What a tremendous change of course my teams have undertaken since my last large post on July 31st of this year.
Oakland completely nose-dived with absolutely no hesitation after trading what proved to be the soul of their team, Yoenis Cespedes, to Boston for the MLB’s best pitcher, Jon Lester. That pitcher, by the way, happened to give up six runs in just over seven innings pitched during his last outing of the year. That outing paved the way for a wild card loss to the then surging Royals. Easily, one of the most disappointing post-All-Star game halves of a baseball seasons I’ve ever experienced. Hopefully, ever.
That painful spiral took place just as we were finding out who our football teams were this fall. Which wasn’t exactly a welcome surprise. I remember specifically thinking that 2013 was a terrible sports year. I was so happy to welcome a new year in sports (2014). I was so terribly mistaken.
LSU taught us that there is no “reliable” side of the ball (offense or defense) when you cannot score points. No matter how good your defense may be, you will still get your hat handed to you (in a bad way, not in a door man kind of way) whilst sporting a hapless offense.
And then, the Saints showed us that no matter how spectacularly you can take the lead–at any point in the game–it can EASILY be taken away if you can’t close out a game. Closing out a game can take form by either holding on to the ball and scoring touchdowns OR it can be by playing shut down defense. In other words, by keeping the other team from scoring the requisite amount of points before the last seconds of the game tick away. If you don’t do those things, then you’re gonna lose and lose bad. And, you might even do it so bad that your normally adoring home crowd starts to make a habit out of booing you off the field.
All those things happened. And they’ve been painful. They’ve served to engender anger amongst spirited and otherwise devout fan bases. In LSU’s case, they have exacerbated the anger fans have felt for their polarizing head coach and in the Saints’ case they have begun to cast doubt upon the long believed genius nature of the Saints head coaching staff and upon the sparkly, shiny resume of the truly sainted Drew Brees.
Where have all the wins gone?!? Worst of all; worse than the losing; worse than the brutality of each individual loss is the seeming loss of hope for either team’s resurrection. Not just this year, but for the future as well. Folks have long lamented the future decline of LSU with Les Miles at the helm–though we’ve never really seen that materialize in true form. But now, with Drew Brees getting long in the tooth and no immediate cure to our defensive woes how long will it be until our Super Bowl window is closed? There is absolutely no guarantee that Drew will be able to play in the NFL as long as Peyton Manning and even Peyton doesn’t seem any closer than Drew to a second ring at this point. Especially after watching Peyton fight so hard to get there last year only to finish third in a two man contest during last year’s ultimate contest against the Seahawks.
As for LSU, can it really be crazy to imagine that recruits will begin to see a shutout loss to Arkansas–likely the only SEC west team to not be considered at some point for the west crown–as a sure sign of decline? I hate to ask, but, who would want to play WR at LSU when we try so hard to not throw the football? Who would want to play QB at LSU where we have such fragile ability to teach young men how to competently man the position? …Clearly no one with any ability. But, we’re already seeing that come to pass. (or…not pass) Sure, LSU may be DBU…but at some point, kids actually want to win games. They might want to do that here at LSU. Not next year, but now. More than anything, they definitely don’t want to embarrass themselves in attempting to do so. Those wins that used to fall in the Tiger’s laps under Miles are no longer falling our way. They are decidedly falling away from us and they are doing so in embarrassing fashion–even by Miles’ standards.
So….what happens next? What will be the swan song of this football season? Will the Saints win the division by default and lose early in the playoffs simply because the NFC South is so terrible this year and we still won’t be able to turn around our unending woes? What will need to change next year to turn this around? Is there anything salvageable this year for the Saints?
Now that the Tiger’s goals for this year are completely unreachable, what will be the new goals to finish out the last two games of the year? Miles proved to us all yesterday that the end of this season is NOT an opportunity to get backup players involved in the game and add to their resume for next year. It seems like he’s still stubbornly fighting a mental battle that was lost long ago.
It isn’t as if I can turn away and go crochet for the rest of the fall–I still love my teams (and you do, too, whether you want to admit it or not). I will still follow them just as fervently. But can i still bring hope for the future in this climate? Will there be any shake ups to the new status quo? How indeed will it all end, and, does it even matter?