. . . . . . . Hey yo.
Word on the street is that Ben’s threatening to file assault charges against certain members of the Saints’ inexplicably-yet-undeniably badass defense, claiming that there were several acts perpetrated against him Sunday night to which he did not give his explicit consent. Will Smith and Jon Vilma were specifically accused of “trying to put it in my butt” on two non-consecutive occasions. NOPD officers responding to the complaint were seen high-fiving Leigh Torrence and Marvin Mitchell as they arrived at the scene. Thomas Morstead may or may not have also sent numerous unsolicited pictures of his dong to Ben’s cell phone.
Welcome to the New World Order, bitches. Ben’s just lucky that it didn’t occur to anybody post-game to rip off his jersey and hold him down at midfield for Gregg Williams to spray-paint “Who Dat” on his back.
Fortunately for Ben, it was Halloween night, and Remi Ayodele had already gotten everyone to agree that as soon as the game was over, they were all going out to intimidate whatever trick-or-treating kids they could find into handing over their bags of candy.
I feel like it should be underscored once again just how well Ben had been playing coming in. Dude had a 122.4 passer rating for crying out loud. His passer rating against the Saints? 66.8. Five touchdowns to one interception coming in. Against the Saints? Zero touchdowns and one interception. 64.8 completion percentage coming in. Against the NWO? 60.7. 10.4 yards per passing attempt coming in. Sunday night? 7.0. He had been sacked 3 times in the previous 2 games. The Saints sacked him 3 times Sunday night.
And I know we all know this already, but this didn’t just start Sunday night. This has been going on all season, and especially in the last month. The Saints defense hasn’t allowed more than 16 points since week 3!
Over the last five games, the Saints defense has allowed 14, 16, 6, 16 and 10 points. That’s 12.4 points per game. For comparison, Pittsburgh’s defense currently leads the league in points allowed per game over the whole season, at 14.6 ppg.
They’ve allowed fewer than 20 (actually 16 or fewer) 6 times, and allowed 20+ only twice. And they haven’t allowed 30+ at all. The most they’ve given up in regulation all year is 24. The Saints are 5-1 when the opposing defense scores fewer than 2 touchdowns on turnovers (guh) and 5-0 when the offense turns it over fewer than 3 times.
And while the takeaways are down overall, they’ve had at least 1 takeaway in 7 of their 8 games. I don’t even want to think about what kind of total they’d have if not for the weekly handful of near-misses.
They’ve held opponents to fewer than 300 yards of total offense in each of the last 5 games, and in 6 of 8 games on the season. They’ve held opposing quarterbacks to fewer than 200 passing yards in 4 of the last 5 games, and in 5 of their 8 games overall. They’ve yet to allow any opponent to pass for 300.
Want more? Over the last 5 games, opponents are 19 of 63 at converting on 3rd down. That’s 30.15%, which equals the season-long percentage of the Bears and Giants, who are tied for the league lead.
Opponents have been forced to punt on 22 of their last 50 possessions. 5 more have ended with Saints takeaways. Meanwhile, opponents have scored a touchdown or field goal on 13 of those last 50 possessions. 27 punts/turnovers to 13 scores.
In case your eyes glossed over during all that, here’s the point: These dudes are straight fucking people’s worlds up. They’re not just playing well, they’re dominating. And not just for a game here and a game there against weak offenses. They’re doing it week in week out, and they’ve been doing it for a good long time now. Half the season, in fact. They’ve really only had one “bad” game, against Atlanta in week 3. Who saw that coming? (Don’t answer that, Message Board Guy. We know that you did.)
Furthermore, who saw it coming without Sharper for the first 6 games, and while also enduring Porter’s and Greer’s annual midseason vacations?
Say, anybody out there still bitching about the Saints “wasting” yet another first rounder on yet another corner they “didn’t need” because they already had Porter, Greer and Gay?
Even with “wasting” a second straight first rounder on a corner who “will never see the field” we’re still about 10 minutes away from having to pull a couple of dudes out of their La-Z-Boys and putting them directly across the line of scrimmage from the opponent’s top two wideouts without even passing Go. The Saints survived all but the first three plays of the Pittsburgh game with exactly one “true” corner, for crying out loud. Bet you never figured you’d be saying to yourself “Thank God nobody picked up Leigh Torrence.”
Look, I love Tracy Porter as much as the next guy. But he’s been a Saint for 43 regular and postseason games. He’s missed 19 of them (and counting) due to injury. Greer has missed 9 (and counting) of the 27 games he’s been a Saint. They’re arguably “the best pair of starting corners in the league” or close to it, but half the damn time at least one of them is out. And in each of the past two years, the Saints have had to go for stretches with both of them out.
The Saints survived last year, and so far they’re surviving this year, but this is turning into a bonafide problem. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you can’t stay on the fuckin’ field. Which is why I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Saints draft a third straight corner in the first round of next year’s draft. (Nor would I be surprised if they drafted a tailback in the first round, for the same reason.)
But I digress. For now, the Saints still have half the regular season remaining. And to digress again for just a second, it makes me wanna fuckin’ cry every time I think about the fact that we’re already at the halfway point. REALLY? You’ve gotta be kidding me! Already? Enjoy ’em all, kids.
It also makes me wanna fuckin’ cry knowing that if it weren’t for Hartley shitting the bed in week 3, and Drew Brees having his head up his ass in weeks 5 and 7, the Saints would be sitting at 8-0 right now. Sigh.
Anyway, the good news is that they’re 5-3 at the halfway point, which is a hell of a lot better than 4-4. Coming off what, in the end, was a pretty damn convincing win over one of the 2 or 3 “best teams in the league” so far. The Saints also currently hold the NFC’s second wildcard. (Yeah yeah, “if the season ended today” in week 8. I’m just sayin’.)
Hartley was 2-2 Sunday night (4-4 if you include PATs) and all of them were nothing-but-net. Which is nice. It remains to be seen whether or not he’s fully “fixed” but at least he’s not going all Marteen on our asses. (Fingers crossed.)
The second half Sunday night was as head-not-up-his-ass as Drew has been all season. (Despite yet another two turnovers. Guh.) Again, it remains to be seen whether or not it lasts. But hey, this is Drew Fuckin’ Brees we’re talking about here. What, you’re gonna bet against him?
The Saints get 1-6 Carolina this weekend (which I suppose ought to have us worried, actually) while Tampa and Atlanta play each other.
So as long as the Saints don’t shit the bed, they’ll be in second place in the division by Monday and only a half-game behind the winner of the Atlanta/Tampa game. Then the following week, the Saints have their bye, while Tampa gets Carolina and Atlanta gets Baltimore.
So let’s give Atlanta the win/loss, Tampa the loss/win, and the Saints the win/bye. All of a sudden, we’re going into week 11 with a flat-footed 3-way tie at the top of the NFC South (and quite possibly at the top of the NFC) with Atlanta, Tampa and the Saints all at 6-3. And with each team still yet to play the second game against each of the others.
Hoooooly shit. It’s gonna be a full-blown NFC South round-robin tournament!
Atlanta gets Carolina twice after Thanksgiving, but they also get Green Bay. Tampa gets San Francisco and Detroit, but they also get Baltimore and Washington. The Saints get Baltimore, but they also get Cincinnati and Dallas. And St. Louis.
And two starting corners, and two starting tailbacks.
And they already have the best fuckin’ defense in the NFC South.
And, at least theoretically, they still have the best quarterback in the NFC South too.
Fasten your seatbelts, bitches. The fun hasn’t even started yet.