BY PERRYN KEYS
Assistant sports editor
October 12, 2012
WILL IT GET BETTER?
The short answer, of course, is yes. The New Orleans Saints won’t go 0-16. At some point, they will win. Drew Brees is still an elite quarterback; the offense still has plenty of potent weapons; and every once in a while, the defense looks like it’s poised to turn the corner.
On the other hand, the Saints are still leaking oil. The ground game is inconsistent. The pass rush has struggled. And the fourth quarter hasn’t been pretty. With 12 games to go, the Saints’ chances at a playoff berth are already super-slim.
They can’t make up all the ground they’ve lost with one win. At the moment, all they can do is follow the old adage — play one game at a time and see what happens.
Sunday night, the Saints get another chance to start a different streak. They host the San Diego Chargers — a good team, a dangerous team, a team that, at the moment, has a better record than anyone New Orleans has played to date.
Earlier this week, interim coach Aaron Kromer expressed belief in the team, saying he’s seen progress.
“We really feel that we’re on the cusp of getting on a roll,” he said.
Now would be a good time to start.
WHERE THEY STAND
Well, if you haven’t heard, you probably don’t want to. The Saints are one of only two teams in the NFL at 0-4 (Cleveland is the other). The NFC South-leading Falcons, meanwhile, are 4-0.
The Saints host the Chargers (3-1) Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, followed by a Week 6 bye. After that, they visit Tampa Bay on Oct. 21.
JOB WELL DONE: LB Curtis Lofton
What he’s done: Lofton, who made 100-plus tackles in each of his last three years with Atlanta, was supposed to be the Saints’ biggest free-agent signee, effectively replacing Jonathan Vilma in the lineup. He had perhaps his best game with Saints last week, posting nine solo tackles in the loss to Green Bay.
What’s next: Lofton and the rest of the defense face a dangerous crew from San Diego. The Chargers rank only 24th in total offense, but they’re 3-1, and Philip Rivers had a 115.4 quarterback rating in last week’s 37-20 win at Kansas City.
ON THE SPOT: K Garrett Hartley
What he’s done: He missed again. Two weeks ago, against Kansas City, Hartley missed a first-half field goal that would’ve come in handy; instead, the Saints went to overtime and lost. Then, at Green Bay, he missed a 48-yarder that could’ve won the game. (Full disclosure: tight end David Thomas was flagged for holding on the first attempt, which Hartley made.)
What’s next: If the Saints need a field goal Sunday night, Hartley needs to make it. It’s a tough job, but it’s his job.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
2.4: The Saints averaged 2.4 yards per carry last week at Green Bay. Their longest run was a 9-yarder by Darren Sproles.
6: Number of sacks the Saints have recorded this season. They are tied for 26th in the NFL in sacks. Junior Galette leads the team with two.
18.8: The Saints have averaged 18.8 rushing attempts per game this season. Only two teams, the Titans (18.5) and Raiders (17.8), have averaged fewer rushing attempts.
47: Consecutive games in which Drew Brees has thrown a touchdown pass, tied with Johnny Unitas for the NFL record. Brees can break the record with a TD pass Sunday.
“No loss is easy to take, but you can see more positives and so you would have more of a brighter outlook on the future. We really feel that we’re on the cusp of getting on a roll.”
NFC SOUTH JUDGMENT CALLS
Atlanta is one of only two NFC teams to start 4-0 this season (Arizona is the other), including their last-minute thriller over Carolina.
After dropping the Panthers in their season opener, they’ve dropped three straight to the Gaints, Cowboys and Redskins.
In two road losses to Tampa Bay and Atlanta, they were close, but not close enough. Sound familiar?