Today the off-season began for 20 teams around the NFL - the Saints among the playoff also-rans to do so. The Saints lay to rest a 2014 season that never truly awakened. It was a season of contradictions for which yesterday's win in Tampa was a microcosm.
The second-worst running team in the NFL runs for 183 yards against the Saints. Doug Martin carries for a season-high 108 yards. His one 45-yard burst was nearly three times as much as his 17-yard total the week before.
And yet when it had to bow-up against the run in the second half, the Saints' defense did. When that gave the Saints the opportunity to turn loose their pass rush, they would, resulting in two safeties for Junior Gallette in two games against Tampa Bay.
It was the least-efficient defense in the NFL at its most efficient. One shining moment in a season-long cloud bank. What it "could be" over-shadowed by what it "had been." Ironically, the Bucs could win for losing as they did by securing the No. 1 draft choice; the Saints could lose for winning as they did by sliding down the draft board to the 13th selection in the first round.
Did the Bucs pull starters in the fourth quarter to enhance the chances of each team doing that? If so, well, thank you very much.
We'll take the belated Christmas present as we head to an off-season that figures to be as turbulent as any in the Sean Payton era. As Terrell Owens once advised, get your popcorn and hunker down to watch an off-season perhaps as entertaining as the season that necessitated it wasn't.
Who'll be coming, who'll be going, who'll be staying? Who'll be promoted, who'll be demoted? Who'll be selected, who'll be rejected?
In the aftermath of the Christmas season and the Saints' season, we deal with what we got even if it wasn't what we wished for. And for both, those three little foreboding words apply: Some assembly required.
For the Saints at least - a lot of it.
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