Since I was sitting in Sec 109 ( End Zone) for the Saints/Eagles game, I thought I'd give some of my observations/experiences. I went to the game with three friends who are Eagles fans and received some good- natured ribbing on the ride up. It was obvious that they thought the Saints had about a 2 % chance to win and a zero chance for a blowout. They, as well as everyone else I listened to during the week and read about during the week, thought the Philly defense was on a mountain peak and we were going to be its next victim. I just told my buddies I thought they were going to be surprised and that their defense really lacked quality linebackers and safeties as well as only having an above average DL with no superstar in it. They thought I was delusional.
When we arrived, my first impression was the same as the impression I had last time the Saints played in Phila a few years ago. I thought not only how could the Saints win a game in this hostile and threatening environment, but how could any visiting team do that. It really seemed like a monumental task in this overwhelming energy of pro Eagle hysteria and anti- Saint venom. There were a lot of protesters outside calling M. Vick a killer and murder and stating their opposition to him being an Eagle. One Eagles fan yelled- " I love murderers." I forced myself to dwell on the fact that these were professional athletes, that the game was played on the field, and that this hysteria didn't matter. I didn't totally buy into that thinking, but I did think the Sainst would win.
I counted 13 people with Saints jerseys on the entire day. I talked to about 8 of them. One man said he had just moved up from NOLA and when I asked him if he or his 14 year - old son had experienced any hostile treatment on the day, he said some idiot threw a footbal at his son's head because he was wearing a Saints hat. His son said they saw a group of Saints fans gathered around the visitors locker room and there were Eagles fans screaming and yelling at them with obscenities and other less than cordial language. Mostly, though, it seemed like the few Sainst fans were left alone. But there was this feeling that really anything could happen at any given time, especially if it was a closely contested game with controversial calls.
But, all in all it was a beautiful September day, perfect football day, a great, close first half with a blowout in the second half. But, I have to admit, when the Saints were only up by 14 after an Eagles touchdown and Evans appeared to have fumbled but the call was overturned, things were starting to turn and that could have been a pivotal moment (well it actually was). Because in Phila, when that kind of momentum starts happening and the crowd buys into it, it snowballs. I mean it can really snowball. But the Saints showed they were true professionals, and I think that is their greatest strength right now. They went into this venue which has to be one of the most difficult environments in the NFL, essentially a potentially hugely overwhelming situation, and took care of business. The Saints veteran and experienced presence clearly showed through. Only three penalties showed they have gotten the message. Cool, calm and focused. A job to do. A result to obtain. No setbacks along the way matter. Keep your eye on the goal.
Some random observatiuons:
- Morstead is a force. Watching him warm up made me think there are only a few NFL punters that can do what he does. He can and will make a difference. I am starting to understand Payton a little. One of his punts at a critical time was just so far and so high, it changed the whole field position battle.
- Payton called a very good game. This was not a place for gimmicks. Good blend of smash mouth and finesse. Good balance of run and pass. There will be a time for gadgets and Payton will tinker. Not here, not today.
- Pass rush could have been better, but at least it showed up. I think Hargove played real well and should get more playing time. Saints should try to bat more basses down. I have to look at the tape, but maybe Grant needs some alternative moves or neeeds to improve them?
-Henderson's long pass reception was amazing- it sucked the life out of the stadium. Not only was it at a crucial juncture, it was against their boy, Sheldon Brown, their best defensive player. And it was by, who?? Some newcomer ( from the Eagles perspective). How dare he do that. Devery what?? Who Dat!!!
- Fujita and Shanle will start getting the credit they deserve and be noted as, along with Vilma, one of the top LB corps in the NFL. They played well together. They will excell. GW called a good game. I think he's just getting started. I think there's more in store for the Panthers and Falcons. He wanted to win these first two games (and next two) with a slightly vanilla approach. Fudge swirl is on the way.
- Really bad play 1st half allowing DeSean Jackson to get a 71 yd TD. We as fans have to realize this will happen from time to time. To ALL defenses. What's more important is to minimize the occurrence. What's even more impt is to rebound like the defense did and play a great defensive game after that happens.
- We are getting TURNOVERS!!!! It's a frame of mind. We have it....
- We are finding Reggie's niche. Ok, it may not be like what one would think is the right niche for a 6 or 7 million dollar player or whatever, but we have that niche. He is always capable of an electric play like the great swing pass catch and the 19 yd TD. The game will come to him more and more, but that's not important. Think of him as a $1 million dollar player that will only get 3-4 big plays a game on average, maybe score 8 TDs this year from scrimmage, but score 2 TDs in the NFC championship and 1 in the SB. That would work. Someone else can carry the workload.
- DeSean Jackson is talented, fast elusive. He may become a star, but he can't go over the middle. He has to prove he can endure that otherwise covering him will get less difficult.
- My buddy next to me said "Reggie sucks" ... about 90 seconds before he broke the Eagles back with a TD run. I said- "that's what Reggie can do and that's why we have him." I expect that scenario will happen regularly this season. It's ok.
- It was way cool seeing a few Saints fans and just saying Who Dat to them and getting a smile. Must be cool in Norleans. Really cool feeling a bond with the 13 people out of 63,000 who know what "WHO DAT" is about..
- It was more than a victory for me. It was a lesson taught to a lot of cocky people who ignorantly thought there was only 2 or 3 "REAL TEAMS" in the NFL and theirs was at the top of that list. Ours wasn't even on the front page of that list.
- For me, we already won one Super Bowl, I hope we win the real one. It won't be easy, but there is no reason we can't.
- Bell is awesome. I was trying to decide who I think is better for carrying the workload, PT or Bell. Stupid question....doesn't matter.