I know we're past the 24-hour window players and coaches allow themselves to savor a victory/lick wounds after a loss, but even though it's already Wednesday morning, we simply cannot move forward to the St. Louis Rams without reviewing my Hot Reads from the game.
Make the jump to see how it went down on Sunday.
Primary Option - Protect Brees
What I'd like to see: Freeney and Mathis neutralized by a combination of quick releases and good protection. Brees deserves a game in which he doesn't feel much heat.
Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were pretty much neutralized (Mathis recorded one tackle and Freeney was nowhere to be found on the tackle chart), and I've got a Jeff Duncan tweet of a Sean Payton quote on Monday that says they did it in a way that I had requested:
JeffDuncanTP Jeff Duncan
Payton said the Saints used chips & "nudges" to neutralize #Colts DEs Dwight Freeney & Robert Mathis for most of the game Sunday night.
And here's me, from Sunday's Hot Reads:
The Colts pass rush consists of DEs Dwight Freeney (4.5 sacks) and Robert Mathis (3.5), so let's help our tackles with chip blocks on these guys to give Drew Brees time to find his receivers with clear lines of sight.
The Colts recorded two sacks and 2 hits on Brees, but the sacks didn't come until the second half, when the game was well in hand, and they hardly bothered him in the first half at all.
Checkdown # 1 - Hold on to the @$#% Ball
What I'd like to see: Saints, for the entirety of the game, for the love of all that's holy, please just HOLD ON TO THE @$#% BALL. Do not drop it on the turf. Do not tip it or throw it to the other team. I don't even want you to punt it to them - score every time you have the ball, and then send every kickoff sailing out the back of the end zone. Got it?
Saints giveaways on Sunday: ZERO. Nice. Done and done.
They almost secured my "no punt" wish as well (only one punt, and it didn't come until the fourth quarter), and of the 10 kickoffs Thomas Morstead launched, nine of them went for touchbacks.
Marques Colston, on both his TD catches, showed great strength and amazing ability in holding onto the @$#% ball despite big hits from the Colts secondary and the turf itself that could have caused very understandable incompletions.
This was a BIG, and welcome change from last week.
Checkdown # 2 - Run the Ball Effectively
What I'd like to see: Running backs able to get out of the backfield without being swallowed whole by Colts linemen. Well-executed draw plays, smooth third-down conversions on the ground, gains of 6+ yards on first-down rushes, Sproles toss-sweeping his way to the end zone...all these things would be nice.
The running game came to play on Sunday, that's for sure. To be certain, the Saints are a pass-first team (17 rushes vs. 25 passes as they opened up a 34-7 halftime lead), but the team accomplished much on the ground this week: 38 carries, 236 yards, and two TDs, along with 16 first downs converted via the ground game, and even ended up with more total rushes (38) than total pass attempts (35) by the time all was said and done.
Safety Valve - Hit a Big Play
What I'd like to see: I don't care how it comes, but I want to see a 50+ yard touchdown play. Ingram can rumble for 75 yards and a score on the second play of the game, or Devery can get behind the safety for a 63-yard scoring catch and run. Meachem, Moore, or Colston could do it, too. I don't care. Just do it. It could even be Sproles taking a punt return to the house. I just want to see a big scoring play that sucks the life out of the Colts.
The closest the Saints came to a 50+ yard scoring play was Leigh Torrence's 42-yard INT return for a TD, which didn't occur until the 4th quarter, and while it chased Curtis Painter to the bench, it really wasn't necessary or all that impactful in the big picture.
These were the other longest plays of the game: Pierre Thomas had a 59-yard catch and run that was almost a TD (on the Saints second drive of the game), Colston caught a 39-yard pass, and Mark Ingram had a 20-yard run.
Nothing huge there along the lines of what I asked for, but if I really wanted to try and make myself right on this one, I could argue that the entire game was one big 62-7 "play" that sent a huge message to the Colts and the rest of the NFL.
How you like them apples?
No, seriously, how do you like them? Do you agree with the assessments/evaluations I made? Did I miss anything?
Let's allow this game to live on in the comment section...