I am not going to sit here and tell you that the 6-9 New Orleans Saints are even moderately close to being a good football team. They have fielded undeniably the worst defense in NFL history, an offensive line that probably couldn't protect Drew Brees from getting mobbed in a supermarket, and a host of offensive weapons that could easily be described as patchwork. However, that's kind of the point, isn't it? Every time the Saints played a brand a football that someone could potentially confuse as complementary they were, at the very least, a decent football team. They didn't need a great defense to be competitive. You didn't need an impenetrable front five to win games. The didn't need a superstar wide receiver to score points. They just needed a little bit of defense. A little bit of blocking. A little bit of playmaking. A little bit of cohesiveness.
I'm not trying to use a meaningless game against a lowly Jaguars team to say that the Saints are better than their record says they are. I am just saying that we will never know because the Saints team that showed up in the first half against the Jaguars has only shown up a handful of times this year. Drew Brees is still very capable of running a highly proficient NFL offense. The 400+ yards and three touchdowns with a bad foot made that pretty goddamn clear. He just needs a little bit of help. A little bit of a margin for error. A little bit of accountability from other areas of the team. That's what they gave him Sunday and that's why a game against a young, up-and-coming offense was never in doubt. Again, no small change would make this team a Super Bowl contender, but I'll be damned if it wouldn't make them better than they have shown to be through a majority of this season. Drew Brees can make up for a lot of deficiencies in your team, but he can't make up for an utter lack of support from his defense. All he really needs is a little bit, and there were far too many times when all he got was nothing.
As fans we get wrapped up in playoff implications, but you can't help but be happy for players like Tim Hightower, and to a lesser extent Travaris Cadat, for making huge contributions in a game that is undoubtedly more important to their careers than it is to the Saints season. This game may have meant nothing, but that didn't make it any less special for a couple of guys that have bounced around, or in-and-out, of the league far more often than they'd like. The season as a whole may be a disappointment, but the effort on Sunday certainly wasn't, and at this point that's the best you can hope for. Let's hope this is a sign of what we can expect to see next year, instead of the rash of lifeless, pitiful efforts that sent this season spiraling down the drain it's still trying to crawl out of.
P.S. Can't imagine that Cadet was too happy to get doused in beer, nor can I imagine that it's owner was to happy to spill it's contents onto the field, but if for only a brief moment neither of them gave a shit, and that's what sports is all about.