Excuse after excuse rolled through Who Dat Nation after the New Orleans Saints packed it in during the second half of their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but one thing was being repeatedly overlooked: This team is really bad.
Let's give up the excuses of "no Sean Payton" and "Bountygate" and focus on the fact this team has the look of an overpaid, older team that has no quick fix in sight.
(And before I get 20 comments on it, Jonathan Vilma is nowhere near a "quick fix.")
There's probably only about a handful of players that have actually performed up to their normal standards, but the list of underachievers is very long.
This team is as talented as any in the league, but when you act like a bunch of elementary kids with the substitute teacher, you are going to be nothing but sloppy.
And it's not just the defense that deserves all of the blame (but we will get to them), because the offense has been just as horrific despite the misleading stats of being a top-10 unit.
Let's start with the leader on offense.
Drew Brees (deserved every penny, in my eyes) has looked like he is still trying to catch up to speed without the help of an offseason regiment. And the pressure of being a "coach" on the field is also slowing that acclamation up. He is running for his life behind a mess of an offensive line, but even at times when he hasn't be pressured, he has made some poor decisions and throws.
Speaking of that horrific line play, the tackles, Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief, and the center, Brian de la Puente, have played the worst. If their positions were renamed "offensive turnstile," they'd be alright, but they are paid to protect the $100 million man, and the only thing that they have "perfected" is the "Ole' block."
The wide receiver unit has not played anywhere near close to par, either. Marques Colston got paid and proceeded to start off the season with a whopping 10 catches for 160 yards and, wait for it, zero touchdowns. Who saw that coming? Oh right, me, after they signed Colston to a ridiculous contract this past offseason.
Besides him, Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham are dropping passes left and right, and Devery Henderson can not separate anymore. There is no deep threat anywhere around on this team.
Wait, scratch that. There is a deep threat, and his name is Darren Sproles.
Apparently, the Saints' coaching staff must have forgotten that Sproles was the team's leading rusher last season, but Sproles reminded them on his first carry of the season versus the Chiefs that went 47 yards.
I understand that he is vital in the passing game, but your leading rusher of the season before gets his first carry in the third game of the season? And it goes 47 yards? You might want to hand him off just a wee bit more, what do you say, Aaron Kromer?
The running back group has actually been the strongest of the entire team, and that's with them only activating three of their 13 that they have. (Seriously, the Saints carry running backs like the Pats carry tight ends.) Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram are both healthy and starting to have the look of great one-two punch out of the backfield.
If only they can get Kromer to stop putting the pressure on Brees and start calling running plays. You have the best depth at running back in the league, Kromer, so use it!
And now it's the defense's turn.
Where do I begin?
I understand that it takes a little bit to get accustomed to a new scheme and terminology, but there is no excuse for still not knowing how to wrap up on tackles or fill an empty gap.
You might not think that's your gap, Saints' defensive player, but if it's open and near you, how about we fill that up, OK? Or someone who gained three yards against Buffalo will run for over two bills on you.
I have also heard of playing above your head during a contract year, but with that being said, what would you call Sedrick Ellis' play this year?
Horrific or horrendous? You are right with either one.
I would actually think Ellis would be having a good year if his number was in the 50s and he played linebacker, because that's what level of the defense he has played at all year.
The defensive line, as a whole, has done a terrible job at keeping blockers off of the linebacking corps, and when your linebackers can't roam free, your leading tacklers are going to be comprised of defensive backs.
It starts with the guy who was brought in to occupy multiple blockers, Brodrick Bunkley.
You can upgrade your linebackers all you want, but they can't do anything when they have offensive linemen on them.
That needs to be fixed, Spags, the guru of defensive lines.
I can't believe I would see the day that Saints fans cried out for a Rick Venturi-coached defense, but I heard those musings on Sunday.
The players' lack of effort or fire is the direct result of their interim, interim head coach, Mr. Kromer.
Some coaches are just good coordinators or position guys who can't handle the head coaching responsibilities, and I think Kromer is one of them. He would be best served to just focus on the offensive line problems when Joe Vitt comes back.
Pete Carmichael Jr. isn't doing any better with his play-calling. How do you neglect the run so much with the stable of guys that you have?
That is unacceptable, especially when you are up 24-6 in the second half of a game and tossing the ball everywhere.
You know what would minimize the amount of drops by receivers?
Hand the ball off. Simple enough, right?
It should be, but who knows anymore when you allow a team like Kansas City, who was dead in the water, to just Happy Gilmore ("tap" their way back by field goals and a safety) their way to a victory.
I'm done hearing in press conferences that "We'll get this turned around" and stupid mantras like "DO YOUR JOB."
Instead, I have a statement the New Orleans Saints should live by the rest of this season and beyond: Don't talk about it, be about it.