OPINION / ANALYSIS
NEW ORLEANS Drew Brees is forever the optimist.
After Sunday's 20-17 overtime loss to lowly Tampa Bay at home Brees might have to give a crash course in that optimism to every football-loving Saints-worshiping fan in New Orleans.
They're going to need it.
Because for the more than 70,000 in the Superdome and the millions of others who watched the final three quarters of that embarrassing loss, there's plenty of pessimism to go around.
Just check out the comments on any Saints story. Blogs are abuzz with negativity. Heck, even someone in the Twitterverse asked if she should be 'dusting off my paper bag.'
What fans saw and what the coaches and players will see upon looking at film is plenty of missed tackles, tons of missed assignments and a relative malaise that set it in in the second half.
No one saw the effort the Saints showed in the opening five weeks. No one saw the focus that accompanied that effort. And no one saw the near flawless football that came with that unparalleled beginning.
But it's only two losses, optimists will tell you.
Well, no, it has been a month-long trend of mediocrity actually. The Saints trailed a bad Washington team by 10 in the fourth quarter and found a way to win. New Orleans has been outgained in total offense in the past three games.
And in the past two, the Saints have scored only 17 points in each, the lowest scoring two-game stretch since beginning 2007 0-4.
Well, the Saints can still get the No. 1 seed with a win at Carolina on Sunday and it's a game Brees said, 'is just the type of game we need, going on the road against a divisional opponent that's playing very well, to get that win, to get us the one seed heading into the playoffs. We need that momentum going into the playoffs.'
True, but here's the reality Carolina is playing some of its best football of the season and is coming off a 41-9 thrashing of the Giants in that franchise's last home game ever in the Meadowlands.
And it's not like the Saints have been impressive, as previously discussed.
No, for this writer, the realism of safety Darren Sharper is what truly matters because that's the pulse of the team and it's also the most likely to get things turned around.
'At the beginning of the season, we focused on every as a big play and we played with that type of urgency,' Sharper said. 'Now, it's like sometimes we have it and sometimes we don't.'
He fully believes the Saints can get that back, too.
'It's a mindset,' Sharper said. 'Understand that whoever you play is a team that can beat you and you have to go out and take care of the football and be aggressive towards the football and just play every play as though it's your last play. It just comes down to having a sense of urgency.'
One thing is certain, though: After the past two weeks, no matter if you prefer Sharper's realism or Brees' optimism, there's likely going to be more urgency during this week's practice.
And that might be the best thing to come out of the month of December as the playoffs close in