Saints stink it up
December 31. 2002 7:38PM
Saints stink it up again
By Teddy Renois
The New Orleans Saints wrote another chapter in futility Sunday.
Just when we thought it was safe, just when we felt like maybe this is the season and just when our pride in our home team was at an all-time high, it happened again. It has happened time after time for the entire existence of this star-crossed franchise.
Not only did this team break our hearts once again, but they did it in a fashion that brings shame and humiliation to the city and state that support them.
I admit, I was duped myself to some degree.
After the Saints beat Tampa Bay and Baltimore and held a 9-4 record with Minnesota, Cincinnati and Carolina left to play, I conceded they should be able to win two games and get in the playoffs.
I even bought into the loss to Minnesota as a game they couldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve won, but the Vikings handled the Saints the majority of the time, so I took it as an understandable loss.
But after the loss to the Bengals and Panthers, it is safe to say that the worst team in the NFL is not in Cincinnati or Carolina. It resides in New Orleans.
The SaintsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ talent is better than the Bengals and the Panthers, but with an opportunity to make the playoffs and a chance at the gold ring, this team was not motivated.
We have to question the heart and thought process of this team down the stretch. It would just seem natural to think winning the Super Bowl is the ultimate accomplishment in the NFL.
The Saints had a chance to be one of 12 teams left for the right to win the ultimate prize. Instead of playing with a sense of urgency, they missed opportunities with dropped passes, bad passes, missed blocks and poor tackling.
New Orleans really looked like a team that shouldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t have won a game this season, instead of one of a few in the NFC fighting for a playoff spot.
I am not going into a rave on Aaron Brooks over Jake Delhomme in the final month of the season. This team played poorly in all phases, except special teams, and Delhomme may have suffered the same defeats as Brooks.
But when a playoff spot is there for the taking and the offense is stale and stuck in the mud because of poor execution in the passing game, a spark, change of pace or a breath of fresh air may have gotten the one touchdown needed to win.
As for Brooks, Bill Parcells said on a pre-game show that the SaintsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ quarterback is the most distracted quarterback in the league.
Parcells said Brooks is not focused enough. He is young, but his laidback attitude is not winning him fans.
Jim Haslett made the statement that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“When you play at home, most crowds try to back you and help you win. ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s what home-field advantage is all about. I guess it is different here, and I donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t understand it.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬?
Well, let me explain.
When a team stinks it up the way the Saints did Sunday, they deserve the boos. The crowd was into the game and when the Cleveland Browns took a 10-0 lead over the Atlanta Falcons, they cheered and tried to inspire the Saints.
The fans cheered for the defense and whenever Michael Lewis could get his hands on the ball for a return. Their reasoning ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â¦ they knew those were the only units that could score because the offense gave no indication it could.
The defense gave the offense the ball in the red zone and the Saints could only muster a field goal, so right then, the fans knew that the team was dead offensively.
Three straight seasons, this team has faded. Yes, even in the playoff year of 2000, they didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t play well in the second half of that year. Haslett has to figure out how to have his team stronger in the second half of the football calendar.
The Saints are a quick starter but
fade badly late in the season. This year was embarrassing, especially how they crumbled against supposedly inferior foes.
Louisiana is not the only place where the cries of shame are coming down on the Saints. National broadcasters are calling out the shame of this teamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s final month of the season.
In Louisiana, we are assured of a few things -- death, taxes, a good time and the Saints mucking up a good thing and put a damper on our New YearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s celebration.
Like clock work, they did it again, and it is another wait until next year. I wonder how many next years we have left, but next year started today, so wait until this year.
Happy New YearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s Day to everyone.
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