Oops, we did it again.
Ah, yes, a Monday type 2. A crushing loss. We trailed consistently all game long after popping ahead with a strong drive and a score. Cam Newton and his RB’s ran all over us all game long, and we kept leaving Steve Smith open on the sideline even though LaFell managed a bitchin’ game as well. The defense was better, perhaps, than last week. But not good.
Key momentum-changing interceptions plagued us again, but I’m not really prepared to put them on Brees’ shoulders. Our run game looked pretty great, to be fair. Brees just hardly seemed to have time to get to an open guy, much less an open guy downfield, as the pocket consistently collapsed around him. Cam Newton also had an awesome [fantasy] day with rushing and passing touchdowns (how bittersweet, as a Newton owner). We played catch-up all game long after that first drive, and we never caught up.
Frankly, I have to give the team a break here. It is not easy to win games with half the coaching staff the other guy has. In each of the last two games, Drew Brees was hurried more than 6 times, sacked twice both games, throwing interceptions as the pocket collapsed. We miss Carl Nicks, though of course Ben Grubbs is a great player. Let’s admit that. But we also miss our offensive line coach, who is busy running the team. These things matter.
At least we tried the on-side kick this time, though I’m not sure we’d practiced it. It looked like a grounder to the Panther’s tight end.
At this moment, the season looks hopeless. Not because we don’t have talent, or drive, or heart, or the undying love of fans, myself included. Because we don’t have coaches.
I think it’s reasonable to conclude that part of the impetus behind the “bountygate” punishments is that the NFL is motivated to look tough on violence. The increased penalties from head shots are symptomatic of a need by the league to appear to work against the kinds of injuries for which it is presently being sued by multiple plaintiffs. To allow public allegations (noting in this instance that the NFL was probably the first to report) that a team had made efforts to injure players was not an option. Even I can admit that. The problem is that the Commissioner was so swift in his response to the violence and his conclusion that the allegations were true that he failed to consider the evidence before him.
Roger Goodell has an easy out here. He can meet with Vilma today and appear next week to report to the public that after the court ruling and the meeting with Vilma the NFL confronted the source of the bounty allegations and found that he was not credible in his statements. The NFL can then respond to class action head trauma plaintiffs that it pursued claims of excessive violence with vigor even where merely suspected, and note that we still got our draft picks and half a year of coaching taken away on mere suspicion. The grotesque injustice of the Saints’ punishments can be discontinued, and we can get a fair shot at a Superbowl.
As it stands, Goodell looks like a douchebag, the Crescent City is seething with hate and sour displeasure, and injustice has been done.