Ralph Malbrough / Contributing writer
Pathetic. I thought the Saints would play their best game of the year in prime time in Denver. Instead for Joe Vitt's return they played perhaps their worst game of the Drew Brees Era. Please Lord, let this be the Saints bottoming out, because if it's not, Saints games might not be broadcast anymore because their play breaks TV obscenity laws.
The carnage was messy. Denver out gained the Saints 530 yards to 252 yards. Peyton Manning threw for 305 yards and three scores but he probably could have had 500 and five scores if the Broncos had needed him to.
The 2012 Saints are completely dependent on Drew Brees to make them competitive. They have no defense, no running game and no head coach, and we saw the results when Brees is below average and it was a beat down for all of America to watch.
Brees missed open receivers and when he hit them they dropped the ball. Good thing Darren Sproles took a Brees pass to the end zone early to keep the consecutive game touchdown pass streak alive.
Give the Broncos credit as they contained the Saints offense and I think may have shown the game plan against them going forward. The Broncos plan was really simple and boiled down to, 'Hey Saints, we are going to worry about pass defense and dare you to run the ball. We don't think you can. Prove us wrong.'
The Saints had 17 rushes for 51 yards.
The Saints couldn't run the ball effectively before the Broncos blew the game open by doing what every team does to the Saints defense - burn it to the ground.
On one of my favorite Saints blogs, 'The Who Dat Social Club,' the author talked about how the Tampa game was the truest version of the Saints defense, because the Saints had two weeks to figure out what was wrong with their defense and try to fix it. Yet, the Buccaneers worked them like a punching bag. You can't fix atrocious.
The 2012 Saints defense at this point is like the freak show at the carnival. It's so awful and disgusting to look at, yet you can't turn away and you know it will give you nightmares forever. The Saints shuffled the lineup on defense by starting Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Vilma and it did nothing as the Broncos did whatever they liked whenever they wanted.
The scary thing is the Saints spent a lot of money this off-season to upgrade the defense and their salary cap situation is awful for 2013. So, in other words, they won't have much flexibility to fix this defense. If their performance Sunday night didn't frighten you enough, imagine playing 2013 with basically the same defense. Thinking about the possibility just caused me to blackout.
The Saints accomplishing anything close to what we are used to these last six years is over. The only question now is how much fight do they have in them to care the last nine weeks of this lost season? My sense is we'll have a few weeks where Drew Brees is hot and the Saints are competitive and win a handful of games. We'll also have a lot of games like Sunday night in Denver where Brees struggles, the defense gets steam rolled, and the Saints look about as interested as I am to take out my trash.
There won't be any sudden turn around or big winning streak to salvage 2012. The one thing I hate more than anything else is somebody telling everyone how to be a true Saints fan. I believe it's your right to watch and enjoy Saints football anyway you like. As John Lennon sang, 'Whatever gets you through the night' is fine by me. All I want out of 2012 is for the Saints to beat Atlanta, not suffer serious injuries and get the highest draft pick possible. I think anything else happening is either delusional wishes or counter productive. Since the Saints won't be playing in January I much prefer them to go 4-12 and have a top five draft pick then have them go a worthless 7-9 and pick 11th. I'll be pleasantly surprised if they win the home games I'll be coming to New Orleans to see in person.
It's been a long time since we've endured a season this terrible but we'll survive. 2012 with all its bounty nonsense and suspensions is painful to watch but we made it through Jim Mora playoff torture, Mike Ditka and Aaron Brooks, so we'll be ok. We are Saints fans. I'll still watch of course because Saints football is in my DNA. From now on I'm just going to laugh at the worst defense in NFL history and maybe use more of certain beverages to survive Sundays. I'm open to suggestions though because it's going to be a long nine weeks.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.