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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; 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 ...

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Old 08-14-2003, 11:33 AM   #1
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

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.





http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW...koff052103.htm
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Old 08-14-2003, 11:45 AM   #2
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

This guy sums up exactly what I have been thinking and saying. Everything a team could want is here ... now what can the saints do with it.
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Old 08-14-2003, 12:36 PM   #3
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

Because of the 2 collapses at the end of the past two seasons, Haslett has put himself under a lot of pressure. Also, because of all the talent the Saints have on offense and special teams the expectations are high.

When any team fails to make the playoffs for 2 years in a row, there are going to be those that call for the coaches head or at the very least question their coaching ability, but when you jump out of the gate as strong as what the Saints did last year and it appears the playoffs are a given, only to lose the last 3 games and miss the playoffs, then if your name is Jim Haslett, you have fans and media swooping down on you like vultures.

Jim Haslett, for sure, has put himself in a position where he might not have to make the super bowl to quieten the critics, but I think missing the playoffs could put his job in jepordy.

Considering the terrible defense the Saints had last year, the Saints might have been no better than their 9-7 record they finished with , but starting out so strongly and to collapse they way they did was a hurtful pill for Saints fans to swallow.

I think even the fans that are questioning Haslett\'s coaching ability are still somewhat confident they have a chance to turn it around this year, but if he doesn\'t get the job done this year, how much more can the fans and owner take?

Haslett might be getting near the end of his career with the Saints. When you consider the tough NFC division they reside in and all the question marks on defense, you begin to wonder if they will even be able to match last years record.

If it works out that the Saints fail this year, I will be singing the blues right along with the rest of you, but until then, I think Haslett is in pretty good shape. I like his chances and hopefully our defense will not let us down this year, because IMO, that\'s where most of the problem has been. Not Haslett.

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Old 08-14-2003, 01:13 PM   #4
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

Geeezus guys..... is a Superbowl win the only thing that will appease you people. I`d love a Superbowl win too, but We have a winning team. No more AINTS. We`ve been close, we`re getting closer. I remember the day a 9-7 season was pie in the sky. We beat the Superbowl champs TWICE last year. The players, for whatever reason did not play to their potential down the stretch or we would have been playoff bound last year. Don`t tell me about frustration, I`ve been watching this since 1970, and allthough we haven`t made the big show yet, we have arrived as a team that is respected as a winning program.
Maybe I`m just an optimist, but I believe we have the WMD to take us to the next level and I`m damn proud to be a Saints fan these days.

Saint4
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Old 08-14-2003, 01:55 PM   #5
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

i would be happy with a trip to the nfc championship or even a close loss in the second round

but your right most people here and in the media seem to think that only a super bowl win will validate this team
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Old 08-14-2003, 02:16 PM   #6
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

It\'s a make-or-break year for Brooks? Maybe. But he has to play *really* bad to lose his starting job.
It\'s a make-or-break year for Venturi? Agreed.
It\'s a make-or-break year for Haslett? Maybe. If the Saints finish 8-8 or 9-7 or 10-6 and miss the play-offs, will he be fired? Hardly.
It\'s a make-or-break year for Deuce? Why is that? If he has a bad year, he will lose his starting job, because the competition for starting RB is so fierce in New Orleans. *cough* yeah sure. If he has a great year and the Saints miss the play-offs he will be frustrated. So? Just means he and others on this fairly young team have to work a little harder (Deuce is not exactly known for his enthusiasm in practice, is he?).
It\'s a make-or-break year for Horn? Why? He has his new contract, it\'s anything but a make-or-break year for him.

The Saints have a fairly young team, which also means a certain sense of urgency is missing. I don\'t see that this is the season where we will have to get it done, because the team will break up in the next year. This may be true for Oakland, but the Saints have the talent locked up for a few more years.

\"What is Wal-Mart? Is it like they sell wall stuff?\"
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Old 08-14-2003, 05:22 PM   #7
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

a walk down memory lane????????????? aaahhhhhh yessssssss........i remember all the yrs i wished we had something to show someone, (anyone) that we could go further than ever before............that yr is now............that tune is playing.....................i am a believer and i do believe that this is the yr........................................in fact, never before was i ever more sure then i am now that all the pieces are in place..........gator, please....contact a voodoo queen and get us the luck we need this yr (the most important factor missing) and if she needs a few parts, donate em.................. it\'s for a worthy cause after all..............smitty
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Old 08-15-2003, 10:43 AM   #8
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

Gator,

I agree with what your saying. We have had the talent for the last few years and it is disappointing to not be playing in january but we\'re young and we\'ll see how it goes.


I haven\'t seen you around here much lately. Hope to see you more when the season starts.
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Old 08-20-2003, 05:18 PM   #9
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

They don\'t have to win the big one, but it sure would be nice. I think I would pass out. I wouldn\'t be able to watch that SB.

I\'ve been a Saint\'s fan, even thru the bad years. I always will be!

I agree with what Saintsfan4ever said, just as long as they have a winning season, I will be fairly happy

Playoff win will make me much happy :P
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Old 08-21-2003, 06:11 PM   #10
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New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year

To me it is a matter of whether we\'re overperforming, underperforming, or just plain average. Our offensive and special teams talent should make us good enough to go 12-4. Our defense makes us bad enough to go 7-9. So the questions is what side of 10-6 are we going to be? Are we going to beat the teams that we have more all-around talent than, or are we going to flop against those teams. If we flop, it\'s the coaches fault, and he should be held responsible. If they overachieve, then Haslett needs to get some props too. It\'s a simple system.

\"Excuses, excuses, excuses. That’s all anyone ever makes for the New Orleans Saints’ organization.\" - Eric Narcisse


\"Being a Saints fan is almost like being addicted to crack,\"
he said.[i]\"You know you should stop, but you just can\'t.\"
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