One game into the three-game road trip, and the Saints are 1-0 on it. Yeah! It's always good on a road trip when you haven't yet gotten lost and had to ask for directions. Here's hoping they don't ever have to pull over.
Let's take a ride across the jump to see how my Hot Reads contributed, or did not contribute to the 23-10 victory.
Primary Option: Protect Drew Brees
What I'd like to see: Brian De La Puente and Charles Brown, I'm looking at both of you to build on your solid performances of last week with a full game of crisp, mistake-free blocking. It's one thing to play well in mid-game replacement, and quite another to step up from start to finish with a complete, good game, especially after a whole week of thinking about how you MUST PROTECT DREW BREES. Good luck, gentlemen.
Overall, the o-line gave up three sacks and four quarterback hits. I still contend that three sacks is too many, but it really didn't seem to mess with him too much.
In reading Jeff Duncan's film study for this week, I see that Brown had a false start penalty in the first quarter, and then got beat for a third down sack in the third quarter. Duncan also noted that De La Puente was involved in a blocking mix-up with Carl Nicks that resulted in a fourth-quarter sack.
We can't have you making a habit out of these errors, boys, but since you were going up against a good defense in your first NFL start, I'll allow cut you some slack...THIS TIME. Just don't let them happen again.
Checkdown # 1: Poop-can MJD
What I'd like to see: Maurice neutralized while the Saints build a big lead early in the game, and then watch him hardly get used in the rest of the game while they futilely turn to the arm of Blaine Gabbert to make up the lost ground.
We saw pretty much what I asked for...an early shut down (or non-use) of Jones-Drew, and a big lead by the Saints, and futile reliance on the arm of Gabbert to win the game. How'd that work out for you, Del Rio? What's that? You can't hear me because of all the other people talking in the unemployment line? Sorry. I'll text the question to you.
I did find this interesting, though: MJD had 3 carries for 0 yards and 1 reception for three yards in the first half, when the Jaguars scored all their points. Then, when they actually gave significant carries to him, he racked up 8 carries for 84 yards, but they scored no points. Guess that just goes to show you that any one good statistical performance does not necessarily add up to victory.
Eleven for 84, and one catch for three yards, with no scores. Let's call that a pretty good poop-canning.
Checkdown # 2: Get to Gabbert
What I'd like to see: Gabbert knocked down frequently, sacked multiple times (often on third down would be great), and putting up miserable passing stats while he is made very uncomfortable every time he drops back to pass. That should just about do it.
Well, at least he put up the miserable passing stats I requested. The Saints sacked him three times, while hitting him six total times, and 16-42 for 196 with a TD and an INT will knock nobody's socks off. But I can't really say that the Saints fierce pressure rattled him out of his gourd. He made plenty of mistakes all on his own, he really has no receivers to work with, and the coaching didn't really help him out at all. I was surprised they didn't throw RB/WR screens and TE dump-offs ALL DAY LONG, but they didn't, and it helped.
Safety Valve: Win on Third Down
What I'd like to see: The Saints get it done early on third down, offensively and defensively, to allow these trends to continue, which will send us to a big early lead.
14-0 does count for a big early lead, but it sure as shooting didn't last long, so it wasn't really as effective as the Saints have made leads work before.
The Saints converted 7 of 14 third downs for the game, with a sparkling 3 of 4 in the first half. And on the first TD drive that went 62 yards on nine plays, the Saints did not face one third down at all. Heck, the Saints only faced one third down on the second TD drive, and they nailed that one to the wall. 100% on third downs and 14 points - it's that easy.
In the second half, the Saints kicked three field goals on their way to a 4 of 10 third down conversion rate.
The poor Jags went three of eight in the first half en route to 10 points, and then scored no points in the second, while hitting on only one of seven third downs.
Clearly, the Saints won on third down, on both sides of the ball. Check and mate.
Extra Bonus Hot Read: The Mane Event
What I'd like to see: Gabbert's hair, limp and plastered to his head (or sloppily tucked under his cap) while he sits on the sideline with a look of frustration on his face.
I didn't really get a look at either guys's hair towards the end of the game, so I'll have to use some creative scoring to give myself a grade here, and a win.
Thomas Morstead punted only once, and John Kasay took over all the kickoff duties on Sunday, so Puntmaster's hair MUST have been fine and dandy throughout the game.
Then I read the lead in Tania Ganguli's post-game piece from Jacksonville.com, titled thusly - Second-half blitzes take toll on Blaine Gabbert:
After spending extended time in the cold tub after Sunday's game, Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert walked into his news conference with his hair disheveled and his eye black still smudged after his second NFL start.
That's proof enough for me. We'll just say I nailed this one, too.
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Thanks for taking the time to read this review. Now you can review me.
Was I correct in my analysis? Did I miss anything?
Let me know in the comment section!