Today we continue with the second half of our in-depth analysis of last weeks pre-season game against the Bengals. Here we go.
Saints Defense First Drive
- After Mehlhaff finally boots one into the endzone for a touchback the Bengals start from their own 20 yard line. Their first play is a run to the right side. Randall Gay makes a nice tackle coming in for support as the play only gains 3 yards.
- Another run up the right side and Chris Perry hits a big hole and gains 13 yards for the first.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, now the quarterback, tries the left side but Harper and Porter are all over it. Nice coverage. Very un-Jason David like.
- The Bengals then try a run up the middle but Fujita does a great job stuffing it at the line.
- On third down Fitzpatrick completes one to Chatman who is in the gap between the line of scrimmage and the secondary. Vilma brings him down from behind just shy of the first down. Bengals punt.
Review: Glad to see the defense still looks good after the half. The run defense wasn't so hot but, and I can't believe I am going to say this, the pass defense came through for us. I think Vilma has been looking pretty good but he just does a lot of things that don't usually get noticed. I'm a fan. I think it would be safe to buy his jersey.
Saints Offense First Drive
- Saints take over at their own 28. Sit back and relax, because the Pierre Thomas extravaganza is about to begin. It starts with Thomas to the right side for 5 yards. The O-line (Nicks, Bushrod, Lehr, Strief) does an awesome job of making room and they actually force their will on the Bengals plowing them all to the right side. Had Reggie been out there, he might have actually cut it back to the left side and been gone, as there is no one there. I am starting to wonder if maybe the problem with the run game lies completely with the first team offensive line.
- Brunell throws a quick one to the right to Meachem for 4 yards.
- Third down and two tight ends. Pierre tries the right side, gains the first down, sheds a tackle and spins away from a second before being taken down for a gain of 14.
- Play action. Brunell completes one over the middle to Terrance Copper. Pierre Thomas does a great job blocking in the backfield and keeping Keith Rivers away from Brunell. The kid does it all.
- They give it to Thomas again up the middle and he gains 9 yards after avoiding one tackle. To be fair, the tackling looks weak.
- Brunell is forced to roll left and overthrows Copper in the endzone on what seemed like an improvised play.
- Third and 1 as Pierre cuts it back to his right and up the middle for 4 yards and the first.
- Brunell hurrys a throw to Pierre Thomas who is covered. Pass incomplete.
- On second down Thomas takes it up the right side. He eludes one tackler, barely keeps his knee from hitting the ground, then fumbles the ball as he spins and falls down. Bengals recover.
Review: Ugh. Not that I think the fumble will really cause Payton any distrust, but everything was looking so good. Had that fumble not occurred, I think all Saints fans, myself included, would be up in arms about letting Pierre start and referencing this very drive to make our point. If Pierre is always going to fight to stay on his feet, then he needs to remember to hold on to the ball tight. Regardless, the drive looked good. Pierre looked better. By the way, I love it when Pierre uses his hand and puts it on top of a defenders head to push him out of the way as he passes him.
Saints Defense Second Drive
- Cincinnati gets the ball deep in their own zone. Perry tries the right side. Lance Schulters comes in and makes the nice stop for only 3 yards. Then proceeds to take a stupid 15 yards Uneccesary Roughness (classic movie) penalty.
- First and ten now from the Bengals 23 yard line. Chris Perry tries the left edge and guess who comes in with the nice tackle and the stop for no gain. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? It's Jason David!
- Fitzpatrick completes short over the middle for 4 yards. Troy Evans makes the quick tackle.
- Third down and Fitzpatrick throws a short incompletion to Kenny Watson. Chris Reis was all over him with great coverage. Bengals...you know. Skyler Green gets nowhere on the return.
Review: This was actually a good showing for the defense, minus the penalty, particularly the secondary. They showed great run support on two plays and tight coverage on another. After going through this game in depth, I think this defense looked even better than everyone is giving them credit for. It was solid all around. Even Jason David. I am very impressed.
Saints Offense Second Drive
- Palko checks into the game now and starts from the Saints 33. The first play is a short dump off to Pierre Thomas over the middle for 5 yards. No hesitation going back to Thomas after the fumble.
- Palko checks down to Thomas on a flare to the left. With plenty of room to work with and nice blocks from Matt Lehr and Tim Duckworth, Pierre turns it into 25 yards up the sideline. He does that hand on helmet thing to another would be tackler. Watch for it, its funny! It's almost like he uses them for more speed as he pushes off of them.
- Meachem shows off his running ability on a reverse. He gains a respectable 13 yards.
- Palko takes too much time in the pocket and is sacked by Keith Rivers.
- 2nd and 18 as Palko completes a short one over the middle to Thomas for 3 yards.
- Palko tries Thomas again on a short dump off. Not much doing.
- Mehlhaff nails a 45 yarder. He then kicks a blooper to only the Bengals 16 yard line. He is visibly upset as he walks off.
Review: More awesomeness from The Flying Frenchman. The drive just stalled at the end as Palko couldn't find anything downfield. This offensive line deserves some credit for working hard and looking pretty solid out there. None of Thomas' success would exist without some good play from those guys. Mehlhaff shows some inconsistency. I don't think it is looking as good for Mehlhaff as it once was.
Saints Defense Third Drive
- After a false start, the Bengals have 1st and 15 from own 30 yard line. Jeff Rowe now takes over for the Bengals and tosses one quickly to the right. Aaron Glenn, looking great in run support, wraps him up quickly for a gain of only two.
- The Saints line flush Rowe out of the pocket and forces him to scramble right and throw it away.
