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Breaking It Down - The First Half

It's time to get down and dirty and analyze this game a little better. I watched the game on my Tivo and tried to pick up on things I missed while actually at the game. Here is what I saw in the first half.

Best QB in the league. (Getty Images)

Saints Offense First Drive

  • Pierre Thomas makes a decent kick return for 33 yards to the 33 yard line.
  • On the first play from scrimmage, Deuce takes it up the middle for 4 yards. Typical Deuce. That's the last we see of him for a while.
  • Reggie gets a pitch to the left side and gains a yard. He might have been able to bounce it a little further outside but gets taken down by Will Demps. Campbell gets beat quickly by Mario Williams on the right side, but it doesn't matter because he's so far away from the play.
  • Weatherford punts it away to New Orleans native Jacoby Jones who bobbles the punt. Usama Young is right in front of his face but slips feet first into Jones. The ball pops out of a scrum and Troy Evans comes up with it.
  • First down now from the 10 yard line. Bush gets a hand off and tries the left side. Mario Williams is already in the backfield after getting past Jammal Brown. Brown seems to go straight for a linebacker and ignores Williams. Reggie tries to cut it back to the inside but by now, Will Demps has arrived to put an end to that idea as Bush falls forward.
  • Three receiver's stacked on the left side (Colston, Henderson, Patten). Brees throws a quick out to Colston on the left side. Patten and Devery are the two blockers. Houston reads the play quickly and the secondary immediately comes in to help. Patten and Henderson can't handle it and Colston is stopped after only 2 yards.
  • Brees drops back to pass and has plenty of time. It's unfortunate our o-line can't run block as great as it pass blocks. Not sure if it has to be a trade off or not, but its probably best that they are better pass blockers and protect Brees. He hits Mark Campbell right in the numbers but DeMeco Ryans is blanketing Campbell and has one of his hands in Campbells back pocket. Probably pass interference but no call.

Review: Slow start for the offense. It all looked sloppy and the team didn't seem ready to play. This drive was pretty much 2 three and outs. Nice to see special teams recover the fumble. Payton always stresses turnover ratio and it always helps to be on the winning side of that stat.

Saints Defense First Drive

  • The Texans start on their own 20. Schaub short pass in the soft spot over the middle to Kevin Walter. Shanle takes him down.
  • Schaub drops back to pass. The line actually gets good pressure and Will Smith is right in Schaub's face. Sedrick Ellis also bursts in late and pressures Schaub. He is forced to throw it away. This is the only significant pressure the first teamers will get all game.
  • Chris Taylor gets a pitch to the left side. It takes about four Saints to get him down, including Jason David. Texans pick up the first down.
  • On 3rd and eight, Schaub passes to the left side to Andre Davis who runs out of bounds. David was soft on the coverage and got beat to the sideline by Davis. 14 yards. The fans boo. Payton is standing right there on the sidelines in front of the action. Very frustrating play on third down.
  • Two plays later and its David getting beat...again. This time its Kevin Walter. David, perhaps a little overeager after the earlier play, dives to make a play on the ball, but it fails. Walter turns it around and upfield for 17 yards total. David looks weak on trying to make the tackle from behind. More booing.
  • Taylor runs up the right side. Sedrick Ellis beats his man and gets good penetration. With one arm free he attempts to grab Taylor but a nice spin move causes Ellis to miss.
  • On the very next play, Schaub goes over the middle to Walter on the goal line. Jason David is out of position yet again with too much separation and he can't bring down Walter before the end zone. David is the deepest defender and no safeties are around for help. Even louder booing as this drive is reminiscent of the Colts game last season.

Review: The Texans seemed to deliberately pick on Jason David's side, not forgetting last years mid-season match-up. In fairness, Matt Schaub looked pretty sharp on the drive.

Saints Offense Second Drive

  • Second play of the drive and Reggie runs it to the outside for 6 yards. He runs out of bounds.
  • On the next play Brees hits Patten deep for 39 yards. Brees is so amazing as he gently puts it right over Patten's shoulders and into his waiting arms. The timing between quarterback and receiver, when done properly, can be an amazing and wonderful thing of beauty. Patten makes a great catch and always seems to look so smooth and confident. He has great technique. This game made me realize how good Patten actually is.
  • A few plays later and its a quick in to Devery Henderson on the left side. Guess what Devery does with it. Drops it.
  • Next play is a short pass to Bush on the right side. Goes right through his hands and bounces off his helmet. Ugh.
  • Yet another drop on the next play as Campbell gets hit immediately at the goal line. The hit obviously jarred him, but he really should have held onto the ball.

Review: This is why I think this play by play recap is great, because I didn't even notice this at the game. Three straight passes and three straight drops that should have been catches. I don't even know what to say. I just can't believe we are still dealing with the same stupid problems as last year. After this game, I'm not even really sure we have made any improvements at all.

