Wow, what a nail biter this one turned out to be. This was a hard hitting, rough and rugged win, and it took its toll on us for sure. San Francisco’s offense and defense gave us a run for our money that was a tad too close for comfort. The 9ers led in total yards and first downs, but what killed them were the turnovers. Our offense still looks sluggish and I hope it is just the rust wearing off. We still look a little lost on offense at times, but I know that things will start clicking like last year. From all indications, Bush will be out for a while with injury, like our backfield really needs another injury! Anyway, we pulled out the win, so on with the show.
We are still unable to effectively run the ball. Two games in a row is a little disconcerting. 24 rushes, 50 yards for a 2.1 average. I know that San Fran has a helluva front seven, but we have got to be able to move the ball on the ground better than this. Our O-line gave up two sacks, and one of them was completely unblocked. We didn’t do much with the long ball; most of our plays were screen passes. Meachem was completely neutralized, Henderson was held in check most of the game, and Drew Brees completed a pass to himself on a play that was pushed right back into his face. Any time that Brees has more receptions than Meachem in a game really bothers me.
We were not very successful at shutting down the biggest threat on the field. Frank Gore chewed us up and spit us out. He averaged 5.6 yards rushing and 8 yards per catch on his way to 168 yards from scrimmage and 2 TD’s. There were times the D looked sloppy, out of place and completely out played. I expect more from the Defense than giving up 400+ total yards. In the final two minutes of the game, it took San Fran 41 seconds to march down and score. I know that by the end of the game, the D has to be tired, but at the same time, that is when we need to dig down and hold them back.
Another muffed punt by Bush, and it probably cost us his abilities on Offense for the rest of the year. I have been saying since his injury at Carolina in 2008, TAKE BUSH OFF OF PUNT RETURNS. I know that we have other guys that can return punts without dropping them in the dirt causing injury, or a potential for injury to themselves.
I am still trying to figure out why we wasted two timeouts in the first quarter. In a way I get it, 9ers kicking into the wind, field position game and all that jazz, but it didn’t seem to matter once the 9ers got the first down, and there we are, left with one timeout, to last us the rest of the half. Good thing we didn’t need to challenge a play later in the first half, oh yeah, seems like we could have used a timeout to challenge something in there that looked wrong. I could be wrong though. (Even though I’m right)
We played one of the better defenses of the NFL this week, and we won. Brees threw for two TD’s, and completed almost 74% of his passes. We did have any turnovers, and at times seemed to move the ball at will. With 1:19 left to go, we wasted little time in getting downfield. The way the offense was moving downfield during 2 minute drill leads me to believe we could have scored another TD on them, but the safe play was to kick the field goal. It resulted in a win, and I can’t complain too much about starting off 2-0 in the season, especially when one of the wins is against a tough team on the road, in one of the hardest stadiums to play.
3 turnovers saved this game for us. Just when San Fran appeared to be moving in the right direction, we got the ball back. Thank you defense. Getting the ball out back for our offense is almost becoming an art form for these guys.
Thank you Garret Hartley, our “fat punk kicker” for sealing the deal as time expired. He is no longer Fujita’s fat punk kicker – he is OUR fat punk kicker. I reckon we can keep him. Also big game for Roby as a gunner and a returner. Roby did great jumping on the ball off of the San Fran muffed punt.
Gregg Williams various schemes once again produce takeaways. He has coached taking the ball away until it is almost second nature for the defense.
**Areas of Concern**
We are having trouble running the ball. Now it appears that Bush will be out for a lengthy period of time after being carted off the field. Our O-Line has not been getting the push they need. So far this year, in two games, Brees has been sacked 3 times and we have rushed for a whopping 129 yards on 49 carries for a 2.6 average. I don’t know who will step in and try to help us out with our rushing woes, especially if Bush is going to be out for a while, but is Brandon Jacobs still pissed at the Giants?
We haven’t given up many points, we have taken the ball away 5 total times so far, but we have also given up quite a few yards. We have got to start shutting down offenses better. I takeaways are as effective as punts to a certain degree, but letting opponents gash us for yardage and get into the Redzone is not my idea of shutting down offenses. If you want to take the ball away, do it at the opponent’s 10 yard line, not ours. 4 takeaways and 3 punts, and we barely squeak by? To me this is an issue that Williams can improve on, but the question is, how does GW make this a better unit?
We appear to be down a punt returner. I think we have someone that can fill this void. Hartley hit the game winner, and that relieved my anxiety towards him, albeit only a tiny bit. Until I see him consistently make those attempts, I will be skeptical. I think he will be fine thought. I am curious to see who fills in for Bush on the PR’s. I think it will be Moore.
How long will it take for Williams to drop kick the defense into overdrive? How long will it be before we see Payton unleash the hounds on an unsuspecting defense? I know that we are only two games in, but next week we face an ATL crew that just threw 41 points up on the Cardinals D. We better start game planning now, on the plane ride home. We have a long season in front of us if we don’t start getting it together soon.
**Thanks to the skinny one for pointing out the mistake I made.**
I have been up since 3 am watching the game, and my brain had plays running into each other. Jenkins recoved the fumble by Walker.
I also forgot to attach the Players of the Game, so here they are:
Offense - I have to go with Brees here. nearly 74% complete and 108 passer rating, 2 TD's and he even caught his own pass, and for a positive gain at that.
Defense - Roman Harper, yeah, I know, I didn't think it would happen either, but 7 tackles, a FF, a PD, and an INT. He is really stepping up his game. Runner Up - Vilma also deserves a little bit of this spotlight since he also posted 7 tackles, had three assists, and a FF. He was all over the place.
Special Teams - Our fat punk kicker. He drilled the game winner, as well as two more.