From the outset: I was not at the game on Friday night, nor was I able to watch it on TV live as it was not televised and I was working.
Coach Sean Payton made a good point in his post game presser on Friday night after the New Orleans Saints beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17-13 in the first preseason game of the year, his first game on the sidelines since a playoff game over a year ago. He stated, "you have expectations yet its a preseason game."
Coach Payton is a complete coach. A genius on the field for all of you who have forgotten the onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl a little while back. This had to be a difficult task coming off a one-year suspension. Beyond that, other coaches have taken some of the heat as well. The special teams coach, Greg McMahon, also received some heat via Twitter (at least on my feed). Special teams gave up big yardage by giving the Chiefs a 55-yard punt return and a 77-yard kickoff return. Even in preseason, this is horrid. Its unacceptable for both to happen, let alone in the same game. Payton is correct. The coaches deserve a good deal of the criticism for the sloppiness.
On defense, I have to be critical of the critics on one point: the defense didn't generate pressure. I don't see 4 sacks and 135 yards of total offense allowed following the first series the same way. The Saints defense forced the Chiefs to take small chunks of the field most of the way and beyond a short run for a touchdown by Jamaal Charles, they had to settle for field goals the rest of the way, even behind Chase Daniel, the Saints former backup to Drew Brees. The defense, like all areas of the game for the Saints, was sloppy. There is plenty to fix but to compare this defense to last year's at this stage of the game is amateur. We can all agree there is a great deal of cleaning up and learning to do but let's not over due it.
On the offensive side of the ball, I will say I feel quite worried for two reasons. I don't think the Saints run game is anywhere close to the stage it should be at this time. Simply put, the run game stunk even for a preseason game. Maybe I am a bit overly dramatic here but I may lose sleep over my optimism for this rushing group, and how they performed Friday night. Give me a break.
I am also not as high on Preston Parker as the average fan. He had a game that the coaches are going to re-watch a few times. He was definitely the receiver of the night on both sides of the ball. I just feel the receiver picture is a bit too muddled at this point for us to pan him as the next great Saints receiver. It is almost guaranteed that another receiver will step up in the game next week vs the Raiders and muddy the picture in this position battle even more. This is the area where I do not envy the coaches during the roster cuts to the final 53 men. Talk about losing sleep. One could make a case for keeping every guy in this position group. But cuts have to be made.
It's one game. The first preseason game of the 2013 season. The coaches have a lot to digest and a ton of film to watch. We will either see minor changes and improvements or a dramatic demolition/domination, depending on your expectations. If we have the right mixture, the team will progress and clean up all the way to the first game against the rival Falcons. Whatever your expectations, there is no doubt it is yet another historic opportunity for the black and gold to lead us into the next chapter of New Orleans Saints history. Just don't be surprised. By anything.
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