Saints Defense Second Drive

  • On the first play, Schaub passes over the middle as the ball goes right through a leaping Shanle's hands. Should have come up with the interception.
  • On the very next play, 3rd and eight, its Schaub, yet again, to Jason David's side and into the hands of Andre Davis for 12 yards. It was the same exact play called and run as the 3rd and eight play in the Texans first drive. Exact route, exact blown coverage, and exact crappy result. I am Saintsational's silent rage. More booing.
  • Next play and its Schaub on a bootleg to the right. He finds TE Owen Daniels over the middle on a crossing route. Again, a dink and dunk in the soft spot behind the linebackers. A nice 16 yards.
  • After a penalty, the Saints blitz and Owen Daniels make another catch over the middle. Vilma and Harper are quickly on him.
  • Next play, the first of the second quarter, its Kevin Walter on a crossing route in the flat. Tracy Porter can only chase him.
  • Three straight play action, short dink and dunk passes later and the Texans are up by 8. It was just too easy. The good news is that it didn't seem to be the secondary's fault.

Review: Saints were 0/3 on third down while the Texans were 4/4 in the first quarter. Quite a contrast. The inability of the Saints to get off the field on third and longs is crucial. Twice on 3rd and 8 the Texans completed identical out routes against Jason David on the left side, keeping both drives, which inevitably lead to scores, alive. Replace him with a corner with better coverage skills who can make those plays and that is twice the Saints defense gets off the field quickly and keeps the Texans scoreless. Change those two plays and this entire game looks completely different. Schaub pretty much did whatever he wanted. Last week I was worried about the quick, short passes in between coverage and this week was more of the same. Yes, the secondary needs serious help, but I think it is drawing attention away from the dink and dunk stuff that is also killing us. I didn't realize Tracy Porter saw some time with the first team. He wasn't impressive.

Man on a mission. (Getty Images)

Saints Offense Third Drive

  • After two Reggie runs to the outside for 6 and 7 yards respectively, Brees hits Campbell over the middle and gains some extra yardage after the catch. A little redemption for Campbell after his earlier drop and better still, no back injury.
  • This drive ends with the Reggie Bush catching a screen pass and using Jacques Reeves has a hurdle. Not only am I on board the Reggie train, but I'm driving the damn thing.
  • Review: This is exactly how Reggie needs to be used. The play prior to his touchdown was a failed run attempt up the middle for a measly 2 yards. Forget that stuff for Reggie. Reggie can hurdle over guys and land cat like on his feet. Deuce, Pierre and even Stecker cannot. Deuce, Pierre and even Stecker can run it up the gut and carry a couple of people with them, somehow turning what looks like 2 yards into 6. Reggie cannot. Just play to their strengths. That goes for the entire team. Will someone please tell me I'm wrong?

    Saints Defense Third Drive

    • First play of the drive and guess where guess who finds guess who, yet again for 20 yards. Over the middle, Matt Schaub, Kevin Walter. Now here is the crazy part. It's a play action, and Vilma is watching and on his way in. The second he realizes its a pass, he turns right around and starts heading toward the backfield. He got there so quickly, practically outrunning the ball, that he actually makes a play to tip the ball and reaches Kevin Walter at the same time that Porter does! It was Porters man! I swear on my mother (who is probably reading this right now...seriously). If you've got a recording of the game, check it out. The play starts with 9:33 on the clock in the 2nd quarter. I want someone to prove my story.
    • A little later, Owen Daniels catches a screen pass and takes it for 21 yards. Scott Shanle had a chance to wrap up his feet but whiffed.
    • The drive stalls when Jason Craft wraps up his guy after a short catch. Craft is starting to look better and better at this point. Texans settle for a field goal.

    Review: It's all about that Vilma play. Though the end result sucks, I think that says a lot about his talent. This was his first game back, so maybe after getting the rust off, those plays will have happier endings.

    He's baaaaaaaack.(Getty Images)

    Saints Offense Fourth Drive

    • Deuce comes back. This drive was very promising with regards to Mr. McAllister. He has runs of 3, 5 and 4 yards along with two receptions of 4 and 6 yards. On the five yard run, Deuce stops and cuts to change direction and looks fine doing it. Choir sings "Hallelujah" Immediately after the run is the two-minute warning. On his walk back to the sideline, he is all smiles as Brees and Karney congratulate him. Remember it, because I think that was the play. He and everyone else knows it. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a running back!
    • Here is some good news: Devery gets his arms underneath and makes a nice sliding catch on an under thrown ball that almost hits the ground.
    • Colston uncharacteristically drops a short pass. Then comes the other big play of the night. Brees lofts it up in the end zone and Colston reaches out, pulls it down and tucks it in. His other hand touched the ball for all of about a quarter of a second. Colston's left arm isn't really even necessary, its just a nice luxury. Do you think if Colston lost an arm in some weird accident that he could still play wide receiver? Colston could be the spokesman for Elmer's Glue. Did you guys know that I love Colston?

    Review: Good stuff. I liked this drive. Because of the whole Deuce thing, this drive could very well have determined the fate of this teams running game.

    I think we all feel the same way about the game, so I won't beat a dead horse (where the hell did that saying come from). We should all be upset with the defense after this showing, but I don't think it necessarily means the season is already in the trash. We should keep in mind that McKenzie still isn't back and that can make a huge difference. Also, both Randall Gay and Usama Young left the game early with injuries.

    What do you guys think? What do you gather from all of this knowledge I am dropping on you? What are your feelings about this post?