Was that the 2009 Saints defense we saw yesterday against the Rams? Sure looked like it. They gave up 327 total yards of offense and four trips to the red zone but kept the scoring to a minimum and maintained control throughout courtesy of two forced fumbles and two interceptions. They're takeaways - not turnovers - and they've returned.
But instead of Darren Sharper making all the magic happen and returning 90+ yard pick sixes, this year it's Malcolm Jenkins. What a season that kid is having. We've been singing Malcolm's praises since before Jenksgiving so I'm not sure there's much more I can say here that hasn't been said by every one of us at some point this year. In fact, other than players named Brees I think Jenkins could be my leading candidate for team MVP this season. I'm lovin' me some Jank!
Which begs the question, in my mind anyway: does Malcolm Jenkins now make Darren Sharper expendable? Are we witnessing a changing of the guard? And isn't that what we wanted anyway? After all, we know Sharper isn't going to be around much longer.
Make the jump for a crap load of other notes, brought to you in bullet form. Pictures in a little while so check back.
- Kyle Jones sang the National Anthem. He's a local musician but I honestly know nothing more.
- It was a star-studded affair all afternoon. Model Rachel Hunter and Miley Cyrus were both seen rubbing elbows on the sidelines during warmups. Later in the game, actor Taylor Lautner was hanging out near the bench.
- The Blue Angels were honored before the game.
- Anthony Hargrove led the pre-game Who Dat chant.
- Hargrove was later seen throwing up on the sidelines during the Courtney Roby injury timeout.
- This was the last home game before the holidays so Christmas touches were added throughout. From Manheim Steamroller music before kickoff to santa hats on the cheerleaders and mascots.
- Thomas Morstead was kicking off again!!!
- The head referee microphones have been screwed up for the past few games in the Dome. I can't hear a damn thing they say when explaining a penalty.
- So I didn't know the exact call when David Thomas was flagged for an illegal substitution. What's weird is that the ref watched Thomas run into and out of the huddle but didn't throw a flag until the ball was snapped and the play was run. I guess the Saints could have called a timeout to avoid the penalty. Didn't matter because the Saints found the end zone on the next play.
- Steven Jackson is one big monkeypucker! Holy crap!
- I didn't realize it was such a big joke on the TV broadcast and after the game but I also got a good laugh when Roman Harper got run down by Sam Bradford. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as the play wound up getting called back. All in all, however, it was another great game from him. 'Rome-E-Rome' had another forced fumble, a sack and seven total tackles behind only Jonathan Vilma with eight.
- A "RO-BY, RO-BY" chant started from the end zone while Courtney was being tended to and carted off the field. Let's all hope for a speedy recovery.
- Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer both looked more like their old selves.
- Yesterday during our post-game show Ralph asked me what one thing I would like to see improved upon as the Saints make the final push. My answer was lame but a very wise caller had his own answer that I really liked: it sure would be nice if Brees could go a week without turning the ball over. He has now thrown at least one interception in the last nine games.
- The stats could have looked better and the game could have been put out of reach if Drew had gotten some help from his receivers on a few throws. Meachem dropped two balls that looked like they should have been caught including the deep bomb in the end zone. From my seat it also appeared as if Colston let the hat trick fly just past outstretched finger tips but it's arguable that one might just as easily have been on Drew.
- I'm also not crazy about the general inability of the Saints to put opponents to bed and close out games that seems to becoming a trend. The offense sputtered in the second half of yesterday's game. I would like them to look more like the Patriots do right now.
- Great job keeping Brees clean against a good St. Louis pass rush. A lot of credit goes to the offensive line play but Drew also looked more mobile and aware in the pocket than usual. He even scrambled for a medium gain on one play, a rare decision for him. Especially given his completely shattered knee.
- The Junior Saintsations were the halftime entertainment. They are about as good as the regular Saintsations.
- How good did it feel to see Pierre Thomas out there again? I'll admit I didn't think it would even happen. He looked pretty good for his first game back. And with Chris Ivory now dealing with a hamstring issue, the timing couldn't be more perfect. In fact, Pierre's team-high twelve carries yesterday were probably more than they planned for his return to game action, thanks to Ivory's injury.
- Reggie looked more comfortable and confident this week.
- The offense was 11/16 - 68% on 3rd down. That's a huge improvement from last weeks 1/8 - 12%. The numbers looked good on the other side of the ball as well, the defense holding the Rams to just 1/11 - 9% on 3rd down.
- Also improved was the penalty department. The Saints only took five penalties for a total of 55 yards, half of their embarrassing output last week.
- Six in a row, and counting...