Welcome to your Wednesday morning kick in the teeth, as we take a detailed look back at Sunday's Saints game to see exactly where things went right, and oh so horribly, horribly wrong with HansDat's Hot Reads.
This time, we will be studying the Reads from the New Orleans Saints' 35-27 loss to the Carolina Panthers, which dropped the team to 0-2, sending many fans "to the bridge" as Mrs. Hans says when she's had just about enough of things.
If you haven't had enough yet, please join me on the other side of the jump (and feel free to browse the recap and box score to refresh your memory...)
Saints vs Panthers box score
PRIMARY OPTION - PROTECT BREES
What I'd Like To See: The o-line actually doing their jobs. They have to give him time to throw, clear passing lanes to utilize, and a clean pocket. And when the extra blitzers come, folks must rotate into position to keep the barbarians at the gate.
What I Saw: An absolute CLINIC of an opening drive that I thought would surely carry the Saints all the way to the Super Bowl, but then it all came crashing to the ground in slow motion as it took them two and a half quarters to find their way to the end zone again, and by then, I must admit that my confidence was sagging. I had to work to focus on positive things I wanted to see on the drives. The protection didn't seem quite as bad as last week, but it was bad enough. Drew Brees was hit five times with one sack, and had the ball slapped out of his hand on the failed fourth down attempt late in the game. While improved, I'm still going to have to call it a FAILED HOT READ.
CHECKDOWN # 1 - PULL THEIR HEADS OUT OF THEIR CLAVENS
What I'd Like To See: If the ball hits you in the hands, catch it (that goes for both receivers and defensive backs). If you know the snap count, don't move until it's reached (Zach Strief, I'm looking at you). If you are the 12th man on the field, please sprint until you get all the way out of bounds. If you are a referee, get the calls right. Let's make it easy, why don't we? Players, just get your heads back in the game and reduce these infuriating mental errors so that they don't cost the Saints the game.
What I Saw: Less penalties, which was very positive, to be sure. But very early in the game, our esteemed leader and savior, Breesus, committed the unpardonable offense of unnecessarily forcing a bad throw out of the end zone on second down of the Saints' second drive of the game, after the maligned defense had held the Panthers to a punt on their first drive. As you may recall, this forced throw was picked off and run right into the end zone by the Panthers' Charles Godfrey.
There are four other instances of "Clavens full of heads"-type mistakes that bear mentioning in this review, the majority of which are dropped balls. Case One and Two - on consecutive plays in the red zone in the first quarter, both Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham had touchdowns within their reaches, but neither of them could make catches that they usually make. Now I will say here that in comparison, Graham's miss was the more egregious of the two as it went right through his arms, hit him in the stomach, and then bounced straight down to the ground - GAAA! Case Three - Patrick Robinson let an E-Z interception bounce right through his hands in the third quarter. Case Four is the case of the bungled coverage in the fourth quarter, following the Saints' touchdown that made it 28-20, and if you were like me, you're thinking, "hey, the defense made them punt last time they had the ball, so maybe they can do it again!" But on first down, Malcolm Jenkins and P-Rob collaborated on an absolutely smothering double-coverage of the underneath receiver while leaving the ageless wonder Steve Smith wide open on the sideline for a 66-yard catch and run from the Carolina 20 yard line to the Saints 14. AAAAH - the humanity!!! HOT READ: FAILED
CHECKDOWN # 2 - YOU PLAY TO RUN THE BALL
What I'd Like To See: I don't give a flip how or when it appears during the course of the game, but just establish enough of a running game by the final whistle to make a positive flipping difference in this flipping ball game, for flip's sake. I'm going to stick with last year's Mendoza Line - just crack that 100-yard rushing mark, boys, and let's see what that gets you.
What I Saw: A team that ran the ball on first down three straight times on the opening drive, and ended up with 163 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. They easily cracked 100 yards, like I asked - CONGRATULATIONS! - but it wasn't enough to earn the win. So this is a melancholic HOT READ: ACHIEVED.
SAFETY VALVE - CALGON, TAKE ME AWAY FROM IT ALL
What I'd Like To See: The Saints really need to clean this up, and get it to at least even for the game. They had some chances last Sunday: P-Rob had a pick right in his mitts but couldn't hold on, and the Redskins actually fumbled three times (Will Herring was the forcer of one), but Washington "own-recovered" each of them. Find that ball, boys. Knock it out, and then pounce on it, and hang onto it, too (at least as many times as they do it to you).
What I Saw: The Saints recorded their first takeaway of the 2012 season when they recovered an ill-advised lateral by Cam Newton - YES!!! But then Brees threw two EXTREMELY SIGNIFICANT picks (one that went for the Panthers' first TD, while the other ended the Saints' final drive of the day), so they did not in fact, get it to even for the game. HOT READ: FAILED
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Speaking of overdramatic melancholy, for my therapy this week, I was listening to Genesis' Man on the Corner on repeat the entire time I was researching and writing this review.
I know it may be hard for you to see how Phil Collins' first attempt at bringing to light the plight of the homeless connects, but if you listen to the synthesized drum and keyboards, I think you'll go right there with me.
Pay attention to the lyrics, too. I took turns picturing Saints fans as the "man on the corner", then Drew Brees and Steve Spagnuolo, followed by Sean Payton.
And now that I have finished this piece, I'm done wallowing in the loss, the music, and Phil Collins' lyrics. I'm focusing my energy on helping the Saints beat the Kansas City Chiefs to get back on the winning track again. Please join me.
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Let me know what you think of my Review, as well as my choice of musical therapy in the comment section. I'd love to read what your musical therapy would be. I'm definitely going to be listening to the GreenDay/U2 "The Saints Are Coming" song this Sunday, because after all, there is a house in New Orleans they call the Superdome.