I'm beginning to believe the New Orleans Saints and their fans are stuck in a real live version of the movie "Groundhog Day." In that movie Bill Murray has to live the same day over and over again. I have strong evidence we are experiencing it in real life.
It's not the just the bad defense, because we have been living that nightmare for basically a decade. No, the Saints are giving us a carbon copy of 2015, right down to the massive injuries in the secondary.
Don't believe me? I wrote this last December:
The Saints have been devastated with injuries in the secondary, which was supposed to be the strength of the defense, and now they are on pace to allow 47 touchdown passes for the season. 47! The record in a season is 40. The 2015 Saints are on pace to break that by 20 percent. In 2011, when Drew Brees was other worldly, he only threw 46 touchdowns. Let that thought wash over you.
The problem is the Saints are out of options. Don''t believe me? Chris Owens gave up the winning touchdown against Carolina, and it was really unfair to ask an 83-year-old New Orleans Icon to try and play corner. I applaud her attempt. Different Chris Owens? Could have fooled me. The Saints are one more injury at cornerback from running a Craigslist ad asking for a used cornerback with a 500 word description filled with desperation and sadness...
“The Saints family is down on our luck this holiday season. If you can spare a cornerback, any cornerback, this special time of year we would greatly appreciate it. We can't pay top dollar, but our expectations are low. All we ask is for working arms and legs, also the ability to go consecutive plays without a holding penalty would brighten our spirits. Contact Mickey for details.”
The 2015 Saints defense is the perfect storm of horrible pass rush combined with catastrophic injuries in the secondary, and the result is a down pour of touchdown passes and penalties. I'd tell you we won't see this kind of defense again but the 2016 Saints season is less than 10 months away.
Change Chris Owens to Ken Crawley, 2015 to 2016, and presto, I'm talking the current Saints defense!
The Saints went into this summer feeling really good about corner; They had Keenan Lewis, Delvin Breaux, Damian Swann, Kyle Wilson, and P.J. Williams as their top 5 guys. It's Sept 15 and the only guy left is Williams. The Saints built their cornerback depth to survive injuries, not pestilence, famine and locusts.
So how does Dennis Allen survive this? I've got some possible solutions....
1. Ask the forgiveness of the Patron Saint of Corners
Let's be honest, one thing we fans do really well is hate hate hate on Saints corners. From Jason David to Brandon Browner and even poor one-armed Fred Thomas in 2006; We say mean and terrible things about Saints corners. Maybe if we promise to be nicer to P.J. Williams, DeVante Harris and Ken Crawley, the Patron Saint of Corners will take pity on us?
2. Have one of the dozen running backs on the roster play corner
Ok, so the Saints don't have a dozen running backs on the 53 man roster, they only have 6. Before they cut C.J. Spiller, they couldn't have tried him out at corner? If he could've been even average at nickel, that 9 million the Saints paid him would've been worth it.
Did you know the Saints paid $45,000 for each of C.J. Spiller's 198 snaps he played in 2015? The Saints have 40 million in dead money on their cap in 2016! Mention this the next time someone tells you Drew Brees' salary is the problem.
3. Unleash Roman Harper!
Poor Roman gets a lot of grief from Saints fans, but the guy has always been great at blitzing from the safety position. In 2011 he led the team with 7.5 sacks. Dennis Allen should channel his inner Gregg Williams and dial up some exotic blitzes featuring the old man of the Saints secondary.
You got any better ideas? The Saints defense faces almost insurmountable odds to not be the worst defense in history again. Need to think outside the box.
Buddy Diliberto invents the bag
In 1980 the Saints were coming of their best ever season (8-8) and optimism was sky high. Unfortunately, everything crashed and burned in 1980, culminating with the Saints starting 0-14 and finishing 1-15. During the losing streak on his sports talk show Buddy Diliberto* wore a paper bag over his head to show his disgust over the Saints ineptness.
A sports tradition was born.
In the 1980's the Saints were known for two things: stinking and their fans wearing bags to the games. Lots of sports teams have been bad, including the Cubs, Browns, Clippers, Buccaneers, Astros, Sixers, and other teams I probably forgot have all had long stretches of being awful. None of them inspired their fans to create the universal sign of complete and total disgust like Buddy D and Saints fans did with the paper bag. We should be proud that sports fans wearing a paper bag on their heads 36 years later is still the go-to way when attending your favorite team's games to say "I'm embarrassed I still love this team so much."
Well that and tweeting a garbage can GIF.
*If you don't know who Buddy D was, go read this column by the great Pete Finney.
Last Week: 4-1
New Orleans (+5.5) at New York: How will the Saints hold the Giants and Odell Beckham Jr. to under 40 points and win? I don't really know. I just know the odds of getting a repeat of last year's insane 52-49 game between these 2 teams is unlikely.
The Giants spent a ton of money this offseason to fix their horrible defense and they appear to have succeeded, at least with the front seven. They held Ezekiel Elliott to 51 yards with a touchdown on 20 carries in Dallas last Sunday. The good news for the Saints is their linebackers and secondary are probably still terrible.
I have a feeling the Saints problems this year are going to be like Whack-A-Mole, every time a new one seems fixed, an old one will pop up again. Last week, the offensive line surprised everyone by playing great, while the pass rush was non existent. The total Saints move this week is for the defense to miraculously play not terrible, but Drew Brees has to run for his life. Bad teams always find new and exciting ways to lose games early in the season.
The Saints are bad and yet I want to believe. I'm such a sucker. The defense is going to accidentally run into some turnovers and the Saints 3-headed monster at receiver is going to continue to turn bad secondaries, like the Giants have, into dust...
Seattle (-6) at Los Angeles: Did you see the Rams Monday night? My God, that offense was so bad I think Mickey Loomis should get on the phone and offer the Rams Luke McCown for one of their corners. If you combined the Rams offense and the Saints defense, they wouldn't beat Alabama.
Oakland (+5) vs. Atlanta: Are you prepared to live in a world where the Raiders are 2-0? Upside is the Falcons are so bad the Saints might not finish last in NFC South.
Arizona (-6) vs. Tampa: Jameis Winston is really good, like gonna win the Super Bowl if Tampa has decent drafts, good. The Cardinals need this one bad though.
San Francisco (+13) at Carolina: The Panthers are still very good but that front 7 looked a little leaky against Denver. If the Saints can escape New York 1-1, there's a good chance they'll be tied for first!
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes
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