Three weeks into the season, and I'm already stunned into numbness. I watched the last quarter of tonight's game with a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach, akin to the one I had after the NFC Championship game last year. Like so many others, I had high hopes and lofty predictions for what this season would be like. At least 11 or 12 wins, a Super Bowl appearance. Seems a little silly now, sitting here at 0-3. The hard facts are that, as the commentators pointed out several times, only five teams in history have started 0-3 and made the playoffs. None of them have made the Super Bowl. The even harder fact is the team we've seen these first three weeks doesn't look remotely like a playoff team. To paraphrase Dennis Green, they're not who we thought they were. That galvanizing force that brought this team together last year -- the fire, the drive, the heart -- just doesn't seem to be there. Even the home crowd couldn't jumpstart them.
The mistakes keep coming from the guys you least expect. Last week it was Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister putting the ball on the ground. This week it was Drew Brees, one of the most accurate passers in the league last year, throwing four interceptions and fumbling. In fairness to Drew, he got zero protection. The Titans were in his face almost as soon as he got the ball on almost every play. That line that looked like a brick wall looks more like a picket fence with a bunch of boards missing this year.
The hardest part to take is that you know they've still got the talent. We saw it in the third quarter on a scoring drive that looked like last year's team. Heck, even Jason David made a few plays. I thought they'd finally found that old rhythm again, but after Drew's fumble, things just seemed to fall apart. It's another scene that's eerily familiar to Saints fans.
Perhaps the worst news of the night for fans though, was the report that Deuce's knee injury could be a season-ending ACL tear. That would definitely steal the thunder from the Saints' running game -- quite literally. Not to mention likely ending the career of one of my favorite players. Here's hoping that the "sources" aren't correct and we can see 26 back out there in a couple of weeks.
Update: It appears the reports of Deuce's injury were true. Very bad news indeed.
Perhaps with a week off, the Saints can regroup and find something to rally around and come out with a little more intensity and consistency in week 5. You've got to have faith. That's about all we've got left at this point.