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Why it's way too early to draw conclusions about the 2016 Saints, especially Garrett Grayson

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One preseason game, and we're ready to pass judgement on the 2016 New Orleans Saints. However, you're way too early.

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

If you were to ask most Saints fans about Garrett Grayson right after Thursday's game, then you likely would have heard something along the lines "he stinks", "who throws a pick-six right out the gate like that?", "he's just a guy" or "yet another wasted pick". All of these are completely understandable emotional reactions, and they are all premature. So are saying things like the offensive line will get Drew Brees killed, Michael Thomas is the next superstar, or any other kind of definitive statement.

Now don't get me wrong, we learned a lot about the 2016 New Orleans Saints on Thursday, and we will continue to learn more throughout the preseason about who this team is, and might someday be. However, it's important to try and keep perspective with these things (so we don't drive ourselves crazy, if nothing else).

Taking Grayson's performance as an example is a great way to illustrate this point. If you base your whole grade on his performance by how 'not Drew Brees' he was, or based on that pick six - you miss the big picture. Grayson is a developmental prospect who isn't supposed to be ready yet. He's not Drew Brees and never will be. Brees is a highlander (look it up, younger fans).

Grayson performed a lot like I would expect a second-year QB whose not gotten a ton of snaps to perform. He clearly looked nervous and rushed a throw that he probably knew better than to even attempt on his first pass, and it came out high and off target. That isn't to excuse the play. It's bad, but it's also understandable. His performance AFTER the pick is what's much more important though because instead of melting down, he collected himself and proceeded to make some very nice throws (a couple of dimes to Thomas in particular) and some great reads as well.

Grayson showed some very nice mobility, and showed real progress from the player he was before, and that is all you should be asking of him at this point. The most important thing for him to do is to grow from this, build his confidence, and continue his development. Perhaps more than any other position, the quarterback position is so much more about mentality than it is just raw physical ability. Grayson has to get his mind right before he will ever be able to maximize the gifts of his body. I'm not saying he's a future all pro, but what I am saying is there WERE some good things from him on Thursday, and the real test for him will be if he can build off of them or not. As of today, we don't know anything for sure, only time will let us draw any real conclusions about him.

That lesson can be taken for the rest of the team as well.

The pass rush, and the interior in particular looked really good against the Patriots, and especially against the first team. That is encouraging to see, and yet again we need to see it more than once before we can determine if it's real or just a mirage. I really liked what I saw from Tyeler Davison at times, and Nick Fairley and Sheldon Rankins were the exact kind of penetrating tackles we were led to believe they were. However, they need to be able to do it over an extended period of time, at least a couple more games, before any of us should start getting our hopes up over a significantly better defense (and make no mistake an interior pass rush WILL significantly improve your defense).

The two biggest flaws the Saints defense had last year was an abysmally below average level of play on the interior defensive line, and linebackers who couldn't cover to save their lives. Thursday was only one game, in the preseason, where few starters play and teams don't game plan...but we saw signs of both things being massively improved.

Not only did the defensive line get much more push, but also we actually saw Saints linebackers make plays in coverage (I know!) which is something that has been missing really since Jonathan Vilma left. That is is nothing else but encouraging, and honestly I think that's the word I'd most like to use to describe the Saints game against the Patriots. There were some mental mistakes, and the turnovers were a huge factor in the game's outcome, but once you go back and watch the film a couple of times there is a lot more to feel good about than bad. That is something that is both encouraging to feel, and to get to write.

There are pieces on this roster, and even the ones we think might be struggling, which yes includes Grayson having shown some improvement. They have shown us signs of being better.....all except for the offensive line. Not to kill the good vibes I was trying to build up there, but the offensive line was kind of abysmal. However, the other side of that is their biggest offender was Andrus Peat, and it is entirely possible that Peat's issues stem from him constantly being moved around on the line to where his head is swimming. Learning how to effectively play one position at the NFL level is tough, but trying to learn three? That is REALLY tough. I'm not entirely surprised that Peat looked out of sorts and half a step slow out there, because I think its entirely possible he was spending half of his time trying to remember which style of footwork he was supposed to be using (each line position requires different steps and placement, if you didn't know). That of course brings us back to the whole theme here which is that only time will tell. Peat could go back to only playing one spot once Terron Armstead is back, and then suddenly look as good as it sounded he was in training camp, or he could actually be Charles Brown 2.0.

Michael Thomas could actually be the best parts of Marques Colston, but in the body of a prototype NFL superstar wideout. Or, he could be a rookie who makes splash plays, but takes some time to put it all together against the big boys. Whatever the case may be, I can't wait to watch next weeks game against the Texans and see how much more we will learn after that. Overall the first game was encouraging because there was a lot of potential for growth and improvement, the best part will be watching the next few games to see if they can build on it.