I know most of you have the same internal battle going on- your heart wants to believe we're making another miracle 2009 run, but your head screams that this is going to be 2010 again. Well, being that we're already a whole 2 weeks into the season, I said to myself, "Self, you need to analyze some basic statistics for the first two games of those two years, and compare them to those of this year. I looked solely at offense and defense, choosing to ignore ST completely (there were no ST TDs for or against the Saints in any of the three years for the first two weeks, so I feel vindicated). I looked at Passing yards and rushing yards, both for and against, passing and rushing touchdowns, INTs thrown and caught, and fumbles lost and recovered. So, onto the stats.
Some things I took away from these statistics:
- Brees is worse. Granted, Brees had 6 touchdown passes against the hapless Lions in week 1 of the 09 season, but he's thrown for the same amount of touchdowns as 2010 while amassing more interceptions in the first two weeks than 2009 and 2010 combined. His yards are still up, but clearly we're seeing a decline in his ability to put the ball where only his guy can come down with it.
- Where is the run game? In 2009, led by Mike Bell, the Saints came away with almost 300 yards of rushing offense through 2 games, to go along with 2 rushing touchdowns. They have barely half that number this year, and haven't been able to punch one in on the ground yet, despite a few goal line situations. Losing fumbles hasn't been much of an issue for them in the first two weeks, losing just one against the Eagles in week 2 of the 09 season.
- We found a pass rush! In 2009, our boys were the recipients of some favourable ball luck, and some rookie quarterbacks, amassing 6 interceptions against rookies Matthew Stafford and Kevin Kolb. They were still getting beaten like a redheaded stepchild in terms of yards, allowing almost 500 yards of offense through the air to the rookies, something they've drastically changed this year. Allowing almost 100 fewer yards of passing offense, combined with 4 sacks and two INTs, this defense is a much stronger overall unit than 2009, let alone the weak showing by the 2010 D.
- Running Wild. The Saints defense allowed more yards to Doug Martin on Sunday than they did to both the Lions and Eagles combined in that magical season. Even with Doug Martin as the only bright spot on that Tampa Bay offense, you'd think the boys in the trenches could stop somebody before they got to the line of scrimmage, at least once in a while. They are doing a decent job forcing and recovering fumbles, with one in each game so far.
- Turnover battles. In 2009, the defense came away with 7 turnovers (6 INT, 1 Fum Rec) over two games. In 2010, that number dropped to 5 (3 INT, 2 Fum Rec), and then to 4 this year (2 INT, 2 Fum Rec). Conversely, the offense had 3 turnovers in 2009 (2 INT, 1 Fum Lost), none in 2010 and 3 this year, all INTs. The 2009 team relied on turnovers, especially from an aging Darren Sharper, in order to get their offense back on the field. The 2013 version forces punts, and is making life easy on Brees and the offense, allowing an average of only 15.5 points per game against.
- TOP Monsters. In all 3 years, the Saints have held a healthy margin in the TOP battle, leading by 4 minutes in 2010, the smallest margin of the three years. In 2009, this was mostly attributed to a large amount of turnovers, although the beastly running game definitely helped. This year, it's more due to a stifling defense and a sputtering offense that makes just enough plays to stay on the field.