Fear not Saints fans. This is not the end of the world. Or the season. A lot of hype was thrown into the Battle in Seattle — maybe a little too much. It was a throwdown between NFC heavyweights, but not a season-maker or breaker.
Monday night’s game was unlike any Saints destruction in recent memory. The Black and Gold lost by 27 points, had 147 passing yards and 44 rushing yards. The Saints defense, which surrendered 429 yards, looked dazed and confused all night. Sean Payton was outcoached. Rob Ryan was out-schemed. It was an all-around debacle, one of the worst of the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era.
“We got outplayed today,” Brees said after the game. “They played great and they made a lot of plays and we didn’t. They deserve a lot of credit both defensively and offensively for the way they played. They were certainly well prepared. This is a tough atmosphere to come in and play but obviously we are a much better team than what we put out on the field today.”
The Saints are a much better team than the one that laid an egg on national television. Just how good though is the big question.
Can the Saints win outdoors on the road, in the elements? Since 2009, the Saints have the most road wins in the NFL. It just seems in the critical outdoor games, the team tightens up. The critics, right or wrong, got a lot of new ammo Monday night to bolster their argument. Still, Brees said, “the weather did not play a factor.”
The secondary is depleted. The loss of cornerback Jabari Greer hurt. Safety Malcolm Jenkins played a lot of cornerback Monday night and didn’t fare well. Cornerback Keenan Lewis has had plenty of struggles in pass coverage.
The offensive line hasn’t been consistent all year, and with the extent of Zach Strief’s injury still unknown, a shaky situation could get shakier. Brees has run for his life more this season than ever before in a Saints uniform.
All that being said, the Saints are 9-3. They still control their own destiny in the NFC South and, with a win over the Panthers in the Superdome Sunday, will be in the driver’s seat for the division title and a first round bye. Who wouldn’t have taken that at the beginning of the season?
The question going forward is can the Saints patch up their leaks, win the South and advance in the playoffs? If so, the only thing that may stand between the Saints and a second Super Bowl appearance is, unfortunately, a stout Seahawks team.