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SmashMouth 09-12-2012 08:38 AM

New Orleans Saints calm, determined after loss
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Malcolm Jenkins and Zach Strief appreciate that the Saints’ season-opening loss did nothing to change the minds of those who expect the bounty scandal and related suspensions to undermine their 2012 season.

The team captains only pointed out that New Orleans was not immune to poor performances during previous playoff seasons, either. Even then, they had a few games that looked a lot like their out-of-synch, turnover- and penalty-ridden, 40-32 loss to Washington on Sunday.

“You’re going to lose at some point in the season. That’s just the reality of it,” Jenkins, a starting free safety, said calmly after a Monday film session breaking down the defense’s performance in Sunday’s defeat. “I’d rather lose early. You find out what you’re team is about. You find your identity, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and you correct them.”

Two seasons ago there were losses to Arizona on the road and Cleveland at home. Last season, one week after putting up 62 points against Indianapolis, the Saints lost to St. Louis, which came into that game 0-6.

The loss to the Rams included six sacks of Drew Brees, two Brees interceptions and a blocked Thomas Morstead punt. New Orleans rebounded to win its last eight regular-season games and set numerous offensive records.

Now, however, it remains to be seen whether the Saints will rebound in a similar fashion while coach Sean Payton is suspended and banned for the whole season from lending even a shred of advice to his remaining staff.

Interim head coach Aaron Kromer said he could only imagine what Payton was thinking, assuming he watched the game on television.

“I’m sure he was disappointed that we didn’t play better than we did, and he should have been,” Kromer said. “We were all disappointed: players, coaches, everyone.”

Kromer conceded that the months of buildup to the season opener since the bounty scandal erupted in March may have at least subconsciously affected the Saints in their season opener. When he addressed the team Monday morning, he said he saw too many instances during Sunday’s loss of players “doing someone else’s job and not doing their own job.”

“That’s when you try to make a play that’s not yours on defense instead of just doing your job and staying within the scheme,” Kromer said. “That’s when you try to make a pass that isn’t needed at the time, because you’re trying to press to throw a deep ball to get us in the game right now as opposed to two plays from now. That’s when a lineman is trying to help his buddy block a guy by doing something differently. There are plenty of examples within the game.”

The Saints have been largely defiant in the face of bounty sanctions, saying their team remains built in Payton’s image, that they intend to be in the playoffs for a fourth-straight season and contend for the Super Bowl, which will be played on their home field in February.

In retrospect, they wondered if they were trying too hard to prove that point in their home opener.

“There was a lot of emotion going into the game,” Brees said. “At times, when emotions are so high, you get into the game and you can have a lapse.”

Jenkins said it looked to him like some of the corrections began even before the game ended, which is why New Orleans was able to make it a one-possession contest late in the fourth quarter.

“We finished well,” Jenkins said. “To have over 10 penalties, to lose the turnover battle and not really have a rhythm the entire game — to really have a chance to tie it up at the end of the game is encouraging. That just shows us what we have if we really play smart football.”

In order to avoid an 0-2 hole and a divisional loss at Carolina next Sunday, the Saints must make a number of corrections quickly. They must recognize what they could have done better against rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, whose dual-threat capabilities present some of the same challenges defenses face against the Panthers’ Cam Newton. They must get more comfortable with the scheme installed by new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The offense, meanwhile, needs to be more in synch, eliminating pre-snap penalties and missed blocking assignments.

“You wish you didn’t have that game where you have to come in and refocus,” said Streif, a starting right tackle who has been with the Saints since 2006. “Sometimes that’s hard to see, and maybe guys are not looking in the mirror like they should, but at the same time, that’s the benefit of them building a locker room with character.

“I tell you right now, the practice on Wednesday will be a good practice, and that’s speaking from experience here of what happens after these (difficult) games,” Streif added. “We’ll get closer, and we’ll respond.”

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Mardigras9 09-12-2012 10:26 AM

Re: New Orleans Saints calm, determined after loss
All encouraging statements.

xan 09-12-2012 10:46 AM

Re: New Orleans Saints calm, determined after loss
talk is cheap

NOLA54 09-12-2012 05:04 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints calm, determined after loss

Originally Posted by xan (Post 437713)
talk is cheap

Talk may be cheap but I appreciate the way these 2 guys are carrying the banner. The last thing this team needs is for players to start pointing fingers at each other & destroying the chemistry of the team.

The Dude 09-12-2012 05:20 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints calm, determined after loss
Let your play speak for itself. Show me, don't tell me. No way we go from being as dominant as we were last year to what we saw Sunday, at the very least there is an in between. The Carolina game might not be a make or break game in itself in regards to the outcome of the season, but moreso a statement of how strong and resilient we are. This loss may be what this team needs to come together and get its ass in gear. I have yet to see this team hit on all cylinders like it did so many times last year. No way losing 3 players has that much impact on who we are as a team. Even without a coach we should at least resemble the team we saw last year. Right now I don't even recognize this team. Good thing I got some tang last night or I just might have exploded by now.

Seer1 09-12-2012 05:38 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints calm, determined after loss
I'll keep wearing my Saints stuff on casual Friday. As I remember, the Giants already had a fork stuck in them at mid season and even a bit beyond and...

Rugby Saint II 09-13-2012 12:31 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints calm, determined after loss
It's funny that the two players who underperform the most are the ones saying this.

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