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Pregame by Lori in Buffallo

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; BUFFALO BILLS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS FRIDAY, AUGUST 10TH, 2007 SUPERDOME, NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA 8:00 EDT (7:00 CDT) CBS Sports HD PLAY-BY-PLAY: Gus Johnson COLOR ANALYST: Solomon Wilcots RADIO: Buffalo Bills Radio Network PLAY-BY-PLAY: John Murphy COLOR ANALYST: Mark Kelso ...

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Old 08-10-2007, 08:18 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Pregame by Lori in Buffallo

BUFFALO BILLS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
FRIDAY, AUGUST 10TH, 2007
SUPERDOME, NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
8:00 EDT (7:00 CDT)

CBS Sports HD
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Gus Johnson
COLOR ANALYST: Solomon Wilcots

RADIO: Buffalo Bills Radio Network
PLAY-BY-PLAY: John Murphy
COLOR ANALYST: Mark Kelso
SIDELINE REPORTER: Paul Peck

New Orleans Saints Radio Network
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Jim Henderson
COLOR ANALYST: Hokie Gajan
SIDELINE REPORTER: Kenny Wilkerson

Sirius Sunday Drive: Channel 181 (Buffalo feed) / Channel 126 (New Orleans feed)


SERIES RECORD: 3-3 preseason, 4-4 regular-season. Bills are 3-3 overall at the Superdome since it opened for business in 1975, including losses in both preseason contests held there.

LAST MEETING: October 2, 2005 – Saints 19, Bills 7, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX
The Bills won the coin toss and marched down the field to a one-yard Willis McGahee touchdown run on their opening drive, but never got past the goal line in the remaining 55 minutes of play. John Carney's first field goal of the day cut the lead to 7-3 early in the second quarter. On Buffalo's next play from scrimmage, J.P. Losman, under pressure, tossed the ball up for grabs deep downfield. Jason Craft made the easy interception and ran it back to the Buffalo 23; five plays later, Aaron Brooks scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown to give New Orleans a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Carney added another field goal with ten seconds left in the half... which gave Pro Bowl kick returner Terrence McGee just enough time for a runback. His spectacular 82-yard return looked destined for the end zone, but he got caught up in traffic at the New Orleans five, and finally went down at the three long after time had expired.

The Bills did nothing on Losman's two drives in the third quarter, so when they got the ball back early in the fourth, Kelly Holcomb trotted onto the field with the offense. He couldn't provide the “spark” Mike Mularkey was looking for, though: Buffalo managed just one first down on their three fourth-quarter drives, and lost their last chance to score when Saints DE Charles Grant sacked Holcomb and linemate Tony Bryant recovered the ensuing fumble.

Losman went a horrific 7-15-1 for 75 yards before being benched; he wouldn't throw another pass until Holcomb was knocked out of the Chiefs game five weeks later. McGahee ran well, piling up 84 yards on just 16 carries, but the Bills stumbled and bumbled their way into far too many bad down-and-distance situations to take advantage of their success on the ground.

New Orleans had no such problems, giving the ball to Deuce McAllister 29 times (27 carries, two receptions) for a combined 146 yards. Even with Joe Horn sidelined (hamstring injury), the Bills – and especially Nate Clements – had no answer for Donte' Stallworth, who racked up 129 receiving yards on eight catches.

LAST TIME IN NEW ORLEANS: December 27, 1998 – Bills 45, Saints 33
With a playoff berth safely in hand, Rob Johnson got his first start since a rib injury in week 5 earned him a front-row seat to “Flutiemania”. He didn't disappoint this day, lighting up the Saints defense for three touchdown passes and adding a 12-yard run for another score.

