advocate's good for is their restaurant reviews.)

Those aren't excuses, they're reasons. Legitimate reasons. And they're certainly no cause for hysteria nor resignation. Get a grip, people.

"Camp legs" isn't an excuse either. It's just a perfectly reasonable assumption after 3 consecutive weeks of brutally relentless daily physical exertion. It was just a day or two before Friday's game when they started having to carry guys off the practice field and bust out the IVs and whatnot. It's not an excuse to acknowledge the likelihood that dudes were running on fumes out there. It happens to some extent right about this time every year, for crying out loud. These guys aren't fuckin' robots. (At least not yet. Am I right, Roger?)

And don't even get me started on the SHIP-SINKING absence presence of Jon Vilma Will Smith.

So, seriously, calm the fuck down would ya? It really wasn't even all that bad, actually. It wasn't good, but it's not like it's the beginning of the end. It's still just the beginning of the beginning, for crying out loud. There's a difference.

Meantime, the defense not only held the Jagwires to a mere 22 Louisiana Seafood First Downs™, they also held them to 3-of-6 inside the Slap Ya Mama Red Zone™. And as far as we know, nobody even collected any illicit compensation for any East Jefferson General Hospital Cart-offs™. So, you know, they've got that going for 'em too.

But by all means, let's go ahead and let the kneejerk whims of Message Board Guy dictate the narrative here. Which is pretty much what's been happening for quite a while at this point, no?

I used to laugh my ass off when Message Board Guy would proudly accuse some Legitimate Media™ type or another of "lifting that intellectual property from RIGHT HERE AT THE BEST MESSAGE BOARD ON THE INTERNET!!!" Yeah, because it's not like Saints Football is a fairly limited topic, and there's a finite amount of fodder for conversation, and we're all talking about the same handful of things at pretty much any given time. No, clearly some asshole has been reading your incredibly insightful message board posts and repackaging them for widespread consumption in exchange for a salary and some degree of fame that by all rights ought to be yours.

That kind of self-importance will never fail to be absolutely hysterical. On the other hand, the same will always be true on the Legitimate Media™ side as well. But lately, I have to confess that I've been wondering more and more who's the dog and who's the tail. Who's wagging whom these days? Can we get a ruling on this from the powers that be over at NOLA Media Group™? (No, not you, Jeff. We all know where you stand on this issue.)

Anyway, there's also the absurdity of these bumbling fuckwads masquerading as NFL officials. Our friends at the Who Dat Social Club already issued the definitive take on this issue sometime last night. We here at moosedenied agree with pretty much every word of it. But in particular, we applaud the "big picture" perspective, which goes a little something like this…

This ain't just about a labor dispute with the officials. It's much bigger than that. This is Roger's National Football League.

This is the New Normal. And it's ridiculous. It's disgusting. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is the least bit relevant except for the bottom line.

Where is the slightest fuckin' concern for the integrity of the product on the field, Roger? What's the point of having rules to the game in the first place if you're satisfied with those rules being enforced (or not enforced) in such a slipshod manner by a bunch of unlicensed, untrained, unskilled freelancers gathered from the parking lot of a local Home Depot? What's the point of putting officials on the field in the first place when they're so obviously incapable of doing the fucking job?

It's the fucking integrity of the game, Roger!

But a lot of us have been bamboozled into buying into the stupid macho notion that the officials don't (or at least shouldn't) really matter. That if you "cry about the refs" it automatically means you're some kind of pussy. That as long as "it all evens out in the end" and there's no obvious bias, as long as the fix can't be proven to have been in, then there's no legitimate reason to bemoan the ubiquitous incompetence of the very people whose job it is to see to it that the game is… you know… played by the fuckin' rules. And, every bit as importantly, officiated by the fuckin' rules. (Whatever those might be at any given moment.)

Our friend Dave at CSC expressed just such a sentiment during the most recent (over-the-top hilarious) Chronic Podcast. When Ralph asked him if he'd be pissed, should the Saints eventually lose a game because these scab officials haven't the slightest clue what they're doing out there, Dave suggested that ultimately he'd put the blame on the team because "they shouldn't have been in that position to begin with."

Love ya, Dave. But with all due respect… bullshit.

It's an all-too-common specious NFL fan platitude. "If only they'd have been up by three scores like they shoulda been, they wouldn't have had to worry about the refs." Bullshit.

That's like saying it's Drew's fault that Hartley missed the game-winning field goal in overtime, because if Drew had thrown for 5 touchdowns rather than 4, it wouldn't have mattered because it never would have gone into overtime in the first place.

There's nothing The League™ would love more than for us all to buy into the notion that the officials are all-but-irrelevant. (Well, I suppose they might love it a little more if we all bought into the notion that it's a nonviolent game and that participation carries no health risks whatsoever.)

That there's no harm done as long as long as "it all evens out." And if your team's cocks are big enough, there's nothing to be worried about, because no amount of incompetence from the officials can possibly stop them. So what's the problem?


The officials are the very embodiment of the so-called "integrity" (or lack thereof) of the product on the field. And we're already long past the point of Nick Patrick style "Wait, what? Sorry, I was distracted and honestly didn't see Ted DiBiase loading up his glove with a foreign object!" game-changing incompetence, and we're about half a season away from full-blown Charles "Lil Naitch" Robinson style "heel refs." And Roger's gonna be doing the Vincent Kennedy McMahon Strut any day now. One could argue that we're already there.

I mean, at this point, it's not entirely unreasonable to ask the question: "If the Saints were to win it all this season, would it really even mean anything?"

(The answer, of course, is "Fuck yeah! High five!")

But there's simply no excuse for this level of incompetence from the people who, regardless of whether or not we're willing to acknowledge it, are in fact in control of every single thing that happens on the field, from the opening kickoff to the final whistle. Forget the fact that even the regular officials are part-timers who work for a relative pittance in the first place, and that we bitch about them on a weekly basis anyway. Be that as it may, it doesn't make this any less unacceptable.

"Mister, we could use a man like Jerry Markbreit again…"

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