It’s been a rough season for the New Orleans Saints as the team grinds toward their final four games of the season with a 4-8 record. Arguably, it’s been even rougher for Saints fans as they’ve had to watch one of the NFL’s most competitive franchises, turn into a glimpse of what the ‘older’ bag-wearing fans of the past had to endure through previous years of misery.
Frustration has boiled over beginning in the first part of the season when the Saints strung together three straight losses that was followed by the erratic and schizophrenic play on offense and defense that closely resembled heartbreakers seen in 2014.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the course of the season is the support that fans have shown the team even in the face of some head-scratching conclusions to several games.
The tradition of meeting the team at the airport following an away game regardless of a win or loss has continued even if the crowd has shrunk some to a certain degree.
Most vent their frustrations during games and immediately following, Who Dat’s follow the fabled 24-hour rule and get themselves geared up for the next opponent.
Sep 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints fans react from the stands against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Buccaneers won 26-19. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
And while the support has been unwavering for the most part, the expectations for the next four games has been a bit of a different story.
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For example, the Saints upcoming matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the Saints as a four point underdog heading into Raymond James Stadium which is a stark contrast from the ten point underdogs the Bucs were in Week 2 when they pulled a 26-19 victory out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In the past Saints fans have ignored the point spread, but it’s becoming more likely THE number to pay attention to since even before the bye week as a gauge of what the outcome will be.
Yet fans have resigned themselves to the fact that the team’s aspirations to a playoff bound scenario are nothing but a pipe dream as 2015 comes to a close.
Yes even the fans who are diehard percentage watchers aren’t paying too much attention to the mathematical numbers that said the Saints were still alive even just weeks ago.
One reason was simply that it’s obvious to everyone even down to the most loyal wearer of the Black and Gold that the team is simply not good enough or strong enough to conjure up a postseason run much less a .500 finish.
Oct 26, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints fans celebrate in the stands during the third quarter of a game against the Green Bay Packers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Packers 44-23. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Or to be more precise, the feeling mirrors that of former Saints head coach Jim Mora’s infamous “Playoffs???” rant where he says in grim finality: “I just hope we can win a game”.
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On the flip side of that coin, the fanbase has also come to grips with the sobering conclusion that the club could likely not win any of their next four games no matter how dominant or pitiful the opponent is.
Oh yes my friends, even the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars with their Arena Football League looking uniforms and offense that’s ranked 18th overall, could shred New Orleans like a wet newspaper.
Once again, the Saints are that inconsistent as of late; and likely won’t get better and be back to form for the next few years at best due to the purging of some poor free agent signings, even poorer draft classes from the past few years, and lavish but low return contact extensions that have hamstrung their salary cap.
But even if that happens and the Saints were to go 4-12, which I feel they may finish 6-10, the members of Who Dat Nation will return with even more vigor and renewed expectations for 2016.