Saints goal is to win remaining three games

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Mathematically the New Orleans Saints are not out of the playoff picture. Realistically the final three games are more about the future of the team than about possible playoff scenarios.

Sunday’s 52-27 loss seems to be the nail in a coffin in which the 2012 bruised and battered season will be buried. Fans aren’t the only ones disappointed that the rest of December will have football without post season implications.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints have gone from playoff contenders to the role of spoilers thanks to three straight losses.

“It’s not good. It’s not pleasant,” said Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt. “We’ve never been in the situation since we’ve been here in ’06, where in the last three games you are not vying for and playing for a playoff position. Right now we have nine practices left and three games left. Our players know under no uncertain circumstances what our goal is. Our goal is to win all three games.

Sunday the Saints host the (6-7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a question posed to Vitt was how would the team approach the final three games of the season? Would the team see it as a chance to play and evaluate younger players or would it treat the remaining weeks as if something were still on the line?

“We’re going to put those players on the field that number one, have earned the right to be on the field and then number two to give us the best chance to win football games,” said Vitt. “We’ll continue to do that. That’s what we’ve always done here. We feel like as a staff and organization we’ve given guys an opportunity to play and step up and do their job. But, we’re going to do exactly what it takes to win football games.”

“You have to first keep from losing before you can ever win,” said Vitt of the game where his team turned the ball over four times. The frustrating part about the Saints season has been how the team has shot themselves in the foot repeatedly with mental mistakes, turnovers, bad decisions and overall just bad football, examples of which we saw on Sunday against the Giants.

“When you score a touchdown defensively like we did, that puts us in the 85 percentile of winning that game. On the next play when you have a special teams touchdown that now puts them in the 93rd percentile of winning the game,” Vitt explained using stats as only he can. “Yesterday for the first time since we’ve been here, they had 453 yards in hidden yards combined in the return game, penalty yards and yards from takeaways. You’re talking 31 points with those 453 yards. Before we ever win a game we have to keep from losing.”

A 0-4 start to the season put the Saints in a deep hole as only one other team in NFL history was able to dig out of it and reach the playoffs. The San Diego Chargers did it in 1994 by coming back and winning the AFC West. The Atlanta Falcons, currently (11-2), will be your NFC South Champs this season as they are in position to capture the NFC’s top spot in the playoff picture.

Trying to bounce back from such a huge deficit may have taken a toll on the Saints as they could have simply run of gas here in the last three week. New Orleans has faced three division opponents in a row and been outscored 106 to 61

“I think as a football team right now we’re pressing. We have to let it go and let it flow, play hard, smart and together, harder football and tougher than the opponent, without pressing. Just let it go and let it flow and just do the things we’re supposed to do in practice every day. That will afford us the opportunity to win football games.”

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