I guess I should feel appreciative. I mean, at least the Saints didn't spend more than 5-10 minutes lulling me into a false sense of security before callously reminding me that it wasn't 2006 anymore. Tough to keep that nostalgic feeling when the team celebrates the 10 year anniversary of the most historic punt block in NFL history by comically botching one and giving their heated rivals a free pass right back into the game. From there on out even the most optimistic of Saints fans had to feel a little precarious about the direction in which the night was headed. Safe to say they weren't fully prepared for Matt Ryan to turn into something that resembled anything more than the overly average quarterback he is, but they at least had to have the inkling that things weren't going to go flawlessly. Not when a turnover (that ultimately wasted what turned out to be one of the Saints only defensive stops) pulled the plug on the sheer electricity that had filled the same building a decade before.
Here's the thing, there shouldn't have been one single Saints fan that thought last night was going to be easy. The laundry list of inactive players that came out prior to game time already had me sipping my drink a wee bit quicker, so it's not like there was no cause for concern prior to kickoff. Anyone that has watched this team throughout the years should have known that the impressive defensive effort put forth against the Giants was just as anomalous as the offensive futility displayed against the Giants. Now, did I expect the Falcons to drive down the field for 5 straight touchdowns like the players that held Eli, Odell, & Co. to three measly field goals were replaced by Pop Warner kids that were just there because their fathers were trying to live vicariously though them? No, can't say I did. Honestly, I was hoping there was a middle ground '85 Bears and...well...'14-'15 Saints. Apparently - when your 7th string cornerback is taking meaningful snaps - there really isn't.
That's not to put the full blame on injuries. There's no excuse for how easy the Falcons made it look. There's no excuse for being so inept at stopping your opponent that your quarterback - who was without his primary blindside protector and his biggest safety valve in the passing game - can't make one mistake without the game turning into a blowout at home. The Saints were undermanned, but I'll be damned if they didn't underperform in a game that could have pulled them into a tie for first place after what can only be described as a treacherous start to the season. Now they are 0-3, things looks just as bleak as they did at any point during the last few years, and - with the ways in which they've found to lose games - there's no reason to believe it's going to change. They'll somehow end up 4-4 and just a single game out of the division lead because that's just how this Deja-VooDoo works, but this season is destined to have a 7-9 finish. The fact that Saints fans can already see that writing on the wall should be genuinely concerning for every member of the organization...even those that just received 5 year extensions.