If I really wanted to overreact I could probably put this team in a pine box. After the abortion that was last night's game this should probably read like a eulogy instead of a season preview. Spoiler alert: It's not going to.
Mostly because I know no middle ground between eternal optimist and suicidal pessimist, and I have no interest in writing about the Saints from the highest of ledges before their season even begins. However, it's also because I had no grand illusions of this team being a reincarnation of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. I have been as encouraged by the improvement in the defense throughout camp as any other Saints fan, but by no means did I think they were set to become anything more than a middle-of-the-road unit. That would be a monumental jump considering last year's effort that could have featured Benny Hill playing on loop as it's soundtrack.
Newsflash to the cynics blindly bitching from inside the sanctity of their proverbial paper bag: Even average units can look bad against offenses that have savvy veteran quarterbacks, the best wide receiver in the league, the most versatile running back in the league, and a proven offensive line. I'm supposed to act like weeks of evidence - including promising defensive efforts against the Patriots and Texans - didn't mean dick simply because Antonio Brown beat an UDFA corner over the top when he had no safety help? C'mon now. Let's put the razors away and root ourselves in reality.
Now, the offensive line that looks as cohesive as a rail of blow in a wind storm? That's a different story. Watching excessive talent at the skill positions go unused because Drew Brees is legitimately running for his life brings on a feeling of hopelessness that might just get you to plug your toaster in next to your tub. Andrus Peat looks so large and immobile that he's probably earned himself a visit to the glue factory. The best improvement that Zach Strief made over the summer is that he aged one year closer to retirement. The "1 yard and a cloud of dust" runs and the comically quick check downs to running backs have the potential to make me switch to "the hard stuff" before halftime.
All that being said, the Saints still have one of the best quarterbacks in the sport and a head coach that is nothing if not an offensive wizard. I didn't want to start the season by getting on both knees, putting my hands together, and desperately pledging my allegiance to Breesus despite circumstantial evidence that even he can't overcame his protection, but I'll be damned if that hasn't worked before. I'm certainly not screaming "10 and 6" from the mountaintops as loudly as I was during the blissful euphoria that is the beginning of training camp, but I am also not holding this team's head under water before it has a chance to prove whether or not it's going to sink or swim.