- Rowe tries over the middle on a crossing route but Glenn is on top of him and breaks it up which is good because the Saints sent eight guys in to rush and didn't have much help in the secondary. There had to be someone else open downfield that Rowe just didn't see. Bengals punt and Skyler Green lets it bounce before fielding it and losing 4 yards. Not pretty.
Review: Gotta love three and out. More straight up solid play from the defense. This drive was all Aaron Glenn. There isn't a doubt in my mind that Glenn makes this team. He looks better and better every week. I don't think he will start but its great to know he's there. Honestly, seems like you take away Jason David, and this secondary doesn't look half bad. We should probably give it a little more time and observation though.
Saints Offense Third Drive
- Saints start from their 12 yard line and Palko throws a quick pass to Meachem to the right. He gets six yards as the defender drags him down by his pants, ala the Coppertone girl, as Meachem refuses to go down.
- Next is a hard run up the left side by Lynell Hamilton for six yards.
- Palko completes a pass to Lance Moore for 14 yards.
- 1st and ten now, as Palko throws a bad pass nowhere near Terrance Copper that almost gets picked off.
- Lynell Hamilton takes it up the middle for 7 yards. He looks very powerful. End of third quarter.
- On third down with 3 to go Hamilton takes it again, this time to the left side for 4 yards, picking up the first.
- Palko throws an interception on a deep pass intended for Terrance Copper. The throw was into double coverage.
Review: It would have been nice to see this drive continue. Hamilton was looking pretty impressive. As bad as I feel for Pierre Thomas and Aaron Stecker, I will feel even worse for Lynell Hamilton who will most likely not see any playing time with this team though he looks pretty good. I can't find anything in Palko to get excited about.
Saints Defense Fourth Drive
- We have to pick up this drive from 3rd and 7 since the broadcast team favored doing some piece on how Fujita would make the best Olympian over showing us the first two plays of the drive. And what a wonderful place to pick up from, as we're just in time to see the dynamic duo of Jason David and Josh Bullocks get beat on a 9 yard pass that keeps the drive alive. They were both right there and still couldn't make a play! How much longer must we suffer? Even on a night when everyone else is looking great, these two manage to suck. Who are we going to make fun of after Payton hopefully cuts these two?
- First down now and a short completion to the right side for three yards.
- Another Rowe pass to the right for 10 yards as Craft is no where near his receiver.
- After a Kenny Watson run for only two yards, Rowe dumps it off over the middle for 9 yards and a first down.
- On first down now and Bobby McCray shoots through the gap and gets the sack for -8 yards. I can't say enough about how fast he is.
- Rowe completes a short dump off to Kenny Watson but the Saints react quickly and McCray and Harris stop it for -1 yards.
- More pressure from the line again as McCray, who is forced to take the long route behind the quarterback, doesn't give up and eventually beats his man deep in the backfield and gets to Rowe to disrupt the pass. Bengals punt.
Review: I think this drive is very telling. This was the Bengals longest drive of the night play-wise. Bullocks, Craft and David, who all saw a lot of time in the Saints secondary last year were all out there against the third team and still having trouble. What does that say? Bobby McCray saves their butt however as he was a monster on the last three plays. Can't wait to see what he brings this season.
Saints Offense Fourth Drive
- Saints start at their six. Hamilton runs for two yards.
- Palko looks good as he avoids a safety and shows some nifty moves eluding would be tacklers and running for 9 yards. A personal foul call takes the Saints to their 32 yard line.
- After a botched snap, Palko fires a bullet to the right side for Buck "Naked" Ortega for 17 yards.
- Hamilton then makes a short three yard catch on the left sideline.
- Palko goes to the left side again and finds Meachem for 7 yards and a first down.
- The Bengals' Angelo Craig notches a sack for -4 yards. Duckworth failed to pick up LB Corey Mayes who broke through the line, caused disruption and barely missed the sack himself.
- A draw to Hamilton up the middle for six yards.
- Palko, looking solid on this drive, fires another rocket, this time to Todd Blythe, over the middle for a gain of 15.
- After scrambling left Palko throws a short 6 yarder to Hamilton. Holding on Bushrod.
- 1st and 20 now as Palko throws another dump off to Hamilton who has room to turn it into 16 yards.
- Palko throws two straight into tight coverage. The first one should probably have been picked off.
- Saints go for it on fourth down but Palko is forced to scramble to the left and throw it away.
Review: After a nice start to this drive by Palko, the Bushrod penalty and some poor passing decisions kill it. Tyler is just too inconsistent for my taste. A couple of nice hard passes mixed in with poor decisions and botched snaps. That's just not gonna cut it. Bushrod has been the culprit on quite a few penalties this pre-season and really needs to fix that.
Saints Defense Fifth Drive
- Carson Palmer's younger brother Jordan comes in to lead the charge. First play is a run up the middle for a gain of two.
- Palmer completes a short one to the right but Chris Reis is right there to bring him down quickly.
- Scrambling left, Palmer gets the needed 2 yards for the first down.
- He follows that play up with an interception to Lance Schulters to end the Bengals night. Jason David, whose receiver it was, was behind the play, but Lance, probably figuring David wasn't going to do anything, decided to jump the route and pick it off.
Review: Good sign from Schulters. Maybe he is the help this team needs over the top. He was very aggressive on the interception as Jason David stood there and watched. Literally!
Saints Offense Sixth Drive
Nothing important to report about the final drive. Lynell Hamilton runs for 2, 3 and 3 yards to run out the clock.
That does it. I was very happy with the teams performance after watching the game the first time. Having taken a closer look I have to say I am ever happier. There were a lot of good signs and we can only hope that this is a better representation of what we can expect from the defense and the team in general this season.