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JOESAM2002 10-01-2003 09:26 AM

Holy Chit, Batman! (Can it be saved?)....


One day after the Saints worst loss in 30 years, the coaching staff convened to identify what has gone awry in a disappointing 1-3 start

Tuesday September 30, 2003

By Jeff Duncan
Staff writer

This time, Jim Haslett didn't take the blame.

The Saints coach pointed the finger for Sunday's embarrassing 55-21 loss to Indianapolis squarely at his 1-3 team.

"The coaching was fine," said Haslett, who, a week earlier, cited coaching breakdowns for an ugly loss at Tennessee. "This wasn't on the coaches this week."

Instead, Haslett said the Saints suffered a complete meltdown in execution in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams.

The offense committed four turnovers inside its 25-yard line, including one on its second play from scrimmage and one on its first play from scrimmage in the second half. Each of the four turnovers led to a Colts touchdown.

The defense was riddled for a Colts club-record six touchdown passes and 314 passing yards by quarterback Peyton Manning. The Saints yielded an average of 7.5 yards a play and allowed the Colts to convert seven of 11 third downs.

The special teams surrendered a 50-yard kickoff return that set up a Colts field goal, and they failed to execute a fake field-goal attempt in the second quarter.

"I am not going to make excuses and sit up here and try to analyze this," Haslett said. "You guys want to try to analyze everything. We didn't play very well. Somehow, we have to get this thing going in the right direction. We have got to change this."

Haslett said the effort of his team was "fine," especially considering the depleted nature of the roster. The Saints played without five defensive starters and lost several others for significant periods of time because of injuries.

The execution was another matter.

"I don't understand," Haslett said. "Some of the things that happened in the game yesterday I don't understand."

A 79-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Marvin Harrison in the second quarter, in particular, irked Haslett.

"We worked that play against that coverage three or four times, and it was poorly executed by our corner and our safety," Haslett said. "We had double coverage on him and no one was near him. It was bad."

When a reporter asked Haslett if he felt the secondary had an adequate grasp of the defensive coverages and schemes, Haslett snapped at him.

I just got him.

It appears the Saints do. After Manning's 20-of-25 passing performance, opposing quarterbacks are completing 61.2 percent of their passes for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Their combined passer efficiency rating is 106.7.

"On defense, we stunk," Haslett said. "We weren't very good in the back end."

Lineup changes, at this stage, are not an option, Haslett said. Besides, with an injured list that numbers 12 players, his options are limited.

"We don't even have enough bodies to change," Haslett said. "To sit there and change would be hard to do."

One change Haslett quickly dismissed was at quarterback, even though starter Aaron Brooks suffered one of the worst games of his four-year career. Brooks lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions. Each turnover occurred inside the Saints 25-yard line and led directly to a Colts touchdown.

One of Brooks' fumbles resulted from his failure to read a Colts blitz by Marvin Washington. Brooks was sacked by Washington, and the hit dislodged the ball. The Colts recovered the fumble at the New Orleans 12.

"I know everyone wants to get after the quarterback," Haslett said. "He played OK in the first half. In the second half, he played terrible. You are not going to make a quarterback change because you played one half of bad football."

Haslett gave the players a day off on Monday. Of the dozen or so players who visited camp to receive medical treatment, Haslett said a handful of them stopped by his office Monday to express their concerns.

"Everybody wants to win," Haslett said. "I would be disappointed if they weren't concerned. . . . Everybody is trying to find a logical reason."

The players say they are trying to bond and maintain their resolve in the face of the disappointing 1-3 start. Five of the next six games are against NFC South Division rivals, including Sunday's game at 3-0 Carolina.

"It's probably a bigger surprise to us than anyone," right guard LeCharles Bentley said. "We know how much work we have put into it, and we know the talent level that we have."

The Saints held a players-only meeting after the game. Although the details have not been revealed, players Monday said they remain confident of being able to turn the season around.

"If we knew what was wrong, we'd fix it," said left tackle Spencer Folau, who is expected to start Sunday for Wayne Gandy, sidelined with a left hamstring injury. "We've just got stay together. We can't start pointing fingers. If we start doing that, we won't win a game. But we need a spark. We need something."

BillyCarpenter1 10-01-2003 10:31 AM

Holy Chit, Batman! (Can it be saved?)....
It\'s really sad. You\'ve got players searching for answers and Haslett can\'t provide any!! Even as optimistic as I am, I don\'t see any way to salvage this season. It\'s one thing to give the benifit of the doubt to the players that were brought in by Haslett during the off season, but after 4-games, it is clear that most of these players simply aren\'t capiable of getting the job done.

I understand that Haslett cannot come out pubilicly and say that he screwed it up, but at this point, I think fans would respect him more if he did. Fans aren\'t stupid and they can see that Haslett over estimated players like Ambrose, Ruff, and many others.

But, the players that were brought in are only part of the problem. Another BIG problem is the way Haslett seems to prepare this team every week. It\'s clear to EVERYONE that these players don\'t play as a unit on offense or defense. Excuses can be made for the defense, because of injuries, but even they should be performing better. On offense there are no reasons why this unit is performing they way they have.

Haslett blames the coaching one week and the players the next week. What Haslett needs to understand is that HE is responsible for the coaching and the players performance. He brought in the players and hired his assistants, and Haslett himself is accountable for EVERYTHING!!

What Haslett has now is an offense that is MORE than capiable and a defense that can only hope to be average at best and that\'s if they are lucky. This teams best chance of any success is on offense. Haslett needs to find a way to spark this offense immediatley. Brooks is not the problem on offesne, but maybe Bouman would provide that spark they need. There are no clear cut answers on offense, but you have to start trying something different at some point. Changing an offensive lineman isn\'t going to provide that spark. It all starts with the QB and I think ultimately that Brooks will be the starter for many years to come, but right now Haslett must try something different.

WhoDat 10-01-2003 02:56 PM

Holy Chit, Batman! (Can it be saved?)....

I think someone found your password and logged in as you. I would change your password immediately.

BrooksMustGo 10-01-2003 03:12 PM

Holy Chit, Batman! (Can it be saved?)....
Hmmm, last week, Haz blamed the coaching

this week, he\'s blaming the players

next week, it must be time to start blaming the fans

TheOriginalSwampdog 10-01-2003 03:22 PM

Holy Chit, Batman! (Can it be saved?)....
AHHHAAA BMG, that was hilarious. That\'s not Haz\'s job, that\'s Benson\'s job. Idiot TB said after we sold out the game for the Colts, \"That\'s great we sold out at 68 thousand, but the Dome holds 70 thousand. We need standing room only\"!! Can you believe that shi*! You\'d think he\'d be more worried about his team that just got blown away at Tennessee. Benson is all about the $. Haz is just a bad coach, with not a clue as to how to fix what we have right now.

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