As five of the winning Saints players were paraded to the post-game podium adjacent to their locker room yesterday, all five had radiant and frequent smiles as they reflected on personal performances and team success in the wake of a resounding third straight win.
They were preceded there by their head coach -- who looked like he was attending a wake. Even the notion of a smile never occurred to Sean Payton's face.
A good coach always provides a counter-weight to the prevailing sentiment on the team and among its fans. If they're down, lift them up. If they're up, bring them down.
Before Cam Jordan would stand at that podium and talk about the "party" the Saints' D-Line had in Carson Palmer's pocket...before Jimmy Graham would follow him there wearing a T-shirt saying "Sunday Funday", Sean Payton was already thinking about Monday.
Monday, Monday. Can't trust that day.
Can't trust what people will be saying about you. How good you are in victory. How bad you are in defeat.
And on this Monday it's hard to say much bad about a defense that has been drastically over-hauled by both design and circumstance. As more and more references to 2009 bubble to the surface, you look at the entire defensive roster of active players yesterday and I count just two who were a part of that Super Bowl defense a scant four seasons ago.
To go from the worst defense in the NFL's history to one of its best through three games is a giant leap in the right direction...but one small step along a path that won't be one quarter finished until next Monday night.
It's a long season and coaches of 3 and oh teams like the Saints and oh and 3 teams like the Buccaneers are both reminding their players and their fans of that today.
Don't look back in victory or defeat for long.
It's always the next one, the next one, the next one.
And if you haven't noticed the three "next one's" for the saints are the Dolphins, Bears, and Patriots...a combined 9 and oh this Monday, Monday.
That's a sobering thought for a city which tries to have as few of those as possible.
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