Here are some initial observations after having watched the game twice (Tivo is a bloggers best friend). All discussion, agreement and disagreement is welcome.
This was the play of the game. (Associate Press)
Wide Receiver Battle Heats Up This will no doubt be what everyone is talking about today. David Patten should feel like a proud pop after Meachem's performance last night. We know the veteran receiver has been Meachem's biggest supporter and last night all their workouts together paid off. Meachem was just plain nasty! The first catch, an over the shoulder grab on an overthrown ball showed us just how much talent he has. The touchdown grab in the fourth quarter displayed his YAC ability after a spin move and a stiff arm helped him gain another 54 yards after the catch.
Meachem's performance last night was promising to say the least. It's his second year so that rookie buzz doesn't surround him anymore but it would be fair to view him as just that, a rookie. Saints fans should count their blessings because not very often do we have the pleasure of seeing two first round draft picks make their NFL debuts in one season. We should expect a lot out of this kid. Coming off a season when the Saints had the number one offense in the league, Payton <em>still</em> used a first round pick on Meachem, so you better damn well believe he had a reason. That being said, we need to remember that this was just one game and pre-season games should never be used as accurate measuring tools. Meachem faced some pretty weak tackling.
Adrian Arrington also stepped it up last night and showed us why we have been talking about him the last two weeks of training camp. One of his two catches was nice as he came back to the ball and got his body in front of the defender.
That being said, the wide receiver battle has gotten more interesting. Meachem and Arrington both having good games means Copper, Moore, Henderson, Green and Blythe are in trouble.
Pass Rush The pass rush looked much improved. We seemed to be a step quicker and got much more pressure and penetration. Nothing amazing from Sedrick Ellis but I think he will be fine. One thing I am worried about, however, with our new pass rush that I noticed last night. Sending everyone over the line is risky. When you get good penetration in the backfield, you really have to get to the quarterback quickly otherwise the space behind those defensive linemen opens up. If a quarterback can get a short pass off quick enough, they can exploit this gap, dink and dunk, and allow the receiver to pick up lots of extra yardage after the catch. This was the case on several big plays early in the game last night.
Other random notes:
- The Saints got off to a great start, their first drive going for 80 yards. 25 of those were on penalties however.
- Brees of course was solid going 6/7 for 40 yards. The throw to Patten was pure beauty. The new goatee, however, is not. My fiance and I disagree on this point, as she liked Drew's younger new look. What does she know, she has poor taste in men!
- I am pleased with Bush's performance. Reggie tried between the tackles quite a few times but not much was to be gained. In fairness, the line was not doing a great job of blocking. Reggie also showed some promise by breaking two decent size runs, but were both called back due to penalty. Nothing last night said this couldn't be his big year.
- Brunell was pretty good also going 10/12. Good news in the horrific event that Brees goes down. Palko is just too shaky and inconsistent
- Lance Moore got a shot with the first team and was fairly unimpressive. His stock may have fallen after last night.
- The first team offensive line didn't look so hot. Reggie didn't have much to work with and as usual the Saints had to get it down through the air. This really needs to be cleaned up. Our running backs can only take so much of the blame.
- Mark Campbell is making a case for the second tight end spot. He had 4 catches for 42 yards. I thought for sure we might see some Billy Miller but he was no where to be seen.
- Mark Simoneau, yet again, refuses to go down without a fight when it comes to the starting spot. Simoneau had a nice sack in the first quarter. Hopefully Vilma will get a chance to show us what he's got and make his own argument.
- Stecker looked pretty solid. More reason why I really don't think we need to even be thinking about bringing in a veteran back. I think we're covered, you just have to have faith.
- Randall Gay was doing his best Jason David impression on the defensive first series, getting beat pretty badly on one play. Usama Young had to come in to make the tackle. Please not again this year...please. Jason David was trying not to do his best Jason David impression. Honestly, I don't feel like the cornerback picture has cleared up any after last night. We did not look much improved on that end. Hopefully this gets addressed or tonights performance was an aberration.
- Nothing too special in the return game, certainly not on Skyler Green's part anyhow. In fact, Pierre Thomas had the best run back of the game. Nothing else impressive from Pierre unfortunately.
- Mehlhaff made his field goal but skulled a kickoff. That may have been done on purpose however. The ESPN announcers seemed to think it was Gramatica's job to lose.
- Orien Harris looked pretty good tonight as well. He and Usama led the team with five tackles.
- I am glad the two Saints MNF games are home, meaning I will be in attendance and I won't have to listen to the "fingernails scratching on a chalkboard" sound that is Tony Kornheiser's voice. I do like his Ed Hochuli banter though.