DENVER If it hadn't already, a reality should be setting in now.
The New Orleans Saints, the ones you've become accustomed to over the past few seasons, are no longer around.
No one has to tell you this is not a good football team.
The 2-5 record does that.
Sunday night in Denver, the Saints' reality came crashing down from a Mile High altitude It falsely sat on through most of October.
The score was 34-14 but it felt worse. The Saints were outgained by 278 yards but it felt worse. New Orleans was on 1 of 12 on third downs but it felt worse.
This is what you're going to get in 2012. One week, maybe even two, the Saints will be good. Then they'll be bad again. And it'll be frustrating to watch if you're a fan.
'We just weren't playing Saints football,' Jermon Bushrod said, his eyes blankly staring to nowhere as he remained in part of his uniform nearly 20 minutes after the game. 'That's really the frustrating part about it all. We know what we're capable of doing and when we don't do it, it's extremely frustrating.'
To a player, they all said Sunday night was about execution, or lack thereof.
But honestly, that's part of it, but not all of it. It's about personnel that don't fit a scheme and it's about focus and it's about not making random excuses that don't really work.
Acting head coach Joe Vitt put part of the blame on so much being made about him coming back from his six-game suspension, something he said there was too much hype about.
'There's nothing that I can do to put pixie dust on this team to make it play better, to make it play more emotional and there's probably more hype than substance on my part,' Vitt said.
He's right. There is no pixie dust that he can sprinkle on the team or situation. He also, however, shouldn't blame the 'hype' of his return on how the team performed Sunday night.
We should have seen this one coming, what with the two Saints wins coming against inferior NFL teams.
After seven weeks, it's painfully obvious what Vitt's team is and that is that it's inconsistent.
'The situation we're in requires us each and every week to do that,' quarterback Drew Brees said. 'We're not pressing. We're not overreacting. But the situation is what it is and we do understand the importance of each and every week and the fact we need to play much better than we did tonight.'
The Saints won't get any reprieve from here on out. Philadelphia may not be who we thought it was, but Atlanta is better than folks thought it would be.
Then there's still the 49ers, the Giants and Cowboys. There's also games remaining against Oakland, Carolina and Tampa Bay.
This pattern, in other words, will likely continue.
New Orleans isn't as bad as it showed Sunday night. But that's the mark of an average team, showing up one week and not the next.
The Saints likely have to go 9-0 with the remaining schedule to get into the postseason. It's unlikely that 8-1 or 7-2 will cut it.
'It's disappointing when deep down inside you come into the game thinking and feeling that you're the better team and you don't execute enough to win the game,' safety Roman Harper said.
The Saints aren't and weren't the better team. Denver was and is.
That's the reality of it and it should have set in by now.