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Saints @ Redskins: Recap

Up until the middle of the fourth quarter I thought I would be writing a very upbeat, optimistic recap of this game today. Instead I am angry and crushed. Mostly angry. It's not time to start panicking just yet but this loss certainly wasn't pretty. We've got lots to talk about, a lot of bad, so let's get into this, bulleted style. I haven't had a chance to watch the game for a second time yet, so these are my intitial thoughts.

  • Apparently it was incredibly hot during the game and the Saints had to wear black. Don't know how much of a factor the weather was.
  • Payton decided to defer the opening kickoff which is fairly out of the ordinary for him. It was a good one from Gramatica that went for a touchback. Who needs Mehlhaff? The first quarter was some pretty awful football offensively. The Reskins defense came out aggressive and greatly outplayed the Saints offense. You can't start a game much worse than this.
1st Quarter Saints Redskins
First Downs 1 7
Third Down % 0% 60%
Rushing Yards 0 54
Passing Yards 20 59
Time of Possession 3:48 11:12
Turnovers 1 0

Those are just offensive numbers. The defense actually looked pretty decent in the first half bending but never breaking, and because of that the Saints actually held the Redskins to only 3 field goals and a missed one as well. If the Saints were playing another team, they could have easily gotten themselve in a huge hole very early.

  • Jo-Lonn Dunbar got the start. He looked pretty good out there on a few plays, particularly in passing situations like the pass breakup before the half. At other times he still looked like a rookie. There is a lot of promise in Dunbar though and I think Saints fans should be optimistic with regards to his development.
  • On the first drive the Saints defense looked eerily like last years defense. It wasn't pretty. They missed two chances to get off the field on third down.
  • Shockey got involved a little earlier in the game this week. Unfortunately, he got a little too involved as he fumbled the ball on his first catch of the game. There were no Saints even remotely in the area to jump on the ball. Shockey appeared to be being held down. We didn't see much of Shockey after that.
  • Deuce made his regular season debut in the second half of the game. He looked pretty good and ran the ball twice for five yards each. This may be the slow phasing in of Deuce into the lineup or it may just be an appeasal to Deuce and to fans.
  • Also making his career debut was Robert Meachem with only one catch. Of course it was a 19-yard touchdown catch. Not sure what we can all make from this. It certainly bodes well but I don't think we can start ringing in the Meachem era just yet.
  • Turnovers were very important in this game and the Saints lost this battle with three to the Redskins one.
  • The run game is non-existent and needs to have a serious look taken at it. This is another area where the Saints continue to experience the same problems as last year. Not sure what the solution is. It also depends on what plans the team has for Deuce. Personally, I would love to see the Saints consistently give Pierre Thomas the ball with Karney as the lead blocker for one game. Just try it for one game, please. I am also starting to wish the Saints had drafted Matt Forte. He had another good game for Chicago yesterday. That kid is good.
  • Reggie's play was bittersweet. He may have only had 28 yards on the ground and 63 yards in the air but he also had the touchdown punt return. The return game was the area Reggie vowed to make a difference. So far so good. This was one of the bright spots of the game I felt. Reggie continues to be a threat everywhere on the field and in any type of situation. That is a great player to have. The running game is lacking though and he is still reverting to his old dancing ways every so often. He just needs to realize when its a good time to bounce around and when he needs to put his head down and turn it upfield. We he makes the right decision it is beautiful.
  • Another positive note was the Saints drive to end the first half. That was a smart, well put together drive that let them go into the locker room with the lead.
  • The Redskins Chris Horton had an awesome game. Two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He will haunt my nightmares all week.
  • Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham looked pretty solid on kickoffs. Not so much on field goals.
  • The Saints offensive line could have done a better job protecting Brees who was taken down twice.
  • Mike McKenzie did not play so the Saints seemed to go with a rotation of Aaron Glenn, Jason Craft and Tracy Porter. Usama Young saw some time as well and looked pretty solid. Tracy Porter got picked on a lot late in the game. The Redskins smelled weakness and exploited it. He was the culprit on the long Moss touchdown. To be fair, there was absolutely no help over the top from safeties and he was left on an island all alone out there. Needless to say, the play of the secondary looked much like last year. Porter and Glenn both got banged up during the game, continuing the theme for our much beleagured secondary. I hope these guys heal up fast because I hate seeing Jason Craft out there.
  • The run defense is pittiful. Right now the Saints defense is ranked second to last in the league for rush yards per play behind only Detroit. This is a serious problem that needs to be fixed quickly.
  • Speaking of serious problems that need to be fixed about tackling! It is getting painful to even watch. Shanle and Bullocks come to mind first. The Saints defensemen are flailing and flopping all over the field out there. Time to get back to the basics.
  • Jonathan Vilma had a solid game. He was all over the field as usual and led the defense in tackles.
  • Brian Billick is my new favorite football announcer. I think he has a lot of smart things to say and I like the way he says it.

Here is what the division is looking like now. We are in the basement and it doesn't feel very good.

NFC South Standings

Carolina 2 0 0 46 41
Atlanta 1 1 0 43 45
Tampa Bay 1 1 0 44 33
New Orleans 1 1 0 48 49

(updated 9.14.2008 at 10:17 PM CDT)

I will look for the silver lining on this cloud and end this all on a positive note. It's still early and by getting that first win last week, we are already ahead of last season's performance. Our team is missing some key players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The team didn't play well yesterday and through all of that we still had a chance to win. That should say a lot. Besides, by losing a game early it eliminates all that undefeated talk in the media when we go on a tear starting next week against the Broncos.

Looking forward to hearing what you guys have to say. How are you feeling on this miserable Monday morning?