OK, Saints fans. It was great to finally see the team back in action against the Giants after that loooong bye week, and now they've got to turn it around quickly to get ready for Detroit in the Dome on Sunday night.
That means I had to turn it around quickly, too, to have this column ready to roll. Good thing I had Tuesday off work to git-r-done.
Make the jump for the analysis of my Hot Reads from the beautiful 49-24 Saints victory...
PRIMARY OPTION: PROTECT BREES
What I'd Like To See: No sacks and minimal hits on Brees, along with wide open passing lanes emanating from a clean, well-defined passing pocket that is maintained for the duration of the game.
CHECKDOWN # 1: COMMIT TO THE RUN
What I'd Like To See: The Saints need to make a concerted effort to actually use the running game as a significant portion of the offensive game plan. Over the course of the game, call enough runs to find someone with the hot hand and feed him the rock consistently. I'm calling for an absolute minimum of 25 carries by the team, and I'd really like to see at least 30.
How does 30 carries for 205 yards and 3 TDs grab you? That's not the rushing totals for the Giants, that's what the Saints offense DID TO THE GIANTS DEFENSE. Hey, wait, didn't someone call for a 30-carry commitment to the run? Oh yeah, that was me.
The Saints are still pass first (and probably always will be), as the first half rushing for the Saints was 13 carries for 80 yards and 0 TDs vs. 26 passes for 274 yards and 3 TDs, the Saints definitely ran the ball effectively, and sprinkled runs throughout all their drives. They never really fed anyone the rock (13 carries for Mark Ingram, and 8 each for Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas) or ran the ball for an entire drive, but the running game worked very well pretty much whenever they used it.
Let's call that as decent a commitment to the run as we're probably gonna get from the Saints.
CHECKDOWN # 2: MAKE MANNING MORTAL
What I'd Like To See: Creative and varied pressure packages (as well as the crowd noise described below) that force Manning into less than 50% completion rate, under 200 passing yards, and a couple of picks would just about do it, I think, and the delicious gravy on the sundae would be at least three sacks of him. C'mon Roman Harper, you know you want another one...
Eli Manning ended up with a couple of TDs, gaudy passing yards (406), a high completion percentage (70%) and 21 straight completions at one point in the game, but he also badly underthrew a ball in the red zone that Will Herring intercepted early in the game, and he certainly was unable to carry his team to victory. Manning was only hit three times and sacked once, but they were unable to string together consecutive scoring drives until the game was out of reach.
They didn't do it as well as I called for above, but they didn't let him win the game, either. For the sake of truthiness, I'll just call this an unsuccessful Hot Read.
SAFETY VALVE: LOUD AND PROUD
What I'd Like To See: Fueled by the above-mentioned factors, the crowd needs to step up and completely SHATTER all the decibel meters that are sure to be on hand in the Dome on Monday night. I'm talking rock concert and jet take-off levels, people. Make it impossible for Manning to audible at the line of scrimmage, or even call the play in the huddle. I want the silent snap count to have to be in effect from start to finish for the Giants. I want New York players false starting, Giant times out to be called early and often, and a Saints defense teeing off on a hamstrung and stunned New York o-line. I want the building to erupt with every big play the Saints make. Think you can do that? I know you can.
It wasn't quite loud enough to chase the Giants back into their shells whimpering, as pretty much none of that stuff above happened, but they did get at least one timeout burned by Manning in the first quarter, and Dave mentioned in one of his bullets that he thought it was the loudest right after the Giants failed fake punt attempt in the second half.
Looks like this is another failed Hot Read.
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Based on those grades, the Saints achieved two out of four of my Hot Reads, and they still won by 25 points. Nice job Saints, and Giants, good luck next week against the Packers!
As always, take the time and space below to let me know what you think of the Hot Reads and my assessment of them. Thanks!