Things seemed to be going well for the New Orleans Saints heading into halftime Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals. They were tied 14-14 on the road, with minutes before halftime and several timeouts for work. Veteran quarterback Andy Dalton was under center ready to lead the two-minute offense with (as Amazon broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit oddly insisted throughout the game) his calming presence.
Then Dalton threw a pass to wide receiver Marquez Callaway, which slipped through his hands and was intercepted. The Cardinals defense returned 38 yards for a touchdown. It’s painful, but not impossible to overcome. Reset and reload and try again – then Dalton threw another pick six, this one backing 56 yards for another defensive touchdown. It took 102 seconds of playing time for the Saints to fall behind by several scores, with their defense never even reaching the pitch.
Buy Saints Tickets
It was his third interception in a first-half slump. Amazon reporter Kaylee Hartung caught up with Saints head coach Dennis Allen as he led his team out of the tunnel after halftime and asked him what advice he shared with his quarterback after a horrible streak. And he said maybe the worst thing he could have thought of at the time.
“Nothing, just keep doing what he’s doing, you know?” Allen responded after watching his quarterback throw three interceptions in a single football half. He thought for a moment, then added to his message: “Compete. Come here and fight and that’s what we’ll do.
Alright, the coach’s speech at the end isn’t so bad. But what made him double (triple? quadruple?) seeing such bad football? Why say that? At best, it suggests that he doesn’t get caught up in the negative games, choosing to trust the process and let his players play. At worst, it says he really doesn’t care and is dodging responsibility in a big stain. It’s a terrible look anyway.
But it’s not like the Saints have better options. Dalton starts in place of the injured Jameis Winston, who also threw three interceptions the last time he led New Orleans’ offense. None of them are good options, and we know Taysom Hill won’t be keeping the full-time quarterback job either. The Saints are in a very tough spot, and Allen’s nonchalant approach in times of crisis like this is starting to define his tenure as head coach. Hopefully he’ll think of something better to say next time.