Intimidating. Loud. Powerful. Intense. Energetic. These are the words that you would use when describing not only the Saints play at home but the atmosphere and environment of the Superdome itself. Seeing good complementary football had become the norm for the residents of New Orleans. For eight sundays a year it became what was expected. Unfortunately this year the Superdome magic seems to have run out.
The Saints are in the middle of one of the worst home stretches of head coach Sean Payton’s tenure with the team. Following Sunday’s embarrassing 41-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers the Saints have now dropped their last four games at home and are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. With only three games remaining the Saints must quickly rebound if they want a shot at the postseason.
Sunday’s game served as a perfect example of everything that’s gone wrong for the Saints this season. The Panthers, known for having the worst first quarter offense in the league, marched down the field covering 80 yards in 7 plays for a touchdown on their opening possession. The Saints offense came onto the field and promptly fumbled the ball away on their second play. Following a Carolina field goal Brees came back onto the field and on the first play took a deep shot to Joseph Morgan in double coverage and was intercepted. Six plays later it was 17-0 Panthers and the blowout was on.
Only eight minutes in and the game had been decided. The only signs of life from the team or it’s fans was during a brawl following Cam Newton’s touchdown run. The Saint’s offense was lifeless with even the commentators noting how they seemed to “mope off the field” following a failed third down conversion. The once roaring crowd now nothing but murmurs and the occasional boos.
For the Saints slow starts such as this have become the norm when playing at home with the team often getting behind early and being forced to try and make a furious comeback. You’d have to go back to a 44-23 Week 8 win against the Green Bay Packers to find the kind of home performance that most around the league have come to expect from the Saints.
With the team struggling so much at home it may be a blessing in disguise that two of their final three games are on the road against the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Right now this team can’t get away from New Orleans fast enough. Winning both of those road matchups might be enough to give the Saints the NFC South Division title but if they could find a way to win at home against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16 then they would almost certainly be assured the #4 seed in the playoffs.
We’ve all seen the Saints get hot and go on a run so no one is counting them out yet despite their recent struggles as well as the rumblings that Sean Payton’s job might be in jeopardy. While this is likely just fan outrage at the team this season there has to be some pressure on Payton to do something different in order to salvage this season and perhaps give the New Orleans faithful one more thing to get excited about.