REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT, ARLINGTON, Va. — While waiting to board Southwest flight 1311 ...
To put a Black and Gold twist on something famously said here in Washington back in April 1865, “Other than that, Saints fans, how did you enjoy your weekend?”
For those who did travel here, the weather was fantastic, visiting our nation’s capital is always moving and the atmosphere at FedEx Field is terrific.
Especially when the Washington Redskins are winning, which they did Sunday, much to the consternation of the sizable number of Saints fans in attendance, about 30 of which were on this particular flight back to New Orleans on Monday morning.
“I thought after the first quarter when it was still tied that we were going to be OK,” said Roi-Lynne Hulin of Kenner, who came with her husband, Colin. “Then all of a sudden, our offense got weaker, their defense got stronger and our defense was amazingly bad. It was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen. I felt like we just gave up trying to tackle people.”
And that, Fay Forbendel of New Orleans, Dawn Hopkins of Metairie and Melanie Licciardi of Chalmette, three of a group of about 10 women who make two or three road trips a year together, was more than enough to merit the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan — and just about everybody else, for that matter — the sooner the better.
“I heard some of the players say they needed to review the tape to see what we did wrong,” said Hopkins who, like the others, were in Saints gear despite the loss. “Well, I’m a freaking woman, and I can tell you what they were doing wrong. Nobody was doing their job. Jo-Lonn Dunbar has only been back on the team for a week, and he was the best one out there.”
Licciardi agreed but, while saying it was time for Ryan to go, it shouldn’t be entirely on him.
“Rob Ryan wasn’t out there not making tackles,” she said. “Why are they wasting money on players like Brandon Browner?”
Forbendel didn’t stop at the defense.
“There’s something wrong with Thomas Morstead,” she said of the Saints punter. “They’re using the other guy (Kai Forbath) to kick off, and he can’t get it to the end zone. The offense didn’t look too great, either. Sean Payton needs to find somebody who can protect Drew (Brees).”
But that didn’t mean they felt like they didn’t get their money’s worth.
“We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton where the team was, and it was fantastic,” Hopkins said. “They were pouring champagne for us when we walked in the door, and they carried our suitcases off the Metro. We’re definitely glad we came.”
So were the Hulins, who got to visit their son, Kevin, and his new bride, Dawn, who live in Arlington.
That, Colin Hulin said, made it better than the previous weekend, when he and some friends traveled to Tuscaloosa for the LSU-Alabama game and then drove back in time to see the Saints-Titans game.
“I could have been at the Arkansas game, too,” he said. “So this wasn’t the worse thing that could have happened.”
Steven and Sheri Almanzo of New Orleans said they felt they got their money’s worth as well.
“We got up here on Friday, so we were able to go out and see the things we wanted to see,” Sheri said. “And people at the game were very nice to us. I think we came with pretty low expectations about winning, so we weren’t that disappointed.”
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MIDWAY AIRPORT, CHICAGO — Although Flight 1311 is listed as going from Washington to New Orleans, there is a stop in Chicago. But during the hourlong layover come reports that Ryan will be fired, if he hasn’t been already.
“Long overdue,” Hopkins said. “I would have done it yesterday before they ever got back. But I don’t know if at this point it’s going to help anything.”
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LOUIS ARMSTRONG AIRPORT — By the time 1311 touches down, Payton has said Ryan is “absolutely” still part of the coaching staff, although there’s no indication of how long “absolutely” will last.
To one fan, who requests that his name not be used because he’s actually supposed to be at work, it’s only a matter of time.
“I don’t know why he hasn’t done it yet,” Mr. Anonymous said. “I guess they’re just looking at everything like he said.”
By Monday evening, to no one’s surprise Mr. Anonymous was proved correct.
And while those who made the trip to Washington were glad they went, there seems to be a lowering of expectations as the team approaches a second straight losing season.
“They’ve got a lot of decisions to make,” Colin Hulin said. “It may be time for Payton to go or to trade Drew. Somebody needs to question (general manager) Mickey Loomis, too, because of all the bad money decisions he’s made. I don’t think we’re going to slide back to when we were going 3-13, but it looks like we’re in for a few bad years before it gets better again.”
But no matter what, there will always be those who are loyal to the Saints and will follow them anywhere, including the next game at Houston.
“I’m ready,” Hopkins said. “They’ve got a lot of great malls in Houston, and I’m going shopping.”