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saintz08 01-13-2004 05:29 AM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 

Saints' company line can't cut it this year

Tuesday January 13, 2004

John DeShazier

The fire remains in the belly. No major overhaul is needed. The team is so close to advancing to the playoffs, it can smell the ticket sales.

Stop me if you've heard this before from the Saints, if you're sick of hearing it, or both.

After all, such words and optimism are so routine from a team that has mastered the art of mediocrity, it's impossible to ignore the strong sense of déjÃÂÂ* vu. We, and the franchise, have been there. We, and the franchise, have done that.

It's hard not to reflect on the Saints' answers during their 2003 exit exam -- and not exactly gain a sense of security from them -- while watching playoff games that again don't involve the New Orleans franchise, featuring teams that somehow have managed to figure out that "something" that eludes the Saints' grasp like a shadow.

The Saints finished 8-8 -- same as Cincinnati, but a totally different feel. The Bengals have the sweet scent of optimism as they look to ascend. The Saints again managed to sour most of the good feelings that were heaped on them before and during the season.

Reality is the team hasn't improved where it counts under Coach Jim Haslett since a magical first season, when it won a division title and the first playoff game in franchise history.

There's been an upgrade in personnel, a downgrade in victories. Since going 11-7 in 2000, which seems like an Ice Age ago, the Saints have been as average as average can be -- 24 wins and 24 losses in 48 games, good enough to stay in the playoff race until the last week or two, bad enough to screw it up when it really counts.

Reality is that when players begin questioning the professionalism of teammates -- as quarterback :o Aaron Brooks and running back Deuce McAllister did -- the problem goes beyond personnel. It goes beyond whether the fire remains in Haslett's belly, or whether wholesale or cosmetic changes are required.

These broken Saints are Haslett's production. True, he has a general manager (Mickey Loomis) and director of player personnel (Rick Mueller) who purportedly are his equals in the front-office pecking order. But given Haslett's background as an NFL player and assistant coach, one can't seriously believe he's going to yield ground on personnel moves to men who have less experience in the field that has shaped his life.

Which means it's probably time for owner Tom Benson to hire someone to whom Haslett will defer -- a role that has gone unfilled since Randy Mueller was fired prior to the 2002 season -- since coaches who double as personnel men rarely are effectively at both. Because no one wants to see something that began so well go bad as Haslett enters a time frame (his fifth season) in which sports marriages often end or begin to crumble.

Tony Dungy, Dan Reeves, Bill Callahan, Dennis Green and Steve Mariucci were fired after accomplishing more with Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Oakland, Minnesota and San Francisco, respectively.

New Orleans pines for the kind of success those coaches helped generate. It looks longingly at the NFL's final four and wonders, why not the Saints? Because each seemingly had its share of warts, too.

Indianapolis, with its shoddy playoff reputation, has marched through opponents. New England, which has been battered and bruised all season, managed to produce enough big plays to win 13 games in a row and reach the AFC championship game against the Colts.

Philadelphia was 0-2 behind a quarterback who seemed to be completing more passes to opponents than teammates. Carolina, Philly's opponent for the NFC crown, was considered more lucky than good until the goodness kept happening.

Those four have their sights set on the Super Bowl. The Saints have "fire" and no plans to make major changes.

No need to stop me if you've heard it before. I'll stop myself.

. . . . . . .

Danno 01-13-2004 07:57 AM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 
Wow, I\'ll bet that was difficult for John DeShazier to write.
Its the most upbeat positive thing I\'ve read from him in years.
Maybe he\'s slowly trying to turn into an optimist...baby steps John, baby steps.

Danno 01-13-2004 08:16 AM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 
John DeShazier\'s journalisim mission statement:

WE\'RE THE SAINTS, THE TEAM SUCKS AND ALWAYS WILL, THE FANS ARE STUPID AND ALWAYS WILL BE.

True to form, another John DeShazier article hits his mission statement nail on the head with his hammer of negativity.

What a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOZER!

WAHHHHHHHHHH, WAHHHHHHHHHHHHH, WAHHHHHHHHHHHH

WhoDat 01-13-2004 09:40 AM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 
Gee Danno, it sounds to me like he\'s got it about as right on as is possible. You disagree with what he said?

Danno 01-13-2004 10:02 AM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 
If you goal is to point out everything negative about the Saints franchise and absolutely nothing positive, then gee whodat, he does nail it!

Its food for the pessimist\'s soul. And the \"we suck and always will\" crowd is lappin\' it up with a big ol\' pity biscuit.

WhoDat 01-13-2004 10:09 AM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 
OK. But what specifically did he say that you disagree with? I mean, the guy is saying that since Haslett\'s first year, the Saints haven\'t gotten any better and haven\'t found a way to make the playoffs. That sound wrong to you?

He\'s also saying that every year we hear about how much better we\'ll be next year, how we\'re close, all we need is this or that - but this or that never materializes, does it?

I know that you\'ll have a real hard time convincing me, and probably a whole lot of other Saints fans, that this offseason is much different than many others since Haslett came here, and thus, why is there much reason to believe that things will change?

Danno 01-13-2004 10:29 AM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 
Quote:

OK. But what specifically did he say that you disagree with? I mean, the guy is saying that since Haslett\'s first year, the Saints haven\'t gotten any better and haven\'t found a way to make the playoffs. That sound wrong to you?

He\'s also saying that every year we hear about how much better we\'ll be next year, how we\'re close, all we need is this or that - but this or that never materializes, does it?

I know that you\'ll have a real hard time convincing me, and probably a whole lot of other Saints fans, that this offseason is much different than many others since Haslett came here, and thus, why is there much reason to believe that things will change?
Because this will be the 1st year that MAJOR changes won\'t take place. Some continuity may do this team some good.

Oh, its not that I disagree with most of his doom and gloom points, its his attention to negativity that irks me.
Like this line in particular...
\"... from a team that has mastered the art of mediocrity\"
As if thats their major goal. The grand plan of mastering mediocrity. Yea, thats their plan.

I could point out a negative on every player and coach on this team and you\'d have a hard time claiming what I say is wrong.

Imagine what scouting reports on college players would look like if the omitted the \"POSITIVES:\" section and only listed the \"NEGATIVES:\" about that player.
You\'d think there wasn\'t a single college player worthy of playing NFL football wouldn\'t you? Thats DeShazier for you. He irritates me.

saintfan 01-13-2004 11:08 AM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 
Danno, I would like to thank you for that post. You make your point so much more gracefully than do I. Thank you sir. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

ScottyRo 01-13-2004 12:23 PM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 
\"Reality is that when players begin questioning the professionalism of teammates -- as quarterback Aaron Brooks and running back Deuce McAllister did -- the problem goes beyond personnel. It goes beyond whether the fire remains in Haslett\'s belly, or whether wholesale or cosmetic changes are required.\"

Did I miss something? I remember some rumbling after the last game about some unprofessionalism exhibited by Saints players, but nothing really emerged as concrete accusations.

Did Brooks or McAllister ever come out to the media about any specific players (other than Horn\'s cell phone business)?

I just don\'t remember getting the feeling that the wheels were coming off to this degree. That statement makes it sound like unprofessionalism was a major problem all year - and the cause of why they didn\'t make the playoffs, but I never really heard anything about such complaints.

WhoDat 01-13-2004 02:45 PM

Ouch - Hammer meet Nail
 
Maybe he is looking only at the negative side of things, but why would he look at the positives? What positives have come as a result of the last three seasons? This team has been defined by mediocrity and underachievement over the last three years. There\'s really no other way to put it.


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