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JOESAM2002 05-23-2003 01:55 PM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
I found this tidbit, thought ya'll might like to read it.










Under the gun


New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year
By Ken Bikoff (kbikoff@pfwmedia.com)
May 21, 2003





I’m not going to fall for it this year.

For the past two seasons I’ve had high hopes for the Saints. They were going to make some noise in their division, get to the playoffs and start the long journey toward being Super Bowl contenders. Then, of course, they fell flat on their faces in each of the past two seasons, racing through the stretch run as if they were dragging Bill Parcells’ ego behind them.

I ain’t fallin’ for it again.

Not that there isn’t plenty to love about the Saints. Deuce McAllister is one of the best running backs in the game, Joe Horn is one of the best wide receivers in the game and Aaron Brooks can be, on occasion, one of the best quarterbacks in the game. The defense is improved over last year, with Ashley Ambrose coming over from Atlanta and Tebucky Jones being acquired from the Patriots. The Saints should be excited about the upcoming season, and rightfully so. Their fans should be too because, on paper, this is a ballclub that could not only contend for the playoffs but possibly challenge the Buccaneers for supremacy in the NFC South.

But I don’t think it is going to happen. There is too much baggage with this franchise, head coach Jim Haslett and the bulk of the players on the team. History is a heavy burden. The past two collapses have been too rough on this franchise, and Haslett is one of the constants. He lost control of his locker room two years ago when the team disintegrated into finger pointing and petty fighting. Last year, the collapse wasn’t due to poor chemistry in the locker room, but rather a lack of execution, an injury to Brooks and Haslett’s unwillingness to start adjusting on a ship that was taking on major water.

This year, Haslett will feel all of the pressure of the last two seasons and then some. Brooks, McAllister and Horn all are stars in their own right. The offense was explosive last season, even helping to hang a pair of losses on the eventual Super Bowl champs. In other words, the tools are there. But the Saints will be playing under a storm cloud all season, standing in front of a shotgun that is cocked and loaded and ready to be fired.

Every loss is important in the NFL, which is something that makes football’s regular season so intriguing. Basketball, baseball and hockey are marathons. The NFL is more of a sprint because every misstep can be damning. The Saints know this more than any team, and every loss will have people wondering if this is it. Is a loss in Week Six going to signal the beginning of the end? Will a loss in Week One show that last year’s decline wasn’t just a fluke thing? Will a poor performance in Week 12 have everybody saying, “Here we go again�?

Other teams might have the same concerns, but they don’t have the same recent history as the Saints. The pressure will never let up. Even if they start hot, they will know that they opened the 2002 season 7-2 and still missed the playoffs. The Saints will know they blew three opportunities to clinch a playoff spot in the last three weeks of the season. That history will be there staring them in the face all year.

So we have a team that has a head coach who is going to be under bottom-of-the-ocean type pressure all season, a group of players who will be waiting for the other shoe to drop (after all, it has always happened in the past) and a franchise that could be facing major changes if it doesn’t reach the playoffs. And the Saints get to do it in what is arguably the toughest division in the league. It most certainly is the toughest in the NFC, and considering that the division’s worst team, the Panthers, enjoyed a six-win turnaround from 2001 to '02 and have improved over the offseason, the Saints will have a tough time just finishing strong in their own division.

It’s a make-or-break year for Haslett, Brooks, McAllister, Horn and defensive coordinator Rick Venturi. If Haslett doesn’t get to the playoffs this year, he’s likely going to be looking for work in February. Brooks is locked in, but he has to make his stand as a leader and make the jump from occasional star to being a truly special quarterback. McAllister is doing all he can, but he’s going to start getting frustrated if he turns in another monster season only to be sitting at home in January. Oh, and another huge year by McAllister also will likely mean that a contract renegotiation will be in order. Horn isn’t getting any younger, and if the defense doesn’t get much more stingy, Venturi will be taking the blame as well.

