Here we go.
Time to take one last good look at this game to see exactly how wrong it went in relation to my Hot Reads. I'm pretty sure even without even looking at them again and researching them that the Saints failed to achieve any of them, and they directly added up to THE AGONY OF DEFEAT. (If you click on this link, get ready to go back in time to some sweet classic sports television that pre-dates ESPN.)
It's not going to be pretty, so I've included a picture of our nice, shiny Lombardi over there to the right to remind us of the good times. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, after all.
And hopefully next week's Review will be more fun.
Primary Option: Protect Drew Brees
What I'd like to see: Brees protected well once again and hardly touched by the Rams.
The Rams tallied nine quarterback hits and six sacks of Drew Breeeeeees!!! on Sunday. That hardly qualifies as "hardly touched." Brees was under constant pressure for most of the game, and it showed in his performance.
Every time it seemed like a drive was about to get rolling, there'd be a sack, or a rushed throw, or both of those in sequence, and then all of a sudden it's a third and long and then the next thing you know, it's Morstead Time again. The Rams pass rush totally disrupted any sense of rhythm or tempo the Saints offense attempted to manufacture.
I don't know if it was scheme, or individual skill, or what, but it made the offense look ugly with a capital U.
Checkdown # 1: Stopping the Run
What I'd like to see: A neutralized running game that is shut down early while the Saints build a big lead, and then they can get all the garbage yards they want after the game's in the bag.
The Rams ran the ball 14 times for 75 yards and a TD in the first half, and finished the day with two rushing TDs, and 183 yards on 31 carries. I don't care what people have written about how the yards came - the Saints weren't able to shut it down early, late, or in between, and it hurt. You saw what kind of "big lead" the Saints were able to build as a result of not shutting it down.
Checkdown # 2: Establish the Run
What I'd like to see: Another effectively-implemented rushing game. Last week, they used the run just enough early on so that they weren't having to achieve everything aerially, and then pounded the ball successfully in the second half while increasing the lead. More of this would be just fine with me.
OUCH - I just hurt my eyes looking at the Saints rushing stats. Nine carries for 18 yards and zero TDs in the first half, en route to a 20-carry, 56-yard, and one TD full game total. Not much else to say here. The return of Tusk was abysmal, and the Saints should be ashamed of themselves for this performance.
Safety Valve: Keep Cool No Matter What Happens
What I'd like to see: This factor not come into play at all. But if it does, the Saints need to nip it in the bud, show the Rams who's really in charge, and not let it get to them and force a snowball effect disaster scenario that allows this game to become another Bucs fiasco like in Week 6. I'm still spitting out a bit of stomach bile from that one.
A surface examination of this aspect reveals three obvious instances of "lost cool" on the part of the Saints that showed just how much they were not in control of this game.
The blocked punt, subsequent TD, 10-point lead for the Rams, and Sproles's poor KO return to the 12-yard line with less than two minutes to go in the first half immediately preceded the first momentary loss of cool: Brees's ill-advised downfield pass to Devery that was intercepted.
Brees wasn't under pressure, it wasn't fourth down or anything, and he completely missed a wide open man underneath on a short route to throw into coverage on the sideline. To put it simply, this interception should never have happened.
Then at some point in the game, apparently, Carl Nicks and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer jumped into the Octagon, and nearly came to blows before being separated.
And finally, after the final Rams touchdown on the interception return, Jahri Evans released his pent-up emotions by kicking the football into the stands, earning a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff.
Yeesh! I don't need a body language expert to tell me the Saints completely failed in this area...
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There you have it, a four-part Hot Read failure by the Saints, and the winless Rams look like opportunistic contenders while we wonder which Saints team will show up this Sunday for the Buccaneers game.
I can't wait for Sunday to get here...
But before it arrives, I'd like to know what you think of this analysis. Did I miss anything you observed? Am I off the mark on my assessment? Sound off in the comment section!