TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Kromer sat in front of reporters this week and strung along answers to questions about Jonathan Vilma, about Jimmy Graham and a myriad of other topics.
But he might have been the most honest when answering a question late Thursday with a cliché, one that may ring truer for New Orleans than any time since 2009.
Is there a difference between 1-5 and 2-4, he was asked.
“Well, you can’t think that way,” Kromer said. “You literally have to think, as a player, as a coach, as an organization, is what are we doing right now? What is important right now? Right now it’s Tampa Bay and we need to win this game.”
Today, against the Tampa Bay Bucs (2-3), the Saints (1-4) are looking at two paths – they can win and go to 2-4 and keep, for the moment at least, hope that the season is still alive. Or they can lose and drop to 1-5, leaving a broken franchise and a lost season for acting head coach Joe Vitt to return to lead.
Kromer has the team heading on the right path.
The offense and defense finally got in sync in the second half of their lone win. New Orleans scored points on its final three drives while stopping San Diego on its final four, including forcing two turnovers.
Nevertheless, the game is about more than upward trends. It’s a must-win for both teams as they hang on to the thinnest of threads for postseason hopes.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Saints right tackle Zach Strief said. “I have no doubt. Both teams are in positions they would rather not be in. There’s a lot of fighting to be done to get out our holes.”
The history of this series is close, with New Orleans holding a 10-7 advantage over Tampa. But since 2008, the clubs have split their games each season.
And for the Saints, this one is easily the most important.
“When you start a season 0-4, every game becomes really important because you’re room for error is so small,” Strief said. “You just don’t have a lot of opportunities to make up for losses at this point. I don’t think the next game is the most important is cliché. It’s true.”