If the Saints get it this close on Sunday against the Bears, they need to punch it in. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Good morning, Saints Fans and CSC Readers. It's gameday, and I do believe I see 'smoked Bear' on the lunch menu.
Know what else should be on your gameday menu? A piping hot order of my Hot Reads for this week's game.
Returning readers know and new readers will now know that this post contains a list and description of four aspects to today's game that I feel to be crucial to a Saints victory. In the days after the game, you can look forward to the companion analysis piece that describes how these factors actually played out during the game, and assesses how much they impacted the outcome of the game.
Make the jump to read on and engage in discussion, attack, criticism, or even laudatory support/endorsement of the latest Hot Reads.
As promised in the first Hot Reads of the regular season, until the O-line does it consistently well, PROTECTING DREW BREES is going to be number one on this list.
The Packers got to Drew Brees more than I'm comfortable with (3 sacks, 6 hits, 7 passes defensed), and I feel very fortunate that it didn't cause him to implode into a bad statistical night with multiple picks, fumbles, and terrible throws as a result.
If Drew is under that kind of pressure again, or more like what the Bears were able to apply to Matt Ryan (5 sacks, 11 hits, 5 passes defensed, 1 interception - that the Bears eventually turned into a TD, and a Ryan fumble that Brian Urlacher scooped up and took to the house for a TD), it's going to be a long afternoon for Drew, the Saints, and us fans.
What I'd like to see: Drew Brees hardly touched by the Chicago Bear defense, with plenty of time to survey the field and pick apart the secondary.
Checkdown # 1
This one goes to the defense, and involves BETTER TACKLING to prevent big plays from the Bears.
Crappy tackling really undid the Saints last week, and if they do it again against the Bears, it could lead to big plays for them, which is what contributed greatly to both of the Bears's offensive touchdowns.
On their first touchdown, it took them only three plays to go 72 yards. The drive consisted of a Jay Cutler sack, followed by a 25-yard pass, then BOOM! that Matt Forte' screen pass that went 56 yards for the score.
The 3rd Quarter touchdown drive was a 7-play, 92-yard excursion, which sounds more like a solid drive, but they gained 80 of it on two plays: a 27-yard Forte' rush, and a 53-yard Devin Hester catch and run down to the Falcon one-yard line.
What I'd like to see: Crisp, clean, textbook-form immediate tackling by Saint defenders who are always close to the ball, thereby limiting the big plays from the Bears. Bonus Side Note: if the Saints special teams tackle poorly and give up another touchdown, the Saints will lose.
Checkdown # 2
What was most troubling to me in last week's game was the Red Zone Inefficiency, which must be corrected posthaste.
The Saint offense made five trips inside the Packer 20-yard line Thursday night, but came out of those trips with only one touchdown, two field goals, and two embarrassing stone-cold stops by the Packer "D" to show for it. To put it simply, this is unacceptable, especially on a night when Green Bay lit them up with a blistering, in-your-face, "you can't even hope to contain us, much less stop us" four touchdowns on four trips into the red zone, on their way to a 42-point output for the game.
What I'd like to see: If you saw my comment in Friday's Game Predictions thread, you know I called for a 66% or better red zone TD rate, and I'm sticking with that.
OK, New Orleans Saints ticketholders, this is your chance to help make a difference, as you need to make the Dome inhospitable to the visiting Bears.
I'm not talking about rudeness, insulting, hurtful, or dangerous actions against the Bears or their fans. They just need to know that they are in Who Dat Country, where offensive Bears are not allowed to hear themselves think. Not on first down, not on second down, and definitely not on third down, especially third and long.
What I'd like to see: Vintage Aaron Brooks (who, while putting up good QB stats, often had trouble running a crisp offense) - false starts, delays of game, and timeouts burned well before the end of the half and game.
The offensive personnel of the Bears need to be confused and bewildered, holding their arms up in the air as if to say "What do you expect of me? I can't even hear my own internal cries of panic!!" Seeing a Jay Cutler hissy-fit of frustration resulting from all this MAYHEM on his psyche (my favorite part of this award-winning commercial from this awesome, kick-a** series of ads is when he's blowing the whistle as he drives through the fence - just absolutely cracks me up!!) would be the cherry and whipped cream topping on the Sunday Sundae of Glee if this happens in the game.
Fans need to do like I did at the 2009 Tampa Bay game in the Dome: lose your voice before the end of the first quarter from all the yelling you do every time Chicago has the ball. No matter the result of the play, no matter the down and distance - MAKE IT LOUD!!!! Stomping and banging are also highly recommended.