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Forecast: NFL turned Saints football into embarrassment

You can't have success in a professional football game if you don't have professional football players to play.

NEW ORLEANS — There was no other possible way for the New Orleans Saints Monday Night Football game to go except the disastrous way it did. The NFL should be embarrassed. 

Don't just ask me, ask renowned NFL writer, reporter and columnist Peter King, who didn't hold back.

The Miami Dolphins will get credit on the scoreboard 20-3, but the Saints got defeated by COVID and the NFL.

The Saints were missing 20 players, some coaches, and as Sean Payton explained after the game, “We had 2 players today getting fitted for equipment in the locker room, in the equipment room that had just arrived.”

WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?

“Hey, Bob what size helmet do you need? Do you need socks or did you get a nice pair for Christmas?”

That's not pro football; It's a farce.

There isn't an easy or even good solution to the COVID situation for the NFL or society, but the NFL doesn't even pretend to have a consistent plan or policy. Some teams, like the Los Angeles Rams, get their games moved while teams like the Saints don't. Why? 

I'd ask Roger Goodell, but I'm sure he's hiding somewhere avoiding the media like my 6-year-old avoids me when it's time to brush his teeth.

My mom sold our tickets because I wasn't in New Orleans and she doesn't attend night games much anymore. She said to me, “I feel bad to anyone who actually attended last night. That was a joke.”

There's nothing to take from last night's Saints game because there was no coach, no game plan, no anything that was going to change that result. You can't have success in a professional football game if you don't have professional football players to play. 

Do we have to talk about the game? Fine.

Poor Ian Book didn't get killed or injured, so that was nice. He got sacked eight times on 28 passing plays. The Saints didn't have an offensive line last night. They had a turnstile decorated in black and gold, and Miami poured through it like children going on an amusement park ride.

Oh and don't forget the Saints didn't really practice this week, because they did everything remotely BECAUSE THEIR FACILITY WAS DRENCHED IN RONA. How is Sean Payton supposed to get a rookie quarterback ready for his first start in that environment? The answer is he couldn't. No one could.

There was a feeling that maybe since the Saints' offense had struggled badly since Jameis Winston got hurt, “How bad could it really get with Book? They only scored nine points against Tampa with Taysom.”

Oh it was SOOOO much worse. 

The Dolphins game made those 9 points in Tampa feel positively LUXURIOUS.

While the offense was helpless, the defense fought brilliantly. They really only gave up 10 points because seven of Miami's 20 was on an Ian Book interception and three was after a short field when Saints didn't convert a fourth down.

The Saints held the Dolphins to 86 rushing yards on 30 carries, and despite the offense being helpless they were somehow in the game until Miami completed a 40-yard throw on 3rd and 9 in the third quarter.

The Saints young linebackers (Zack Baun and Pete Werner) held up well filling in for Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander. It's clear to me the secret sauce to the Saints defense being dominant is Marcus Davenport. When he plays, he's awesome. He allows Cam Jordan to see less attention and look like Cam Jordan, and the Saints pass rush becomes a force.

The Saints are almost unbelievably still in the thick of the NFC playoff race. One of the teams ahead of the Saints, the San Francisco 49ers, is 8-7 but may have lost their starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the year. So hope never dies in 2021 despite the world conspiring to kill it.

The bottom line for the 2021 Saints is they are out of time and have to win their final 2 games and get some good fortune, which never seems to find them this year. 

The 2021 Saints have set an NFL record by starting 57 different players, 57! Either the Saints will get players back from COVID and injury and they'll have a chance the final 2 weeks, or they won't and we'll be subjected to one final double dose of whatever Monday night was. It certainly wasn't NFL football. 

It was so sad and frustrating I didn't even break out my good bourbon to ease the pain while watching Monday.

The 2021 Saints haven't really been defeated as much as they've simply run out of players.

Ralph Malbrough is a contributing writer and Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @SaintsForecast or download the Saints Happy Hour Podcast.

(Warning: The Saints Happy Hour Podcast may contain language that is not suitable for all audiences)

 

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