That's Drew Brees, taking his sweet time to find an open man. Exactly what he needed to have a good game. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
It's that time of the week again, my friends. Time to look back on HansDat's Hot Reads and uncover how they played out in Sunday's division win over the Buccaneers.
Make the jump to see my analysis of it, compare that with how you saw it, and then fire off your comments in the thread.
Primary Option: Protect Brees
What I'd like to see: The o-line needs to please, please, please, just protect Brees, ok? Give him time to make his progressions and get the ball to the open man.
On the day, it seemed as if Brees pretty much was able to do what he wanted without much interference from the Tampa Bay pass rush. He was not sacked, and was hit only three times. Nice job, O-line.
Checkdown #1: Win the Turnover Battle
What I'd like to see: Take the ball away from the Buccaneers more times than you give it to them. And be sure to score off those takeaways. Complementary football will compliment you with a win.
The Saints lost this battle with the only takeaway of the game being Ronde Barber's theft of the screen pass to Darren Sproles on the New Orleans 33-yard line in the third quarter. But the defense held up very well considering the circumstances, and only allowed them two net yards on the drive and then a long field goal.
It's also worth mentioning here that Tampa Bay did fumble three times (twice on the same punt return!), but recovered each of them before the Saints could get their mitts on them. Keep at it, boys!! Populate to the ball!! You'll get 'em next time.
Checkdown #2: Red Right Return
What I'd like to see: The Saints end up with more red zone TDs than the Bucs and a higher red zone TD percentage than the Bucs, too.
The Saints did score more red zone touchdowns than the Bucs (3-1), but both teams ended up with 50% red zone efficiency totals. That makes this one kind of a push or a split, but the Saints won the aspect of it that mattered, more total red zone touchdowns.
Safety Valve: Play and Coach Like It Actually Means Something
What I'd like to see: Good execution of plays, strong body posture among all players and coaches, running off the field after drives, not shouting at assistant coaches, Drew Brees not on his backside, and when/if it gets rough, keep cool under pressure.
It was quite obvious to me that they played this game entirely different from the last game against the Rams. The o-line protected Brees well and cleared running lanes for the running backs, and the defense tackled much better and contained the Buccaneers offense when it mattered.
Most telling was a sequence in the first half in which things could have gotten quite ugly or just felt like the same crap game they played against the Rams, but the team responded with determination and fired up a 14-point lead.
Allow me to explain. After Tampa's first drive failed, the Saints moved the ball into field goal range and their drive stalled as well. Then John Kasay doinked the kick off the right upright and I was cursing up a blue streak that chased Mrs. Hans from the room. I was beginning to get worried. Then the Saints defense allowed the Bucs to drive all the way to the Saints 29, and I was still cursing and maybe even spitting at this point, and I thought they would easily make the 4th and one conversion and go on for a TD.
Well, instead, the defense bowed up and stuffed the Bucs into a loss of yards and a fumble on that play, and then a quick 2:40 off the clock and 66 yards later, the Saints were up 7-0. This drive featured great plays by both Sproles and Pierre Thomas, who absolutely bowled over Aqib Talib as he took the ball inside the five-yard line.
Following this, the Bucs had a promising drive get into Saints territory before the defense held them on a third and long, forcing a punt that went for a touchback. Then the Saints offense marched right down the field for another touchdown with confidence and chutzpah: 6 plays covering 80 yards, and BAM!! just like that, it was a 14-0 ball game.
As I said above, this was a turning point in which the Saints could have folded like a cheap card table or schlumped through with a whimper, but they stood strong and made the plays to show they really wanted to win.
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By my count, the Saints outright aced two of these Hot Reads (Protecting Brees and Playing Like It Means Something), lost one of them (Turnovers), and if I grade it strictly, they pushed on the Red Zone Efficiency, but that was still enough to win.
So, how does that stack up with your observations and opinions on the game? Right on? Way off? Somewhere in between? Let's discuss it below, why don't we? Nobody's got any real work to do today, do they?