Well then. I don't think there's anyone here that expected that. A slow start by the offense, a non-existent defense, and Heir Goodell's new pay-for-not-reffing policy all helped lead Robert Griffin III to one of the best quarterbacking debuts of all time.
Not to take anything away from the young man's game - he shredded apart the Saints defense, going 19 for 26(73%), 320 yards, 2 touchdowns for a 139.9 rating. He was the first rookie quarterback since 1950 to lead a team to 40 points in his debut. But certainly, the final nail in the cross was the Saints defense, once again, failing to make a big stop when they needed it. With just over 2:30 left to go in the fourth, trailing by 8, with one timeout left, the Saints defense allowed a 2nd and 14 pass from R2D2 to third string tight end Logan Paulson.
Make the jump for my thoughts on the game.
- Drew Brees. Outside of a few shaky passes (call it $100 million jitters), Brees did his best. He had pressure in his face all day long, and still managed to throw 300+ yards and 3 touchdowns. His first interception would have been caught by Jimmy Graham...except that it was Lance Moore running the seam route. Since he's clearly inhuman, I can't say that he must have forgotten that instead of his normal 6'7" beast, he was throwing to the sure-handed, yet considerably smaller 5'9" Moore. His second pick was a last-second, Hail Mary pass into the end zone, that was only a couple yards away from being a Jimmy Graham touchdown. Surprisingly enough, even on that last play, when the Redskins were dropping back for the pass, their 4-man front was still able to cut through the Saints offensive line like a hot knife through butter. Brees had to run for his life just to get the hail mary off, and the fact that he was that close speaks to his ability.
- Lance Moore. 6 catches, 120 yards and a touchdown. Helped move the ball down the field on the last two drives to give the Saints a chance. A couple of drops didn't help the cause, but those were early in the game and can be forgiven.
- Special Teams. 4 of 6 kickoffs went for touchbacks, Sproles ran 3 kickoffs out of the end zone for a total of 103 yards, 1 blocked punt, returned for a touchdown by Courtney Roby, and forcing the Redskins into a net punt average of 21 yards (for the record, Thomas Morstead had a net average of 48.8 yards)
What Didn't Work
- Offensive Line. I'll admit, I thought Ben Grubbs would slide in and make us forget about Carl Nicks altogether. Nope. The line looked like a bunch of third graders trying to stop the Purple People Eaters out there. It seemed like every play, Drew had two or three red shirts in his face. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan simply destroyed tackles Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief. The middle of the line looked like Swiss cheese. Unless this is fixed, it's going to be a long season for the $100 million man.
- Defensive Line. One sack. Against a rookie quarterback, with one of the leagues worst offensive lines. I saw Will Smith make one tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Spagnuolo's going to have to get more pressure from these guys if our defense wants to stay off the field.
- Secondary. Without Jabari Greer the Saints secondary got shredded. Johnny Patrick got injured early on, which didn't help matters. It was clear to see that Corey White was a rookie, but he wasn't nearly the only reason the Saints got beat deep that badly. Malcolm Jenkins still needs to show that he can be a play making safety. Roman Harper needs to work on his pass defense (still). Patrick Robinson made a nice play to get his hands on the ball on a deep pass to wideout Aldrick Robinson, but he couldn't quite haul it in on the way down. No Catching MFer!
- Running Game. 3.2 yard average on 10 carries is unacceptable. 1/6 of the plays run by the Saints today were runs. We've seen this team implode when they do this before, and it happened again. Without balanced play calling, the Saints scored too fast, giving RG3 plenty of time to tear apart the Saints defense.
- Offensive Drives. Five three and outs for the Saints, and one drive that ended after the first play (the first interception of the day for Brees). Two interceptions and a fumble on the day (giving them a -3 turnover margin). 13 drives, 4 touchdowns, one field goal. So much for the best offense in the league.
- Penalties. Five holding calls and three false starts. Drive killers. A questionable pass interference call on Roman Harper in the end zone practically gave the Redskins a touchdown (funny enough, a similar play on the next Saints drive happened, where Marques Colston was apparently wearing a Redskins snuggie, yet there was no call). And, possibly the stupidest penalty we will ever see this team take, a 12th man on the field on 4th and 5 for the Redskins, giving them a first down. The worst part? The twelfth player - Patrick Robinson - was jogging off the field. There was no sense of urgency. Which brings me to my last point.
- Interim Interim Head Coach Aaron Kromer. Time to step it up, big guy. You're the head coach for a National Football League team. You've gotta have some kahones if you're going to coach in this league, and Kromer just didn't show it this game. He seemed slightly disinterested and showed none of the fire or passion that Payton brings to the sideline. You can't allow your team to continually make stupid mistakes (false starts, holding calls), and not show any emotion. Want my advice? Make them run windsprints all day, every day until Friday. Then, teach that defense how to tackle. When the opposing team's punter can escape a tackle, something's wrong.
Are the Saints in trouble? Yes. Do we need to panic? No. Does the team have stuff to work on? Plenty. I think, though, that most of the problems are easy fixes, and that this team should pick up steam the rest of the season, making a deep postseason run.