In 2022 the expectations of the New Orleans Saints football team are clear. They will eventually lose most games with self-inflicted mistakes. It may come early, or it may come late, but it’s been a consistent theme. Sometimes it’s penalties, sometimes it’s turnovers, sometimes it’s missed tackles, sometimes it’s dropped passes, sometimes it’s poor coaching decisions, sometimes it’s missed field goals… etc, etc… but each week some of these mistakes in random combinations pop up. Sure, they sometimes get fixed the following week but it’s only to see another self-inflicted mistake of a different variety sink them. The Saints are a makeshift ship out in the ocean with a crew patching leaks by the hour only to see new leaks spring with each repair.
This game really should have been a win and it’s maybe the most catastrophic defeat yet. The Saints dominated for over 3.5 quarters to hold a 16-3 lead with 3:03 left. When Mark Ingram inexplicably went out of bounds on a 2nd down swing pass a yard short of the first down marker with under 5 minutes to play, the Saints’ win probability stood at 98.7%. If Ingram gets a first down there, it goes even higher. And yet, once again, the Saints found a way to lose in the most improbable fashion.
But was it really that improbable in the end? Statistically yes, but not if you’ve watched this team consistently self-destruct. At this point, the collapse is expected. This is who the 2022 Saints are. Call it poor coaching, call it lack of focus, call it lack of discipline, but this team lacks in all these departments. And it’s often the best players they’ve invested the most in letting them down. This looks like a team that desperately misses Drew Brees and Sean Payton, and perhaps we should have all been more realistic and seen this coming. Perhaps a business plan that entailed a culture continuation without the two most key ingredients would never work. Right now the Saints are a gumbo with roux or rice.
For a long time, the season still had hope. Even at 4-8, inexplicably, the NFC South is so bad that the Saints were firmly in the mix to win the division and make the playoffs. Their 98.7% win probability index on Monday Night seemed to push them even closer to that possibility. But now? The season is officially over. The Saints will have a bye and then play out their remaining 4 weeks with little to play for. We can finally say it officially: it’s time for the 2022 season’s post-mortem, and the Saints have no one to blame but themselves.
Andrew Juge is the co-host of “The Saints Happy Hour Podcast.