Welcome to the final regular season edition of HansDat's Hot Reads Review. For those of you who aren't famlliar with how this works after 16 weeks of it plus a midseason review, let me take you to school...
After the jump, you'll find the quote boxes of what I wanted to see for each Hot Read I laid out on Sunday before the game, followed by a statistical breakdown of what actually happened, and then my grade of it. At the end, I total them up and we see just how much these Hot Reads did or did not impact the outcome of the game.
Primary Option: Protect Drew Brees
What I'd Like To See: Protection commensurate with their current averages (and if he throws a lot, it needs to be even better): a maximum of one sack and a couple of hits, and a combination of good line blocking, chips on the ends, solid running game, and some more of Brees's patented fancy footwork to allow him the time to do what he needs to do through the air to move the ball and win this game.
Well, 0 sacks and 0 QB hits is about as good as it gets, and you saw what Brees did with that kind of protection. Thank you, boys.
Checkdown # 1: Cage the Cats' Running Game
What I'd Like To See: This time, I'm calling on the newly-confident run defense to lock down the Panthers running game to under 100 yards and hold it to 1 TD.
Um, they held them to under 100 in the second half, does that count? Nope. Giving up 164 yards and 6.8 yards per carry does not count. They did, however, limit them to only one TD for the game, so based on the second half showing and the scoring of only one TD, I'm calling this one PARTIALLY ACHIEVED.
Checkdown # 2: Third Down Shutdown
What I'd Like To See: The Saints defense getting off the field at least two out of three times on third down.
This one was ACHIEVED BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS. The Saints didn't allow a single third down conversion by the Panthers in the game. Not one. Five times they got to third down, and five times they were denied. Those stops caused four punts and a FG. That's pretty damn effective, I'd say.
Safety Valve: Run Big or Go Home
What I'd Like To See: Around five yards per carry, a couple of rushing TDs, and 120+ rushing yards from the Saints ground game.
I feel like Gary Wright, the motherflippin' Dream Weaver. Why? Because I had to rub my eyes and pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dream weaving when I read the Saints rushing stats. 35 carries for 208 yards and a TD. 35 carries? Are you kidding me? And that's 5.9 yards per carry, homes. They didn't get the couple of TDs I asked for, but I'm not complaining. They ran big enough, and sent the Panthers home.
Bonus Hot Read: Take Away The Big Play
What I'd Like To See: The Saints defense give up no plays of over 20 yards, especially no scoring plays over 20 yards.
This one wasn't even close. The Saints gave up the exact same number of 20+ yard plays as they did in Carolina (four, which is four more than I called for), but at least they gave up less TDs on them (1 this time vs. 2 in the first game). Here's what they were: Jonathan Stewart's 29-yard TD run, a 20-yard run by DeAngelo Williams, and then 20- and 22-yard receptions by Steve "I sure told off Sean Payton, didn't I?" Smith. OK, Stevie boy. But who got the last word and the last laugh? Wait, what? What's that, Steve? Nothing to say? Punk-a** b****. Enjoy the offseason.
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Alrighty, then! That makes a combined 3 out of 5 Hot Reads achieved, and that added up to a 45-17 record- and back-breaking win over the Carolina Panthers to end the 2011 regular season on a very high note. Not great, but pretty good - I'll take it.
Now you give me your read on these Hot Reads and my assessment. And you'd better hurry, because Wild Card Saturday and the Detroit Lions are coming up on us awfully fast.