October 3, 2012

Struggles in the Bayou

By - Andy Garcia

The biggest surprise of the 2012 NFL season has not been the undefeated Arizona Cardinals or the NFC North leading Minnesota Vikings, but rather, a team who has yet to win a game.

And no, it's not the lowly Cleveland Browns. I'm sure no one is surprised by that.

It's the only other winless team in the league -- the New Orleans Saints.

Photo by: Bill Haber
Since winning Super Bowl XLIV during the 2009 season, the Saints have been one of the more dominating NFL franchises, winning at least 11 games and making the playoffs every year.

That streak is in jeopardy this season, as they have stumbled out of the gates to start 0-4.

The good thing for Who Dat Nation is that their team has been competitive in every loss so far, having lost four one possession games.

They opened up with a 40-32 defeat at home against the new and improved Washington Redskins. New Orleans may have taken them lightly, as no one expected Washington to have such a high powered offense led by rookie Robert Griffin III.

Week 2 saw the Saints fall on the road 35-27 to division rival Carolina.

The third and most heartbreaking loss came at home when the Saints collapsed in the second half, giving up 21 unanswered points and losing 27-24 in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The last defeat was a 28-27 nail biter versus the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau. New Orleans had a chance to win that game, but missed a go-ahead field goal late in the 4th quarter.

So why exactly are the Saints 0-4?

Is it karma for the Bountygate scandal?


Is it because they are missing head coach Sean Peyton?


The real answer is actually much simpler than any of those possibilities.

It's their defense.

New Orleans is giving up a staggering 463.2 yards per game. They rank 24th in pass defense and 32nd against the run. They have also allowed an average of 32.5 points per game.

Before former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams got to New Orleans in 2009, the Saints never really had a great defense. Coach Williams' aggressive schemes (and alleged bounty program) transformed a fairly mediocre defensive unit into one of the more physical, turnover producing defenses in the league.

It seems that the defense is deflated this season under new direction, not to mention missing one of their leaders, Jonathan Vilma.

Williams was always criticized for having blitzed too much, but it seemed to have worked for them throughout the years. Now under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Saints are having trouble getting pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. They have only produced 6 sacks through 4 games in 2012.

Green Bay had given up 16 sacks through its first 3 games, yet New Orleans didn't sack Aaron Rodgers at all in their Week 4 match up.

The Saints are still a long ways away from being the "Aints" again though. We are only a quarter of the season in, so there is still plenty of football left to be played.

The last time New Orleans started 0-4 was during the 2007 season. They managed to string together 4-straight victories after that, beginning with a Sunday night game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Oddly enough, the Saints play this Sunday night.

Let's see if they can get a much needed win against the San Diego Chargers and maybe turn their season around.


  1. I know they are 0-4, but I still think they can turn the season around and possibly make the playoffs. They are better than their record would indicate, and they still have Brees, so the season isn't lost yet. Sunday night is a must win for them though. If they go to 0-5, it's all but over.

  2. Their offensive line has struggled also.