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Texans 33 @ Saints 40: A Review of HansDat's Hot Reads

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Another week, another win, and then you win again because now it's time for a review of HansDat's Hot Reads from Sunday's game against the Texans.

Make the jump to see what I hit, what I missed, and exactly where I went horribly awry.

The Primary Option was to Protect Drew Brees, and here's what I wanted to see:

That Payton really learned from the 2009 loss to Dallas and schemes the protections to stop Williams and the extra pressure, from wherever it comes. It would also behoove the Saints to establish the running game early, and try to hit on short, quick-outs to keep the chains moving so Brees can stay alive. Once this has sucked in the defense, I see Devery breaking free for another long TD by about the third quarter...

Well, the protection wasn't great, but it really wasn't too terribly bad, either. And if you factor in that two starters on the o-line left the game with injuries, it might even be considered decent.

Brees was hit five times and sacked twice, and while he threw two picks, it didn't seem to me as if they were a result of him being harassed by the pressure of the Texans. The sacks were pretty costly, though, as the first one left the Saints with a 3rd and 17, which they didn't convert and ended up having to kick a FG on 4th down (loss of possible four points), and the second one left the Saints staring another 3rd and 17 in the face, which was not converted, and forced a punt (loss of three or seven points). I'd rather not see Brees hit this much, so work on that for me, will ya, guys?

Overall, Brees didn't seem too rattled by the pressure, never had to run for his life, and certainly kept his cool late when he slipped into his "not in our house, not today" mode during those two absolutely brilliant 4th quarter TD drives and 2-point conversion passes. (Eat it, Jim Haslett/Mike McCarthy and your feeble attempts to rock the 2-point conversions!!) 

Devery did not get a long touchdown in the third, and they definitely did not establish the run game early. Heck, the only thing they did establish was inconsistency on offense early in that game.

Checkdown #1 was that Jo-Lonn Dunbar needed to step up big time:

What I'd like to see: It would be really easy for a player in this situation to take on too much himself and end up messing things up (over pursuing, getting out of position, trying to rush a last-minute adjustment that puts others out of position, etc.) by over-thinking things and/or going overboard with enthusiasm and attitude.

Play it cool, Jo-Lonn. You got this. Take in what you see, think about your schemes, and know where people are and what they'll be doing so you can do what you need to do.

Jo-Lonn finished the day with a pretty decent stat line: 10 total tackles (six solo) with two passes defensed. So that's something, anyway.

I'm not sure how to precisely grade the other stuff I wrote for him to do, but we can take a look at some of the things linebackers are generally responsible for: covering the TEs, pressuring the QB, and contributing to stopping the run game.

Covering the tight ends did not work out well at all. Owen Daniels rang up five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown, while Ken Walter caught three for 35 and a touchdown. What's most embarrassing is that the Texans whodat fullback, James Casey (who I'll also say is the linebackers' duty to cover), absolutely torched the Saints for five catches, 126 yards and a touchdown, while also having one carry for 11 yards. OUCH. After his diving touchdown catch in the second half, I wrote in my notebook, "Who in the holy hell is James f****** Casey?" Literally. You can ask my wife. 

In case you're wondering, those two TEs and the FB contributed a total of 13 catches for 237 yards and all of the Texans three touchdowns for the day. Not good.

As far as pressure goes, the linebackers accounted for two of the four hits the defense laid on Schaub, but neither of the two sacks.

By the end of the day, the Texans rushed for 109 yards, so the LBs didn't exactly get run over, but they weren't exactly shutting it down, either.

So, it's a mixed bag, and it seemed Jo-Lonn and crew did just enough to win, but it needs improvement.

Checkdown #2 saw me call on the revamped defensive line to make a statement:

What I'd like to see: Hey, new guys! Show us why Pay-Loo brought you here. Stuff the run and take down Schaub. Hard.

Aubrayo, you need to stuff that running lane and force Texan running backs to run into a wall of pads and large, sweaty men, allowing the linebackers to swoop around and then take them to the ground.

Rogers, collapse that pocket and free up Ellis to crush Schaub or flush him out and into the arms of the blitzing Roman Harper or Malcolm Jenkins.

Big Willie, it's your turn to party like it's 2009 again. Swallow ball carriers in the backfield. Give Schaub LOTS to think about when he drops back to pass.

Aubrayo Franklin didn't even have a stat line. Did he even play? I don't think he did anything I asked him to do.

Shaun Rogers notched three tackles (two of them solos), and Big Willie had the biggest day of all the boys I called out: six tackles (four solos, one for a loss) and a QB hit.

Schaub was hit four times and sacked twice, but he lit up the Saints defense for 373 yards, three TDs and an INT, while achieving a 103.9 passer rating.

The assessment of the running game was detailed above.

Again, the story of this game was...nothing spectacular, but just enough, and at the right time to win. 

The Safety Valve involved a big play on special teams:

What I'd like to see: Another EXPLOSIVE blocked kick for a score by the Saints that literally blows up the noise meter. Deep, booming kicks that edge the sideline combined with stifling coverage that keeps Jones and Manning wishing they were somewhere else.

I invoked the ghosts of Saints-Falcons from September 25, 2006, and came up with this:

Fourth play of that game - Steve Gleason's blocked punt opening the floodgates for an emotional and humbling 23-3 win.

Fourth play of Sunday's game - 32-yard reception by Andre Johnson on 1st down (which followed a 15-yard catch and run by Johnson on 3rd and 14). Clearly this game would go differently for the Saints than the celebrated Dome reopener in 2006.

No blocked kick for a score in this one, although Thomas Morstead and the punt coverage units did play very well this week. Morstead punted thrice for a 49.3 yard average, and they only gave up two returns for a total of five yards (23 yards below the Texans average).

The Texans had three kickoff returns for a 27.7 average per return (14 yards less than the average they carried into the game).

So, while the Saints did not rock the Dome with a big special teams scoring play, they did neutralize Danieal Manning and Jacoby Jones, and Morstead had yet another good game. 

* * * 

Thus ends this review. But it can live on as we discuss it in the comment section.

Do you have anything to add to my assessment? Anything to criticize? Have at it, I can take it!