Well, my friends, it is finally here. NFL Week One Gameday 2012 (aka Washington's Armageddon) is upon us. Hallelujah and all praise be to Jesus1000.
** Let's also use this comment thread as our pre-pre-game open thread for discussing our current mood, plans for gameday food, drink and gear, and whatever else crosses our minds on this glorious morning!! **
It's the same thing, week in, week out, and season in, season out. The Saints are nothing if they cannot PROTECT DREW BREES. This year, there is one new piece of the O-line puzzle, with Pro-Bowler Ben Grubbs replacing the dearly departed All-Pro Carl Nicks at one of the guard positions. We've also got Brian De La Puente beginning the season entrenched as the starter at center, after taking over for the dearly departed quitter Olin Kreutz mid-season in 2011. The tackles will have their hands full trying to keep pass-rushing specialists Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan out of the backfield.
What I'd Like To See: The line keep Brees from being sacked, and to provide a nice, clean pocket into which Drew may step when he needs those precious extra seconds that will allow him to get the ball into the hands of our offensive playmakers.
Checkdown # 1
Ever since that horrific preseason game against the Jaguars that saw the Saints lose three linebackers to injury, they have been looking under rocks to find any qualified 'backers to play for them. It is for this very reason that I will be LOOKING AT THE LINEBACKERS very closely to see just who exactly plays while praying to Jesus1000 (that's two mentions of him in my first post of the regular season!) that they play well.
What I'd Like To See: I'm setting the bar very low here for a defense that is bound to experience some transitional growing pains as they work to master and implement new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's schemes. Be it upgrades Curtis Lofton or David Hawthorne, or serviceable retreads Jonathan Casillas, Will Herring, and Scott Shanle, or any combination of the above, all I'm asking for is that you don't make me scream in agony at the television at missed tackles, blown coverages, and being caught horribly out of position.
Checkdown # 2
I have a question for the rookie signal-caller who'll be starting for the Redskins today: HEY, R2D2!! R U READY FOR THE NFL? It could bode well for the Saints revamped D-line trying to generate enough pass rush to rattle a rookie as he tries to adjust to the speed of the game and the variety of exotic looks they'll give him to keep him off balance.
What I'd Like To See: A shaky performance from a rookie struggling to keep his feet under him - at least three sacks, under 55 for a completion percentage, and two or more interceptions. They also need to contain him from gashing them with play-saving runs, too (under 20 yards for the game).
This edition of safety valve is actually, very fittingly, A TALE OF TWO (SETS OF) SAFETIES. The Saints have Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper, who are looking to have big, playmaking years under Spagnuolo's zone schemes. On the other side, the visiting Redskins will be without the services of two of their safeties, the injured Brandon Meriweather, and the indefinitely-suspended Tanard Jackson.
What I'd Like To See: The Saints win the safety dance with their safeties getting more takeaways and pass breakups than the Redskins. Wait a minute, did I really type Safety Dance? Yes I did, and here come the Men Without Hats to celebrate with us (they're really hard up for exposure)...you're welcome.
And I must admit that in the re-watching of this video, I really would have liked to see the Highlander come storming through with his sword, slicing, hacking and stabbing at anything that moves.