What a Differential a Year Makes
The Saints lead the entire league in a pretty cool and pretty important stat: Point Differential. A high point differential doesn't necessarily equal wins - the Saints finished last season ranked an impressive 10th - but it definitely bodes well. The five teams just below the Saints so far this year, in order, are the Ravens, Broncos, Giants, Vikings and Jets. All of those teams are also undefeated so far. Coincidence? I think not. Does that make the Saints the best of all the undefeated teams? You might be able to make that argument.
What's also funny is that the Saints have the number one offense in the league, as we all know, but it's the running game pulling all the weight. The Saints actually have the second ranked rushing attack, averaging 170.7 yards a game, and only the sixth best passing offense with 267.3 yards a game. Who would have thought?
But the most impressive numerical fact worthy of note is that the Saints are currently the owners of a top ten defense. I won't say I saw it coming. Through three weeks of the 2009 NFL season the Saints defense has given up an average of 312.3 yards per game, good enough to earn them the title of tenth best in the league. They are ranked fifth best at stopping the run, making their 22nd ranked pass defense the weak link of the unit yet again. That last stat could be deceiving, however, because the Saints took an early lead against Detroit and sat back in prevent a majority of the time.
Like many of you, all I've ever wanted to know was how good the Saints could be with an actual defense behind their powerful offense and thanks to the Gregg Williams experiment, I've finally got my answer. That's what I love most about this season. Even if it all goes to hell from this point on, Saints fans will know that much more about exactly what this team needs to win and when it's failing miserably.
And just in case you are planning on racing down to the comment section so you can tell me that they're only three games into the season and there isn't enough data yet, let me be the first to say: I am aware and I don't care. Numbers don't lie and until the Saints prove otherwise, they're a damn good football team.
I should have included Greer's name as a candidate for player of the game against Buffalo on Sunday because I thought he did an excellent job against his old team. Like some Saints fans, I made the mistake of overlooking him. But he played a large part in shutting out Terrell Owens this weekend, the first game Owens has not caught a pass in thirteen years. That's gotta say something, certainly about Greer and even Tracy Porter, but also about the defense as a unit. Darren Sharper seems to be getting a majority of the attention as this off-seasons biggest free agent pick up, due in large part to his interceptions but like I've said before, I think Jabari Greer deserves that honor.
Pundit Poo Poo
Why are all Saints fans so concerned about what the national media guys think? I understand it's frustrating to feel like nobody gives any recognition to just how good our team is; I feel the same way. But we've all been following these guys for a long time and knew the possibilities for this season even before it began so we're not surprised, more affirmed. This just happens to be the year it looks like we actually got it right. So you can't expect every commentator from every major network or publication to start chanting "Who Dat!?" and proclaiming the Saints are a dynasty, no matter how accurate that statement may be. If I may borrow a quote from Dana Carvey doing his George W. Bush Sr. impression: "Wouldn't be prudent." So let's all chill out a little bit and let the Saints keep winning games. The praise from the big boys will come when it's truly deserved. And then you won't want it anyway.
Here's some uplifting news: Four out of the next five games for the Saints will be at home in the dome with a bye week stuck in the middle to rest up and get healthy. That's good, especially given that the schedule is about to get a little tougher with those games being against the Jets, Giants and Falcons as well as an important division matchup against the Panthers. The Saints will want to stockpile those wins at home while they can because then the tables will be turned and their next five will consist of four road contests.
Cause for Concern?
M-E mentioned this in a comment on another thread but I felt it was worth mentioning right here on the front page. Jammal Brown is already out for a couple more weeks and his replacement, Jermon Bushrod, continues to get nicked up. That leaves only Jon Stinchcomb and Zach Strief officially on the roster at offensive tackle and nobody technically backing them up. Shouldn't this be a concern? With the best quarterback in the league world galaxy universe, offensive tackle is not a position to be taken lightly. It's pretty damn important. What if Stinchcomb or Strief gets injured? Apparently, coach Payton is not nearly as concerned as I am.
More Mare Misfortune
It's been great to finally see the Saints attain some quality and consistency at both kicking positions this season. Lord knows it's been a long road and taken a couple of draft picks. So don't tell me listening to Jim Mora, Jr. rip Olindo Mare a new one doesn't put at least a small smile on your face and make you wish those were really Sean Payton's words two years ago. I'm a sadistic person, I know. Good luck Seattle.