How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Enjoy The Win

22 Oct

Making fun of pirates is always ok with me.

Yes! Another win in the books. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a bona fide win streak. We can enjoy another work week following a nice, tense victory as only the Saints can provide, and I can get on that plane to Denver Friday morning with a big smile on my face.

Wait, what?

“Waaah! Defense! Waaaaah!”

Oh. So we’re going to actually have to do a little analysis here this morning, are we? Very well. I’ve got a special treat for you this beautiful fall morning. A special guest will join the Angry Who Dat for our Monday review: former Buccaneers strong safety and current Fox color analyst John Lynch. How’s it going this morning, John?

Wondertabulously!

That’s great, John. Let’s move straight to the big discussion among Saints fans since the end of that fantastic game yesterday: the supposedly historically-bad Saints defense.

Historibadicness!

Very good, John. Lest I appear to call out Juge on that link, he does well to try to put a sunny face on a lipstick-less pig, or something, and he’s far from alone in pointing out the statistical terribleness of this defense. But it’s easy to focus on the terrible when it’s really, really terrible. Somehow we manage to do that with the defense, and yet we somehow focus on only the greatness of the offense. That’s not fair to either side of the ball. The offense has its moments of sheer ineptness, and the defense does win its share of battles. So you know what we’re going to do, John?

Breakthisshitdownocity!

Damn right, John. Drive by drive. It won’t take long, I promise. Here we go. Offense first.

The offense ran 10 drives. Terrible interception in their own red zone, followed by a 3-and-out.

Then, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, punt, touchdown. That was a fun thirty minutes of football.

Followed by a clutch fourth quarter that included two drives, 9 plays, and 22 yards from scrimmage. What the fuck?

Granted, the offense did more than enough to win the game. They scored 35 points and really only made one crucial mistake. They should be applauded for the effort. But one more drive – a score wasn’t even necessary, just a few first downs – and this game isn’t in question with five seconds left on the clock.

Again, the offense should be applauded. I’m not assigning blame. I’m just building bullet points here. Right, John?

Roger Goodell says we can’t discuss bullets.

Oh. Well, that’s not really what I – ok, moving on.

The defense. That pathetic worst-ever-defense-in-ever that couldn’t stop a starving puppy. That squad of derelicts, none of whom belong on an NFL roster. What do you think of this defense, John?

I used to play defense!

Indeed. I’m not going to sugar coat this pig, folks. The first quarter was bad. It was terrible. Three drives started in the first quarter by the Bucs ended in touchdowns. Total of 17 plays for 169 yards and a whopping PTOMAC of 21.

That’s bad. Very bad. But first quarters don’t happen all by themselves, or they’d be called “games”. A quarter implies three more. Somehow, Saints fans seem to have managed to forget the other three this morning.

Second quarter: 4 plays, 22 yards, punt. 5 plays, 21 yards, punt. 1 play, -5 yards, end of half. That last possession shouldn’t be discounted. Tampa had the ball on their own 40 with 15 seconds left to play. “More than enough!” screamed the panicked twitter beat. A sack ended the half, and that’s pretty damn cool with me.

Second half: Missed field goal, downs, punt, TD, end of the game.

In that very memorable turnover-on-downs drive, a terrible, terrible effort at defending a pass ended in a 95-yard catch, and a terrific effort from Malcolm Jenkins prevented a touchdown on the play. More paradoxy.

Sticktoitiveness!

Exactly, John. That’s when the defense did what, well, no historically-bad defense is capable of doing. A 4-play goal line stand that resulted in precisely zero points for the opposition.

The opposition in this case is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who I used to play for. Did you know they made a statue of me?

I did, John. None of you saw that coming. None of you thought the defense had a chance in hell of making that stop. I’m guilty too. You know why? Because we’re conditioned by the last 6 years of Saints football to reflexively count the defense out. It’s not right. They can make a stop. They’ve proven it.

That brings us to the final play of the game, and a call that every fucking dumbass journalist in the country seems committed to incorrectly labeling “controversial.” That’s wrong. It was the correct call, plain and simple, and a correct call cannot be controversial in the minds of reasonable people. There was no judgement call involved. It was black and white. Freeman rolled out under pressure. Robinson recognized this, and blatantly shoved the receiver out of bounds. He did this for two reasons: first, it’s legal because he is allowed to throw blocks when the quarterback scrambles; and second, it renders the receiver ineligible on the play. Sleazy? Maybe. Legal? Entirely so.

And then he clearly just watched the catch be made. Didn’t even try to break it up. Why not? Well, why would you? Risk an interference penalty when the result of the play is a foregone conclusion? That would be stupid. Hell no, you allow – ask, beg, plead – for that receiver to make the catch, because if he does, the game is over.

It was probably the most cerebral play a Saints defensive back has made the entire season thus far. In postgame interviews defensive players admitted they practice that move. It’s smart football, it’s within the rules, and it won the fucking game.

So, no, the Bucs didn’t get off on a technicality. They lost the game because the defensive secondary made a nice play while the front put pressure on the quarterback. That’s something I can live with.

Livewithitidness!

Precisely. The game was closer than it should have been, I’ll grant you that. But a win is a win. The story of the game is strange: a first quarter in which a team effort put us behind; a second quarter in which the offense carried the weight; a third quarter of team-effort awesomeness; a fourth quarter in which the offense could do nothing and the defense won the damn game for us. This teaches us one lesson: we don’t know what the fuck we’re talking about. None of us. We can’t make a judgement on a team, or a squad, or a position or a specific player, because they aren’t the same from one snap to another or from one drive to another or from one fucking game to another.

What we can do, however, and what I’m suggesting you do, is throw your damn hands in the air and say, “Fuck it. We won.” And go about your week happily.

For those who insist on judging the defense statistically, here are a couple of dubious positives:

The second-half defense took the field five times. They allowed one score, amassing a second-half PTOMAC of 7 for the second straight week. Tampa ran 42 plays for 301 yards and 7 points. That’s the very definition of bend-but-don’t break. That’s also my problem with the statistical ranking of defenses by yards allowed. 301 yards is terrible. 7 points is fine on any day. Which one actually counts at the end of the day? Exactly.

Bend but not break? You want to talk about bend but not break? In the second half, the Buccaneers snapped the ball inside the Saints’ 30 yard line 31 times. Thirty-one. 31. And amassed 7 points. 8 plays inside the Saints’ ten gained zero points. On the final drive alone Tampa had six shots inside the thirty in the last minute to play. Nada.

So say what the hell you want about that first quarter. The defense did enough to win.

And we’re 2-4. The Saints have won 2 straight. We never really know what to expect out of either side of the ball on any given drive, but if it all adds up to a win, I’ll accept it without question.  We get to look forward to another primetime game in Denver next week. Let’s see what they can do against Peyton Manning. If the Saints’ defense is good enough to board a flight back to New Orleans with a road win over a Manning-led team, they’re good enough to beat anybody in the league.

We shall see.

But in the meantime, shut up about the defense and just enjoy the work week, will you?

Shutuptedness!

Well said, John.

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2 Responses to “How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Enjoy The Win”

  1. northshoresaint9 October 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    …Fucking awesome article! Enough said. ***WHO-DAT’?!!!***

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