Falcons. Dirty Birds. Little brother. Red-headed stepchild. Call them what you will, but they're here in New Orleans on the second Sunday of September in 2013. That means it's finally time for real football games again, and what better opponent for the return of everyone's favorite former coach-in-exile, Sean Payton.
It's time for the Post-BountyFarce Era to begin as the New Orleans Saints face the Atlanta Falcons in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome today at 1:00 pm Eastern time.
And begin it will, with my first live and for real 2013 Gameday Hot Reads, so let's not tarry...
For the first time since 2009, the Saints are breaking in a new starting left tackle, one Charles Brown. <SHUDDER> His
main only job is to PROTECT DREW BREES from the backside as Brees eviscerates the Atlanta secondary. Sounds simple and easy, doesn't it? But Sir Charles has had a history of being unavailable due to injury and also looking very bad on the field at times when he was available (see Rams, 2011).
What I'd Like To See: The fourth-year man out of USC taken in the 2nd round needs to be up for the challenge, or it's going to be a long year. Again. I'll allow a few hurries and one quarterback knockdown after a completed pass, but that's it.
Checkdown # 1
EMPTY STEVEN JACKSON'S GAS TANK I've gone on record as saying that the 2013 model year Steven Jackson is gassed, and by the grace of all that's good and holy, I pray that I'm correct, at least for two weeks of this season. The Saints were horrible against the run last year, and S-Jax with even anything left could gash them like nobody's business. GAAA!
What I'd Like To See: Find some way to slow him down - siphon directly, pinprick poke a hole in the tank for a slow, methodical, almost imperceptible leak that doesn't reveal itself until crunch time, banana in the tailpipe, or whatever. I don't care. These metaphors are in no way to be construed as a desired intent to harm between the white lines for pay outside of legal contracts and the CBA. They are just colorful automobile-themed turns of phrases to riff on "gassed" while I attempt to hope for a miracle of a poor performance from the former Ram standout running back. Hammer, please don't hurt 'em.
Checkdown # 2
NTMFers, NO MORE! Regardless of what base formation FFRR runs today, the second and third lines of defense simply cannot afford to miss tackles as they did last year (I'm excusing the DL from this because in 2012, they rarely even got a hand on anyone enough to even have it count as a missed tackle).
What I'd Like To See: Defensive backs and linebackers who move quickly to the ball, stepping up with textbook tackling form, preventing big plays for the most part. I can't really quantify this here, but I know I don't want to have to scream at my TV, "Why can't you bozos just make a f****** tackle, for J1000's sake?!?!?!?!?!" If "crappy tackling by the backers" makes it into either my first half or postgame recap posts, this will be a FAILED Hot Read.
MATTY ICE MELTDOWN We all know that FFRR is going to have to scheme out of his generously-proportioned a** to generate any sort of pass rush whatsoever this year. Against the Falcons at home in the 2013 opener and in the return of Sean Payton is a FABULOUS TIME for it to work to supply just enough heat to melt Matt Ryan's confidence. I'm looking at you, Cameron Jordan, Martez Wilson, Junior Galette, and wild card Roman Harper.
What I'd Like To See: At least three sacks and seven combined hurries/quarterback hits while Ryan suffers through a subpar (below 2012 averages) passing day.
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OK, now I am more pumped than ever to see our beloved Saints take the field again! I'll have my new Drew Brees jersey on, along with my ugly Super Bowl XLIV hat (to remind the Falcs of what they desire most) and my Saints socks and Crocs! Shorts and underwear will be just regular clothes. How are you feeling about things? What are you going to be wearing, eating, and drinking during the game today? How do your Hot Reads break down? That's right, this here's your pre-pre-pre-game open thread!!! Hoo-wah!!