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saint5221 09-08-2003 06:50 AM

Same ol' Saints stunk in all phases

Same ol' Saints stunk in all phases

Monday September 08, 2003

Dave Lagarde

SEATTLE -- Promises, promises.

Remember, the Saints made them following the preseason.

Things would be much different once the real whistle blew and the games counted. That stinking 1-3 sleepwalking mess was nothing but an aberration, an illusion and a mirage. Forget about it.

Isn't that what Joe Horn said after the Saints looked atrocious in losing to Miami in their final exhibition exercise?

"This is not even close to what we're going to be like," Horn said following a listless loss to Miami 10 days ago. "If you want to judge us, judge us after we play against Seattle Sept. 7."

That was the Airline Drive party line anyway, until the Seattle soirée started on Judgment Day.

That's when the Saints did their level best to recreate all the horrors of meaningless August games, plus those of the meaningful lost games of December last as well. That's when the Saints stumbled around Seahawks Stadium like they were clueless in Seattle.

So maybe everyone who died a little inside while watching Sunday's god-awful performance ought to wait until Sept. 14 to pass judgment on the 2003 Saints. Because what they're saying about this team today sure isn't very pretty after a resounding 27-10 defeat.

Or very nice.

Or suitable for print in a family newspaper.

Let's put it this way: the Saints bleeping stunk. Feel free to fill in the expletive adverb.

And they stunk across the board. They lost on offense, spitting up four costly turnovers. They lost on defense, allowing an alarming 151 rushing yards -- a deficiency on which the franchise desperately tried to improve during the offseason -- to a Seattle team that thinks pass first. They didn't do squat on special teams to change the game's outcome.

Not only did the Saints look the same as they did in losing the last three games of the 2002 season, when one win would have put them in the playoffs, they sounded the same too, tossing out the predictable -- and tired -- clichés.

"If we fix the little things we'll be all right," safety Tebucky Jones said.

Wide receiver Donté Stallworth, who dropped almost as many passes (five according to his count) as he caught (eight for 101), chipped in with the "we-need-to-watch-the-film-and-come-back-next-week" quote.

Coach Jim Haslett called the game "a heck of a learning experience."

So when do the Saints get on right side of the learning curve? Next week against Houston? Next month? Next season?

Those searching for small victories Sunday could find them in all the wrong places. The Saints outdid the Seahawks in missing tackles. They committed more penalties, too (11 to three). They also had more turnovers (four to none).

Oh yeah, and they had a decent first quarter and a 3-0 lead. Whoop-de-do!

Problem was, as soon as the Seahawks got a sniff of the end zone, this season opener was over and done -- three second-quarter possessions, three touchdowns. The Saints blinked, and it was 21-3.

Seattle didn't do anything extra special, other than play a clean, turnover-free game and aggressively carry the fight to New Orleans. But that was all that was necessary.

"We stunk," Horn said.

Yes they did, although stunk isn't nearly strong enough. Feel free to fill in the expletive adverb.

And feel free to say that, one game into the new season, there is nothing new and improved about the 2003 Saints.

"That is a big disappointment," Horn said. "But the season's not over. We're 0-1.

"I don't expect it to linger. We can do a lot better."

They better.

"I don't think that was us out there today," Stallworth said.

Well, then exactly who were those guys? New Orleans waits impatiently for the "real" Saints to show themselves.

Until then the city prays that Sunday's effort was nothing more than an aberration, an illusion and a mirage, and there will be no lingering effects from a truly odoriferous performance.

. . . . . . .

Dave Lagarde can be reached at or (504) 826-3811.

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