As abjectly horrendous as this season has been, at least we loyal Falcons fans didn't have high expectations coming into it. Let's be clear on one thing: the Saints suck. Nobody's happier about it than me, either. Nobody. Still, their fans expected great things and have been rewarded with a messy season. Speaking as someone who lived through the ill-fated post-Super Bowl season in Atlanta, I can honestly say I know what it's like.
In that spirit, Sunil from Canal Street Chronicles and I decided to weep and gnash our teeth in unison. As one of SBNation's most eloquent bloggers, Sunil's musings bear reading even though the team he covers inspires me to froth at the mouth like a rabid bear. As always, I have his answers to my five questions here. Enjoy.
1. How have you as a fan dealt with the Saints failing to live up to high expectations? What's the main cause?
Sunil: Booze. And other assorted chemical substances. Seriously, though, being a Saints fan is all about crushed dreams and shattered expectations.
This season they just seem like they've lost their momentum. I think they had so much going for them in 2K6 - new coach and quarterback, playing for NOLA, etc - that they couldn't do any wrong. This year, that's not there.
2. The Falcons will likely trot out Chris Redman at starter, giving them a new look of sorts. How will the Saints attack him?
Sunil: Bats, clubs, assorted firearms. They will probably rush four guys, daring him to throw and play zone to go for will-breaking interceptions. That's how they've attacked everybody, with some spectacularly bad results. Godspeed.
3. I gather from reading CSC that Sean Payton made an egregious call on Sunday. Is the honeymoon over between you guys?
Sunil: That's a tough question. I still think Payton is an elite coach, but he's made some very questionable decisions, going as far back as the draft. He's also a very young coach - this is his first head-coaching gig. The Saints haven't really seen any value from the 2007 Draft - that's a pretty big problem. Robert Meachem, the first-round pick, hasn't even dressed for a game this season.
Last season, Payton's hallmark early in the season was that he would play anybody who earned the time - take Marques Colston as an example. He didn't have any allegiances to guys, so he played whomever.
But as the season went on, I think people began to realize that Payton is very loyal to "his guys." Fred Thomas was, possibly, the worst corner in the NFL in the second half of last season. Yet Payton continued to put him out there. You could basically make the same claim about Jason David this year. Yet, inexplicably, he continues to play.
That being said, this has been a very difficult, trying season for this team. There's nothing more difficult in sports than losing when one is supposed to win. And Payton still has his guys going out and playing hard. From the outside, though this is almost always untrue, the locker room looks unified. Hence, all the problems are being solved in-house. So he must be doing something right.
4. It seems to be about the right time to start thinking about the team's draft position next year. What holes do you think need filling?
Sunil: Cornerback first. I wouldn't mind a nasty safety, in the mold of a Sean Taylor. I think they could also use some help at linebacker. Offensively, I would like to see them take some outside linemen, a potential starter at right tackle and a solid backup to Jammal Brown at left tackle. I also think they could find an upgrade at left guard. Finally, a bruising running back (As my good buddy Grilled Meat Puck will attest, Tulane's Matt Forte is ridiculous and a pretty good fit. And we're not just saying that as 40% of the Green Wave's fanbase).
5. Particularly harsh words for Reggie Bush from one writer, I see. How fair is it to say he's not even a star right now?
Sunil: Jim Henderson isn't just one writer, he broadcasts the Saints games. Literally, he's their radio voice.
Is Reggie Bush a star? Sure, he's in plenty of commercials, all over TMZ and will probably be in People Magazine (if he hasn't already). He's a star in every sense of the word.
The question every Saints fan is asking themselves right now is: Is Reggie Bush the Jason Sehorn of running backs? He may be a star, but is he a football player?
Personally, I think many of his struggles can be attributed to the fact that his line isn't particularly good at run blocking, to the fact that he doesn't have that bruising complement and to the pressure that he puts on himself to succeed. The game doesn't look very fun to Reggie Bush right now. And, quite frankly, it's not very much fun to watch Reggie Bush play right now.
Thanks to Sunil for some excellent responses, and be sure to check out my responses to his questions over at Canal Street Chronicles.