Before yesterday's opener between the Cardinals and the Saints, there was the perception among the Arizona fans that "this is our year" and the perception among those of New Orleans that "this isn't ours." Both perceptions were reinforced in the course of the afternoon.
In only the first of their four trips into the red zone did the Saints attempt a pass into the end zone - incomplete to Brandin Cooks. In three of four journeys there, the red zone became the "end" zone of Saints drives. Not since 2011 in Atlanta had the Saints been more frustrated there when they were 0 for 3 inside the 20.
Other previous concerns were exacerbated: For the third time in the last five regular season games, the Saints went sackless. Only 12 of Drew's 30 completions went to a wide-receiving corps that boasts just one consistent downfield threat in Cooks. Drew's average pass was just 5.3 yards downfield, the lowest since week 16 of 2012.
What was expected to be a strength - the running game - wasn't. Fifty-four yards, an average of 2.7 with a long gainer of 9.
The already decimated secondary becomes more so as the Saints await the return of contributors there and in the offensive backfield, unsure of when or if they will ever return and in what shape the Saints' season will be when they do.
It would be foolish to write off the entire year based on one competitive loss on the road as an underdog to such a quality opponent. It can get back on track with a victory Sunday against the sad-sack Bucs. A .500 record after two games for the saints was the forecast of many before the season began. And with the first home win in nearly 11 months, it will be.
"Must wins" don't usually arrive so early on the schedule. But come Sunday, one has.
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