LANDOVER, Md. — By a quirk of the schedule maker, both of Tom Benson’s professional sports teams were playing their 10th games of the season at the same time Sunday.
And after both lost, it’s safe to say both can forget about the playoffs.
The Saints are 4-6 after their 47-14 loss at the Washington Redskins, and the Pelicans are 1-9 after their 95-87 loss at the New York Knicks.
At this stage, Leonard Fournette’s Heisman chances are 10 times better than the Saints and Pelicans seeing the postseason — except on TV.
The Saints were generally considered the favorite in the NFC South. The Pelicans were supposed to continue their rise in the Western Conference.
Now neither is going to happen.
And it’s still a week until Thanksgiving.
Go ahead and eat hearty, Rob Ryan. You’re probably going to have plenty of free time soon.
Don’t blame it all on the coaches, although they’re the ones who usually pay the immediate price.
It’s certainly too early to deliver a verdict on Alvin Gentry.
When you’ve got players who shouldn’t be seeing extensive playing time pressed into service because of injuries to your front liners, you’ve got big problems.
That has happened to the Saints and the Pelicans.
The Saints’ 53-man roster Sunday featured 11 players who didn’t start the season with the team. That’s 21 percent of your squad made up of players who were cut elsewhere.
It’s not good when Obum Gwacham, who had been active for only two of the first nine games, winds up being your best pass rusher (1.5 sacks Sunday).
The Pelicans’ ranks are so depleted they had to bring back Jimmer Fredette.
But enough with the excuses. There have been more than enough of them.
The bottom line as of right now is that these are two bad teams with no immediate improvement in sight. There are only two teams in the NFC with more losses than the Saints. Nobody in the Western Conference has been beaten more often than the Pelicans.
They’re bad in part because those who get good money to play weren’t earning it Sunday, especially the ones on the football side of things.
The Redskins averaged 10.4 yards per play in the first half and, through three quarters, had 485 yards and 37 points.
They easily could have tacked on more in the fourth (and did starting with the pick-six of Drew Brees by Dashon Goldson) but chose not to throw a pass in the fourth quarter.
It was an embarrassment of missed tackles, missed assignments and soft coverage.
The good news: Brandon Browner didn’t get charged with a penalty. Of course, he didn’t break up any passes, either, and was credited with one solo tackle (after a 12-yard completion) plus two assists.
All of this damage was done by a Washington offense that came in ranked 29th in yards and 28th in points.
Kirk Cousins had the game of his young career, going 20-of-25 for 324 yards and four touchdowns while earning a perfect QB rating.
Too bad Robert Griffin III is the Redskins’ third quarterback, or he could have got in on the fun and become the sixth Heisman winner to beat the Saints this year (after Carson Palmer, Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford and Marcus Mariota).
Cornerback Keenan Lewis, who suffered a possible season-ending knee injury, was among those feeling the humiliation.
“Anytime you lose, it’s tough to overcome, but especially like this,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to dig ourselves out. We’ve got to figure out who we are.”
Easier said than done.
The offense, after Brees touchdown passes to Brandin Cooks on two of its three possessions, started pressing — the dropped third-down pass by a wide-open Cooks late in the second quarter stands out — and never advanced the ball into Washington territory once before the final series, when things were out of reach. That earlier possession ended with Tim Hightower and C.J. Spiller both failing to get the yard needed for a first down at the Washington 30 when the Saints were only trailing 27-14.
Why Hightower and Spiller?
Mark Ingram, who presumably could have gotten the yard, was “nicked,” according to Sean Payton, and was still getting treatment at the time.
OK. But regardless of who had the ball, the blocking should have been capable of picking up a yard at a crucial time.
Typically, Brees talked after the game about the importance of “sticking together” and how he didn’t envision that the team would be 4-6.
“There are tough times,” he said. “Everyone questions our team, our talent and whatever else people want to question. The bye is coming at a very necessary time to get everyone healthy. We need to rebuild our mindset, get all of the pieces together and make a run at it.”
The trouble is, the mindset has been shattered, the pieces aren’t coming back and it’s too late to make a run.
Ditto for the Pelicans.
Six games left for the Saints, 72 for the Pelicans.
Mr. B, we feel for ya.