Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer

There is only one question worth asking about the 2012 New Orleans Saints, How big and how bright is the fire, which is their season, going to burn?

The Saints coughed up a 24-6 third quarter lead in such a slow painful way if you argue they are anything other than a four win team you are just lying to yourself to block out the pain. That's ok, I get it because I was using adult beverages almost the entire second half to survive Sunday. As Drew Brees said after the game, Third and fourth quarters were pretty abysmal.

Yeah, pretty much Drew. I think you'll be using that word abysmal a lot this year.

Kansas City ran 92 plays, had 510 yards of offense, and 273 yards rushing. The Saints didn't make a first down after taking the 24-6 lead. The collapse Sunday was a true team effort as the defense was horrible, offense was non-existent in the fourth quarter and overtime, and special teams even added a missed field goal.

This is 1980 Saints bad.

In case you were wondering, the 1980 team started 0-14 and gave birth to the paper bags. We won't even discuss bringing back the bags unless the Saints get to 0-10 but even then this team has won a Super Bowl and 37 games the last three years and because of all the off-season mess they get a special waiver on getting branded the Aints. They are that bad, though. None of the teams who have beaten the Saints have defeated anyone else. Let that sink in.

After three weeks the toughest thing to take is their inability to handle adversity. They couldn't overcome Brees' pick six against Carolina or when Jamaal Charles broke off a 91-yard touchdown the Saints were simply unable to retake the momentum Kansas City created. I think that's directly related to not having Sean Payton on the sideline.

The belief I've had the last three years that the Saints will find a way to win is gone. Maybe it's not having Payton or the weight of the entire off-season but I feel like Wylie Coyote just waiting to get the piano dropped on me.

The Saints game-day sideline looks lost. They tried to call two timeouts before a play was run because they didn't have the correct personal on the field in a key moment in the fourth quarter. I don't recall such incompetence ever happening with Payton on the sideline. The interim-interim plan looks now like some thrown together strategy the Saints were never expecting to have to do.

I think the Saints were like the rest of us stunned when Sean Payton got suspended for the entire year. Payton was expecting to miss about a month's worth of games. When the Commissioner dropped the bomb on them, I think, instead of throwing out the entire plan to deal with the suspensions they adjusted the plan they had created. It's a disaster. Aaron Kromer doesn't seem to have any command of the team, and if you think Joe Vitt will ride to the rescue, well I want to live in this utopia you call your world.

I said in my season preview column this year felt like an all-or-nothing type deal. Breaking News: It's nothing. No playoffs, no Super Bowl, nothing but a top five pick in April's draft.

The next 13 weeks will be the worst experience of our football lives since the 2005 post-Katrina season and will probably feel worse. That team won three games and the season wasn't nearly as painful as this season will be because in 2005 we all had way more important things to worry about than if the Saints won on Sunday.

If I may, I'd like to get off topic and have a word about the replacement referees. They are not worthy of NFL football. They didn't cost the Saints the game by any stretch, but their incompetence is breath taking. I guess the only way the NFL will do anything is if the players decide they won't stand to have incompetent officials and go on strike in solidarity with the referees. At this point I think I'd like an extra week where I wouldn't have to watch the Saints.

So what's left of the wreckage that is the 2012 season?


The Saints are a bad football team with just enough talent to find new and creative ways to lose. They'll lose from ahead, lose from behind, and torture us every week. I'm not sure when the Saints will get their first win. Tell me out of these next six games (Packers, Chargers, Bucs, Broncos, Eagles, and Falcons) who are the Saints beating?

Until you lower your expectations, your Sundays will be long slow march filled with suffering.

Here's what I want to see the rest of 2012:
1. Drew Brees to avoid serious injury behind an at times overwhelmed offensive line.
2. I want all the kids on defense to play. Veterans like Scott Shanle, Sedrick Ellis, Will Smith, and Roman Harper have seen their best days and their time is over. When 2012 mercifully ends I want to know if Junior Galette, Martez Wilson, Johnny Patrick, Corey White, Akiem Hicks, and Jonathan Casillas are worth keeping.
3. I want to win my fantasy football league.
4. I want Atlanta to crash and burn in the playoffs after going 13-3.

We will have to find joy in the football season that doesn't involve the Saints because every Sunday they will be delivering pain. FOOTBALL I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW.

Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.

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