Now that's more like it!
The Saints got back on track last night, coming out full force and dominating the first half of play against the Texans on both sides of the ball. The first team offense got into a nice rhythm while putting together two well-balanced, clock-eating scoring drives. Just beautiful. And the defense showed signs of improvement by shutting down Houston's running game, causing turnovers and even tackling better. It wasn't all sweet unicorn farts and double rainbows though, as the Saints still have some work cut out for them in the remaining two pre-season games.
As a fan, it was great to be back at the Dome for the first time as Super Bowl champions. Things look a little different around the outside of the stadium but I'm a fan of the change. Slowly but surely, as it is prepared for the 2013 Super Bowl, the Superdome will attempt to rise to a higher level of stadium experience more fitting with the championship-caliber team that plays inside its walls. Just need to ask Jerry Jones where to get one of them big screen scoreboards.
It's the pre-season and this is my first "View from" post of the year, so excuse me while I work out the kinks in my blogging game. You know the deal...make the jump for more details in the bullets. Comment away below. Check back later today for pictures.
- I purposely planned my walk to the game to make sure that I passed Champions Square on my way into the Superdome. What I didn't realize was how big it was actually going to be. I guess I just wasn't expecting them to have torn down as much of the New Orleans Centre as they did. We arrived just shortly before the game so we didn't see the space getting used to it's fullest but I can definitely see it becoming a popular attraction, especially with a band playing in the corner. I think my favorite part is the new staircase that leads up to the Dome where the old Bud Bridge used to be. It's definitely sure to put fans in the right mind as they ascend the stairs en masse passing brass bands while more and more of the Superdome appears right before their eyes with each step.
- This was the definitely the loudest pre-season game I can ever remember attending. More specifically the opening introductions. Things calmed down a bit further into the game. There were a fair amount of people taking it way more seriously than they should have, however.
- Are we all feeling way more comfortable about our backup quarterback situation now? Other than that incredibly ugly interception - it seemed like he was trying to throw it to the Texans - Chase Daniel looked spectacular, leading four scoring drives. And did you see that screen pass to Pierre for the touchdown? Spitting image of our boy Drew.
- The awesome quarterback play didn't stop with Daniel, however. Did you see how well Sean Canfield took a knee on those final three snaps? He really raised his stock last night. Seriously though, what gives with putting Canfield in just to kill the clock? Is there something that I'm missing or is it really as silly and pointless as I think?
- One of the most positive aspects from last night was how much better the Saints run defense looked. Houston was limited to just 49 yards on the ground. That may not be as impressive a feat against a team like the Texans but it's a darn good start.
- Jabari Greer got burnt on that long Kevin Walter catch down the right sideline. He was staring into the backfield the entire way and hesitated on the route just long enough to let Walter get away. Greer seems off to a slow start so far this pre-season but knowing what he's capable of, I've got no reason to worry.
- Shockey and Bush spend a lot of time together on the bench.
- Did the Saints even need to bring in Ladell Betts? I am loving this running back battle we've got going on. Chris Ivory again looked like the guy this team should keep. At one point he ran right into a wall of men at the line of scrimmage. I thought for sure that was the end of the play but there he was, somehow darting right out the other end of the srum like he was shot out of a cannon and ready to take on the next level of tacklers. And when Ivory wasn't in the game, it was P.J. Hill keeping the chains moving not only running but catching. I still like what Ivory brings to the table more and think he remains the front-runner to make the final roster based on the teams needs.
- Reggie looked superb last night in one quarter of action. A wonderful job of making the right decisions and running north-south. It feels like a switch was flipped on Reggie sometime toward the end of the 2009 season and since then, he's been the running back we've all hoped he could be on a much more consistent basis. I also don't wonder if the USC sanctions have got him more motivated than ever. One of the questions a lot of fans have been asking is, "Who will get Mike Bell's carries?" Bush has never been considered a possible answer to that question but I'm here to raise my own question: How 'bout we give some of those carries to Reggie?
- All of the great running back performances owe a lot to the great run blocking by the offensive line last night, both first team and second team.
- Adrian Arrington picked up right where he left off last week. At this rate the Saints just have to find room for him on the roster. Me likey. Me really, really likey.
- Great to see the Saints defense and special teams come up with some turnovers. It makes all the difference in the world and it's a huge reason why they were able to get ahead early in this game. A second season chock full of turnovers will prove to the naysayers that last year wasn't just a fluke and that the Saints are a team who take the ball from you, not hope that it falls into their hands.
- Just as I had feared, Casillas didn't have nearly as impressive a performance as he did last week, finishing the game with only one tackle. Junior Galette was nowhere to be found either.
- Speaking of players gone missing, my boy Rod Harper was a ghost. To be fair, he never really got much opportunity. He was back to return a kickoff but the Texans kicked a worm-burner so P.J. Hill wound up taking it. Then he was back to return a punt but wisely let it fly over his head into the endzone for the touchback instead of attempting a return. Harper finished the game with only one kickoff return for twelve yards. It's not looking good.
- Patrick Robinson really needs to show me something before I say anything nice about him.
- Special teams still needs a good bit of work. The tackling didn't look nearly as sloppy but they still gave up a significant chunk of yardage in kick returns.
- Jonathan Goodwin tossed his game-used sweatband into the stands to The Whistle Monster. Ewwwww.