With the second game under their belts now and a 2011 victory skin hanging on the wall, it's time to look at my 'Hot Reads' and see how they turned out.
Make the jump for an analytical review of my 'Hot Reads' from the Bears game.
Primary Option: Protect Brees
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.
Ask, and ye shall receive. Brees was only hit twice and sacked once by the Bears defense, on his way to a stellar performance with very few mistakes (to borrow from French Freak's gameday comment). And the one sack they recorded was not very impactful - it came on second down in the first quarter, and then on the very next play, Drew hit Devery Henderson on that sweet 79-yard touchdown.
I'll go ahead and say the protection was very good, and played a large role in this victory. If the Protectors of Brees can keep this up, the offense should keep posting big points every week.
Checkdown # 1: Better Tackling
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.
Tackling was a bit better than in the opener, but it still left much to be desired, and this will continue to be an area to work on, as a better offensive team will make the Saints pay more than the Bears did.
As I scanned the play-by-play, I noticed a lot of yards gained after the catch by Matt Forte and some of the other Bears receivers. The two biggest-gaining plays were the 42-yard Forte run, and a 30-yard catch by Johnny Knox, and both of those occurred on Bears scoring drives.
But, overall the defense did well to limit the Bears big plays, and they did not allow ANY big scoring plays at all, which contributed significantly to the win.
Note on the Bonus Side Note: Kudos to the special teams - Morstead and the coverage guys - for taking Devin Hester and the Bears return game completely out of the picture - NEUTRALIZED, it was.
Checkdown # 2: Red Zone Inefficiency
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.
The Saints didn't quite reach my goal of 66% Red Zone TDs, but they did improve upon the abysmal 20% (1 of 5) from the first game to a 50% conversion rate on Sunday (2 of 4). Also, looking at a first half/second half breakdown of them shows just how important they are.
In the first half, the Saints were 0-2 in the red zone, coming away with two Kasay field goals, and the Bears were right there, only trailing at the half by six, 16-10.
But in the second half, Brees and Co. converted TDs on both trips into the red zone, and outscored the Bears 14-3 to put the game away.
While they did better than last week, and did enough to win today, I still think that the Saints need to hit touchdowns on 66% of their red zone trips, especially while the defense continues to hone the craft of tackling.
Safety Valve: Dome Inhospitality
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.
Well done, Saints fans!! Seems to me you really did your job on Sunday. Dave was hoarse for the post-game podcast, and I imagine most of the fans left the game the same way. I heard roaring early and often, and I think it helped the Saints directly (interfering with the Bears players' ability to communicate with each other and fire off the line at the snap) and indirectly (pumping up the Saints defense)
I used to love leaving a Saints game with almost no voice and talk-shouting with and high-fiving other happy hoarse Saints fans on the concourses and around the Dome, so I hope you had that experience as well.
Jay Cutler and the Bears had to burn two timeouts in the first quarter, ON THE SAME DRIVE. I know they ended up scoring a touchdown on that drive (defensive penalties - GAAAAA!!!), but I believe the seeds were planted then that led to me observing quite a few Cutler-tantrums on the sideline throughout the game (thrown towels, shaken heads, looks of dismay and bewilderment, animated discussions with coaches/players).
There weren't too many penalties on the Bears, but late in the game, they came in bunches to thwart any thought the Bears had of making the game close, or even getting one cheap touchdown at the end - three false starts in the fourth quarter by the Bears, which I'd say were due to a combination of the crowd noise and the relentless pressure brought to bear on the Bears by Gregg Williams and the Saint defense.
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There you go, CSCers. Now let me know what you think of the analysis...did I miss any aspects of those aspects in the game? Do you agree with my assessments and observations?