The New Orleans Saints have had about the worst June and July I can ever remember. I’d compare how bad the Saints last few months have been to some tragic historical event, but that’d be unfair to how bad the Saints summer has been. What Saints fans need right now is for somebody to tell us everything is going to be ok, even if we know it’s a lie. It’s July, and if we as football fans can’t be delusional and completely unrealistic about our Saints hopes and dreams right now then what’s the point of investing the next five months of our lives anyway?
All the excitement of the offseason free agent signings and the draft has been swallowed whole by the Saints losing 3 of their top 6 players before 2017 training camp even starts. Even the perpetually positive Drew Brees was having a hard time putting a happy face on the Saints summer. “We've got some tough circumstances we're dealing with right now.” I’ll translate that from Drew Brees sunny optimism to English for you, “The sky might not be falling but it is DARK OUT HERE RIGHT NOW.” Poor Drew must feel like he is one more Saints injury from being in a football version on ‘The Leftovers’ where he’s the only person alive and has to roam Airline Drive looking for survivors. The worst part of the Saints losing Nick Fairley, Terron Armstead, and Max Unger before camp even starts is we all know the Saints aren’t going through camp injury free. Not to mention a roster coming off three straight 7-9 seasons isn’t built to survive major blows before practice even starts. Don’t worry though, I’m here to help.
Are these 5 reasons for Saints optimism in 2017 legitimate?
You know you want to talk yourself into believing 10-6 is happening this year, because a fourth consecutive 7-9 is like a world without Hubig’s Pies, it might be a reality, but it shall not be acknowledged as real until it has arrived at our doorstep.
Forrest Gump’s momma once said, “It’s just a little white lie so it wouldn’t hurt nobody.” but George Constanza of Seinfeld put it best, “It’s not a lie IF YOU BELIEVE IT.” So let’s ignore key Saints players dropping like flies in the summer and talk ourselves into everything being perfectly fine.
1. Kamara Saints Kimonos Are Gonna Be Hottest 2017 Christmas Gift Could I interest you in some Alvin Kamara Youtube highlights? When Kamara turns into 2011 Darren Sproles my Kamara Kimono idea is going to be hotter than those fidget spinners kids are collecting like Monet paintings. The truth is Sean Payton never did replace Sproles. C.J. Spiller was a giant waste of money and Travaris Cadet has just been a nice serviceable player. If Cadet can catch 40 passes in Payton’s offense, just imagine what Kamara will do? Plus, Kamara can return punts. We might actually be excited about punt returns again and not just hoping Saints avoid a calamity. When Kamara turns into 2011 Darren Sproles, we won’t even care if the Saints defense is still awful, because the Saints will be scoring 40 every week.
2. Ryan Ramczyk is About To Be The Go To Example Why It’s Ok to Not Draft For Need On draft night a large percentage of Saints fans about lost their minds when Saints took an offensive tackle at 32 instead of a defensive player. Why did they need a tackle? They had three good ones already! Now? Not so much. In five years when Ramczyk has started like 60 straight games and gone to a Pro Bowl, his name will be the gold standard for people screaming at you on social media when the Saints pick a player you feel like won’t be playing anytime soon. *For the purpose of this column we shall ignore Ryan’s hip issues. No negativity here please.
3. Alex Okafor Is About to Get Paid Sure That 8-sack season Okafor had in 2014 might seem like a long time ago, but in November when Alex has 6.5 sacks, my 900-word column explaining why the Saints need to do whatever it takes to keep him will read like a Shakespearean masterpiece. You laugh now, but when he has 13.5 sacks and you are riding around Okafor Circle next March, you’ll realize I can predict the future.
4. Drew Brees is In a Contract Year 5,476 yards, 46 touchdowns, and 110 quarterback rating. That was Brees’ stat line the last time he was in a contract year with the New Orleans Saints. As long as #9 is starting, everything is gonna be all right. The man who expects to play until he is 45, plans on delivering a monster season, and making Mickey Loomis pay him an insane amount of money at the age of 39. Go ahead, doubt Drew Brees.
5. Saints special teams could really be special If the Saints special teams weren’t a raging chemical spill in 2016, they’d have probably gone 9-7 and made the playoffs. Sean Payton mercifully made a change at special teams coach, and added players like Ted Ginn Jr., who can make significant contributions to improve the horrible kick return units. Ginn’s career average on punt returns is 10.5 yards, and on kickoffs he has averaged 22.8. Do you know when the last time the Saints as a team averaged over 10 yards on a punt return?
2011. Yes, 2016 was Ginn’s worst season as a punt returner since 2009, but I refuse to acknowledge this fact and instead am focusing on the glowing praise he’s received from Drew Brees about how fast he still is age 32. “He certainly doesn’t look like he’s lost a step. He can fly.”
Wil Lutz, once he solved his kick block issues was fantastic in 2016, so the Saints could potentially win games because of their special teams in 2017. Crazy thought right? Are the 5 things I just listed possible or even likely? We have waited 7 months for football to return, it’s supposed to be fun, and if we have to close our eyes and dream up some miracles to be happy, then that’s just what we are gonna do. And maybe, just maybe, all the bad news the Saints are going to have in 2017 is behind us? Fingers crossed.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.