The New Orleans Saints finished the first part of the 2013 season on an impressive 5-1 run, winning the first five games. They lost, in case you missed it, on Sunday in New England to the Patriots 30-27.
The takeaways are both positive and negative in this loss. The Patriots have allowed an average of fourteen points to their opponets on the season. The Saints scored twenty seven. The Saints had an impressive 131 yards net rushing on 26 carries recording a 5.0 ypc average. The defense recorded 5 sacks on Tom Brady. The offense was 66% on red goal efficiency which is a large improvement over the first 5 games.
The negatives are also glaring. They were 5-14 on 3rd down. That's 35%. The penalties were numerous; 7-56 yards. They had one fumble lost. Drew Brees was intercepted once during the campaign. He was also sacked in the second half. All of this on top of a complete blanking by Jimmy Graham, who had numerous drops in the game and was also injured (no report yet on seriousness but he had an MRI on his foot Monday).
Twitterverse has run rampant since last night's game on the alleged horrible officiating in the game by the boys in stripes. Holding calls missed, abhorrent calls against the Saints in the first half, and a 4th timeout given to the Patriots, I won't get into. There are two sides to the story and I don't really like to blame losses for a team on penalties and non calls. I've seen games in all of sports won or lost despite good or bad calls. While some calls may have been bad, I don't think they amounted to a loss on the stat sheets for our team.
So what does the Saints' coaching staff have to work on during the bye week? You can put your Sean Payton visor on and play this from the couch but there are some obvious issues to get cleaned up this week. First, the health of the players. Fifteen players on the list before last night and, as mentioned above, you can add Jimmy Graham to it. Both offensively and defensively, the Saints are unsurprisingly banged up after 6 very aggressive, tough games. Getting these guys back is a huge priority for the Saints as they go into ten more tough games on the slate. On top of losing several keys, especially on defense before the season, this becomes crucial.
Has it seemed as though the offense has been less than clean and polished this season so far? While Brees will be Brees, it seems the tables have turned on defense and offense this season. Last year, the offense bailed out the defense in the games they won. This year, it's exactly the opposite. Maybe Rob Ryan is better than anyone thought? His aggressive play and the enthusiasm of the pounders he coaches has been down right insane. Expect Brees and Payton to discuss a few things this week to try to get the ship righted. I would also expect Brees and his receivers to spend some quality time getting their timing and rhythm headed in the right direction. I love the Kenny Stills touchdown pass from Brees. He stood up and made a tough pass when the team needed it. And he looked like an all star. This kid is for real, as if we hadn't seen it before.
Sean Payton knows one thing well. His calls from the sideline have had some flaws. Hearing him tell it, you would think he had lost all six first games. He is the type of coach to be harder on himself and the rest of the coaches than anyone else could be on him. Look, its obvious this team missed their Captain. He harps on some calls that didn't produce or back fired. No doubt the coaches are huddling as this is written, trying to iron out schemes, fixes, and trying to clean things up for themselves. Payton always says the faults start with him and the other coaches.
You can bet this team will not squander the opportunity of the bye week to clean things up and come back ready to play. Knowing Coach Payton, the cleanup will be shoved down their throats. It's hard, even after a loss, not to be excited about the weeks coming back to the field. There is still a lot of season left and tough games on the slate, but this is a team we can be excited about. Expect Brees to bring back a more crisp offense, and the defense frothing at the mouth for the next game. The key, however, is not making excuses for losses, blaming one entity over the other, but learn from mistakes. We in the Twitter world could learn a little from the bye week. Let's see what the team does with their time away.
More from Canal Street Chronicles:
- Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman Calls Sean Payton Arrogant, Dumb
- Jimmy Graham Getting MRI on Foot
- Why the Refs are Not at Fault for Saints' 30-27 Loss to the Patriots
- Saints vs. Patriots: Referees Missed Holding Call on Final Tom Brady Play
- Saints vs. Patriots Player Grades: Defense and Special Teams