Jim Henderson's Commentary: Saints have multiple setbacks to overcome

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It seems strangely ironic.

In the Mercedes-Benz Superdome yesterday, the video board celebrated the 10-year rebuilding effort that resurrected the city, that edifice, and the football team that proudly calls both home.

The message was, "We're back!"

And I wonder, when it comes to the New Orleans Saints, are we back to what we were prior to Katrina too?  Is the "new normal" what was the "old normal" before the Saints' ascendancy to the elite ranks of the NFL accompanied by a Super Bowl championship?

Ten seasons ago, good judgment and good fortune brought us Sean Payton, Drew Brees, and a draft filled with so much talent that six of the Saints' eight selections still play in the NFL. Three - Evans, Strief and Colston - still playing here. We have lived off that confluence of good judgment and good fortune for a decade.

Should we really be surprised by its dissolution? But is 10 seasons of competitive competency about all we should realistically expect of this franchise? Or any in a league that is structured to produce 32 .500 football teams?

Jim Mora, the Saints' best previous head coach of the Saints' best previous era, lasted just 10 full seasons before he walked off the job after a road loss to Carolina. He can no doubt identify with some of the Saints' current problems.

The Saints have been on a great ride since 2006 but now appear to be the victims of another confluence: that of bad personnel decisions, recent bad drafts, bad salary cap restrictions, a bad spate of injuries and just plain bad luck. Add to that an owner distracted and debilitated by health, family and legal issues - plus the ravages of age to key players - and it's easy to see how the Saints have come to this benchmark in the cycle that affects nearly all the franchises in the NFL: a rebuilding effort somewhat synonymous with that of our city post-Katrina.

Tear it down to the studs, save what you think can be added to that infrastructure, discard the rest which either didn't or no longer does fortify what you're building, and hope that the architect of your plan produces something that can weather the challenges of the next 10 years.

Hopefully a lot longer than that. It's what we hope for right now for the saints.

It appears "We're back!" to that.

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