Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From Aint's to Saints: Suddenly Contenders, Not Pretenders

Among all things, no atmosphere in America is as lively as the Superdome, where a large and energetic population gathers to root for a franchise that has encountered misery in prior years. But now, for skeptics who are blinded by surrealism, disbelieving is underestimating a team that has suddenly awakened and established itself into a playoff contender.

In recent years, we were accustomed to observing a franchise shamelessly enduring inferiority. On Bourbon Street the fans wore frowns, jaded in a downcast era.

The New Orleans Saints were still pretenders at the time, in disarray and embarrassed when an irritable crowd wore paper bags covering their heads to severely ridicule a futile franchise, critical on fizzles staining prominence.

Oftentimes, cheers were unlikely heard inside the lively dome and seats were empty. But then, the Saints were known as the Aint’s amid troubles when heartwarming emotions weren’t shared within a franchise that strongly needed applause, rather than unpleasant chants.

But now, a surreal perception convinces a cynical community to believe. Before, the entire community disowned the Saints, failing to entertain sensibility and ignoring chaotic flaws. No longer is there a reason to have bitter feelings or ignore the emergence of the Saints.

Their astonishing season isn’t a mirage, but a reality for a franchise suddenly transforming into a Super Bowl contender, having the necessary ingredients to finally present splendor in a town that witnessed countless afflictions.

Today, the Saints are marching in, beating anyone stepping in front. That's good vibes given the poor history, which staged negligence when lacking in victories, a category describing New Orleans as a joke in a sport that has emerged into America’s premier sport.

But today, they’re recognized for their dominance. They possess a driven mindset aiming for perfection, which would label the Saints as interesting competitors. And surely, no one has forgotten the devastating disaster, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed spirit.

In a despairing crisis, battered in the most devastating calamity, the franchise clearly emerged as America’s team. Suddenly, a tragic occurrence turned into an inspirational storyline as the hearts of most people rooting for the Saints uplifted an entire city. What transpired in the 2006 season was an inspirational scene, becoming contagious and exhilarating while facing dismal issues.

The Saints enthralled residents with a delighted victory in the season-opener on a Monday night to detract from the agonizing disaster. That was the loudest it was in years, but again, the Superdome still generates noise, making it difficult to hear the plays called on the field. By virtue, this is the loudest Saints' faithful have been in a long time, truly believing it's the year to dance in Miami and rejoice as a cohesive unit.

Above all, the aspiration of the Saints is positive thus far, negating four decades of futility. So now, reaching Super Bowl XLIV isn’t out of the equation, but instead it is part of the plans.

Their intent is to book hotel reservations, call the travel agent and purchase a one-way flight to Miami, where winning will bring excitement back to Bourbon Street, perhaps for a premature celebration. Having a Saints parade is a dream in a town accustomed to feasting on gumbo and Cajun dishes, but also Mardi gras, which will normally take place a week following the Super Bowl.

Similar to the sounds of jazz music, the Saints are jazzing things up with a 7-0 start, the best start in franchise history. It’s the most interesting team, an unbeaten core defying the tangibles, entertaining us with a well-designed pass-and-catch spectacle. It’s the most arousing team, consisting of weapons that could literally outplay a defensive unit, because of their sense of awareness and poise. It’s the most underestimated team given a horrid track record in previous seasons.

But what people fail to realize is the Saints are marching on in, not intimidated or uncomfortable, designing and executing with an effective passing game that has tortured a number of defenses. We should be rooting for New Orleans, a team with tremendous heart and intrepidity. And it happens to be the Saints, black and gold pride, now earning a fair amount of respect because of their wonderful breakout season.

Suddenly, a dramatic night finished with the Saints pulling it off late and turned a tense night into a crazy atmosphere as the delirious crowd witnessed New Orleans rise to perfection with a 35-27 victory over Atlanta.

Most of the citizens are thrilled, embracing a dynamic quarterback, Drew Brees, who’s definitely MVP-worthy, by compiling statistics each week and finishing Monday night with an unbelievable passer rating of 111.7.

He is, indeed, emerging into a Brett Favre type and embodies a charismatic mindset. Then, there’s his potent arm strength, along with trusting in a profound receiving core. Nonetheless, eventually each team encounters a roadblock, obstacles that suddenly arrive. The Saints arrived when they had to survive late against the Falcons fierce defense.

So basically, it was a high-powered offense vs. an underrated defense as Mike Smith, head coach and defensive specialist, tested and studied the league’s most sterling offense. And also the muscular defensive end John Abraham bull-rushed Brees.

To some extent, however, the Falcons strategized a well-designed tactic to frustrate the gunslinger, clearly believing a sturdy defensive assignment was a primary factor in handing the Saints their first loss of the season.

But, of course, the Falcons weren’t as intimidating in seizing control over the most-talented team in the NFL. As time trickled away in the fourth quarter, the Saints weren’t as dominant, failing to romp in a typical fashion.

The scoreboard indicated a probable disappointment, Saints surprisingly leading 28-24,until the Saints prolific cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted a pass tipped by Jonathan Vilma. He returned it for a game-changing touchdown, getting a break after the versatile Pierre Thomas, who rushed for 91 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown, fumbled on the Saints 35.

Mostly, poor ball-security hindered New Orleans. During an intense game, there were moments in the contest that they could have blown it open. That’s when careless lapses must be downsized in contests if the Saints want to pursue a raised championship banner inside the dome at the beginning of next season. What’s most impressive, though, is their irresistible defense, an underrated unit who forced Atlanta’s sensational quarterback, Matt Ryan, to launch mediocre throws.

Sometimes, when a contest is on the line, desperate passes might be a misstep, but Ryan had limited options and plenty of time to heave a prayer. Notice there’s not a defensive back as lethal in the backfield as Darren Sharper, who secured his seventh interception on the season, when he picked off Ryan.

Make no mistake, the much-improved defense deserves credit. If the Saints weren’t as reliable on defense, obviously there wouldn’t be much buzz escalating. The powerful defense has at least an interception in each game and committed to blitzes frequently, a model installed and influenced by new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams.

Without a doubt, coach Sean Payton is best known for his shrewd offensive play calling, and could plot schemes successfully. Since the Saints consist of an unbeaten record, I’ll suggest Brees and agile wideout Marques Colston is an intriguing quarterback-receiver tandem in the league.

For instance, a well-executed offensive scheme occurred when Brees connected with Colston on an 18-yard touchdown pass. You might even suggest tight-end Jeremy Shockey is mellowing, finally avoiding behavior issues and emerging into a second target in Brees’ offensive method.

It’s enough talent as the Saints continuously improve as contenders, rather than pretenders. So now, once again, New Orleans is alive. Citizens are now interested to see if the Saints could attain a Super Bowl victory. As it stands, they’re built with tremendous talent.

Remember, the Aint’s no longer exist.