Hold onnnnnnnnnn ….
Ok, now you can breathe.
It was that kind of a game for New Orleans Saints fans Sunday in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
Longtime Black-and-Gold supporters know the kind well. New Orleans leads the whole way, refuses to put a team away and then somehow finds a way to lose it in the end.
That agonizing fate almost occurred again Sunday.
Instead, the Saints found a way to hold on for a 20-12 win to make it a 5-2 record with a fifth consecutive win.
There are so many ways to analyze that game.
In my mind, though, it comes down to one thing. The offense has got to get better.
Before I go too deep into that issue, understand the Bears defense is very good. No one should have had an preconceived misconceptions the Saints were going to put up 30-35 points in this one.
Sure, it should have been more than 20 without the fumbles, but it was still a battle. The offensive line had problems protecting all afternoon.
Even on the long competition to Ted Ginn in the fourth quarter – yeah, the one that appeared to finally end it before Mark Ingram fumbled again – Drew Brees was under severe pressure.
(Considering the game situation and the desperation of it, that might have been one of the top 10 plays in Saints history. As crazy as that sounds, name 10 better on the degree of difficulty scale.)
But with all due credit to Vic Fangio’s defense, many of the problems Sunday weren’t new.
The offense stinks right now at third-and-medium conversions. From the beginning of the season, I expected this offense to be one of, if not the best, offenses in team history.
Through seven games, it’s not close yet. It’s got to get better this this.
In 2011, those third-and-5 type plays looked easy at times, constantly throwing to wide-open receivers. These days, it’s like pulling teeth. When it does work, it typically involves someone having to break a tackle.
Where is Willie Snead? Is he really hurt, or is he just in Sean Payton’s doghouse?
Whatever it is, it’s past time to figure it out and address it.
During this past week, we’ve heard rumors about trading for tight end Jimmy Graham or veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Is that because Payton is done with Snead and/or tight end Colby Fleener? Whatever it is, it’s time to stop playing around and get that fixed.
You’re in first place and the NFC’s midseason playoff picture looks wide open after Philadelphia.
It’s time to get this fixed.
The other way to view this near-disaster is the team still found a way to win without Brees having to carry the load for a change. Yes, it was very ugly, but they were playing an ugly team and still won the game.
It was the first time since beating the Jets in 2009 New Orleans won without Brees throwing a touchdown pass.
Then there’s the other side of the coin. One might conclude the defense gave up too much to a subpar offense, the special teams tried to blow it and the offense is mistake-prone and not nearly efficient enough against a top-notch defense.
Certainly that argument could be made, but it’s mostly things that can be fixed by the offense reaching its potential.
Enough with the Snead-Fleener mystery. It’s no longer interesting. It’s approaching the maddening stage.
It’s time to fix it. Now.