Ugh, Monday. It can go one of two ways:
(1) The Saints had a victory the previous day, so I celebrated with drunken public revelry proudly sporting my Saints paraphernalia around San Francisco, huge grin pasted across my face. It takes me until about 8PM to wear out, and I wake up unreasonably early the following morning paying for my celebration.
(2) The Saints lost the previous day, so I switched to hard liquor with six minutes left in the fourth quarter when I got that sinking feeling they weren’t going to pull this one off. The people who may have been drinking with me quickly lost pace, and I’m no fun anyways because I’m in mourning, so I take myself home at 5:30 and watch the night game from bed, cringing every time they show Saints highlights, pass out, and wake up Monday paying for my mourning.
Obviously, for week one it’s a Monday type (2). My hangover today is made infinitely worse by what appeared to be sloppy play and sloppy play calling all over the field. Permit me to demonstrate:
- Jimmy Graham, my beloved, my fantasy hero, still managed to cough up a ball after he caught it early in the game. He fumbled only once in all of 2011. I choose to remember him this way now. (Note, ESPN is apparently not counting this one because we recovered it).
- Marques Colston, who also fumbled only once in all of 2011, coughed up a ball that he was about to carry into the endzone for a touchdown.
- Drew Brees not only threw 2 interceptions (1/7 of his 2011 total), he threw like crap about 40% of the time. Balls hit the ground instead of making it 5 yards to their target, fell behind players, etc. He also completed 46% of his passes after averaging over 70% completions in 2011.
- About every receiver had a serious case of the drops, and I think every single one of them dropped a pass that did in fact hit them in the hands. Our cornerbacks also neglected to actually catch potential interceptions that hit them in the hands (although Corey White gets sort of a rookie pass for this, see below).
It was hardly aggressive for the commentators to suggest that we were “out of sync.” We clearly were.
We were also thin on defense, especially at cornerback – Jabari Greer, generally agreed to be our best corner, was out of the game with a sports hernia. Johnny Patrick, his backup, left early in the game with a leg injury of his own. That left Corey White, a rookie out of Samford college, and Patrick Robinson, a third year guy out of Florida State, covering the whole damn field. I was actually impressed with White, who nearly picked off an endzone pass at one point with a good fade into the ball, though of course he ended up dropping it. And Scott Shanle, usually our lead tackler, left partway through the game with some as-yet-undisclosed leg ailment. So, while I am not happy that the defense stopped about as much as a cork in a New Orleans levee, at least there’s an explanation for that.
RGIII undoubtedly played well, with poise, but that alone can’t be the reason for a loss. We’ve beaten Matt Stafford and Cam Newton when they just played well. In this case, though, our defensive scheme was apparently wholly predictable and equally ineffective. Immediately we piled our guys in the middle of the field and gave up about 100 yards worth of short passes to the outside. Presumably this was to stop RG3 from scrambling, but he didn’t run much and managed 42 yards the couple times he tried, anyways.
And the defensive scheme wasn’t the only coaching issue, because of course we have the whole “we don’t actually have coaches” problem (damn you, Roger Goodell). So, the half of a coaching staff we did have somehow decided it was advisable to kickoff to the endzone instead of trying to on-side kick with 2 and a half minutes remaining down by 8. Consequently we put the game back in the hands of our poor decimated defense, which by then hardly had a record of actually stopping or even slowing the Redskins, who proceeded to charge down the field one more time and take most of the ticks off the clock in the process.
So, now, I’m hangover torn. We had a very similar shootout loss to Green Bay the first game of last season, and Brees has said he expects us to bounce back this time too. But that was an away game, and last season we had Sean Payton. Sean Payton who even now is coaching middle school football while he is punished for failing to stop something that a court has now said never happened. I don’t want to blame a losing season on this grotesque injustice, but I definitely will. Give us our coach(es) back, man. We need a guy with the balls to call an onside kick if we’re going to any Super Bowls this year.