BY PERRYN KEYS
Assistant sports editor
October 02, 2012
NEW ORLEANS — Remember all that talk about the Saints having home-field advantage in the Super Bowl?
It’s probably OK to squash it now.
The big game will indeed happen here, inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, on Feb. 3, whether the home team is around to play in it or not.
As of Sunday afternoon, when the Saints blew an 18-point second-half lead and staggered to an 0-3 start with their 27-24 overtime loss to Kansas City, there were more pressing matters than postseason talk.
As the Superdome slowly went from ear-splittingly loud to pin-drop silent, the Saints fell apart on offense, grew tired on defense and gave the previously winless Chiefs a renewed sense of optimism.
If this is not a new low in the Sean Payton era (and, yes, technically, it’s still the Sean Payton era), you can see the bottom from here.
After only three weeks, New Orleans’ season is almost shot.
In the next few days, over and over, you’ll hear this fact: Only three teams in NFL history have started 0-3 and rebounded to make the playoffs.
There’s a reason for that. Typically, teams that lose their first three games just aren’t very good.
More and more, Saints fans are facing a hard truth: Their team might fall into that category. That’s what the evidence says.
Good defenses don’t give up 1,437 yards in three games, as the Saints have done. Sure, you can blame a new scheme and new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. You can blame players or play-calling. You can blame the pregame breakfast if you want. Bottom line: Allowing an average 479 yards is asking for trouble.
Good offenses don’t disappear in the second half of a pivotal home game, as the Saints offense did Sunday. Not counting an end-of-regulation kneel-down, their final five possessions went like this: interception, three-and-out, three-and-out, safety, three-and-out.
And good teams don’t get flagged in the fourth quarter for trying to call consecutive timeouts, which, according to those pesky NFL rules, is not exactly legal. The Saints did just that, emerging from a timeout with a personnel gaffe that led to a another (attempted) timeout, which resulted in a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty.
It’s enough to make The Brown Paper Bag re-emerge as a trendy fall fashion statement in the Crescent City.
To his credit, interim coach Aaron Kromer spoke firmly and succinctly after Sunday’s disappointing loss, reminding everyone — including himself — to look in the mirror instead of casting blame.
“This team is hurt and they are down, but they are not out,” Kromer said. “No one in this locker room is quitting. They are a resilient group.”
That might be true. They might be resilient. In recent years, they certainly have been.
But after three gruesomely disappointing weeks, there’s a more important issue, a better question to ask.
Are they any good?
At the moment, the answer has to be no.
Now, after an 0-3 start, the Saints are staring at a trip to Green Bay, followed by a home game against the San Diego Chargers.
Yes, other teams have rebounded from similarly long odds. The 1993 Houston Oilers, for example, dropped four of their first five games before winning 11 in a row (they lost in the divisional round). So it has happened and can happen again.
Drew Brees, for his part, didn’t mention those ’93 Oilers (or any other team) by name.
But he did make a vow: He and the Saints will take that good long look in the mirror, keep improving, keep chipping away until they turn around a season that’s already on the brink.
On the other hand, he later added: “We’re running out of time.”
Truth is, they might be out of time already.