From the Cheap Seats: Falcons Ground Saints, Hose Needs Spigot Back

breesLet’s get this out of the way first: For all intents and purposes, the Saints dream of hoisting the Lombardi trophy above their heads on the floor of the Superdome in February is shot. Don’t even entertain the thought that the team can win out, finish 9-7 and (maybe) sneak into the playoffs.

What should give fans any reason to believe this team can win two games in a row, much less four? Before the season, people asked how much this team would miss Sean Payton. Your answer came in the last two games. Sitting at 5-5 after digging out of an 0-4 hole, the Saints were poised to go on a run and legitimately compete for an NFC wild card spot.

Then, the collapse. Drew Brees fell apart before our eyes. Two pick-sixes against the San Francisco 49ers, then the granddaddy of implosions Thursday night on national television against the Falcons.

Brees completed 28-50 passes for 341 yards and FIVE interceptions, the most in a single game in his career. Adding insult to futility, his NFL-record 54-game streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass come to end.

Last night, and against the 49ers, Brees was clearly pressing. He was impatient, forcing passes and trying to do too much. But who can really blame him?

Brees has a tremendous amount of pressure on him. The weight of the new $100 million dollar contract, the offensive burden and de-facto head coaching duties have surely taken a toll. Interim head coach Joe Vitt says all the right things and takes responsibility for losses, but the last two have been on Brees. He knows it, the team knows it and the fans know it. Brees fell on the sword in Thursday night’s post game news conference.

“I have made some critical mistakes in the last few weeks,” Brees said, “and they have cost us dearly.”

With seven interceptions in the past two games, Brees is in a funk. He’s never had a worse game than he did last night. Even Hall-of-Famers stink up the joint sometimes.

One can count on fewer than 10 fingers how many games Brees has cost the Saints since joining the team in 2006, which makes a lot of the venomous posts I’ve read on Facebook and Twitter all the more perplexing. Sure, you expect your $100 million dollar man to perform in a big way in big games, but he’s also human. Even Superman failed when Kryptonite was around.

Cut Brees a break. He’s the greatest thing to ever happen to the Saints organization. I would’t trade him for any quarterback in the league. Remember when he led the team to a Super Bowl win a few short years ago? That was fun. How quickly some fickle fans forget.

Brees is feeling Sean Payton’s absence. That reassuring voice in his ear urging him to calm down, not to force things and let the game come to him isn’t there. Payton and Brees are said to think the same, but the head coach is that guy for a reason. He’s at the top and Brees is an extension of him.

Think about the hose spigot in a backyard. When a hose is attached to it, it’s a great device. Water flows through it endlessly. Detach the hose from the spigot and it’s still a solid product, but once the water runs through it, it’s empty. Then you just have a hose.

Right now, as great as he’s been in the past, the Saints just have a quarterback. And he needs his spigot back.

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