But I know the neighborhood
And talk is cheap when the story is good
And the tales grow taller on down the line—REO Speedwagon
You know the world has turned upside down when Les Miles is being hailed for his clock management skills and Sean Payton admits to getting a play call in late in the team's most recent loss.
Driving back from Florida on Monday, I heard a local talk show host, on a station you've all heard of but probably never listen to, say that the Saints problem is that Sean Payton and Drew Brees spent too much time in the offseason making commercials and hawking their books instead of breaking down tape and working on timing with receivers.
And yet which one of us would have not done the same damned thing?
I would have gladly sat on Oprah's couch and told my story to "Dr. Phil" and "Ellen" and "60 Minutes" and whoever else wanted to hear it, including Gerry V.
This a**hole tells his audience that you can not talk to Oprah and break down game tape at the same time.
Yet, his show is so hard to listen too that I think to myself, "and what's your excuse?"
I find all of this very unsettling—unsettling to the point where I phone my shrink over the holiday weekend, and he suggests I double the dosage on my meds.
Had you looked me in the eye not very many weeks ago and told me "offense will be the New Orleans Saints problem this year," I would asked you if you were smoking some of that synthetic marijuana they are talking about outlawing down in Florida and then I would have said, "I so want you in my poker game."
Alas, offense is the Saints problem this year along with the chronic problem of being the league's worst coverage unit on kickoff and punt returns.
Read the numbers and weep.
- Saints have lost the turnover battle in three consecutive games.
- They have gone from +5 to -1 in the giveaway/takeaway category.
- Last year they were third in the NFL at +11.
- Red Zone Efficiency—the Saints are 2-of-9 in TD percentage in the last two weeks.
- The Saints have seven TDs in 19 red zone trips.
- They gained only 13 yards in 22 plays in the Cardinals red zone.
Here are a few more critical stats that illustrate the downfall even more starkly.
- Only 10 Offensive TDs this year through five games, compared to 25 TDs at this same time last year.
- 789 rushing yards through five games last year, compared with only 378 yards in 2010.
- The Saints are averaging a mere 3.3. yards per carry compared to 4.5 yards through five games in 2009.
The Saints rushing production has been cut in half. They are turning the ball over more frequently and producing less big plays. When they do reach the opponents red zone they aren't scoring. They are taking a lot less shots down the field.
Sean Payton told WWL Radio the problems on offense are a concern.
"It's a combination of a number of things. We've got to be patient running the ball. We've got to take some shots into the red zone and really eliminate any minus plays," said Payton.
"Two of the turnovers happening inside our own 20-yard line resulted in 14 points, and that's a big swing. Certainly we have got to do better in our tight red zone."
As for the continuous special teams blunders, Payton says the coverage units are giving up too many yards and that they are not meeting expectations and that hang time is everything.
It's October of 2010. Les Miles is undefeated, Sean Payton is being criticized for hawking books and Brett Favre is being accused of abusing his cell phone privileges.
What's next? Keith Olbermann saying nice things about the Tea Party? Maybe Governor Paladino?
Well, who the hell knows?