For The Saints, Where There’s Smoke — There’s Fire


Depending on your point of view, it could be said that the New Orleans Saints football franchise has been enveloped by either a heavy early morning fog or smoke from a burning fire that has settled over their 2015 NFL season.

But of course, as we all grew up hearing as youngsters, there was that old saying: where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Actually, it may just be smoke from the screen that the New Orleans Saints have used to mask what a deficient team was being constructed for the 2015 season from not just outsiders, but themselves as well.

Or it could be smoke from the complete dumpster fire that the organization has turned into in what we thought was a just a year but actually the flames have been smoldering for a while, just waiting for the right oxygen to breath life into it again.

Whatever the haze is that envelopes the facilities on Airline Drive, it won’t be clearing out anytime soon threatening to turn the revived franchise back to the bottom where they once were many years ago.

Dec 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (not pictured) completes a touchdown pass to tight end Richard Rodgers (82) during the fourth quarter with no time remaining against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Watching some of the last few unbelievable endings in recent NFL games such as the botched field goal by the Cleveland Browns that would have assured victory or the poorly defended Hail Mary pass against the Detroit Lions that ended up sending Lions receiver Calvin Johnson to his knees ran home for me.

As did an old video showing an emotional Browns fan leaving the stadium and screaming to whoever would listen, “I’m f–king tired of f–king losing!”

Hey — so are Saints fans.

Now granted that New Orleans may not be there yet, but the slope the team is standing on is getting steeper and more slippery as the weeks roll by.

It seems like yesterday when the 2015 NFL Draft wrapped up, and Who Dat’s were rubbing there hands like a kid at Christmas waiting for the season to begin.

Now it’s almost Christmas, and fans are pulling a full “bah hum-bug” and wishing the next five games would roll by expeditiously.

And it’s not just for the reason that it would take a miracle for the Saints to have any postseason aspirations, or that units like the once dominant offense has been reduced to being held in check.

Aug 3, 2015; White Sulphur Springs, WV, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton answers questions from the media following a day of training camp at The Greenbrier. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

No it’s more for the “fog of optimism” that surrounds every press conference or lockerroom interview that the team is “headed in the right direction” or “we’re close” or my personal favorite which is the “we just have to execute”.

If “headed in the right direction” means fixing the more than obvious roster deficiencies and almost the entire coaching staff then I can play along with that.

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“We’re close” (yes — the end is very close), just another month and the suffering will all be over for many supporters that proudly wear their Saints gear on Game Day.

What’s even more puzzling is the eerie calm that head coach Sean Payton displays following heart wrenching losses after being known for his terse postgame pressers that made many media members cringe for asking the wrong question.

Quarterback Drew Brees was taken aback in a recent interview by a series of questions from local beat writers saying, “You guys are asking me questions like the season is over…the season is not over.”

Well technically “the season” is not over, but yeah, the hopes that came with an alleged simplified defense and return of an offensive juggernaut lead by tight end Josh Hill and wide receiver Seantavius Jones was over many moons ago.

Aug 15, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Seantavius Jones (15) reaches to catch a pass in front of Tennessee Titans defensive back Micah Pellerin (32) for a touchdown in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans defeated the Tennessee Titans 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Jones, didn’t Payton promise we’d be hearing about him and fellow receiver Brandon Coleman throughout the season along with Hill taking over for the departed Jimmy Graham?

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Seems they got lost in the fog along the way too, along with running back CJ Spiller — who had Payton (and fans) absolutely giddy at the thought of his dynamic playmaking ability in the offense.

Well 108 yards rushing and 216 yards receiving (with 80 yards coming off one pass in the Dallas Cowboys game) doesn’t seem too dynamic, considering running back Tim Hightower (who has been back for three games) has almost half the rushing yards that Spiller does.

The list goes on and on for the slow burn to the end of the 2015 season for the Saints, including renewed reports that Payton may definitely looking to go elsewhere at the end of the year that’s actually getting some traction from local outlets.

The chatter preceding the game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday has some thinking that the Saints can pull an upset and end their undefeated season.

Nov 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert (35) and quarterback Cam Newton (1) and running back Jonathan Stewart (28) celebrate during the third quarter of a NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Carolina won 33-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

And if they do, then so what?

That’s just as good as cracking your elbow on a door and then kicking the living daylights out of the door because “it makes you feel better” — yeah you taught it a ‘lesson’.

The fog, smoke, or just blind optimism that continues to hang over the Saints clouding their vision will dissipate eventually, scratch that, hopefully in the near future.

But as our own Big Easy Believer Editor and Columnist Barry Hirstius recently mentioned on an episode of The Big Easy Blitz Radio Show, it could be as far away as 2017 before we see anything that closely resembles the championship team that once was.

On that note — could somebody please put out that fire, already???