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JOESAM2002 09-23-2003 09:52 AM



Tuesday September 23, 2003

By Jeff Duncan
Staff writer

Saints coach Jim Haslett takes responsibility for his team's dismal performance in a 27-12 loss to Tennessee on Sunday. Haslett said he's not happy with the Saints' performance in three games, but he remains optimistic.

Saints coach Jim Haslett called the manhandling his team received in a 27-12 loss to Tennessee on Sunday one of the worst of his four-year tenure.

His team was out-blocked, out-tackled, out-hustled and out-played for four quarters, Haslett said. They were out-gained and out-executed in nearly every phase.

But he said the biggest responsibility for the lopsided loss falls on his shoulders and that of his coaching staff. The Saints, he said, were "out-coached."

"I'll take the loss (Sunday) -- the coaching staff," Haslett said. "We put our guys in some (bad) positions. . . . Sometimes you get out-manned or out-schemed. We got out-coached in a lot of phases."

Two plays, in particular, displeased Haslett -- a successful pass on a fake punt that extended a drive in the second quarter and led to a Titans' field goal, and a muffed ball by defensive end Melvin Williams on a free kick in the first quarter that led to a touchdown.

Haslett said both plays could have been avoided with better preparation.

"Tennessee outplayed us, but we still had the chance to win this game," Haslett said. "We had opportunities to either take points off (the board) or get points. We didn't capitalize on them, and two of them were because of coaching."

The loss differed in style and substance from a 27-10 setback to Seattle in the opener. Haslett blamed the first loss on mental mistakes. This one, he said, was purely physical.

The Saints were dominated along both fronts, especially along the interior of their offensive line. Deuce McAllister was held to a career-low 8 rushing yards on 11 carries. Aaron Brooks was sacked three times and pressured several times.

The result was a season-low output in total yards (188) and first downs (11) that dropped the Saints to 25th in the league in total offense.

On defense, the Saints failed to pressure Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair and eventually wore down against the constant pounding of running back Eddie George, who rushed for 100 yards for the first time this season.

Haslett compared the physical beating to two other games: a 34-17 loss to New England in 2001 and a 31-22 loss to Oakland in 2000.

"We just got beat," Haslett said. "It wasn't like we lined up wrong or didn't do the proper thing. . . . We knew what kind of game we were getting into. They just outplayed us."

The lack of offensive production is particularly confounding. Through three games, the Saints are averaging 17.6 points, 279.7 total yards and 76.3 rushing yards. Last season they averaged 30 points, 342 total yards and 112.3 rushing yards.

"We didn't run the ball very well (Sunday)," Haslett said. "I thought their defensive line did a great job, especially the interior people, of dictating what they wanted to do with us up front. That is probably why some of the passing game didn't work. We had to revert to throwing the ball a little bit more than we would like. Sometimes you get into the situations like that, and you have to throw it up there. We don't like to do that, but we had to yesterday."

Haslett refused to use injuries as an excuse, even though the defense played without five starters. He said the effort was adequate. Although the loss was the Saints' second ugly performance in three outings, no personnel changes are planned.

"I'm not angry, I'm disappointed," Haslett said. "You're always disappointed when you lose. I'm a little frustrated because I think were a better team than we've played so far."

Haslett was noticeably subdued with reporters during his weekly press conference, but he insisted he's not ready to give up on this team or the season. Instead of dressing down his team, he chose to boost the players' spirits during a team meeting Monday.

"I believe in our football team," Haslett said. "We've got good players. I know the coaches believe in them. They've got to start having confidence in themselves. We can't have just one thing go wrong to our team and everything deflate. . . . You've got to turn bad situations into good situations. We're not consistent. We're not hitting on all cylinders yet. We haven't put a full game together yet in three games."

What frustrates me is this sounds like the same old drivel he's been giving us all this year, since training camp. Come on Jim, get mad. Beat the hell out of a locker. Do something!

FWtex 09-23-2003 11:18 AM

Jim \"Cluless\" Haslett!!

Quote: \"We had to revert to throwing the ball a little bit more than we would like. Sometimes you get into the situations like that, and you have to throw it up there. We don\'t like to do that, but we had to yesterday.\"

It sounds like he is responsible for killing the once powerful offense? I may be nuts but I thought the success this team had on offense was due to the PASS opening up the RUN. I thought the reason the offense was bad last year was because Aaron was injured and could not throw but it looks like the coaches killed the offense.

ScottyRo 09-23-2003 11:26 AM

I completely agree. For whatever reason, it seems the coaches want a more conservative offense - rather than one that can score at will.

ScottyRo 09-23-2003 11:31 AM

Here\'s a comment from Peter King about Brett Favre, but the same thing seems to apply to the Saints\' offense:

\"I think Green Bay is in serious trouble. I\'m not sure if Brett Favre feels emasculated or what, but he\'s not taking over games the way he used to. I think offensive coordinator Tom Rossley lives and dies with Ahman Green in the red zone, and part of that philosophy (the low-risk mentality) can strip your once-vaunted passing game and make it less dependable. \"

The rest of the article can be found at:

Peter\'s is just another opinion of how concentrating too much on trying to establish a running game can negatively effect your potent passing game.

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