Drew Brees couldn’t have played any better, and even got one bad refereeing decision to fall his and the Saints way instead of turning the ball over in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t enough, as his terrific effort was wasted in a 28-27 loss to the Green Bay Packers, falling to 0-4.

From Super Bowl contenders and a team that won 13 games last season, to 0-4. Out of the 65 teams in the Super Bowl era to win at least 13 games in the regular season, only six went on to follow that with a 0-4 start – The Giants in 1987, Falcons in 1999, Broncos in 1999, Rams in 2002 and Titans in 2009. None of those teams won more than 8 games. The Saints can forget about the playoffs, although seeing two other teams in their division starting 1-3 has to be just a bit encouraging.

Brees threw for 446 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Aaron Rodgers was a bit more accurate and threw for one more touchdown, but that’s not hard against the Saints offense. Brees stepped up, but the rest of his dysfunctional team, gutted over the course offseason by bountygate, which mostly affected the coaching staff, didn’t follow. Just how bad things are?

There’s no running game. Sporles, Ingram and Thomas combined for 45 yards on 19 carries. The Saints are 26th in the NFL, getting only 80.8 yards on the ground so far from a pretty talented trio of running backs, scoring only two touchdowns from running plays. But Brees can make up for those yards, as the Saints are still in the upper half of total offense in the NFL.

The league’s worst defense is a different story. New defensive coordinator, new schemes. Right now, all this new isn’t really working. For example, pass rush. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked more times than anyone else this season, 16 through the first three games. New Orleans? They couldn’t get to him once, and are ranked 26th in the league with only six sacks through the first four games.

The big number that derives from their inability to reach the quarterback is stopping both the pass and the run. The Saints give up more yards than anyone else in the NFL, 463.3 per game, including an NFL high 186.8 yards on the ground. They’re in the lower half of the NFL when it comes to forcing turnovers, creating only five so far.

People knew this team wasn’t going to be great after Bountygate, but the Saints were supposed to put a team that would look respectable, competitive. Losing close game after close game isn’t respectable, when the same problems show up week after week. Drew Brees isn’t playing like an MVP, but he isn’t playing as bad as the rest of his teammates, or as bad as the Saints coaching stuff up to this point. He can’t pick up this team from the mud all on his own. The problem is, help isn’t coming from any direction at the moment.

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