Teams of Aging Quarterbacks Going Different Directions
By John Ventola
Last Sunday night I wrote a blog immediately after New Orleans’ overtime victory over Dallas predicting it would be a sunnier Monday because the hometown guys had won their first game of the season. This morning I can only declare the sun is out, emotions are raw, and a lot of Lexapro will be consumed in the Crescent City. The Saints looked terrible in a second-half collapse against Philadelphia yesterday.
While it is too early to go to the grocery and ask for paper bags instead of plastic, it could be right around the corner. Outscored 29-10 (the last seven a gimme) in the final
half, New Orleans showed little resilience and, except for a few players, pride and competitiveness during the game that ended in a lopsided 39-17 defeat.
The offensive and defensive lines of the Saints were pushed around at will by the Eagles. Drew Brees was sacked five times and fumbled twice, both leading to Philly scores. He was pressured throughout the game, with most of his 26 completions coming well after the game had been decided. The Eagles pass rush kept his short passing game off balance while he threw one interception, and was almost intercepted on two other throws.
Although Brees completed two touchdown throws and passed for 335 yards, the game was not one to sit back and point at statistics. The Saints failed to capitalize on two early interceptions, and again showed an anemic rushing attack, gaining only 96 yards on the ground.
Philadelphia, which came into the game with a 1-3 record like the Saints, pierced the Saints for 186 yards rushing, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Eagles quarterback Sam
Bradford, who was not sacked in the game, threw for two touchdowns and 333 yards. He overcame his two early red-zone interceptions because the Saints could never manage a consistent rush on him.
Results are just that—results. Yesterday, the Saints put a “Big L” in their win-loss column. More disturbing to me was the fact I saw players on both offense, defense, and special teams turn into “slackers” in the last quarter and a half of the game. Defensive players turned into matadors as they reached and olayed as Philly offensive players ran by, and certain receivers seemed to be going through the motions. Newly signed punter Brandon Fields looked like a high-schooler (checking his bio before he is released to see if he is actually from Shanksville, Pa.).
It is easy to sit in the stands or sit in front of a TV and criticize a losing effort. This blogger will not do that if a losing team remains competitive and continues to give maximum effort. Yesterday, I failed to see that from most of the Saints. Sure Drew Brees had an off day, but he never stopped competing. Marques Colston continued to
compete despite an injured shoulder. However, quite a few players, veterans and rookies, folded their tents early. Their attitudes set the tone for what turned out to be an overall lackadaisical performance.
Right now the New Orleans Saints are a mess. Not paper bag time yet, but close. Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons will determine the rest of the season.
It starts with Sean Payton. The team needs an immediate attitude adjustment. Even with two years remaining on his contract, he looks like a coach making plans to entertain coaching offers from Miami or elsewhere. He made the bad decision to bring back Rob Ryan—-and the Saints find their defense last in the NFL. He stubbornly plays Brees long after a game is decided—when he could give Luke McCown, or Garrett Grayson some snaps. Maybe he can pretend it is now 2006 and he is trying to make a coaching name for himself.
As I pointed out in my blog of last week, Saints fans can no longer look for high-scoring games from the team. Sacrilegious or not, Brees cannot throw the long ball any longer, and because he now has to concentrate on shorter, quick throws, defenses have a
tighter zone to cover. That was the case when the season started, and his rotator cuff injury in the second game against Tampa Bay has caused him to adjust his throwing motion. Still a great leader and a super competitor, his productivity will go up and down dependent on the opposition.
Brees is struggling and the Saints are 1-4. Peyton Manning is struggling, probably more so than Brees, yet the Denver Broncos are 5-0. In two of those Broncos victories, no offensive touchdowns were scored. While Brees is somewhat hanging in there, Manning has been terrible despite Denver’s perfect record. To put it bluntly, he is winning with his mind, and team defense.
One only has to look at Manning’s first five regular season games during the past three years to see how far the Hall of Famer has gone down. In 2013 Manning had twenty touchdown passes and one interception after five games, while in 2014 he had fifteen touchdown throws and three interceptions. This year he has thrown six touchdown
passes in the first five games while being intercepted seven times. His passes lack velocity and now hang in the air longer.
Statistics can lie, but overall they tell a story of when an athlete has lost “it”, that special touch, the velocity that allowed Hall of Famers like Manning and Brees to fit a football into a narrow window.
The Broncos are 5-0. Unless Manning gets a miraculous rejuvenation of his throwing arm, that record will level out.
The Saints are 1-4. Who Dats can only hope that Brees gets his own miraculous rejuvenation of his shoulder, and the record does, in fact, level out.
This blogger is hopeful that these two all-time competitors will know when it is time to hang up the cleats. Nothing sadder than to see a great hang on and refuse to see the exit sign.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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