A win in name only. I don't think I have ever seen a victory that left me so void of any emotion whatsoever. Would it have been smarter to lose for a higher draft pick and subsequently knock Tampa Bay down to the number two draft pick? Possibly. However, I am not the type to root for my team to lose. Sure, that would have made it easier to accept had they managed to lose to a two win Buccaneers team, but in the moment I was hoping they left Raymond James Stadium with a win. And lord, could they have picked a more pathetic way to win? That was essentially the same game as last week against Atlanta, except Atlanta isn't completely void of talent like the Bucs. The Saints tried everything in their power to lose today. That's why today's win feels like nothing of the sort. The offense and it's 20 million dollar leader turned the ball over at an alarming rate and were inconsistent at best. The defense spent the entire first half nipping at the heels of Doug Martin and company. Literally nothing about the win gives any hope for a better 2015.
I think the most disappointing thing about today, and last week, isn't the subpar play on the field. It's that I wasn't even mildly surprised by the play on the field. Getting your hopes up for this year's Saints team is like stepping in your neighbor's dog shit over and over again and continuing to blame your neighbor. At some point you need to be responsible for your lack of skepticism and awareness. Poop on my shoe once, shame on you, poop on my shoe nine times, shame on me...as they say. This team failed to come through in almost every big spot they fell into, and I do mean fell into. This team didn't earn an opportunity to put a strangle hold on the division last week in New Orleans. It was gifted to them by an anemic division, and they still flushed it away without much of a fight. If I didn't know that an NFL season was only 16 games long I would say it felt like the Saints went 4-20. It certainly didn't feel like this team only lost one more game than they won. When you put it that, it almost seems like they aren't even deserving of the record they finished with.
The only positive spin you can give to this bitter end of a miserable season is that this mockery of team didn't luck into a playoff spot, or even a playoff win against a battered Cardinals' team. This mentally fragile group would have considered that a success in a year where most fans and experts alike expected a Super Bowl caliber team in New Orleans. This team needed a reality check, and clearly 16 anticlimactic games weren't enough to give it to them. They need a full offseason to realize how drastically they under performed, to understand how unacceptable the level play of was in comparison to the level of talent. Did the amount of leadership lost with the departure of players like Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins, and Will Smith mean that much? Was it simply some superiority complex based on a relatively successfully 2013? This Saints, while not the worst the NFL had to offer, was definitely the most underachieving. That in itself is arguably worse, from a fan and franchise standpoint, than the latter.
I think the biggest problem with this team is that it is so hard to pinpoint one problem. A top 5 defense from 2013, morphed into the record setting joke that it was in 2012. Same players, arguably better than the year prior, didn't even show glimpses of the same potential. The offense, as a whole, was a disappointment. Don't tell me Drew Brees nearly threw for his 5th 5,000 yard season. Don't give me some statistic as to how they stacked up in comparison to the rest of the league. This offense couldn't protect it's quarterback. It's quarterback couldn't avoid the backbreaking turnover. The skill position players routinely dropped, or fumbled, in the most dire of situations. The eye test matters much more than the numbers, and this offense isn't close to the one that used to strike fear into the hearts of defensive coordinators. Nothing makes that more evident than the loss of the SuperDome stigma. A 5 game home losing streak isn't just bad, its comedic. Especially in a year where the team fell one win short of the playoffs.
If this team wanted to temper expectations for next year they certainly did a hell of job of it today, even in victory. Who Dat, or something like it...