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Zach Strief: Saints have two weeks to tell a story

Saints In a Race to Improve

Zach Strief
September 23, 2018 - 12:30 am

Every season in the NFL is completely unique.  It’s why football is far and away the most popular sport in the United States.  You truly have no idea when the season starts what teams will find their way to the Super Bowl, or what favorites will live up to their speculative billing.  This leads to huge waves of excitement and disappointment throughout the NFL every year.  

In spite of the reality that the NFL has far more restrictions on players moving from team to team than other leagues, rosters still turnover nearly completely every 4 years.  Due to the physical nature of the NFL, players abilities also degrade at a faster level leading to uncertainty in how a “known” entity will perform every year.  

All of this makes football the most exciting season in all of sports.  Don’t argue this with me.  I know today, weeks before the season even starts, who will play in the NBA finals within 5-6 teams.  I couldn’t begin to guess who will play in the Super Bowl 2 weeks into the NFL schedule.  That’s not to say eerily similar situations show up year to year.  

For the first time in several years the Saints came into a season with huge expectations.  The team rightfully embraced the pundits and fans, imploring the players to “prove them right.”  While many have questioned if that ship has already sailed, this team’s destiny is far from written.  

Twelve months ago, I would argue, the Saints sat in a near identical situation.  Two weeks into a young season, two disappointments.  Now fortunately for all involved, there are no apologies for any win in the NFL.  

The Saints sit at 1-1, improved from last year’s 0-2.  Yet, there still is a feeling in our city that this team isn’t what we thought it was.  I know for a fact, no one can make that claim quite yet.  Like I said, last season this team sat in a very familiar situation, two weeks of disappointment and staring at a two-week road trip, starting with a tough divisional opponent.  

Last year we flew to Carolina to face a Panthers team that had not yet given up a touchdown defensively.  They were 2-0, we were 0-2.  Coach Payton stood in front of our team that week and said these two weeks will tell us who we are.  Are we a team that will continue to take it, or a team that will refuse to accept it?  It wouldn’t surprise me if a similar speech was given this week.  Last year, the team responded in a big way.  Bigger than is even necessary to predict success.  

Over the next two weeks the team will travel to Atlanta and New York to prove to themselves and the rest of us, that they are going to find a way to continue improving.  It’s the battle every team in football is waging right now, the race to improve.  

I have seen every day of camp this team has gone through over the last two years.  If there is one thing I can assure everyone it’s that this team is highly competitive.  They have shown the ability to close games, to find ways to win.  I believe that ability will continue to grace the New Orleans Saints.  Hopefully, they prove ME right.

The Atlanta Falcons provide a legitimate challenge to the Saints.  They have for a long time now.  But let’s be honest, is anything more gratifying that beating Atlanta, in Atlanta?  I know as a player there wasn’t.  Maybe a Super Bowl victory… nothing is more gratifying than a Super Bowl victory.  Nothing but a Super Bowl victory… in Atlanta.  

Don’t give up yet Saints fans.

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