Ralph Marlborough / Contributing Writer
One of my favorite things about Sean Payton is over the course of his time in New Orleans he doesn't fear change and isn't afraid to make it. He's on defensive coordinator no. 4 in seven years as coach, has admitted free agent mistakes (Jason David) and kept undrafted free agents (Pierre Thomas) over high draft picks (Antonio Pittman).
When the man says he's about results and everybody gets a fair shake, he proves it by keeping six undrafted free-agent rookies on the roster this year.
If you don't understand how great this is as a fan, you probably don't remember Jim Haslett sticking by Rick Venturi for years even though the defense was a train wreck. Haslett also refused to bench a clearly injured Aaron Brooks in 2002 the final month of the season and play Jake Delhomme. The Saints promptly went from 9-4 to 9-7 and missed the playoffs. It was the worst December in team history and by far the worst experience for me as a Saints fan -- a slow motion train wreck so horrible I hired Will Smith to wipe the memory from my brain 'Men in Black' style. He failed.
Which brings us to Mark Ingram and his 17 carries and 31 yards so far in 2013. It's clear to see he's not ever going to be anything but a slightly mediocre running back. How many more times do we need to see Ingram fail in short-yardage situations before the Saints admit they whiffed when they traded up to get him in the 2011 Draft? If you still believe in Ingram, you probably still have Pets.com stock somewhere in your closet and are counting on it for retirement.
It might not be all Ingram's fault as the offensive line has struggled the first two weeks, but Ingram COULDN'T GET A YARD WHEN TAMPA ONLY HAD 10 MEN ON THE FIELD! He's not fast or shifty enough to create yards on his own nor does he have enough strength and power to run over people. Even if the Saints are going to fail running the ball, I want it to be anyone but Ingram. Fresh, new failure is so much different and better tasting than old, stale failure.
For the record I was wrong, wrong, wrong about Ingram. I loved the trade to get him and was more excited about Ingram than Cameron Jordan who the Saints drafted earlier in the first round. Unlike some writers, fans and people on Twitter, I'll admit mistakes and change my mind.
Sean Payton can take the blame for the fourth-down failure all he wants, but Mark Ingram's days of getting 10-12 carries a game are numbered At least I hope so for my sanity.
So when will Payton pull the plug and who will get those carries? I'm going to say mercifully this will be our final week of watching Ingram getting stuffed repeatedly like he was merchandise at Build-A-Bear. Next week Khiry Robinson gets to be the undrafted running back everyone loves. He even has dreadlocks like Chris Ivory! AND WE LOVED CHRIS IVORY DID WE NOT?
Rob Ryan's Big Chart of Fun: All year long I'll be charting how the Saints defense does under Rob Ryan in certain situations. For a full explanation of how it works read this.
Against Tampa, the Saints only hit four-of-nine goals but managed to make Doug Martin's 144 yards rushing almost completely useless. Martin hit the Saints for big runs but allowing 3 rushes averaging 25 yards a pop is better than allowing 10 runs for seven yards a clip. Giving up a couple long runs isn't bad, getting bludgeoned to death 6 yards at a time all game is. Just ask Texas A&M.
Let's be honest, if the Saints score a touchdown before the half, Tampa would have been down 17-7 and the second half the Saints would have been getting Josh Freeman interceptions like Oprah used to give away cars to her studio audience.
YOU GET AN INTERCEPTION, YOU GET AN INTERCEPTION, EVERYBODY GETS A FREEMAN INTERCEPTION! Roman Harper returning an interception for a score would have been the greatest Twitter moment EVER Sunday. Ingram ruins everything.
Last Week: 3-2
Arizona (+7.5) at New Orleans: Whenever the Saints look good everyone compares them to the 2009 and 2011 team and when they look bad it's 2008 and 2012. The 2013 Saints are following the 2010 Saints script almost to a T.
The 2010 Saints started 2-0 and scored 39 points in two wins, just like the 2013 Saints have.
The 2010 Saints are remembered for going to Seattle and losing a playoff game to a 7-9 team, but they should be remembered for going 6-2 in games decided by 7 points or less, having a top 10 defense, and carrying themselves exactly like a defending Super Bowl Champion should.
The Saints pulled at least three games straight out their backsides, and it's one of my all time favorite Saints seasons.
The 2013 Saints biggest issue is injuries. They have been hit hard at defensive line and something might be seriously wrong with Jahri Evans. The guy has been playing like a Hall-of-Fame guard for seven years but for two weeks has looked mostly awful. Guards at his age don't just lose it and nothing but an injury explains his drastic drop in play.
Arizona now has competent quarterbacking with Carson Palmer to go along with a very solid defense. The bad news for them is Larry Fitzgerald has hamstring issues and tight end Jared Cook torched them in week one so Jimmy Graham could have another huge game.
The Saints will grind out another ugly win. Be prepared for 450 stories next week of 'What's wrong with the offense?' I'm excited about writing how the defense is better than the offense on Sunday night.
Miami (-2.5) vs. Atlanta: The Dolphins can definitely rush the passer, which is bad news for the Falcons. My wife, the Dolphin fan, both loves and hates Ryan Tannehill depending on how he looks that exact second. It's a sight to behold. Two 3-0 teams next Monday night and war in the Malbrough house? Yes.
Carolina (-1) vs. New York Giants: Watching Drew Brees be exceptional at the end of the Tampa game made me realize just how great it is to have an elite head coach. Ron Rivera isn't terrible, it's just at every big moment he always plays it safe and it blows up in his face. I'd like to think by week seven he's going to snap, go crazy and never punt again.
Chicago (-2.5) at Pittsburgh: The Steelers are as terrible as their towels and they aren't winning five games.
Seattle (-19.5) vs. Jacksonville: I was going to pick the Jags because I was thinking Seattle would sleep walk through the game and win 24-7. Then I watched the Raiders-Jags game and I don't think the Jags could score against Seattle if they had four hours.
Bonus LSU pick
LSU (-17.5) vs. Auburn: I believe in Zach Mettenberger and believe in my heart the only thing standing between Alabama and three straight titles is Les Miles. America needs LSU to be great. The offense might be.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.