New Orleans Saints 14 @ Houston Texans 27: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Saints are going to be okay.

Quite a change of pace from the Saints steamrolling of San Francisco last week, huh? I guess that's what happens when the opposing coach calls ahead of time to check in with Sean Payton. 

Unlike their impressive performance last week - and more like their pitiful performance against the Seahawks in last years playoffs - the Saints defense looked like absolute crap last night in the teams 27-14 loss to the Houston Texans. They gave up a whopping 208 yards rushing and couldn't tackle worth a damn, as Houston's running backs gashed them for big chunks of yardage at a time. On top of that, pass coverage was poor and a lack of depth at safety was exposed. 

But hey, don't say I didn't warn you last week:

But should we really get excited about their performance in this one game? The Niners aren't exactly a great team and they were probably just as surprised as they were unprepared to find Gregg Williams calling plays like it's the NFC Championship Game right from the coin flip. Let's take the cautiously optimistic route and temper above normal levels of enthusiasm until we see another game or two.    

The good news is that it's only preseason and there's still plenty of time to right the ship before any real damage can be done. More good news is that the running game looks powerful and the offense as a whole seems to be heading in the right direction. Also keep in mind that the Saints and Texans will be facing off against each other for real in Week 3 of the regular season, so both teams were assuredly holding back. 

Make the jump for my thoughts and observations. Then share your own in the comment section below. 

The Good

  • Courtney Roby looked pretty solid in his kick returning duties. 
  • The bad news for Roby, however, is that wide receiver Joe Morgan continued to shine last night, threatening to take that fifth WR spot away from Courtney. Morgan was on the receiving end of a beautifully thrown 56-yard touchdown pass from Chase Daniel after beating Danieal Manning decisively. Even after Chase Daniel threw an interception, Morgan was running down the play and attempting to strip the ball from the defender. Unfortunately, Morgan finished the game on the sidelines with a wrap around his hamstring.   
  • The best part of last night's loss to the Texans, other than the play of Joe Morgan, was most definitely the success of the running game. Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles all looked good. The offense did an excellent job of spreading the ball around to each of them and mixing it up. They were helped by some pretty decent sized holes and solid run blocking. 
  • Drew Brees still didn't look amazing but definitely showed signs of improvement over last week. The offense's first drive would have been perfect and probably would have ended with a touchdown if Brees had done a better job of protecting the football in the face of pressure instead of putting it on the ground and allowing a turnover. He and Meachem were finally able to connect on the deep ball as well with a 43-yard pass and catch. 

 

The Bad

  • Darren Sproles had a hard time keeping his hands on more than one screen pass from Drew Brees. They may not have been perfect throws but they were still catchable balls. That's an easy fix but certainly something that needs to happen. 
  • There were way too many penalties called last night, most of which were deserved. That's to be expected in preseason games however, so it's not something I'm too worried about. That should see improvement by the time the regular season roles around. 
  • Sean Canfield might not even be worth a practice squad roster spot. I'm not impressed.
  • My feelings also haven't changed for Chase Daniel. He's just too inconsistent for my taste. On one long pass to Joe Morgan he looks brilliant, while on another pass attempt he's overthrowing his receiver and getting intercepted. You just never know which Chase your going to get during any given game and most of the time, it's both.
  • As far as the free safety position is concerned, it's Malcolm Jenkins or bust. Paul Oliver was also given a big opportunity last night when he was pegged to start at free safety in the absence of Malcolm Jenkins. He tripped up a bit, getting beat by Andre Johnson for a 40-yard reception and missed an open field tackle on Arian Foster, who wound up scoring a touchdown. It was so bad I think they actually put Malcolm Jenkins into the game to replace him. Not positive about that, though. Perhaps the Saints should make a move and bring back Darren Sharper.
  • If you think Ed Hochuli is a crappy referee during the regular season, you ought to see him during the preseason. He clearly missed the interference call on the Houston defender who tackled receiving option Darren Sproles at the line of scrimmage. Drew Brees and Sean Payton were not happy campers.  
  • Jonathan Casillas got the start over Scott Shanle at outside linebacker. He didn't seem to make much of his opportunity or much of an impact. The battle continues. 
  • Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin has suffered an MCL injury, meaning he should be out at least 3-4 weeks. 

 

The Ugly

  • Tackling all around was just horrid. Lots of missed tackles by veterans and rookies a like. I expected this kind of play last week during the first preseason game.
  • Charles Brown had one hell of a bad night. When the general manager of the team is in the booth and notes during the live broadcast that it looks like you didn't know the snap count, that's not a good sign. As far as the left tackle position is concerned, I would say it's Zach Strief's job to lose at this point. But there is little to no depth behind the starting tackles so we might all want to be little worried.
  • I don't care who the Saints are playing and what time of year they're playing them, turning the ball over three times is never acceptable. You can never expect to win when ball security doesn't seem to be a priority. 
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