Some thoughts following the Saints' second preseason game:
- The Saints' offense looked impressive, possessing the ball for 12 minutes during the first quarter. Drew Brees was 12-14 in passing for 118 yards, Devery Henderson caught 3 balls for 52 yards and Reggie Bush had 5 touches for 41 yards. This is the offense that Saints fans have envisioned all off-season.
- While the starting offense only netted 3 points, the total could easily have been 10. Buffalo's Langston Walker blocked one of Olindo Mare's field-goal attempts; Brees also overthrew Devery Henderson in the end zone. I think those mistakes can be chalked up to rustiness. Henderson also pulled his hamstring on the play, but is listed as day-to-day.
- The playcalling was much more aggressive during this game, as opposed to the first. This was much more indicative of Sean Payton's style as a coach and play-caller.
- The starting defense didn't see much time (primarily due to the dominance of the offense). Jason David looked solid, but unspectacular. Roman Harper had four tackles, including a stick of Anthony Thomas. The Bills didn't throw much at them, but they handled basically everything.
- Tyler "Footsteps" Palko was given a great opportunity to distinguish himself, and he may have succeeded in doing just that. His numbers weren't great -- 15-27 for 172 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions -- but he moved the team down the field impressively during his first drive, which started at the Saints' 3. That drive ultimately ended with Palko throwing a pick in the end zone, his first errant throw of the evening, and the first-time he looked like an undrafted rookie. Palko also ran for 47 yards. Depending on the performance of Jason Fife in practice and in his preseason game, as well as Palko's demonstration of his ability to learn from this experience, he may have nudged ahead of Fife in the 3rd string QB competition. After the game (which inspired the TP to call him a "winner"), his coach had this to say about him:
I thought Tyler did a decent job ... He showed a comfort level out there and some poise, but he has to do a better job protecting the football. There's a lot he can learn from watching this tape.
- Robert Meachem scored his first pro touchdown. The play was a 2-yard fade route, one that he had run frequently at Tennessee. Meachem also made an 18-yard third down reception, but seemed slightly disappointed about his performance (give him plenty of credit for this -- he's either genuinely a team-guy, or is well-schooled in the cliches). Here were his comments after the game:
It's a big relief off my shoulders, but I still have a lot of work to do. I scored a touchdown, but it wasn't enough. I missed two balls I should have had earlier in the game. And we didn't win.
- The Bills' aggregate quarterback numbers: 19-24 for 96 yards. Doesn't necessarily mean anything, since the Saints got decent pressure on them -- 3 sacks -- just a statistical oddity.
- One disturbing statistic that is emerging: 2 games played, 0 turnovers forced. The Saints' defense must do a better job of forcing turnovers, particularly since it was one of the focuses of the team's off-season.
- Though the final score didn't indicate it, the depth concerns weren't very apparent today. The Saints' starters outgained the Bills 132-19. The Saints' backups also won the yardage battle 241-177. Factor in Brees' overthrow, Palko's interception and Mare's blocked kick, and it's easy to imagine the Saints winning the game comfortably.
- Given the Saints' relative dominance in yardage, were this game held in the regular season, it would have been a somewhat troubling loss. But, it being a preseason game, there was plenty of evidence of that indicated that the Saints are gelling as a team. Hence, yesterday's preseason game was Progress as Promised.