0 And 1
Aaron Kromer was never my choice for the New Orleans Saints interim-interim head coaching job and now we see why. His calm, demure presence on the sidelines left me in mind of a wallflower at a high-school dance, too afraid no to show up yet too scared to ask a boy to dance, and until the 4Q, it looked like it might stay that way.
We all know Sean Payton has a penchant for scripting the first dozen or so plays of the game. One begins to wonder if Kromer scripted the first three quarters and refused to alter that script even when it resulted in busted plays and stalled drives. The sullen look on Drew Brees’ face for most of the game leads us to believe that there was indeed something rotten in the State of Denmark.
The signature high-powered Saints offense that we’ve grown accustomed to didn’t show up until somewhere in the 4Q and it was a complete surprise when it did. Until then I was under the impression that the Saints had completely forgotten every fundamental football skill they had ever learned, but no, there they were playing like Champions in the 4Q. It was as if Kromer eventually folded to pressure and told Brees, “Fuck it, do whatever you want.” Unortunately, that happened about 30 seconds too late in the game to alter the outcome. Conjecture? Certainly, but have you ever see an angrier hail-mary pass than the one Drew fired downfield as time ran out? That ball was just plain Mean!
We hear a lot about teams being out-coached and it’s usually said about our opponents. I heard stirrings of this nature yesterday about the Saints and let me tell you, buddy, that’s wrong. We were out-played by our own players. While there were mental errors on the field they were far out-wieghed by physical mistakes made by both rookies and veterans and this is where the absence of Sean Payton was really felt. There should have been facemasks.
When an opposing ball carrier runs right into the arms of our defense then bounces off and cuts a corner for a 15-yard gain it’s a mistake. When it happens repeatedly it’s inexcusable. Had Sean Payton been on the sidelines he would have grabbed the entire D-line by the collective facemask and rained a torrent of spittle and brimstone down on their heads ending the matter right there. Kromer, apparently, casually paced the sidelines wondering if dinner would include stuffing or potatoes.
Defense was solid early and Special Teams made a brilliant punt block for a TD, but as the clock wore down, so did the energy of Spag’s Squad. You want to travel in time? Watch that game again and tell me you’re not looking at shades of the Dome Patrol slowly losing steam over the course of a game. Of course, the Dome Patrol would have managed a half dozen sacks in the first half…
And yes, the scab refs did their part, ignoring blatant holding and pass interference calls, but that went both ways during the game. The trouble there is that it usually happened at critical points for the Saints and not-so-critical points for the Redskins. Yet we can’t use these striped morons as an excuse for our own failures. We had innumerable bad calls form the regular striped morons during our Championship run and we overcame those all season long and won the Superbowl. There’s no reason we can’t do that now.
I know… it’s only the first game, and only time will tell what may come. I guess we should resort to that highly quotable platitude that this will be “a game we can all learn from and build on”. It’s a nice, positive spin that coaches and players use to trick themselves into thinking they’ve learned something, and admittedly, it sometimes works. And honestly, it was a fantastic saying the first few times it was used over a half a century ago. The trouble is, there are 16 teams using it 16 times a year, season after season, and it’s getting old.
And now for the numbers:
With his last completed pass in Sunday’s dismal opener against the Washington Redskins, a 26 yard strike over the middle to Lance Moore, Drew Brees cracked the 4000-yard mark as a Saint. Brees now sits atop the Saints Career yardage record with 4009 and if he continues to throw like his usual self we might see him crack 9000 yards. After just one game, it’s far too early to start projecting numbers, but hypothetically Brees is looking at another 5400-yard season similar to last years record-breaking performance!
Brees also climbed over Colts backup QB Kerry Collins on the NFL’s career passing yards roster. Brees 41,081 yards lands him the number 10 spot and sets him 1959 yards behind Dan Fouts (43040). Drew shouldn’t have any trouble passing Fouts or Drew Bledsoe (44611) this season and he could come very close to Vinnie Testaverde’s (46233) 7th place spot by season’s end.
Brees’ 2 sacks gives him a total of 118, placing him one away from a third place tie with Bobby Hebert. After that it’s a long climb to take the number two spot away from Aaron Brooks who racked up a career total of 209 sacks as a Saint. (But we’re not going to hold our breath on this one.)
Pierre Thomas’ (525) 4 carries was just enough for him to displace Reggie Bush (524) from 10th place on the career rushing attempts roster. 134 more attempts will move him past Wayne Wilson. For all the running backs on the team, the Saints rushing attack was downright pathetic. Thomas and Mark Ingram combined for 10 carries and 32 yards, however even with numbers as bad as that next week, each stands to move up on the career rushing yards roster. We’ll cover that if it ever happens.
Without a running game the Saints were forced to go to the air. Considering half our drives stalled, it’s amazing that Drew Brees managed a 339-yard passing game. Lance Moore (250) caught 6 passes moving him into 9th place past Dalton Hilliard in career receptions. Jimmy Graham’s (136) 6 catches moved him past Irv Smith and Ricky Williams and into a 25th place tie with Lonzel Hill. Darren Sproles (91) reeled in 5 passes and jumped over Alvin Maxson and Billy Miller and into a 42nd place tie with Keith Poole. David Thomas’ (71) singel reception moved him into a 49th place three-way tie with Larry Hardy and Jack Holmes.
Lance Moore (2903) added 120 yards to his career reception total moving him into 9th place past Wes Chandler and Donte Stallworth. Jimmy Graham’s (1751) 85 yards sling-shotted him from 29th place to 22nd, bypassing Andre Hastings, Deuce McAllister, Ike Harris, Lonzell Hill, Keith Poole, Jerome Pathon and Eugene Goodlow! Marques Colston burned off 71 yards but remains in 3rd place. With number like these, all three wideouts stand to see 1000-yard seasons this year.
Darren Sproles fourth quarter touchdown catch and separate two-point conversion moved him into 50th place on the Saints career scoring roster with 70 points, jumping Ray Zellars and Keith Poole. Jimmy Graham (102 points) moves into 35th place past Bill McClard and Dave Parks. Lance Moore (196) takes 15th place from Rich Szaro and Garret Hartley (210) kicked his way into 12th past Tony Galbreath and Reggie Bush.
In addition to a single field goal, Garret Hartley made all 3 of his extra points attempted bringing his total to 81 and moving him into 5th place past Rich Szaro on the Saints career XP roster. He is now 6 XP’s behind Charlie Durkee.
Defense, what there was of it, was pretty bleak. Roman Harper (413) moved into 8th place past Mark Fields on the career tackles roster. Curtis Lofton’s and Corey White each had 4 solo tackles, the first of their Saints career. Even still, that’s enough to move them into an eleven-way tie for 181st place out of the 240 Saints to have ever made a tackle.
At 0-1 Aaron Kromer made his interim-interim head coaching debut landing him dead last among the Saints 15 (until it’s Joe Vitt’s turn) head coaches with a 0% winning percentage. If he manages to beat the Carolina Panthers next week he can leapfrog every coach except Jim Mora (55.69%) and Sean Payton (64.58%) for third place in career winning percentage at 50%. And this is the folly of numbers.
We’d like to extend a warm welcome to eight players who claimed their first game as a New Orleans Saint: Brodrick Bunkley, Travaris Cadet, David Hawthorne, Curtis Lofton, Joe Morgan, Jerome Murphy, Johnny Patrick and Corey White. These gentlemen currently share 772nd place on the Saints career games roster along with twenty-three other players. You have a long way to go to catch Will Smith’s 124 games, but your next game will knot you up in 743rd place with 29 other players!