These might be ‘your daddy’s Saints’
The day we have all feared has come.
Like a zombie exhumed from a musty crypt long-forgotten, Your Daddy’s Saints have returned to haunt us every Sunday.
Some may not know this version of the franchise. This team, now 1-3 after four weeks of the same calamitous errors, looks different than the recent non-playoff teams of 2007 (7-9), 2008 (8-8), 2012 (7-9), 2014-2016 (all 7-9) and 2021 (9-8). All of those teams had Drew Brees, Sean Payton or both. There was always legitimate hope that things could turn around after a slow start – and things often did turn around. The Saints had a chance to win every game.
But Payton and Brees ain’t ‘dere no more.
Without clear (or healthy) answers at quarterback and under the guidance of new head coach Dennis Allen, the Saints have given us irrefutable proof that for now, they have backslid into the dark times. The times before 2006.
I remember Your Daddy’s Saints. I remember when Aaron Brooks, as talented as he was, made inexplicably sloppy plays, like throwing the ball backwards. I remember when then-head coach Jim Haslett refused to bench an injured Brooks in 2002, and the team lost its last three games to miss the playoffs after starting 6-2. I remember wasting Deuce McAllister’s 1,641-yard rushing season in 2003.
I remember the River City Relay.
I remember when wide receiver Albert Connell stole several thousand dollars from McAllister, his then-teammate, in 2001.
I remember Mike Ditka.
There are worse times before that, when most people reading this weren’t even born. Times when Buddy D wore a grocery bag over his head on local TV, and when the dubiously self-styled “Abdul D. Tentmakur” called in to WWL Radio to sing parody songs about the team.
Books have been written about the dark times (which every Saints fan should read). As the Saints proved on Sunday during that miserable 28-25 loss to the Vikings in London (which some people had to wake up to watch when it was still dark outside), they have returned to the days when – as Buddy D might’ve said – their greatest strength is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Some will blame the refs for two egregious calls against the defense on Minnesota’s go-ahead drive. And while I am exhausted of this conversation, it is worth noting that the pass interference penalty against Marshon Lattimore should have gone the other way or just shouldn’t have been called at all, and the illegal hands to the face penalty against Tyrann Mathieu literally didn’t happen.
I’ll simply ask this: why? Why would someone want to become an NFL official? Do they enjoy being despised? Being ripped apart on Twitter for missing something that all of our non-football expert relatives can see as it happens in real time? Are these people masochists? Are they insane? Completely divorced from reality? Do they aspire to be the scum of sports? Do they take pride in being the only form of life not welcome in a French Quarter dive bar?
I think most proprietors would rather have rats.
Anyway, we can’t rule out the possibility that the Saints will regress to the mean, resulting in relatively turnover and penalty-free football. And maybe, some wins.
We also can’t rule out the possibility of internal growth within the Saints locker room. Maybe they will fix the weekly comedy of errors. Maybe the offense will find its rhythm. Maybe Dennis Allen will use this crisis as a crucible to rally his troops and instill the discipline that other successful coaches from the Bill Parcells coaching tree – like Payton, Bill Belichick and Nick Saban – are known for.
Maybe, this amount of whinging over a 1-3 start makes the fan base sound spoiled. It’s likely the opposite, actually. The consternation and the finger-pointing is probably just a result of knowing what this franchise was, and what it should be. It shows that we care, and that the mistakes of the past should stay in the past.