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Saints cannot afford an Arizona stumble

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints cannot afford an Arizona stumble How a team handles a visit to the Cardinals can tell us a lot about whether we’re looking at a contender — or a bird perhaps of a similar feather to the poor ’ol ...

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Old 10-01-2004, 09:18 PM   #1
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Saints cannot afford an Arizona stumble

Saints cannot afford an Arizona stumble

How a team handles a visit to the Cardinals can tell us a lot about whether we’re looking at a contender — or a bird perhaps of a similar feather to the poor ’ol basement-dwelling Redbirds.

So we will learn much about the Saints on Sunday. The Saints may be 2-1, but only the most optimistic New Orleans backer doesn’t scoff or give a roll of the eyes to that mark coming across it in the newspaper. These are, after all, the Saints, the NFL’s worst teases of recent vintage.

That’s why this Arizona trip means so much to head coach Jim Haslett’s team. Playoff teams, by hook or crook, usually get out of Sun Devil Stadium with a win. Two examples: In Week Two of last season, the Seahawks pounded on the Cardinals, winning 38-0. Ten weeks later, the Rams let the Cardinals hang around — always a bad idea — and had to use overtime to earn the victory.

Two different ways of going about your business, yes, but business taken care of all the same. By the same token, both the 49ers and Bengals went to Tempe last season with high-and-mighty ideas of who they were … and left with losses. And who can forget the Vikings’ cautionary tale? The NFC North title was all but theirs — until some inspired play from Cardinals QB Josh McCown and some awful play from the Minnesota secondary culminated in an 18-17 Arizona win. The Vikings’ collapse, of course, gave the Packers the North crown and took them off the hook for their own embarrassing defeat at Sun Devil Stadium early in the season.

The Saints can ill afford a weekend to forget out west, not after a win at home vs. San Francisco and an OT victory at St. Louis. They do not yet deserve the benefit of the doubt. Look, it is very easy to construct the argument the Saints could be 0-3. A shaky offensive pass-interference call in the final minute vs. the Niners stonewalled a San Francisco drive that was likely to end in the game-winning touchdown. A week later, the Saints benefited from St. Louis’ dubious decision to squib-kick after a late touchdown. The Rams made matters worse by playing a soft pass defense that allowed Saints QB Aaron Brooks to move New Orleans into position for the game-tying field goal.

Obviously the Saints would like you to see the 2-1 start another way. There is no explaining away the season-opening clunker vs. Seattle, but the San Francisco win is made somewhat more impressive when you remember the Saints were dealing with the logistical and emotional toll Hurricane Ivan wrought. And give the nod to the Saints for making the necessary plays to win in St. Louis the following week; yes, the Rams aren’t what they were, but a road win vs. a playoff contender is something to be proud of.

I do see some positive developments with this team. The underrated Brooks is on his way to yet another solid season; he’s thrown five touchdowns and only one interception thus far. DE Charles Grant (four sacks) is tormenting NFC quarterbacks. RB Aaron Stecker looks like he can hold his own until Deuce McAllister returns from an ankle injury. What troubles me about the Saints is their defense, which has major problems stopping the run and the pass. Only the Colts are worse statistically through three weeks.

How the defense fares against Arizona’s No. 30-ranked offense will let us know if there’s any hope of New Orleans expecting to have a shot in any game where its offense struggles. The "D," warts and all, should shut down the Arizona attack, which is still searching for an identity.

On the other side of the ball, Brooks is likely to have success vs. Arizona’s secondary. Stecker will relish getting the ball vs. the league’s lowest-ranked run defense.

The elements are there for a Saints triumph, their third in a row. If they start stringing wins together, the respect will start to come.

But first, they had better knock out Arizona. And they better do it fast. Give the Cardinals hope, and they will give you a game. The Saints shouldn’t want any part of a cliffhanger, not when their credibility is at stake.

http://profootballweekly.com/PFW/NFL...ning100104.htm
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Old 10-01-2004, 09:48 PM   #2
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Saints cannot afford an Arizona stumble

The only cliffhanger\'s on Sunday are goin be the boogers hangin from the Cardinals noses from all that cryin after we whip the crap out of them.
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