Forecast: Saints preseason defense was a mirage

We are one game into the 2017 New Orleans Saints season and it already feels like the Saints are Otter from Animal House and the fans are Flounder.

As Otter explained, this is really our fault, “You screwed up, you trusted us.”

We believed in an improved Saints defense this preseason because we wanted to believe, because the reality since 2012 is just too painful to bear. Reality reasserted itself Monday in the most painful way possible.

Who is the best quarterback in the NFL? The answer continues to be whoever is starting versus the New Orleans Saints defense. The Saints lost 29-19 to the Minnesota Vikings and the defense, after a decent start, quickly descended into the blown coverage, no pass rush defense we are all too familiar with.

It’s as if Rob Ryan, Steve Spagnuolo, Jason David, Brandon Browner, Paul Kruger and Jairus Byrd never left! If you close your eyes and click your heels, it’s 2012 all over again. Sam Bradford was 27-32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns. His five incompletions included three drops, which means only two of this throws were truly incomplete. The Saints secondary did not have even a single pass defended. You’d think they’d have stumbled into at least one by mistake? Alex Anzalone did manage to prevent Cam Jordan from making an interception by tackling him. Does that count? I feel like it should.

The Vikings totaled 470 yards and really didn’t run the ball great until the very end when the game was decided.

Think about that. The Vikings couldn’t really run the ball until the game was out of hand and it didn’t even matter.

Sam Bradford should demand an extension from the Vikings this week and give Dennis Allen three percent because Allen just helped Sam earn about 100 million.

Sean Payton said “I don't know where to begin. Tape won't be pretty.”

I don’t usually get into play calling or strategy, but the Saints defensive plan baffled me. Why was De’Vante Harris playing instead of Sterling Moore? Moore was the Saints best, most consistent corner in 2016. Granted, that’s like complementing a C student in a classroom of failure, but as I watched Harris give up reception after reception I kept thinking, “Where is Sterling Moore? Is he ok? Is he lost? Does he not have a helmet?”

Ken Crawley being inactive at least made sense because he can’t really play the slot corner position so with P.J. Williams and Marshon Lattimore ahead of him, his value Monday was limited.

Of all the defensive disasters -- and there were so many -- the most concerning was the complete lack of pass rush. If the Saints couldn’t beat an offensive line with five new starters, how exactly will they generate any quarterback pressure in 2017? Don’t think about that last question too long, crying onto your keyboard will ruin a perfectly good computer.

While defense was the same repeating nightmare we wish would stop, the offense struggled and suddenly might have a gigantic mess along the offensive line. Zach Strief went down and if he’s out for an extended period of time, the Saints will be playing their third and fourth string tackles.

That thought is about as pleasant as pouring spoiled milk in my coffee.

It’s only one game, but the Saints upcoming schedule is brutal. Tom Brady and the angry 0-1 New England Patriots come to the Mercedes Benz Superdome Sunday, that’s followed with a trip to Carolina to face the Panthers, and then to London to face the Miami Dolphins. The Saints won’t be favored in any of them. 0-4 isn’t just possible, it looks very likely, which means the best case scenario for 2017 Saints right now appears a continuation of the sadness loop known as 7-9.

Was it just me or did Sean Payton in his post-game press conference look exactly like we felt watching on the TV? Like a man completely stunned and aghast at what he witnessed? He looked like a guy who wasn’t expecting this and couldn’t really come up with the words to explain it because how do you explain something you had zero expectation of happening? He looked like a man with few answers for another terrible season opening loss and with little hope of fixing it.

The Saints immediate future is dark and full of terrors.

Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at Saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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