Two weeks ago, my enthusiasm over finally seeing the New Orleans Saints play football for the first time in eight months quickly turned to dismay. The Saints’ performance in their first preseason game caused me to dread the upcoming. The weakest link in the defense, the secondary, saw two players leave the game with injuries in the first quarter at Baltimore. The Saints piled up 16 penalties for 143 yards. The first-string defense allowed touchdowns during the Ravens' first two series.
Meanwhile, the offense went three-and-out during its first two possessions. Topping off the mountain of calamities, the defense gave up a first down on fourth-an- 20 in the final minute, allowing the Ravens to continue the drive toward the game-winning points. After the first quarter, I was already designing a paper bag to wear while watching Sean Payton's team this season.
After awaking the next morning, the light of a new day provided some different perspectives. I watched a replay of the fiasco just to torture myself a little bit more. I halted my nearly completed headgear of shame for the upcoming season.
First of all, Drew Brees did not take a single snap during the game. The Saints will succeed in nothing on offense other than setting the NFL record for punts in a season if he misses multiple games due to injuries. He served the team in a more valuable fashion by riding the bench. Other conclusions in this same vein include these: water is wet, the sun rises in the east and soccer is boring.
Secondly, Marques Colston and C.J. Spiller never did appear for a single down. Both will serve as vital cogs in this offense. Therefore, their absences made this game an invalid evaluation.
Finally, the Saints did win the turnover battle 2-0. That was encouraging considering that a team that does not give away the ball while taking away two from the opponent will very rarely lose.
On Saturday, I watched the Saints' second preseason game. Once again, they lost the lead in the last minute to drop to 0-2. They flubbed two-point conversion attempts three times during the game. They turned over the ball after not having done so last week.
Despite the loss to New England, New Orleans provided more reasons for optimism:
1. The Saints' defense held the Tom Brady-led Patriot starters to three-and-out on their first three offensive possessions.
2. The Saints’ expected offensive starters scored a field goal then two touchdowns on their first three possessions.
3. The number of penalties was cut in half compared to the first game, costing the name just 88 yards.
In the final analysis, I remind Saints fans everywhere to avoid overreacting to two defeats in both preseason games. The team did show improvement in most areas compared to the first game. Also, preseason games are notorious for misleading fans and media into predicting glorious success or humiliating failure in the upcoming season. If only I can convince myself to follow my own advice.
— Written by John La Fleur, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network. A graduate of Michigan State and LSU, La Fleur also has been a Saints fan since he was old enough to understand football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.