Saints’ comeback falls short in
It’s a line from the old television show ‘Get Smart,’ but the Don Adams remark about missing it by inches applies to the 2008 New Orleans Saints season and just how close quarterback Drew Brees came to breaking Dan Marino’s single season passing mark.
The 33-31 tough loss to the NFC South Champion Carolina Panthers was a microcosm of the entire season.
The Saints showed an explosive passing attack and the ability to score points when they had no semblance of a running game, but their inability to control an opponent’s passing attack with everything on the line, a huge special teams mistake, and being gashed consistently by one of the NFL’s top rushing tandems, spelled doom for the Saints Sunday.
Despite falling behind 30-10 in a game which looked to be spiraling out of control, it was the pinpoint passing of Drew Brees who took over in the second half, but even someone as good as Brees needs help.
Beginning late in the third quarter, Brees threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns, and for a brief time late in the fourth quarter the Saints took a 31-30 lead.
But again the lack of playmakers in the secondary took over.
With about three minutes left to play, Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme threw a “jump ball” toward All-Pro wide receiver Steve Smith, who made the grab 39 yards downfield to set up John Kasay’s 42-yard field goal.
Again another situation that the Saints had a defensive back in a position to make a play on the ball, and safety Roman Harper didn’t turn around fast enough to see the ball in flight.
So, for another time the Saints came up just short. Matter of fact the New Orleans Saints have lost six games this season by a total of 18 points.
To make matters even worse was the fact that Drew Brees came up just a mere 15 yards short of Dan Marino’s single season passing mark.
Throwing the ball 49 times Brees had a legitimate shot at the record, but his final pass came up just short of the target and like the season, the Saints were close, sometimes real close, but they could not seal the deal.
The weaknesses are obvious. The Saints need a playmaking free safety, another quality starter at cornerback to team up with rookie Tracy Porter, a “Thumper” type running back to team up with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas and another solid. Mainly this team needs to find a few playmakers on defense because we have all seen just how explosive the Saints offense can be with Drew Brees running the offensive show. But again, you can’t get into shootout affairs each and every week and expect to win.
Getting offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb, wide receivers Lance Moore and Devery Henderson will be important “must-do” items in the off-season, but more importantly this team needs to re-ink middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma to a longterm deal.
He is a legitimate playmaker and the Saints have very few of those on this team. Getting better on defense has to be the course of action for the Saints in the 2009 off-season.
I will be very interested to watch former Destrehan High School and current LSU signal-caller Jordan Jefferson on New Year’s Eve in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against another former Wildcat, Darryl Richard and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
In talking to a number of the LSU receivers, in the 15-practices after the season the pass catchers for Jefferson have praised his leadership skills and his ability to continue to improve each and every day with his reads and accuracy with his throws downfield.
Jefferson faces one of the top defensive fronts in college football that will have three senior players, defensive end Michael Johnson and defensive tackles Darryl Richard and Vance Walker who will be selected in the April 2009 NFL draft.
LSU’s defense needs to be retooled a bit in the off-season, but more importantly they need stability at quarterback and this is a major test to see if Jefferson is indeed ready for that challenge. I have always felt Jordan Jefferson is indeed ready to take charge.