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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; here you go. Get the old head out of the sand, folks. We are in for a LOOOOONNNNGGGGG season. Under the gun New Orleans anything but the Big Easy this year By Ken Bikoff (kbikoff@pfwmedia.com) May 21, 2003 I’m not ...

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Old 09-25-2003, 02:15 PM   #1
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Want to here what ONE of the experts is saying

here you go. Get the old head out of the sand, folks. We are in for a LOOOOONNNNGGGGG season.


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, be mediocre. 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 inconsistant enigma 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.


[Edited on 25/9/2003 by TheOriginalSwampdog]

[Edited on 25/9/2003 by TheOriginalSwampdog]
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Old 09-25-2003, 02:31 PM   #2
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Sounds like the original doom and gloom dog to me.
Thats some shocking insight.
Extremely talented team, may not make playoffs again, coach on hot seat.
WOW! No wonder its so hard to get a job as a sportswriter. With such thoughtful insight as that I\'m sure he\'s a shoe-in for a much more respected occupation, like a telemarketer, or the guy that cleans up after elephants at the zoo, or a lawyer.
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Old 09-25-2003, 02:38 PM   #3
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I have to post these because of living labotomies like Billy \"NO NOTHING\" Carpenter thinks the Saints are just fine and going to the playoffs and old Brooksie will lead the NFC in qb rating and be the starter in the probowl. Some guys just have to have a rock hit them in the head. Haz+Brooks=LOSING!
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Old 09-25-2003, 05:43 PM   #4
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Sorry but this was posted back in May.
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