The absence is as obvious as Sean Payton’s portrait over the practice field is large.
But the Saints know they can’t let something that’s not changing for 15 more weeks become a crutch now.
Offensive tackle Zach Strief called it would be “dangerous,” “poisonous” and “worthless” to blame Payton’s suspension for their 0-2 start.
“I think it’s dangerous as a team to point fingers at why this is happening. It’s just dangerous from a team perspective,” Strief said, via Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “At the end of the day, the cards have been dealt and we have to play them as best we can. So obviously that’s gonna be the story line – you know, ‘No coach, no this guy, no [Jonathan] Vilma, the uncertainty, the weird offseason.’ But what we have to start doing is everyone has to start pointing thumbs at themselves.
“Because figuring out why, and having the reason be something outside this locker room is worthless to us. It’s just dangerous to us on the football team to look at it like that. I think at the end of the day the guys on the field are responsible for winning games.”
Sunday’s loss to the Panthers didn’t feature the kind of sloppiness that was evident in last week’s loss to the Redskins, except on defense (which isn’t Payton’s side of the ball anyway).
In fact, the game’s biggest mistake might have been from the guy they trust to not make them. Drew Brees’ pick-six which let the Panthers back in the game early can’t be blamed on Payton, unless in some armchair psychologist “Drew’s trying to do too much,” excuse.
“Now it’s just a matter of as the season starts, . . . you just kind of find out who you are early on,” Brees said. “And, hey, it’s gonna test us. But I’m confident that we’ll stay strong and we’ll battle through this and we’ll overcome.”
Or maybe they won’t.