It's easy to trivialize the concerns of others about their football teams by telling them that it's only the preseason, the games don't count, their best players are nowhere to be seen, etc. I especially like to give advice and consolation I've got no personal use for, and when it's my team that's taking an absolute thrashing at the hands of Drew fucking Bledsoe, well, I'm prone to overreacting just as much as the next guy.
I mean, wow. Wow. I know the Cowboys are firmly entrenched as one of the NFL's best teams, and the Saints are coming off of a 3-13 season and massive rebuilding project, but shit. I wasn't expecting that awful 30-7 loss last night in front of a national audience. The Saints, despite a few bright spots, looked inept at basically all levels except special teams coverage. The first team offense went three-and-out in its first three drives and was shut out throughout the entire first half. The defense got no viable pass rush on a quarterback who was sacked over 40 times last year and who is less mobile than a rock. The Cowboys' reserve receivers had no problem slicing through coverage and picking up first down after first down. And when the Saints cornerbacks were quick enough to keep up with their receiver, they focused on the man and not the ball. This is the reason Terry Glenn caught a first half touchdown by bear-hugging Mike McKenzie and trapping the ball between his hands and McKenzie's back. How would you expect McKenzie to bat the ball down or go for an interception when he's not even looking at the ball?
There are some caveats -- the Saints are still dealing with injuries to their starters, and for the most part the play-calling was very vanilla from the New Orleans sideline. It appeared as if Payton was setting up specific down-and-distance scenarios to see how the team responded instead of really trying to drive the field. And there were solid performances by a few specific players, including running back Jamaal Branch and defensive end Rob Ninkovich.
I've been trying to avoid hyperbole when discussing the Saints (and soon the Devils) towards both the good and bad, but it's proven difficult. And this morning, especially, I'm having trouble talking myself off the ledge. Preseason, schmreseason. Such is the rollercoaster life of every fan of the 31 teams not coached by Bill Belichick.
What was more disturbing than the game itself was Joe Theismann's adolation of Drew Bledsoe. It's tough to listen to Joe talk. It's tougher to listen to him talk about McQueen. It's even tougher still to listen to him drool over McQueen while he (McQueen, not Theismann) shreds your defense. When asked to supply a headline for the game, Theismann replied, "Drew Bledsoe." With creative skills like that, Kornheiser might have competition at The Washington Post.