There were moments after the New Orleans Saints’ Sunday loss to the New York Giants when I sat, brain hurting, trying to find out what this 52-27 loss meant for the Saints’ playoff picture. I put the abacus away without an exact snapshot, but there’s one thing for sure. However infinitely small it is, New Orleans still has a shot.
That’s the mathematical version of the story.
The realistic version articulates a much different account. The Saints aren’t going to be playing football past Week 17—not the way this team is functioning. And since the abacus is still close at hand, let’s move the playoff question to the back burner and talk about Drew Brees.
In the offseason, Brees held out for a huge contract. He got his wish to the tune of $100 million over five years. Brees’ cap hit in 2012 is $10.4 million, the lowest of the five years on his deal. It’s a good thing his contract is back-loaded, he’ll have plenty of time to make up for his substandard play this year. Brees hasn’t done enough to earn the $10.4 million in 2012.
Brees connected on just 60.5 percent of his passes Sunday and threw two interceptions and only one touchdown. The two picks brought his season total to 18, and he’s tied with Indianapolis Colts rookie Andrew Luck for the most interceptions in the NFL.
He moved the ball well, throwing for 354 yards, but for the second straight week he eclipsed the 300-yard mark and his team lost the football game. It’s also the second consecutive week that Brees has thrown multiple interceptions. His two-game total has Brees at 695 yards passing with seven interceptions and one touchdown pass.
“We can’t have four turnovers in a game,” interim coach Joe Vitt said in his postgame press conference. “Especially on the road against a good football team.”
That’s exactly what the last two weeks have been for the Saints…on the road against good football teams (the Atlanta Falcons last week and the Giants Sunday). New Orleans had two fumbles and two picks Sunday, the team had five picks in Week 13. It’s easy to see why the Saints lost both games when they had nine turnovers.
Vitt called the loss his fault, saying he did not get his team ready enough to play against the Giants. Brees disagreed.
Is 2012 just a bad season for the Saints or the beginning of a downward spiral?
"That’s been the most disappointing thing is losing the way we have," said Brees in his press conference. “Doing some uncharacteristic things and doing all the things that get you beat, we know better. We have great coaches, we’re well coached.”
The huge question moving forward, especially after the playoff talk is finally put to bed, is whether this poor showing for the Saints, for Brees, is a one-year anomaly or the start off New Orleans’ fall from grace.
That question won’t be answered until—actually if, since his contract was voided recently—former head coach Sean Payton returns to the Saints and retakes control over this team.
The 2012 season started off as a train wreck, and then the Saints showed hope. Now New Orleans is falling off again. Is it train-wreck status? Not yet. Might it be? Ask me again in September 2013.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.