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JOESAM2002 09-29-2003 12:26 PM

There's no fight......

There's no fight remaining in 1-3 Saints

Opponents exposing N.O.'s deficiencies week after week

Monday September 29, 2003

John DeShazier

This is a fine mess the Saints have gotten themselves into, so thoroughly deficient in every area that the Mike Ditka era soon might classify as salad days. Then, at least, we scoped out the fraud early, knowing before the web of the con could be spun that the franchise would have been better off in the hands of circus monkeys.

New Orleans currently can call its own a team that has lost its way -- if, that is, there's a consensus that a 1-3 team, coming off a 55-21 loss to the Colts on Sunday night, knew its way in the first place.

"It was a bad game all the way around," Coach Jim Haslett said of Sunday's surrender to Indianapolis, with no one on the roster offering a hand of dissent on or off the field.

The Saints have been ineffective across the board, unwilling or unable to muster the necessary fire to take an early lead or rebound from an early deficit against any team other than Houston. They've been a team that, through four games, has fallen so far behind division rivals Tampa Bay and Carolina, it's no stretch to doubt that it has the fortitude to bridge the divide.

Whatever Haslett and his staff are selling the team isn't buying, the latest sign of rejection being the pummeling by the Colts in a game the Saints had marked for redemption following last week's undressing at Tennessee. And worse, the people who did buy -- fans who paid good money for season tickets to see this wreck -- are beginning to feel had, which never is a good thing and is particularly gruesome when the owner promises victory in the event of a sellout.

Owner Tom Benson got his wish Sunday night. Saints fans showed up for a nationally televised game at the Superdome. But the same couldn't be said for his football team, which has gone AWOL for six of its last seven regular-season games, a stretch of stink so foul that some of the ugliest comparisons in a rank franchise history are applicable and appropriate.

There's no fight in the Saints, and anyone who claims otherwise is in need of a Breathalyzer test or a straitjacket. There's no soul remaining, only hollowed-out figures that seem more resigned to failure than shocked or even dazed by it.

"I told them they played poorly," Haslett said. "We're too good a team to play like that."

No. That, sadly, is the team the Saints were at the end of last season, and have been at the beginning of this one.

Top to bottom, the offense is in shambles. Quarterback Aaron Brooks, mercifully, was yanked with 14:11 left and the Saints in a 42-point hole. His play (two interceptions, two lost fumbles) epitomized a unit that would get more mileage out of a visit from Dr. Phil than another trip to the film room, to review the latest episode in this dark comedy series.

Top to bottom, the defense stinks. Good thing the Colts had the decency to call off the dogs, because it's fairly obvious the Saints can't pressure quarterbacks or cover receivers.

Top to bottom, it's almost impossible to identify an offseason move that has benefited the team. The free agent diamonds are coals. The trades have net bodies that look good inside uniforms, not so good inside the white lines. Most of what's left of the draft class is injured (Johnathan Sullivan, Cie Grant) or redshirting (Jon Stinchcomb).

It's a team that's regressing, incapable of performing the most basic duties, too shell-shocked to be trusted to attempt anything complex for fear that things will implode even more than they have.

It's a fine mess, is what it is. One that soon could rival Ditka's if someone doesn't clean it up.

. . . . . . .

BucNup 09-29-2003 12:34 PM

There's no fight......

John DeShazier
Damn... Who is this fellow? Does he write on the Saints often? He\'s hot and deservingly so perhaps, but damn...


a stretch of stink so foul that some of the ugliest comparisons in a rank franchise history are applicable and appropriate.

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