The Saints are currently in post-Super Bowl hell.
Every week, their opponent acts is if its their Super Bowl, which means New Orleans will get everyone’s best effort from here on out.
Every week, defensive coordinators want to be the one that comes up with the game plan that beat Sean Payton’s offense.
And that means that every week, teams like the Cardinals have an opportunity to pull off an upset.
In Arizona on Sunday, the Cardinals recovered two fumbles for touchdowns and returned an interception for a touchdown to shock New Orleans, 30-20. It was exactly the type of defensive effort the Cards needed since they were starting an undrafted rookie quarterback in Max Hall, who made his fair share of mistakes but went on to complete 17-of-27 passes for 168 yards and an interception. He took way too many hits, but he targeted Larry Fitzgerald (7 catches, 93 yards) nine times, spread the ball around effectively and most importantly, he pulled off a win in his first career start.
Not bad for a rookie considering whom his opponent was.
At 3-2, it isn’t time to start making definitive statements about the Saints. But it’s safe to say that this isn’t the same team that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy back in February.
Drew Brees threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, but he was also intercepted three times and has only thrown for over 300 yards once this year (365 vs. the Falcons in Week 3). It doesn’t help that both Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas were out again this week and that the Saints couldn’t run the ball, although it may not have mattered today. Arizona’s defense swarmed to the ball and put New Orleans back on its heels for most of the game.
After the Saints lost to the Falcons, everyone figured they would get back on track quickly with the Panthers, Cardinals, Bucs and Browns on their upcoming schedule. But they barely beat the Panthers last Sunday, were soundly beaten today and will face a 3-1 Tampa team brimming with confidence next week. If they’re not careful, the Saints are going to dig themselves a hole heading towards the midway point in the season.
But that’s life for a defending champ. Every week they have a target on their backs.