For a team that has had chemistry and locker-room problems in the past, playing in a constant pressure cooker will be tough to handle. The fire is on and the pot is on the stove. It’s starting to get hot in New Orleans already



BillyCarpenter1 05-23-2003 02:02 PM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
Didn\'t Tampa win the superbowl last year? Their history reminds me of another team. The Saints.

pakowitz 05-23-2003 02:59 PM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
damn joesamn.. u beat me to the punch... but i aint notice till
after i posted that

JOESAM2002 05-23-2003 05:43 PM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
hahahahahahaha,I had to get up pretty early to get that one in here. :o

subguy 05-23-2003 06:49 PM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
The author is correct about the pressure of following in the path of the two previous years. That will be a challenge. One name he didn\'t mention enough was Venturi. The same results could likely happen this year. We did not address all of our needs on defense. Added rookie dl,many questions at linebacker. Jones could possibly be our bright spot. When you r Defense lets go at the end of a season, it is is not possible to score enough points to win games.

tweeky 05-24-2003 10:52 AM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
Thats actually good news, PFW is wrong more often than Hasletts 2 point decisions. I\'d be more worried if the picked us to win it. I think the last 2 years will motivate us down the stretch. One thing I think is a major change is that strength coach we hired. He\'s one of the very best in the biz. Last 2 years we looked tired and lazy at the end of the year (partly because the FATBOY-3 experiment). I think thats exactly why they hired him.

Last year the team publicly stated they thought they were 2 years away from a legit contender. They are so much deeper and stronger at nearly every position, I just can\'t see another fold.

But it definately is time for Haz and Company to \"put up or pack your bags\"

There will be no excuses this year and everybody knows it. There are a lot of great coaches that would love to coach a team with this much talent.
Denny Green, Tom Coughlin, Norv Turner, Mike Ditka (OK just seeing if anybody\'s paying attention)

rusta 05-24-2003 12:45 PM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
i agree with tweeky in that as soon as people start dismissing you again it\'s a good thing

however, i\'ve been one of haz\'s biggest supporters in here and maybe it\'s a result of everyone here really getting on to him but i\'m starting to doubt our coach as well, the more i think about it the more i beleive that even if our guys were out of shape that they still wouldn\'t have quit on a parcells or the like, if we don\'t make the at least the second round of the playoffs then i too will be calling for haz\'s head

WhoDat 05-27-2003 08:48 AM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
They dismissed us last year... it\'s a long season and a lot can happen, but if you guys don\'t think that article is right on I wonder if you really know what\'s going on in the Big Easy. Haslett is under the microscope - and regardless of win totals this franchise is currently looked at as if it is on the slide thanks to the collapses of 01 and 02. They could start 9-0 and no one would believe in them. This team won\'t get any respect - and rightfully so - until they prove they can finish a season. Haslett needs a 10 win season with 3 of them coming in December - otherwise, I can\'t think of reasons to justify keeping him around that outweigh the many reasons that will exist for getting rid of him.

BiggPoppaFro2 05-27-2003 09:08 AM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
I like the idea of being dismissed. IMO, we did our best work by lying low under the radar and then geting praised at the end of the season. Let them go ahead and call us just another team in an otherwise tough division. While they jump on TB and ATL\'s bandwagons, we can laugh and point from the playoffs. This year will be good.

I also don\'t think Haslett is in a make or break year so much as Venturi is. If the team folds and bickers like it did a couple of years ago, then yeah. But as long as he holds it together, Haz is cool. my predictions : 11-5 overall; split w/ TB, sweep ATL.

But then I am a Saints fan. Dare to dream, right.

SuperbowlSaints 05-27-2003 11:23 AM

A dose of reality from ProFootball Weekly...
 
I agree with Big Poppa Fro 2, I don\'t think Haz is going to get fired this year. I think he is a good coach, I think Haz is going to hold the team together for a trip to the super bowl and a victory.


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