METARIE, La. — Expectations can be both a blessing and a barrier, something to reach for and something to struggle to meet.
But for the Saints, they’ll take high expectations.
Just two games into the 2013 season and fans and players alike are wondering just when the offense will get going.
In other words, starting a season 2-0 is no longer enough. Forty-point games and blowout victories are expected and averaging 19½ points per game in the first two games won’t cut it.
And that’s just how quarterback Drew Brees likes it.
“I love that question because you would say that’s the expectation level around here,” Brees said when asked if he expects a 40-point game to come soon. “We are used to having four or five of those a year where you are racking up 40 (points). That’s the level we expect ourselves to play at and we haven’t been at that level. I hope that it happens soon.”
Since 2006, the Saints have had at least one 40-point game in six of seven seasons. In ’08, ’09 and ’11, New Orleans had at least two 40-point games. New Orleans also has never averaged less than 23.7 points per game in a season.
But they have started out slow before.
In 2007, they averaged only 12 points in the first two games. In 2010, it was 19½ points.
In other words, it’s still much too early to start wondering if there is a virus in the Saints’ offensive software.
“It feels like we have work to do,” right tackle Zach Strief said. “I know that seems to feel that way every year. It seems early every year you spend the first four weeks answering questions about something, whether it’s protection, the run game, the pass game, turnovers, red zone, short yardage, goal line – there’s always something you feel like every year man, that’s not very good. That’s not what it’s been.”
Like 2010, red zone issues have been a problem this season. Like 2012, running the ball has been problematic so far. And like in every season save for 2009 and 2011, the Saints have failed so far to put teams away when they had the chance.
While the Saints have finished with the No. 1 offense in four of the past seven years and finished no lower than No. 6, Strief said success doesn’t just happen because they’ve had it in the past.
“That’s the challenge of this league,” Strief said. “You don’t walk out on the field and get to be ranked first in everything. It takes work and time. What’s good is there’s such a high standard here that it’s just very much not OK.”
The good news for the Saints and those following the Black & Gold is that there’s plenty of time. In the two worst offensive starts under Payton, the team recovered to average more than they began.
In ’07, New Orleans went from 12 points per game in the opening two contests to 23.7 by the end of the year. In ’10, the Saints boosted their 19½ point average to 24.7 as they won 11 games and earned a playoff berth.
“We know if we are going out and scoring 30-plus that we have a great chance to win and taking care of the football and doing some of the other things we need to do to help our defense and play complimentary football,” Brees said. “At the end of the day, did you score more points than them and if so, then you won, but man, if you are scoring 30-plus your chances of winning go way, way up.”