Little to say after bad start
By By Richard Dark / EMG staff writer
Sept. 9, 2003
METAIRIE, La. New Orleans Saints fans may be hard pressed to reflect back and find a season opener that was more telling than this past Sunday.
During the preseason, Saints players and coaches preached that the results put forth during the preseason would be much different when the games counted for real.
But if anything, things turned out to be much worse.
After a long offseason awash with positive buildup regarding his football team, it was no surprise that head coach Jim Haslett was a bit curt with the media at his weekly Monday press conference, following an ugly 27-10 humbling to the Seattle Seahawks to open the season a day earlier.
Mistakes and missed tackles at extremely crucial times were the order of the day over the weekend, leading to all but one of the Seahawks' scores, while killing a trio of potential scoring opportunities for a Saints offense badly out of synch after statistically leading the NFC in scoring last year.
The receiving corps didn't help matters either, with a myriad of dropped balls, including several in the red zone. Donte Stallworth snagged eight passes, but he dropped five.
An intense study of the film revealed 13 series on defense with 10 of those being acceptable to the coach.
The coach chalked it up to lost fire and focus, but with the upstart Houston Texans coming into the Superdome this week, he does not feel that will be the case again.
But even if the Saints had pulled out a victory, it would have no doubt been hollow because of the loss of their best pass rusher, defensive end Darren Howard.
Howard suffered a right wrist dislocation when he collided with Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones during the first quarter. Howard had surgery Monday morning and will be out 10-12 weeks, a tough blow for a line already faced with questions. Seattle racked up 152 yards rushing against the Saints.
Defensive end Willie Whitehead will take over on the right side, with Kenny Smith coming in as the primary sub down the line.
Other injuries include wideout Joe Horn who is currently listed as questionable for Sunday after bruising a bone in his left knee during pregame warm-ups.
As for the bright spots, Haslett cited the play of Charles Grant and the overall performance of the offensive line, which yielded just two sacks on 47 pass plays. He also said he wished he could have utilized the running game, led by Deuce McAllister's 99 yards on 22 carries, but the huge deficit forced them to go to the air.
In a roster move, the team released linebacker Travis Carroll Monday to make room for the return of starting OLB Derrick Rodgers, who was activated after serving an NFL-imposed one-game suspension for a conduct violation.