NEW ORLEANS — It didn’t take long after the New Orleans Saints lost to Green Bay for interim head coach Aaron Kromer to figure out an analogy for the task his team will face.
Starting 0-4 and making the playoffs isn’t impossible. But it’s darn near it – San Diego did it in 1992 and are, to this day, the only team ever to have done it.
So Kromer alluded to climbing a mountain, a big one, in the bowels of Lambeau Field.
Tonight at 7:30, the journey up Mount Everest begins in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against, yep, the San Diego Chargers.
“This isn’t where we wanted to be,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “The bottom line is did you win or lose, and we lost. We’re 0-4. So you have to face reality a little bit, but when you go through times like this, you also have to find the positive and find the things you can build on.”
If they don’t want to start with the Chargers’ story from 1992, they can at least look in their 2007 yearbook. That season, they started 0-4 as well before reeling off four straight wins.
But they’ll dig deeper, look harder for examples in overcoming conventional wisdom.
“Certainly coach Kromer, Drew brings it up in a meeting that hey, it’s not impossible,” Saints right tackle Zach Strief said. “A lot of us have beaten odds to be in the situation we’re in. The locker room is full of odds beaters. For us right now, it’s one game. Until you get the first, you can’t get the second.”
They don’t have to look far, though. In fact, they can take a peek at Brees, a player who wasn’t even supposed to be big enough to play major college football let alone become a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
Against the Chargers, a touchdown pass for Brees will break a 52-year-old NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
“It’s a great record. It has been there for a long time,” Saints center Brian de la Puente said. “It’s just Drew. He’s a pro. He’s consistent. And he has been doing this for a long time. To be a part of it is very special to me.”
That’s just part of the story for the Saints heading into the game.
Against Green Bay, the team played its most complete game of the young season. The defense came up with three second-half stops on four possessions and the offense rolled up 474 total yards and converted 53 percent of their third downs.
But they’ll have to continue the trend without receiver Lance Moore, who is out with a right hamstring injury.
“We hope the other guys step up to be honest,” Kromer said. “We will change some formations, we’ll change some plays to enable us to use the guys that we have. It’s an every week thing. You lose a guy, you have to adjust and use some other players to fill in for him although it’s hard to replace him. We’ll do the best we can with that.”
In reality, though, there’s only one storyline for the Saints and that’s the 0-4 start.
The team understands the predicament, Kromer said, and it’s up to them to take it one moment at a time.
“They are excited about the opportunity,” Kromer said. “They wish it wasn’t this kind of opportunity but it is. It’s a mountain we have to climb. We put ourselves in the hole and we have to climb it. Like Drew (Brees) said, bring your climbing shoes because we have to get out of this thing.
“It’s one game, one play at a time. Just finish these games. We are right on the cusp of winning these games.”