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New Orleans Saints: Why Season Is Not Lost Despite 0-4 Start

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New Orleans Saints: Why Season Is Not Lost Despite 0-4 Start
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints have improbably started the 2012 NFL season with an 0-4 start, but the season is long, and there is still hope for a turnaround. 

Granted, it's not likely, but given the right set of circumstances, the Saints could sneak their way back into the playoff picture.

Let's take a look at how the Saints could resurrect their seemingly lost season.

 

Schedule

The Saints still have five games this season where they'll be playing divisional opponents. They've only played one divisional game so far—their Week 2 loss to the Carolina Panthers

They also face three AFC West teams—the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders. All three of those teams are beatable, given the right game plan and execution. 

Additionally, the Saints have three games left against NFC East teams—the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, all of whom have an Achilles' heel to be exploited.

While the Saints don't have an easy schedule, per se, there are plenty of winnable games.  

 

Get the Running Game Going

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

So far this season, Drew Brees has 191 pass attempts, while Saints running backs have only carried the ball 75 times. 

The Saints have issues on the defensive side of the ball, and one of the best ways to get around having a bad defense is by controlling the clock. Yes, Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but so far, all his attempts have yet to garner a single win for his team. 

The Saints must get the running game going more often. It's not like they haven't been successful when they do run the ball. For the season, Saints running backs are averaging 4.3 yards per carry, a respectable number, especially considering the potency of the team's passing attack. 

Last season, with Sean Payton calling plays, the Saints were the No. 6 ranked running team in the NFL, averaging 133 yards on 27 carries per game. 

This season, the Saints are only running the ball 19 times per contest, and the results speak for themselves. 

 

Defensive Improvement

The best thing about where the Saints are at right now on defense is that it really can't get much worse. This unit has hit rock bottom, and the only thing left to do at this point is get better. 

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Steve Spagnuolo's defensive scheme is much different than that of Gregg Williams, and the team has struggled to adapt to it. 

The biggest issue the defense has right now is that they can't stop opponents from running the ball. Teams average 186.8 yards per game against this defense—a historically bad number.

The key to stopping opponents from running the ball is discipline and teamwork, and the longer the players work on implementing Spagnuolo's defense, the better they'll be.

 

Conclusion

The Saints have actually been getting incrementally better the past couple of games, and their Week 4 loss to the Green Bay Packers was almost a win. 

Will the Saints turn things around in 2012?

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Through four games, this team has lost by a total of 20 points. With competition, there's hope. As long as the players don't quit—something I don't expect them to do—there is a chance this team can rise like a phoenix from the ashes and start winning some football games. 

Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks and leaders in the NFL, and as long as his team keeps fighting, there's a chance they can challenge for an NFC wild-card spot in the playoffs.

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78

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