1 WHAT WE LEARNED

It’s quite possible we go through the next three weeks and never really gain a grasp on who the Saints are as a football team. There are going to be times when the good Saints show up and times when the bad Saints take the field. There’s really no rhyme nor reason to it, and sometimes you’ll experience both extremes during the same game — like the scoring drive that saw two penalties from safety Kyle Wilson and another from cornerback Brandon Browner, sandwiched between stretches of competent play. The good thing was that Sunday there were more good moments than bad.

2 TRENDING NOW

Is the difference between a decent defense and an abysmal one really the presence of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe? Is that really possible? It’s been stated several times in these pages that his absence because of sports hernia surgery has been grossly underrated, but his impact wasn’t expected to be so immediate. Maybe things will return to the status quo next week, but his sideline-to-sideline ability, prowess in coverage and ability to communicate makes this defense better. It’s a shame that he hasn’t played more this season. There’s a chance that things wouldn’t have been as dark.

3 FINAL THOUGHTS

At this point, each win only moves the Saints further away from the top pick in the draft. So even though it seems weird, there’s a dark side to each win. But finishing off the season in a depressing skid also might not be the best thing for a young team’s psyche. This team still has things to figure out and areas where improvement could help heading into next season. One disappointment from Sunday is that the mystery over C.J. Spiller’s role took a step in the wrong direction. It’s starting to look like he’ll never figure it out and become a player for this team.

— Nick Underhill