They can put the headstone at the Superdome’s 35-yard line.
That’s where the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era of Saints football effectively came to its end early in Sunday’s slop-riddled 26-19 loss to the woeful Buccaneers — a team that allowed a perfect passer rating to Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota in his first game as an NFL player.
Knowing just how pathetic Lovie Smith’s Tampa defense happens to be, Payton elected to punt from the Bucs 35 when he faced a fourth-and-5 on New Orleans’ opening possession. The same Sean Payton who boldly attempted an onside kick to open the second half of a Super Bowl was now punting on a makeable fourth down against a defense that a week before, and over the course of the opening drive, demonstrated that it was one of the worst in recent human memory.
Whether it was a lack of faith in Brees, a lack of faith in his line, a lack of faith in his targets post-Jimmy Graham or a lack of faith that his defense could force a quick three-and-out against a rookie quarterback in a hostile environment, it was a disturbing lack of faith.