In Sunday night's 31-24 victory over the San Diego Chargers, the New Orleans Saints notched their first win of the season and set some offensive records, to boot! They now go into the bye at 1-4, with a trip to Tampa Bay on the itinerary for October 21.
As it turns out, the Saints only needed to hit on less than one out of four Hot Reads this week to finally crack into the win column in 2012, and the breakdown of them follows.
PRIMARY OPTION - PROTECT BREES
What I'd Like To See: Much more of the same. I'm going to continue to ask them to up their game and allow Brees enough time and comfort to go sackless and interceptionless, FTW!!!
What I Saw: Things didn't look too good in this regard on the first drive, as an unblocked blitzer charged through and recorded a QB hit (probably a sack, too)-forced fumble on Drew. But while they finished with a total of three sacks and an interception of Brees (thereby making this a HOT READ: FAILED), it wasn't terrible for the whole game. At times, it looked decent, and at times it looked horrendous. If they don't improve, it remains to be seen whether the good can be JUST GOOD ENOUGH, which is beginning to be a theme of the 2012 season.
CHECKDOWN # 1 - BREAK THE RECORD WITHOUT THE RECORD BREAKING BREES
What I'd Like To See: The record broken early in the first quarter, and in the natural flow of the game (preferably as they cruise to a big first half lead), before it can become more of a distraction than it already is, and end up negatively impacting the game.
What I Saw: The same thing you did - a sweet, sweet 40-yard completion to Devery Henderson over the head of the cornerback, allowing Dev to jog into the end zone with the record-setting reception. It came with 2:58 left in the first quarter, and while it wasn't early, it was definitely in the natural flow of the game, and I hadn't even started sweating about it yet. The hardass in me says, HOT READ: FAILED, while the softer side of HansDat says, "meh, maybe you deserve partial credit." And since I'm still basking in the glow of the win, the final ruling is: HOT READ: PARTIALLY ACHIEVED.
CHECKDOWN # 2 - STOP THE DROPS AND ROLL
What I'd Like To See: Working from on average of three drops per game, I'm thinking they just need to do a little better here for a win, so I won't wildly ask for the cold turkey treatment, but allow them just one drop in this game, and that's it.
What I Saw: An unofficial HansDat count of four drops - two by Marques Colston (although he is totally forgiven for these in light of the other 9 catches, 131 yards, and 3 TDs in his body of work Sunday night), and then one each by Jimmy Graham and Joe Morgan. If this FAILURE of a HOT READ trend continues, though, the Saints will be lucky to reach 7-9.
SAFETY VALVE - CURE THEIR SECOND QUARTER SCORING BLUES
What I'd Like To See: The Saints outscoring the Chargers by at least 10 points in the second quarter. A shutout by the D would be nice, but I'll take it any way it comes...17-10, 21-3, 14-4, etc.
What I Saw: If I had been able to look in a mirror late in the second quarter, I would have seen a HansDat licking his chops at the prospect of hitting on this Hot Read in the final three minutes.
Allow me to set the stage - at the 2:52 mark, with the Saints having outscored the Chargers 7-3 thus far in the quarter, the Bolts had just missed 55-yard FG. Breesus and Krewe took over on the New Orleans 45, 1st and 10.
These guys are masters of the 2-minute drill and the sultans of scoring going into the half, so I just knew it was fixin' to be 21-10, which would leave the second quarter scoring at 14-3, Saints. And with the Saints getting the ball to open the second half, I was getting greedy and could almost already see 28-10 on the scoreboard early in the third quarter.
Welp, I guess there's a reason they actually play the downs, as the Saints proceeded to serve up a "complementary football s*** sandwich" of epic proportions in which successive failures by the offense and defense nearly put me under my chair. Ingram ran for four yards on first down (that's triple his average, right?), then incomplete to Greg Camarillo, followed by a third-down sack of Brees for a "drive" losing a net of nine yards while only using 1:04 of clock. Then after Thomas Morstead and the coverage unit pinned the Chargers at their 14-yard line, the defense gave up a 4-play, 86-yard touchdown drive to give the Chargers a 17-14 halftime lead. GULP. And this was before I knew Brees would throw an INT deep in Saints territory early in the first drive of the second half.
That makes this HOT READ not just a FAILURE, but a GLORIOUS FAILURE.
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It's a fine line between finding a way to win, and finding a way to lose, and I don't mind failed Hot Reads, as long as they coincide with the former.
What's your take on the game and these reads?