No player on the New Orleans Saints was willing to point to the teams tumultuous offseason Sunday and say thats the reason for their 0-2 start.
A bounty scandal. No head coach. Two defensive leaders sidelined.
And now, last in the NFC South after Week 2.
But Sundays 35-27 loss to the Carolina Panthers, just like the previous weeks loss to Washington, came on the field, not in offseason.
At the end of the day, the cards have been dealt and we have to play them as best we can, offensive tackle Zach Streif said. Obviously thats going to be the storyline -- no coach, no this guy, no (Jonathan) Vilma. What we have to do is everyone has to point their thumbs at themselves. Figuring out why and having the reason be something outside this locker room is worthless to us.
Its dangerous as a football team to look at it that way.
Quarterback Drew Brees refused to say any off-field struggles carried onto the field at Bank of America Stadium. In fact, he believed what the Saints did on the field would have, and should have, won them the game.
New Orleans was 54 percent on third-down conversions and was penalized only twice, two areas of focus for interim head coach Aaron Kromer this week. Against the Redskins, the Saints were 18 percent on third down and were penalized 12 times for 107 yards.
The team also put up 486 yards of offense against a Carolina defense that entered the game ranked sixth in the league. Throw in 75 percent red zone efficiency and 6.0 rushing yards per attempt, and Brees thought the game could have been theirs.
As I look back, there are about six or seven plays that if one of two of them would have went our way, the outcome of this game would be completely different, Brees said. And typically thats what it comes down to. Six or seven plays and if you made them.
One of the plays Brees pointed to was a third down pass that Panthers rookie defensive end Frank Alexander batted down. A completion to intended target Lance Moore would have led to a first down. Instead, they settled for a field goal.
Another was the interception returned for a touchdown in the first quarter that got the Panthers on the board. Brees said it was a pass he should have thrown away, but instead Charles Godfrey cut under David Thomas for the interception.
That pick-six put us back, but we kept playing and fighting, running back Pierre Thomas said. You try to play to be perfect but its how you recover, how you bounce back. If something bad happens on that field, what are you going to do on that next play to change that.
Youve got to have that drive. And I know every guy on this team has that courage, has that drive that if anything bad happens on that field, that we can step up and be great.
On the field, the Saints are 0-2 for the first time in five years. Only on the field can change that.