All right, citizens of Who Datville.
We know how tough it was to get up and go to work Monday morning with Sunday’s overtime loss to the Dirty Birds still stuck in your craw.
But imagine having to start your new week going into your place of business and being forced to watch all of your failures from the previous day being singled out in front of all of your associates.
Or looking up at the TV and see ESPN’s proclaiming, “Matty Ice scorches the Saints” and knowing they’re talking about you.
Welcome to the NFL.
Reviewing the film of the 37-34 overtime loss to Atlanta was the main thing on the Saints’ day-after agenda. And when you’ve just given up the second-most yards in franchise history, to your archrival no less, not to mention a division foe in your season opener, it can’t be something you bounce out of bed in anticipation of the day ahead.
Or maybe it can be.
“It’s not hard at all,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “You know that are there things you have to improve on, so you get up with that on your mind.”
Losing the season opener understandably sets off waves of despair among fans.
“This isn’t the team they’d told us we’d have,” said Jermaine Ford of Metairie, a customer at the Winn-Dixie located across Airline Highway from the Saints headquarters. “The defense was awful.
“I thought this was going to be a Super Bowl team. That’s a joke.”
Ford said he usually wears a Saints jersey on the day after a victory. But Monday, neither he nor anyone else in what bills itself as “The Official Supermarket of the Saints” was sporting Black & Gold.
“When they win, you hear a lot of people talking about it,” said Debbie Bartholomew a cashier who also runs the store’s floral department. “But when they lose, it’s a lot quieter.
“I know I’m not so mad about that they lost, but who they lost to and the way they lost. Maybe they’ll turn it around.”
Players tend to be more on an even keel, especially those who have now been in the league for a while and have already experienced more Mondays like this one than they care to remember.
“A loss is a loss,” said first-year Saints safety Jairus Byrd, who in four seasons at Buffalo was 22-42, 1-3 in Week 1, and is now 0-1 in both categories with his new team. “It hurts the same.
“Whenever you invest time in something and it doesn’t come out like you wanted it, you feel like anybody else would feel. But I know that we’ve got be better than this, and we’re going to fix it.”
That’s the attitude Saints coach Sean Payton is expecting to see – no overreacting – although he admits that even professionals are subject to the emotions the rest of us feel.
“I think the competitive nature of this business is such where I’ve said this before that after a big win it can be too much and after a loss it can be too much,” he said. “The level of attention in both cases needs to be the same.
“More than anything is the emphasis on educating as to the length of the season and the importance from Week 1 to Week 2 to make corrections. It requires a certain amount of mental toughness to be successful in this league, and part of that is coming back and having a great week of preparation and practice after a tough loss, which I think they understand.”
Payton might also have pointed out that 0-1 is not a death sentence.
In four of the 10 years in which the Saints have made the playoffs, they lost their opener. In 1990, they were 0-2 but squeezed in as an 8-8 wild card.
Less likely, because nobody in the NFL will ever admit to looking past the next game, he also could have said that four of the Saints’ next five opponents, including this week’s foe, the Cleveland Browns, also lost their openers.
Such facts and figures actually mean little.
What does mean something is that the 568 yards the Saints surrendered Sunday were 128 more than their per-game average in 2012, when they had the worst defense in NFL history, and 262 more than last year, when they improved to fourth in the league. And the 37 points allowed are 15 more than last year’s norm, also No. 4 in the league.
We could cite a few more, but you’re probably already too depressed to read on.
“I can completely understand that everybody wants us to be better,” Hicks said. “We want ourselves to be better.
“When you put this jersey on, you know what’s expected of you. With a 16-game season, there’s always a chance to improve, but there’s always a chance not to improve either.”