When the 2009 season opened, the Saints were coming off 7-9 and 8-8 campaigns. That was so Saints, right? They followed up 2006’s NFC Championship season (10-6) with back-t0-back stinkers. There was no reason to be overly optimistic. None. But something magical happened. The Saints reeled off 13 straight wins on their way to a 13-3 season and Super Bowl championship.
That magic — the era during which the Saints dominated opponents — is gone. Back then, they scored points in bunches and beat the other team into submission. Today, they have to fight and claw for every yard, every point. There are fewer “stars” on offense and defense. That can be a good thing later. It’s not so good now. During the offseason, the Saints transformed from an old team to a young team, shedding several veterans and adding 25 new players. That’s a lot of new talent to mix into Sean Payton’s formula. My colleague, WDSU sports anchor Fletcher Mackel, says in his latest column the Saints are rebuilding. I disagree. If Drew Brees is gone they’re rebuilding. As long as he’s on the team, which I believe he still is, then the Saints are playing to win. Will it be easy? No. Can it be done? Yes.
The Saints lost to what many consider one of the top teams in the NFC. They didn’t lose to Tampa Bay, which comes to the Superdome this weekend. If that happens, maybe it’s time to get concerned. The Buccaneers looked pathetic in a 42-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Saints should beat the Bucs, and if they’re serious about this season, they’ll beat them handily.
The defense is young and has several starters out. The offense is trying to find its new identity. A team like this coming together doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen. Will it? Who knows? I do know it’s important to be playing your best football in December and not September. The season is a long one, and this Saints team has a long way to go.
The Saints are coming off a 7-9 season… maybe there’s some magic still to come.