Saints Vs. Cardinals: Brees, Offense Must Shoulder Blame for Ugly Loss in Desert

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Saints Vs. Cardinals: Brees, Offense Must Shoulder Blame for Ugly Loss in Desert
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Saints quarterback Drew Brees didn't have much to smile about in Arizona.

Not only do the New Orleans Saints not look like a Super Bowl contender, they don't even look like a playoff contender.

And it's the offense, not the defense, that's letting them down.

Forget for a second that starting running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are both out. The Saints offense struggled even before their injuries.

The offense looks completely out of sync.

The team that averaged over 30 points per game last season is struggling to reach 20. Drew Brees threw 11 interceptions last year and has five in two losses already this year.

Each week has the same story. New Orleans starts off great in the first quarter and then looks like Buffalo Bills the rest of the way.

This week was no exception.

They led the Cardinals 10-0 after the first quarter but then got crushed 30-10 the rest of the way.

Only the Saints really know what's going on, but I will say this: As much credit as Brees and Payton received last year (and deservedly so), they also deserve their share of the blame.

The Super Bowl Saints were a team you had to jump on early to even have a chance to beat them. This year's team is exactly the opposite.

Try these stats on for size:

In 2009, the Saints outscored their opponents in the second and fourth quarters by a combined 322-134. New Orleans scored more points in the fourth quarter (138) than they allowed in the second and fourth quarters combined.

In 2010, the Saints have scored just 35 points in the second and fourth quarters. They did not score a single point in the second quarter, a quarter they completely dominated last year, until Week 4.

Against the Cardinals, the Saints had 10 points and 112 yards in the first 14-and-a half minutes. Over the next 43 minutes, they managed just 152 yards and three points.

Last year, the Saints took the other team's best punch and then delivered a series of hooks and uppercuts of their own to knock out their opponent.

Now, New Orleans looks like they're ready for the fight to be over after the first drive.

Coach Payton and his staff need to figure out how to fix this or every game is going to be a struggle for the black and gold.

It's not for a lack of effort but of execution.

Is it possible the Brees is trying too hard?

All of the conversation that came from Brees this past offseason had the same theme: Avoid the Super Bowl letdown.

Brees seems to have taken it upon himself to try to make every play and complete every throw.

Look at some of the interceptions that Brees has thrown this season. Two have come on poorly thrown deep balls and another came on a head-scratching sidearm fling that had no chance of being completed to a Saint.

But let's not put all the blame on Brees.

Dropped passes have plagued this team all season.

Marques Colston had nearly 100 yards but dropped a pass early in the game and Ladell Betts, whom Brees called the MVP of the win against Carolina, bobbled a pass at the 5-yard line that was intercepted.

The offensive line is also being exposed.

Brees is on pace to be sacked 26 times, which would be the most since he got to New Orleans. All-Pro guard Jahri Evans has been a frequent target of the yellow hankie, and right tackle Jon Stinchcomb is proving his Pro Bowl nod a year ago was a fluke.

The defense actually played pretty well.

They were on the field for just one of the Cardinals' three touchdowns and that one came when an offensive lineman recovered a fumble for a touchdown to cap a two-yard drive.

New Orleans forced four fumbles, had four sacks, three other tackles for a loss, batted away five passes, intercepted another, and held Arizona to less than two yards per rush.

Any team that gets that kind of defensive performance is supposed to win.

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