The New Orleans Saints played the proverbial “dress rehearsal” and their first game in the Mercedes Benz Superdome of the 2017 NFL preseason last night against the Houston Texans. For the first time this preseason, we got to see quarterback Drew Brees in action, as well as running backs Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram. The Saints prevailed 13-0, and as the score indicates, the defense once again stole the show. Wait, is this really an article about the Saints? Is this a mirage? Are they tricking us and we’ll wake up on September 11 and the Saints’ defense will look porous and putrid? I don’t know, but so far in the 2017 NFL campaign, the defense is the story.
Winner: D-Fence! D-Fence! D-Fence! (Part Deux)
You are reading right, this is not a hoax: The Saints’ defense is good. Yes, it is. Ok let’s slow down, it’s preseason and they haven’t really faced any true offensive game plan yet. But they’re still good. And you know why? In years past, they used to like doo-doo, even in the preseason. In 2017, they look like Voodoo. As if some creole priestess has blessed them and suddenly enabled them to rush the passer, cover wide receivers, tackle running backs and catch intercept…wait, they still need more black magic for that, they can’t catch the damn ball. But man, have they been awesome. Four more sacks last night, the Saints’ defense has now gone eight straight quarters without allowing a single point. Not one! The Texans rushed for a meager 57 yards and the Texans recorded a combined 58.7 quarterback rating. From starters to backups, the attitude of the defense just looks different this season from years past. Someone pinch me.
Winner: P.J. Williams
Remember when Delvin Breaux was the Saints’ number one cornerback? That’s so 2015. Right now, you should pay close attention to number 26 in Black and Gold, because last night, the third-year cornerback was making plays. On Saturday, Williams was often covering Texans’ third-year wide receiver Jaelen Strong one on one and he unequivocally won that battle, with Strong coming away with one catch for 8 yards on the night. Williams was having a promising Saints’ debut in the 2016 season when he was knocked out in week 2 after an on-field collision. He had also missed his entire rookie season, so here’s hoping that the third year will be the charm. With Sterling Moore, Ken Crawley, Damian Swann, and rookie first round pick Marshon Lattimore all viable candidates for the number two cornerback spot as well as the nickel position, the Saints’ secondary has been a big part of the preseason defensive revival that the Saints are enjoying right now. Let’s hope it lasts.
Winner: Special Teams
Who knew that getting rid of Greg McMahon would solve all the special teams issues? Ok, maybe not all, the return game still needs to get better, however in the coverage part of the game, Bradford Banta’s men have been money so far in the preseason. The Texans had three kickoff returns for a total of 72 yards (24-yard average) which isn’t awesome but isn’t awful either. However, Houston had five punt returns for a scanty 5.4-yard average and along of 9 yards. Punter Thomas Morstead has been his usual efficient self, totaling eight punts for a 42-yard net average. Kicker Wil Lutz has been flawless this preseason, as he converted on two additional field goals last night and his now 6 for 6 on field goals in the preseason. His kick trajectory on long field goals has also been higher, which was one of his weaknesses last season. So far so good for a special teams unit that cost the Saints a couple of games last season.
- There was no true loser for the Saints against the Houston Texans on Saturday night. We finally got to see Drew Breeeeeeeeeeees last night and that was great. He didn’t get sacked one time, despite Max Unger not playing. Thank you, baby Jesus. Brees was a ho-hum 11 for 15 for 76 yards. That’s like Garrett Grayson’s line when he’s doing his best. Even when he’s not trying, all Brees does is complete passes.
- We also saw Adrian Peterson tote the rock in a Saints uniform. How cool was that? Let’s hope AD can find his younger legs and more rushing lanes when the team gets to Minnesota in about two weeks. Two weeks! Peterson only had 6 carries for 15 yards, but if you’ve watched him before, you know he’s a volume running back, who needs to get warm before he can start punishing defenders. My hope is that during the regular season, Sean Payton will soften up defenses with Mark Ingram, then use AD in the fourth quarter as a bruising closer. Speaking of Ingram, he too made his preseason debut and displayed his pass-catching as well as his running abilities. There was nothing eye-popping from the running backs and rookie sensation Alvin Kamara didn’t play last night.
- It absolutely won’t be long until Michael Thomas is counted among the top-five wide receivers in the entire league. Dude is just a baller. Enough said. Oh, and Tommylee Lewis has made this team.
- I would enjoy seeing the Saints stash diminutive running back Darius Victor on the practice squad. That man is a little bowling bowl, trucking defenders like they’re nothing but pins. He has a future on an NFL team, hopefully it’ll be the Saints.
- Cam Jordan and Sheldon Rankins are coming for your quarterback!
What was most encouraging to you in the Saints’ performance in last night’s game?
This poll is closed
The defense as a whole has been magnificent
The young cornerbacks are coming of age
Wil Lutz continues to be money
Special teams has looked much improved
The fact that preseason is almost over