Well, it seems Who Dat Nation is quite divided following the 27-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Some folks are calling the season over, given that the Saints seem to continue to find innumerable ways to lose (even with the refs and the fates conspiring to try and hand them a win in Lambeau). Others take solace in the fact that the Saints have been close to winning each week, and seem to be improving in some facets of the game, but just need to put it all together.
After breaking down my Hot Reads from the game, I find myself somewhere in between those two extremes, and wonder who else finds him/herself in that gray area as well. So why don't you read on and then let us know where you stand in the comment section?
PRIMARY OPTION - PROTECT DREW BREES
What I'd Like To See: The Saints must keep Brees upright and off the ground with time to throw, especially with ferocious sackmaster Clay Matthews (6 sacks in 2012) on the prowl, and with a sealed pocket to step into. From the stat sheet, that means 0 sacks and 0 INTs will be what does it.
What I Saw: A line that provided much better protection for the most part, giving Brees time to put up decent passing numbers, and his first interceptionless game of the season - hoowah!! But he did get sacked twice, so I'm going to call this a Hot Read: Partially Achieved.
CHECKDOWN # 1 - BIG PASSING PLAY PAYDAYS
What I'd Like To See: Either at least one huge scoring pass play (40 or more yards) or at least 5 big gains (25 or more yards) through the air. If they give me both, I might die from over-joy. And with the real refs back, I'll count defensive pass interference calls of 25 or more yards in this category.
What I Saw: One HUGE scoring play, alright. Breesus' 80-yard TD pass to Joe Morgan in the second half was pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good. Morgan sped right past the outside DB, and while the ball was a bit underthrown, he made a nice adjustment to bring it in, and then fought through some traffic at the end as they tried to take the ball away while failing at dragging him down before reaching the end zone. Hot Read: Achieved.
CHECKDOWN # 2 - RISE OF THE BACKUP-BACKUP LINEBACKER
What I'd Like To See: Good Will Herring is one of my favorite movies, and a good Will Herring is who needs to show up on the field. Six or more tackles, at least two for losses, and no major gaffes in pass coverage.
What I Saw: Almost no Will Herring. He notched one tackle, no tackles for losses, and made no obvious errors in pass coverage. He was listed as a starter but he seemed to have next to no impact on the game. Hot Read: Failed.
SAFETY VALVE - HOLD THE LINE
What I'd Like To See: An improving Saints defense that keeps the Packers' offense somewhere close to their 2012 season averages to date (within five points and 50 yards).
What I Saw: A defense that couldn't quite get it done. They did secure two takeaways that led to 10 Saints points (silver lining!) and held the Packers to only 24 more rushing yards than their average coming into the game (78). However, they gave up 319 passing yards (93 more than their average), and 28 points (vs. the 19 per game they were scoring). Toto would not be proud of the way they held that line. Hot Read: Failed.
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Two fully failed Hot Reads, one achieved, and one partially achieved. Looks like a recipe for a loss, and it was. Now you let me know what you think of this review, and what's your take on the season?