And right now, the Saints are an apathetic mess.
After four weeks, it's difficult to maintain hope that it will get significantly better for the Saints this season.
On offense, the Saints look passive and nonthreatening. On defense, they look confused and unmotivated.
And overshadowing the whole affair is whether we're now watching the slow death of the Payton/Brees era. Nine seasons in, and it's a fair question to ask. If that's the case, what exactly are we witnessing right now? A temporary bump in the road? Or the inexorable fade to black?
Of particular note this season is the Saints' coaching, or lack thereof.
No one would deny the Saints’ confidence was, for about three years, overbearing for anyone who came into contact with it. But it was confidence, not arrogance, because you can’t back up arrogance. Ambush, the famous Super Bowl onsides kick, worked. Trying to set records in a blowout win over Atlanta, during the final home game of 2011, wasn’t arrogant because the Saints actually did set the records, and because doing so displayed Payton’s greatest gift as a coach: not his extraordinary perception of his team’s temperament, but of the city’s.Here is a brief excerpt from Sean Payton's memoir, Home Team: Coaching the Saints and New Orleans back to life. This is from the book's introduction. Payton is relaying his experience during the Super Bowl victory parade.
You wouldn’t get it from his coach-speak and from his secrecy and from his contentious relationship with the media, but look: Sean Payton’s a showman, not in the way he presents himself but in the way he presents his team. He’s theatrical, an able director who, in 2011, saw a chance to give the fans a good time, and took it.
The awful fake punt Payton tried against Dallas wasn’t bad because of its design, which wasn’t great, but because of how out-of-touch the call was, both tactically, given how obvious it was in that game situation, and because of how sad and desperate it felt as a plot point in a narrative. It was like watching Don Draper listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
And that’s the tragedy. Sean Payton changed for no real reason, given what we know about the incompetence and dishonesty of the NFL’s commissioner; he grew up because that’s what a nasty smarmy world demanded — or else.
When people saw the trophy, it was like they were viewing the Holy Grail. At one point, I got off the float - this was silly of me. But I got off the float because I wanted to get down to the street level and let some people touch it. Just touch it.Four years later, Ray Nagin is in prison convicted of various crimes including wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering. The case of who stole Sean Payton's gazumbas is still open, though.
As I moved toward the crowd, people were leaning forward and reaching and squealing. In a few seconds it was like an ant colony, with people just wanting to feel the trophy to know that it was real. For a moment, I disappeared beneath that hill of humanity. Nobody was pushing. Nobody was violent. But I could see the police moving toward me. They looked a little concerned. They opened up a path and hustled me and the trophy back up to the float.
By the time our float reached Gallier Hall, things had gotten so loose, the U.S. Marine Corps Band and the Ying Yang Twins were trying to outdo one another with competing versions of "Stand Up & Get Crunk," the Saints' unofficial Southern-rap anthem. I was seven Bud Lights in. It was my turn to meet the mayor. My wife squeezed my wrist and said, "Control yourself, honey."
In his toast, Mayor Nagin praised the "gazumbas" I'd shown by calling that ambush onside kick to start the second half. Gazumbas? Only in New Orleans does a mayor compliment a football quite so vividly.
I just smiled.