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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Losing hasn't dented their positive attitude Thursday, October 04, 2007 By Mike Triplett Despite their dismal 0-3 start, the Saints have never acted like a team on a sinking ship. If anything, they've been drowning in optimism. Sure, they've been ...

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Old 10-04-2007, 11:29 PM   #1
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Cool Saints stay course despite rough waters

Losing hasn't dented their positive attitude

Thursday, October 04, 2007
By Mike Triplett

Despite their dismal 0-3 start, the Saints have never acted like a team on a sinking ship. If anything, they've been drowning in optimism.

Sure, they've been disappointed, frustrated, a bit impatient at times. But there has been no finger-pointing or dissension in the ranks. Nothing like their next opponent, the Carolina Panthers, who were recently accused of having no heart, no energy and no pride by their Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Kris Jenkins.

"For us to be 0-3, I think a lot of people would expect it to be a depressing type of atmosphere," Saints tailback Reggie Bush said Wednesday, the first time the Saints were available to the media in more than a week. "But all of us are just chomping at the bit to go out and get that first win."

"I think it's easy when times are tough, and maybe you go through a rough game or two, for guys to kind of get down and lose confidence. But nobody's getting down," quarterback Drew Brees said. "I like the approach that we've taken. I think there's definitely a sense of urgency. Everybody feels like they're going to hold themselves accountable, and they're going to hold everyone around them accountable. . . . And the effort and emotion is definitely being displayed."

To a man, the Saints' players and coaches raved about the team's attitude coming off of the bye week. And they all said the bye came at a great time.

Players were given four days off, from Thursday through Sunday. They returned to work Monday, but practice was closed to the media. They had their usual day off Tuesday before resuming practice Wednesday.

Most players left town. Brees went to his alma mater, Purdue, watched the Boilermakers beat Notre Dame and called it the "perfect weekend." But he said, "It was great to get away, then it was great to come back."

"At this point, we feel like we're getting out here for the first time, and we're going to start building something from here on out," Brees said.

Center Jeff Faine said when the schedule came out, most guys thought the bye week was too early in the season. But that changed after such an ugly start.

"I think it did some good. It gave everybody a chance to get away and really get refreshed and basically start the season over," Faine said. "Obviously, we've got to learn from our mistakes in these first three games. But it's an opportunity for us to kind of start fresh."

That fresh start begins with a home game against the division-rival Panthers, who fell to 2-2 last week with a 20-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A victory would mean a lot to the Saints -- obviously, for their attitude and their pride and all those intangible reasons. But it would also put them right back in the NFC South hunt.

"A win would cure what's ailing everybody," defensive end Charles Grant said. "You (the media) wouldn't have as many questions to ask me. People wouldn't do all this other stuff. A 'W' is great, man. It would lift a lot of aspects of this football team.

"You know, a lot of people say '0-3, oh, they're out.' But you know, you've got 13 more games. There's going to be a team that gets in there that's 8-8. You've got to think about the Pittsburgh Steelers when they were like this (losing three of their first six game in 2005 after losing just two in the regular season the previous year); the New England Patriots were in a situation like this (losing three of their first four games in 2001). They went on to win the Super Bowl. I mean, you can turn a lot of bad into a lot of good real quick."

Just about everything has gone wrong for the Saints, so far. On offense, defense and special teams. But there is still an air of confidence around the team.

Coach Sean Payton said after reviewing the first month of the season that three of the biggest areas of concern have been turnovers, lack of effectiveness in the passing game and inability to stop deep passes on defense.

But he doesn't plan any major personnel shakeups -- other than replacing injured tailback Deuce McAllister and injured cornerback Jason David. The Saints have good reason to stick by the guys they've got, because most of them excelled last season on the way to the NFC championship game.

"We know what it takes, and we know we can do it, because we've done it. We've proved it to ourselves," linebacker Scott Shanle said. "I think Coach Payton put it the best. He said this would be a lot more upsetting if we had played well and started 0-3. But we haven't played anywhere close to our best. Once we get it together and get that first win, we can start rolling forward."

For the first time this year, nobody even bothered to ask Wednesday if this next game is a "must-win game." It was pretty much just understood that it is.

"They say that winning cures what ails you, and the first chance we have at that is the Carolina game," Payton said. "That's the first opportunity to take a step in the right direction, and at 0-3, we need to do that."

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