Pierre Thomas bounced off, spun around, broke through, and also carried would-be Detroit tacklers for many yards after contact on Saturday night. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Here we are, on a Tuesday morning with the first 2011 NFC Wild Card edition of my Hot Reads Review following the Saints 45-28 win over the Detroit Lions. I know!! I'm excited, too!!
Settle down so you can still point and click, and then after the jump, we can dig into the analysis of just how much of an impact they had on the outcome of the game that sends the Saints on to San Francisco to play the 49ers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs this Saturday.
Primary Option - Protect Drew Brees
What I'd Like To See: Brees suffered four hits and two sacks when last these teams met, and I want the line to step it up even more and cut those numbers in half, while giving him a nice pocket to climb, open sight lines to see his receivers down the field, and unobstructed passing lanes to get the ball to them.
Well, they didn't cut the numbers in half. They didn't even trim the numbers. They allowed the exact same number of sacks and hits. The Lions brought pressure that forced some bad throws, Brees misfired on a couple of passes, and I'm really glad their DBs couldn't catch s***. But, the line and chippers did give him decent protection much of the time, and Brees did his usual deft pocket movement to get room to find his receivers downfield.
Based on the fact that they didn't cut the numbers, I can only give this Hot Read partial credit.
Checkdown # 1 - Run, Run, As Fast As You Can
What I'd Like To See: Close to 150 yards and at least two TDs out of the running game. I know Chris Ivory will get plenty of touches, Sean, but you've also GOT to make sure Pierre Thomas gets more than the pitiful two carries he had against Detroit in December.
In case you didn't notice, the Saints ran it pretty well on Saturday. Yeah, pretty well if pretty well actually means f****** awesome. Thirty five carries for 167 yards and 3 TDs. Oh yeah, PT got more than two carries, too - did you see that?
Hot Read: Achieved!
Checkdown # 2 - Big Plays, No Way
What I'd Like To See: The Saints defense limit them to no more than three plays of 20 or more yards.
The Lions had 20+ yard pass plays on each of their first three drives, and when they weren't making big plays, they were hitting medium-sized plays for 10+ yards. Don't even get me started on the night Calvin Johnson had - the Saints had absolutely no way to stop him. GAAAA!!!
Hot Read: A Hot Mess.
Safety Valve - Don't Fool Around On Third Down
What I'd Like To See: The Saints force the Lions into at least 15 third downs and allow no more than four of them to be converted into first downs, with at least six punts.
The Lions faced 10 third down plays, and converted seven of them, punting only three times. I pretty much swung at and missed all three pitches on this one read.
Hot Read: FAILED.
Bonus Hot Read - Hang On To The Ball, Y'all
What I'd Like To See: More of the same, boys. No giveaways. Just practice ball security - Brees has tossed a few INTs in the last couple of games, so he needs to be smart with his throws, and everyone needs to hang on tight and watch out for your blind side.
Two Saint fumbles in the first half - Marques, GAAA!!! Drew, GAAA!!! But yay, defense!!!! They forced punts following both takeaways. And then Jabari Greer takes it on himself to singlehandedly even up the turnover margin with two second half INTs of Matthew Stafford, which led to one TD and the game-ending drive.
As much as I'd like to give myself at least partial credit, this Hot Read is also a FAIL.
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OK, so as it turns out in this week's game, my Hot Reads were not all that important. An achievement rate of 1.5 out of 5 (30%) still added up to a Saints victory. Dang!! Who Dat? More like How Dat?? Let's discuss below...