The first quarter of the NFL season is in the books as we turn the page to October and no one could have predicted the predicament the New Orleans Saints are in. Simply put this wasn’t how it was supposed to go. The Saints by the way they appeared to us that covered the team during the offseason camps and training camp in West Virginia saw a team that was had depth, were athletic and looked poised to make a run at a Super Bowl appearance. Instead of heading into the final game before the team’s bye with three or even four wins they’re looking to limp to their week off with only their second win.

Sunday a pair of 1-3 teams will square off. One team is supposedly the more talented team but the one that will come out of the visitor’s locker room showed more a week ago then the team playing at home. Tampa Bay rebounded from a 56-14 beating in Atlanta to win at Pittsburgh 27-24. QB Mike Glennon led a 5 play 46 yard drive in 33 seconds to win the game. The Bucs did something the 2014 Saints have yet to learn how to do and that’s finish.

Dallas last Sunday night hammered New Orleans. It was ugly in every way. 24-0 at the half in yet another game the defense seemed lost and unable to defend much less stop an opposing offense. Offensively the Saints seem to be regressing.

Opposing defenses are playing coverages that limit the opportunities for the big passing plays Saints fans have become accustomed to. There seems to be an insistence to prove that despite teams coming out to stop the Saints passing game that head coach Sean Payton can still pass against it.

There are still 12 games and no the season isn’t lost yet but that’s a very big yet. The Saints following the bye face teams such as Detroit, and Green Bay both of who have high-powered offenses. Cincinnati and San Francisco a pair of teams with suffocating defenses. Add the fact New Orleans has already lost three road games, winning your remaining seven home games gets you to just eight wins. The Saints can indeed find a way to make it into the post-season but that’s just it. This wasn’t supposed to be a season where you HOPING the Saints could find a way into the playoffs rather than finding a way to secure home field throughout.

KEYS TO THE GAME

At the top of the list is the New Orleans Saints defense. Yes I copied and pasted this from the previous three weeks. What can you say here? Look it needs to happen. New Orleans is giving up 396.0 yards per game and rank 29th in the NFL. It’s time, past time to see a highly touted defensive line play like it. Cam Jordan has been non existent following a season where he sacked the quarterback 12.5 times. Junior Galette has just one sack. In the back end, the secondary isn’t making plays, heck I’d settle to see them get some hands on some balls like pass deflections. Week 1 was the last time the Saints defense forced a single turnover. Three game in a row and not one has been forced since.

TRUST THE RUN GAME

Teams not only don’t believe the Saints will use the run game to win a game they don’t respect it. Opposing defenses are playing the pass and build their entire game plan on stopping QB Drew Brees. Payton has got to counter this by running the ball. Trust it. That means that even if runs don’t reach the goal of five yards per carry that they set in training camp, you still feed the backs. Until they do this opposing secondarys will remain 10-20 yards back preventing big pass plays and mudding up the passing lanes. It really is that simple.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE USE PIERRE

I don’t get why Pierre Thomas isn’t being used more. Thomas had two carries for eight yards and two receptions for 15 yards. Four touches. Four. Are you kidding me? Week 1 in Atlanta he started and was used the bulk of the first quarter and the Saints were successful in setting a tone. Thomas runs hard, pass blocks, runs effective screens and did I mention has the attitude that seems to be missing in mass doses right now on this team?

MY TAKE

Sunday is a must win times two, as in you lose this game heading into the bye at 1-4 then you can start thinking about next year. This week the players spoke of a sense of urgency but that it hadn’t translated into panic. Frankly I wouldn’t mind some panic. A little fear might go a long way with a team that on paper should be winning games.

One good point is that New Orleans has won the last five meetings by 17.2 points per game and Brees has thrown for an average of 329.0 yards and thrown for 15 touchdowns. The Saints are also at home where since 2013 they’ve outscored opponents by 17.6 points winning each of the last nine game in the Superdome

I see it 27-23 Saints. The streak will continue but unless there is a magical switch that this team can flip I’m beginning to fear this could be the team we’ll see this season. One that’s not very good for a reason we may never know.

 

***You can hear the Bucs and Saints right here on 97.3 The Dawg starting with the pre-game at 10:00am and kick-off is set for noon. Plus, after the game, your calls and comments during the "Point After".