It wasn’t the drubbing we took in Week 1, but that doesn’t mean the loss today was any prettier. Yes, it was closer, but when you only score 9 points, miss three field goals, can’t convert on third down to save your life, and make Ryan Mallett and Alfred Blue look like world beaters, closer doesn’t really count for much.
Thing is, this was shaping up to look a lot like the Saints game. We scored to take the lead, then got the ball back with some time left in the first half. But instead of getting a quick score, we did nothing, and then started the second half with a Jameis Winston interception that led to a Houston field goal and you could just feel the air coming out of the balloon. Later we got the ball in the red zone and ended up getting zero points, and the balloon collapsed in on itself. As did our defense, consistently left out to dry by our offense. They either wore out or gave out, and before long, there was Blue just gashing us up the middle, and the whole team looked like a bunch of guys ready for the game to end.
So now we’re 1-2 and the red-hot Carolina Panthers coming to town, so that’s likely to go to 1-3. Jacksonville comes in right before the bye week, and that’s going to be huge. If we can go into the break on a win, then maybe there’s something to build on. If we go in on a three-game losing streak, especially with a loss to the Jags, then we have a mess on our hands.
As it stands, Lovie Smith is now 3-16 with this team. Drafting Winston was considered to have given him a grace period — how can you expect a coach to win right away with a rookie QB? — but he’s currently 10 games behind Raheem Morris and eight games behind Greg Schiano in wins over two seasons, and nothing points to him making up much ground this season. How do you keep Lovie around with something like 6 or 7 wins in two years when 11 wasn’t enough to keep Schiano? And especially when the team looks so sloppy and unprepared? That’s not youth and inexperience, that’s coaching.
It’s only Week 3. But our only win is over a winless New Orleans team that probably wins that game with a healthy QB. It’s not full on panic time yet, but the jitters are definitely settling in. We just need to see if the yo-yo takes us back up, or if the string snaps and we roll off under the couch somewhere.