Pre-season talk for the New Orleans Saints consisted of "us against the world" and "the Saints will be the first team to play at home in a Super Bowl." That was, of course before they had to play a game that counted.
That talk has quickly ended in what looks to be a season slipping away from a defense that cannot stop the run or the pass and an offense that cannot protect the quarterback or show any type of consistency.
The locker room was a dejected one following the shocking loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, a lowly team looking for its first victory of the season as well.
Interim head coach Aaron Kromer, said after the game, "We are obviously disappointed, but not disheartened. We are going to keep battling. We are going to face our biggest challenge. We haven't been 0-3 as the New Orleans Saints for a very long time. We don't know how this feels. We don't know how we are supposed to act right now, but I know this we are going to face our biggest challenge at 0-3 right now. We are going to look in the mirror and point to ourselves like we did last week and find out what each guy can do better. I know it sounds like a broken record. We had a chance today; we are getting close but close is not good enough."
Asked if the team missed Sean Payton, Kromer said, "I think this team needs to all get a little bit better and continue keeping their minds on the right things. They are, and it's going to be a challenge at 0-3, but they are going to get it done."
Let's face it, coach Kromer may not have admitted the team misses Payton, but they do and Drew Brees hinted to that, "All I can say is, Sean Payton's a great football coach, and he's great at those things (adjustments), but he's not here. The rest of us have to find a way."
When looking over the statistics, one really stands out, the rushing game. The Chiefs ran the ball 45 times for 273 yards, a staggering 6.1 average. On the other hand, the Saints ran the ball 19 times for 84 yards. It is hard to beat a team that rushes the ball 45 times and even harder to beat a team that runs for 273 yards.
The Saints gave up 27 first downs, and a whopping 510 yards of total offense, compared to the Saints 288 yards. The Saints are LAST in the league in defense and did nothing to help to change that against the Chiefs.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spaguolo addressed the defense this afternoon saying, "First of all, you don't junk what you are doing. We believe in what we're doing. I think the guys see some encouraging things there. We can go to some other things, we talked about it this morning. I believe, truly, just get better at what we are doing. One thing about that running back, and there are a bunch of them in this league, is if you give him a crack he can make you pay big time which is what he did."
Kromer's thoughts on the rushing defense, "Obviously, we have to do a better job against the run. We didn't run the ball well enough and they ran the ball well. We need to find out why that is and get that fixed."
When asked about lineup changes Spagnuolo said, "We are always looking at it. We talked about it a little bit this morning. Even in this game, we had a bunch of guys rotating and playing at all of the positions. The corners were rotating, tackles, defensive ends were rotating. The only spots that didn't really rotate in were the two safeties and the mike linebacker. We had injuries at linebacker that forced us to play guys that hadn't really practiced at those positions but that happens in the league. We look at it all the time. We will talk again as the weeks goes on."
With all that said, unless the defense can stop the run and Brees and company have some of the pressure taken off of them to score every time they have the ball, the season will be over by the time Joe Vitt gets back the team and the Saints will be looking to next year and the return of Sean Payton.
Next up for the Saints, the Green Bay Packers, and yes they have a pretty good offense.
Coach Kromer summed it up best when he said, "What makes this a tough situation is that the organization has had so much success lately since Sean Payton got here in 2006 that to be 0-3 is uncharted territory."
Unchartered territory indeed.
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