Don’t tell Curtis Lofton there’s nothing to play for Sunday when the Saints host the Panthers in season finale at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Playoffs may not be at stake, he said, but a .500 record sounds so much sweeter than one in which there are more losses than wins.
There’s one other reason he’d like a win Sunday.
“Football is not fun unless you’re winning. Getting these two wins and we’re fighting to get back to even, it just makes everything else better. I’m a grumpy person when we lose. Having my family come in, they’re thankful that we won.”
The Saints have come a long way since starting the season 0-4. They’ve also come a long way since dropping three straight to fall to 5-8 and are one win from finishing the season at 8-8.
A win against Carolina (6-9) solidifies the No. 2 position in the NFC South with a coaching staff that had to take over one of the toughest situations in league history considering the suspensions of head coach Sean Payton (full season), linebackers coach Joe Vitt (six games) and general manager Mickey Loomis (eight games).
Meanwhile, the league has had internal talks about when to reinstate Payton, but no firm date has been issued. Additionally, Payton’s contract issue hasn’t been figured out.
In other words, the Saints will hit Monday morning post-Carolina with real idea of how the offseason will actually play out.
Vitt doesn’t care, caring instead to take the myopic look to life.
“We have no long-term strategic plans from a coaching standpoint,” Vitt said. “That’s for another day at another time. We’re looking forward to getting ready to install our game plan on Wednesday, good practices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and play the game on Sunday.”
Eventually, though, there will be time to look back and when he sits down to look back on this season, he said one lesson he remember learning is the idea that coaches can’t let frustrations show.
“Really, anger and emotion and all of those other things that could come into play, the players tune that stuff out,” Vitt said. “The players, what they want is valuable information that is going to help them win on Sunday.”
And maybe that’s why he loves this current cast of characters. In spite of that which could have killed their focus this season, they did stay tuned into Vitt and now have a chance to do what few thought they could have after the first month of the season.
“We put it out there a couple of weeks ago, we brought the Super Bowl trophy out, we told our football team there are two types of Super Bowl winners – those that win and those that win one,” Vitt said. “Our goal is to win two and we’re working towards that goal right now. We can’t play for it this year but that doesn’t mean you can’t come to practice every day and can’t get better.
“That means you still have to think our players have really taken it to heart and it’s been fun to be around.”
That’s something Lofton agrees with and that’s why finishing 8-8 is important.
“It just goes to show the character of this locker room and coaches with everything we’ve been through to keep fighting and not give up and just keep pushing and pushing and have a chance to be 8-8, you have to take something from that,” Lofton said.