Alright, I’ve been a Saints fan my entire life. I’ve put up with a lot of games like the one that took place last night. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of improvement that the 2010 edition of the New Orleans Saints need to make, but as a long suffering Saints fan, I know that before Sean Payton and Drew Brees’s arrival (hell, before last year) last nights game against the 49ers would not have been a victory. Some god-awful event would have happened; a sudden San Francisco fog would have rolled in making any sort of game winning field goal impossible, an earthquake would have torn Candlestick Park in half sending all players and coaches adorned with a fleur-de-lis downwards into the pits of hell while everyone in red and gold danced due to their forfeited win. Except, none of that happened, and the Saints defense was just as opportunistic as it was throughout the entire 2009 season. To use a term that far too many sports writers use, “They picked up right where they left off.” (I’m not really a sports writer, so I can use it, right?) The defense, however, didn’t play anywhere near the level they did against old-man Favre. Is Favre that bad this season? Or is Alex Smith that good? Are we that bad? The answer to all of those questions is “no”. Favre will, after realizing that maybe he shouldn’t have sat out so much preseason will regain his 2009 form. Alex Smith will come back down to Earth and regain his I-really-suck-and-I-don’t-deserve-to-be-on-the-same-field-as-Drew-Brees form. And our defense will learn from its mistakes to become the formidable defense we all know it can be while still being just as opportunistic. There were times last night where I wanted the Saints to load the box and make Alex Smith beat us as opposed to allowing Frank Gore to, well, gore us. But once he got in a rhythm in the 2nd half, I realized that my idea might not be such a good one.
Sure, on a night where Drew Brees completed 28-38 for 254 yards and 2 TD’s, we barely won. And sports analysts are right when they say that San Francisco is a bad team. Only they don’t mention, often enough if you ask me, which side of the ball they’re bad on. The truth is that they’re pretty good on defense. I’m sure if you’ve been listening to the radio all day, or perhaps watching SportsCenter for the majority of time between the hours of 1AM and 4AM, you know these stats. But for those of you who do neither, let me repeat them.
Last year, the Saints ranked 2nd overall in red zone defense. Remember all those interceptions where Sharper took the ball back 80+ yards? That’s why we were #2. Guess who was number #3? San Francisco. So, if you think back to last night and remember the three times Garrett Hartley had to kick field goals, it’s not because the Saints were struggling on offense. It’s just because we were playing against a damn good red zone defense. (Granted, the two touchdowns we scored were from inside the 5 yard line, but 2 TD’s to 3 FG’s. You do the math.) San Francisco also creates about 90% of their turnovers at home. (last year the did, anyway) We won the turnover battle last night at +4. AND we didn’t turn the ball over.
Yes, we won. Yes, we played poorly on defense. Yes, the mistakes need to be fixed. But we’re 2-0, and you can’t get any better than that.
Now on to more depressing discussion. Reginald Bush III fractured his right fibula after he muffed a punt, only to have to scramble on the ground to retrieve said punt. While on the ground, a large man wearing red fell on the back of his leg. Initial reports are that he’s out 4-6 weeks, which puts him back in time for the Pittsburgh game on Halloween night. Maybe. I was pretty depressed at the idea of Reggie not being in uniform for the next couple weeks or even for the rest of the season, but then I remembered who our coach and general manager were and all depression vanished. These guys brought us a world championship after almost 50 years of waiting. I’m sure they can replace one of the most dynamic players that have donned the black and gold for a couple weeks, right? I hope you’re nodding right now, because I’m not sure I even believe the last sentence my fingers made me type. Reggie, you will be missed for the next 4-6 weeks. Pierre already said he’s cool with taking a couple more touches every game and DeShawn Wynn already said he’ll be ready to catch a couple passes and run a couple balls while you’re out sick. Chris Ivory is just now getting over his bug, and he’ll be back in uniform in no time. So, please Reggie, while you’re out, take care of yourself. Eat lots of soup and be sure to take your medicine. I’ll see you on Halloween.