The 2021 Saints are officially an unwatchable mess
There was a glimmer of hope.
Taysom Hill got the nod at QB last Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys, and for a little more than a half, the “Taysom Time” offense looked like it might work. But then, Hill’s passes suddenly started dying in midair. He eventually tossed four picks and literally threw the game away.
A drunk fan plucked from under the Claiborne overpass could’ve taken the field and produced a similar result.
The broadcast revealed Hill was wearing a splint on his throwing hand, the result of said appendage crashing into the arm of a Cowboys defender in the first half.
After safety Marcus Williams allowed (I mean literally, he allowed him to do it) Cowboys backup running back Tony Pollard to sprint past him on a 58-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, giving Dallas a 20-10 lead, it all became too much for what is left of the New Orleans Saints.
The whispers of the universe have a message, and that message is that it seems 2021 just isn’t our year.
The partially torn ligament in Hill’s finger, the fluke TD run plus the phantom blindside block called on tight end Garrett Griffin that killed a key drive are just the latest in a series of misfortunes to befall the 2021 Saints, perhaps the unluckiest team of the Sean Payton era.
At this point in the season, the Saints (5-7) have played multiple games without their starting QB, their backup QB, their best receiver, their top two RB’s, both starting offensive tackles, one of the starting guards, the top two tight ends on the depth chart, their starting center, their best defensive tackle, numerous defensive ends…and the kicker.
This week, the husk of DE Cam Jordan was placed on the COVID list and occasionally explosive WR Deonte Harris was suspended three games, placing a rotten cherry on top of this turd cake.
The team came into the year with razor-thin depth and has suffered major injuries at literally every single position. The result, unfortunately and unsurprisingly, has been a fun 5-2 start curdling into 5-7.
The Saints have lost 5 games in a row, which is the longest losing streak of Sean Payton’s tenure. It’s the longest losing streak since the 2005 Katrina season, in which the team lost 6 in a row. That season also saw a separate 5-game losing streak.
In 2021, the offense has so many backups playing that outside of the brief glimmer of “Taysom Time” last Thursday, the games have become virtually unwatchable since the Halloween victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Are the Saints cooked? Should fans be rooting for a juicy top-15 pick? With the way the ball has been bouncing lately, it’s a fair question. And when one considers the likelihood that Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers will probably be making noise about a trade come the offseason, stockpiling assets like decent draft picks sounds like a prudent decision.
But here’s the thing: the Saints are still very much in the playoff hunt, only a game out of the seventh and final playoff seed.
Last season, the Saints got screwed by the expanded playoff format’s single bye for each conference, as they failed to attain it in 2020.
Now fans will probably be screwed by it in the opposite fashion, as the team will likely limp to a few more victories against lowly teams like the Jets, Falcons and Panthers, keeping the team alive long enough for a seemingly inevitable heartbreaking elimination in the final week or two of the season.
I hate to sound cynical, but the whispers of the universe this season have given us no reason to believe this team will catch any breaks. But of course, this is a Payton-coached team we’re talking about, and one that has a very good defense. Of course, they could turn it around in the final quarter of the season. Reports indicate that Taysom will try to play through his finger injury and give the offense some sort of spark.
That glimmer of hope is both the elixir of life and poison. The Saints are living on the edge, and the terror I feel in the pit of my stomach will only intensify with each passing week. The suspense is enough to make the games virtually unwatchable…but I just can’t look away.