Monday, December 31, 2007

Saints End Season 7-9, Who Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Thunk It?

The season was just so ... pregnant with possibilities: Brees, Payton, Colston, Bush, Duece, playoffs, Super Bowl.
That's what the season was, a dud.
The execution and playcalling that was so excellent and easy-looking in 2006 was mucky, sloppy for the 2007 campaign. Nothing summed up the season more than the botched Reggie Bush-to-Devery Henderson reverse on a crucial need-to-run-the-clock-out third down that cost the Saints a game against Tampa Bay. Or maybe it was the relentless inability of free agent bust cornerback Jason David to play even decent defense on man to man coverage. Who shoulda, woulda, coulda thought that David's best play would be the fumble return for TD in the first quarter of the first game of the season?
Surely the loss of running back Duece McAllister hurt them more than they thought.
"You understand when you lose a player like him you are going to change," Payton said. "Now you're asking the quarterback to drop back in no huddle and empty, playing from behind on the road. Last year we were able to get Deuce going in the second half, which kept the defense off the field. When you don't have that, it's harder to play good defense."
Still, looking at the numbers, Drew Brees set a team record for TDs in a season, and a league record for completions and will likely go to Hawaii as a reserve in the Pro Bowl. Not bad for a qb that at one point in the year had 1 TD to 11 interceptions.

"Seven-and-9 is a losing season," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who set one NFL record for completions in a season, set two team records (touchdown passes and yards in a season) and tied another club mark with 60 pass attempts in the game. "No one wants a losing season. This is very, very disappointing."
"There were ups and there were downs, there were good times and there were bad times," said defensive tackle Hollis Thomas. "You never want your season to end like this."

Said Brees: "We really felt one of the other teams would slip up and we'd be in (the playoffs). It didn't work out."
It worked out for Colston, who was snubbed by the Pro Bowl voters even though he numbers were better than most receivers.

"It's different," Payton said. "Different teams, different circumstances. An NFC championship game and 7-9. It's an irony that the season ended here, but we've got a lot of work ahead of us.
"The things that keep you from winning games came up, and it's a thing that hurt us in our losses this season," Coach Sean Payton said. "We had lots of big plays over our head, big plays in the kicking game. We lost that battle."
"It's been a rocky roller coaster," center Jeff Faine said. "I just didn't feel like we ever maintained our momentum for the year."
Momentum is something Reggie Bush didn't even smell this year: No flips into the end zone this year, not even any solid blocks. His numbers testify to his ineffectiveness this year. Of course, most of it can be blamed on the coaches' inability to utilize him effectively, but maybe Kim Kardashian has had a Jessica Simpson-like effect on him, who knows.

"We start this offseason with free agency and the draft and that's where our focus is going to be: on improving this team and getting ourselves back into the postseason next year where we belong."

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