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SmashMouth 08-18-2012 10:23 AM

Dome-field advantage doesn't help New Orleans Saints in home opener but it will carry them this season
 
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Even if their team was not, New Orleans Saints fans were in midseason form on Friday night. They brought their signs and Free Sean Payton T-shirts and booed the replacement refs with regular-season gusto.
And despite the Saints' rather lackluster effort in a 27-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the fans left the stadium relatively satisfied. For three hours, they were finally able to scream and dance and purge some much-needed frustration from their systems.

http://media.nola.com/tpphotos/photo...9-standard.jpg

It'd been awhile. Seven months and 16 days to be exact. A lot has happened since the Saints last played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and relatively little of it has been positive. So first-half snoozer aside, Friday night's home debut was a cause célèbre for those in attendance.

They came to cheer their new $100 million man, Drew Brees, and to catch their first up-close view of new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and free-agent additions Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, Brodrick Bunkley and Marquis Johnson.

While the newcomers provided a silver lining to the otherwise dark offseason, none of them will likely prove as important to the fans themselves this season. Next to Brees, the 12th Man - the Superdome crowd -- has become the Saints' most important weapon. Last year, they fueled the Saints to an unbeaten 8-0 home record that included dominant performances against the Bears (30-13), Colts (62-7), Giants (49-24), Falcons (45-16) and Panthers (45-17). It might take a similar effort to power the shorthanded Saints though the brutally tough NFC.

Nobody has noticed, but the NFL has been an NFC-dominated league for awhile now. Four of the past five Super Bowls have been won by NFC teams. Almost every team in the conference has a franchise quarterback or elite defense. Odds are an NFC team will raise the Lombardi Trophy at the Superdome in February.

The Superdome crowd might go along way in determining if it will be the Saints.

Assuming they meet expectations and earn a fourth consecutive postseason berth - and that's a big "if" considering the unprecedented adversity they face - home-field advantage should be their primary goal this season.

Brees this week said the Saints pride themselves on being able to beat any team any time anywhere but the numbers don't lie. The Saints are 4-0 in home playoff games during the Payton-Brees era. They're 0-3 on the road. Statistics don't get more telling than that.

It's no coincidence that the Saints' two NFC championship game appearances occurred when they were able to secure a first-round bye.

No, the Saints will go as far this season as their fans will carry them. It's been that way for awhile now. This season will be no different.

The good news is few fans are more passionate or creative in their support than the Who Dat Nation.

Consider Phil Marshall Exhibit A.

You've probably never heard of Marshall but you undoubtedly heard about his exploits this week. Marshall was the guy who flew the "FREE PAYTON" banner over the Saints' practice facility Wednesday.

It was his way of expressing his disgust at the NFL's draconian punishments of the Saints for Bountygate, an act he considers as appalling as the Spanish Inquisition.

True to his New Orleans area roots, he hatched the plan at Pat O'Brien's Patio Bar last weekend with a couple of buddies, one of them being Jack Daniels.

A few days - and aspirin - later, Marshall, a United pilot by trade, found himself circling over the Saints' training facility and trying his best to keep the prop plane from overheating and forcing an emergency landing on Airline Drive.

"I just wanted Sean Payton to know that we appreciate what you've done for us and for this city," said Marshall, 54, a Mandeville native who now resides in Murphys, Calif. "That's what I was thinking while I was up there. Times are bad right now but we've got your back."

Marshall and Luhrman were shocked at the publicity their stunt generated. He spent most of the week conducting interviews and trying to raise donations for future banner "buzzes." Each flight costs approximately $2,400 to pay for fuel, plane rental and insurance, he said. (To donate: https://www.wepay.com/donations/free-sean-payton). He hopes to collect enough cash to fund a future flight over NFL offices in Manhattan.

"We're Saints fans," Marshall said. "We're backing our coach. We're sending a message: Don't mess with the Saints and our city. We're not standing for this."

Marshall and the Who Dat Nation clearly are in midseason form. The Saints have a few more weeks to get there.


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Rugby Saint II 08-18-2012 11:54 AM

Re: Dome-field advantage doesn't help New Orleans Saints in home opener but it will carry them this season
 
When they play the Saints will be able to hear me from the eastern shore of the Mobile Bay! Who Dat! :bng:

halloween 65 08-18-2012 12:16 PM

Re: Dome-field advantage doesn't help New Orleans Saints in home opener but it will carry them this season
 
I miss Payton, I don't have a problem with Vitt or any of the others but the chemisty between Payton and Brees just ain't there.

SaintsBro 08-18-2012 01:27 PM

Re: Dome-field advantage doesn't help New Orleans Saints in home opener but it will carry them this season
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by halloween 65 (Post 429031)
I miss Payton, I don't have a problem with Vitt or any of the others but the chemisty between Payton and Brees just ain't there.

Look, I know they looked sluggish at first, but you don't think 6 completions in a row, 85 yard drive, and that beautiful touchdown to Devery, wasn't "chemistry"? 10-of-13 passing for 133? What "chemistry" exactly are you not seeing, in that last drive of the half? Another earlier drive went all the way down the field, 70-something yards and then stalled at the Jaguars 18 for a field goal. The other bad ugly offensive moment, what does Jimmy Graham blowing a block have to do with the "chemistry" between Payton and Brees?

The time where they couldn't figure out whether to punt or go for it or kick a field goal, that was a real "no Sean Payton" moment, it looked like nobody could make up their mind what to do, but that had nothing to do with chemistry or Brees.

NOLA54 08-20-2012 11:44 AM

Re: Dome-field advantage doesn't help New Orleans Saints in home opener but it will carry them this season
 
Look. Teams like the Jags tend to do well in the pre-season because the teams they play are using plain vanilla defenses. They are trying to accomplish a feel good pre-season and it usually does not carry over into the regular season. The Packers aren't looking great in the pre-season but I bet they will look much better when the season starts. The Saints will do the same. Pre-season isn't really about winning games but more about evaluating players especially when the team is a more established one like the Saints or the Packers.

TheOak 08-20-2012 11:56 AM

Re: Dome-field advantage doesn't help New Orleans Saints in home opener but it will carry them this season
 
We are known for sluggish weeks... TB, Seattle.... member? yea U member...

Lets get them out of our system before the regular season.


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