Bruce Smith (literally) got the ball rolling early, recovering a Kerry Collins fumble and returning it to the New Orleans one-yard line. (He also picked up his tenth sack, hitting double digits for the twelfth time in his career – a mark achieved only by Reggie White before him.) Antowain Smith's score put the Bills up 7-0 just 35 seconds into the game; a 66-yard Johnson-to-Eric Moulds hookup made it 14-0 slightly over two minutes later, and the rout was officially on. By the time Billy Joe Tolliver replaced Collins in the second quarter the Bills were up by 28, and would keep at least a ten-point cushion the rest of the way.
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SAINTS OVERVIEW (2006 FINAL RANKINGS)
OFFENSE (#1 total yardage, #19 rushing, #1 passing, #5 scoring):
The Saints offense looks dramatically different than it did in the last meeting, thanks to some interesting personnel decisions by two AFC teams. Miami could have signed Drew Brees as a free agent, but instead traded Minnesota their 2006 second-round draft pick to acquire the services of Daunte Culpepper. (Think they'd like a do-over on that call?)
While the Dolphins discovered Culpepper's rebuilt knee wasn't ready for prime time, Brees merely led the league with 4,418 passing yards. He's not the biggest or the fastest quarterback you'll ever see, but the guy the Chargers gave up on – twice – took the Saints to their first conference championship game in franchise history.

And when the Houston Texans decided they needed help on the defensive line more than the most exciting player in college football, New Orleans was happy to snag Reggie Bush with the 2006 #2 overall pick. Bush's run stats aren't overwhelming – mostly because he platoons with the team's all-time leading rusher, Deuce McAllister – but he's a threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball. Bush also led the team with 88 catches last year, the most by any rookie RB in league history. McAllister recovered well from the torn ACL that ended his 2005 season after five games, coming on strong at the end of the year with three 100-yard games in December and another against Philadelphia in the playoffs.

Aaron Stecker and fourth-round pick Antonio Pittman (Ohio State) give the team decent depth at the position; FB Mike Karney is a solid blocker, and also scored as many receiving touchdowns (two) as Bush. Jamie Martin serves as Brees' backup, with Jason Fife and rookie Tyler Palko (Pitt) battling for the #3 spot.

The passing attack, tops in the league in 2006, could be even better this year: with surprise Rookie of the Year candidate Marques Colston and first-round pick Robert Meachem (Tennessee) in the fold, longtime Saint Joe Horn – not getting any younger, and with injury issues the last couple of seasons – was allowed to leave for division rival Atlanta. But if Meachem (coming back from knee surgery in June) wants that other starting spot, he'll have to beat out Devery Henderson, who averaged a stunning 23.3 yards per catch last season. Terrence Copper and free agent pickup David Patten are also in the mix, although Patten is dealing with turf toe.
Tight end Eric Johnson (49ers) was added in the offseason; if he manages to stay healthy, he'll most likely pass old friend Mark Campbell on the depth chart.

Longtime LT starter Wayne Gandy was traded before last year to make room for Jammal Brown, the team's 2005 first-round pick. That turned out to be another good decision – the Saints finished fourth in fewest sacks allowed, and Brown made his first trip to the Pro Bowl. He banged up a knee earlier this week and won't play against Buffalo, but should be all right by the start of the regular season.

More proof that the Cleveland Browns franchise is cursed: the star of their 2006 free-agent class, center LeCharles Bentley, didn't make it through a single training-camp practice last summer before shredding his knee... but his replacement in New Orleans, former Brown Jeff Faine, managed to start all 16 games for the first time in his career. (Knew it couldn't last, though – he injured a calf muscle against Pittsburgh, and will also sit out this game.)
Jahri Evans, like Colston, was a little-known name from a small school when the Saints used their fourth-round pick on him last year. He's developed into a solid starter, and the team hopes to have similar success with 2007 picks Andy Alleman (G – Akron) and Jermon Bushrod (T – Towson).

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Old 08-10-2007, 08:19 AM   #2
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Re: Pregame by Lori in Buffallo

DEFENSE (#11 total yardage, #23 rushing, #3 passing, #13 scoring):
Unlike the offense, the Saints D has plenty of room for improvement. They gave up 16 plays of 40 or more yards last year – a league high – and judging by their performance in last weekend's Hall of Fame Game, that problem may persist this season. Despite what the 2006 rankings might suggest, the passing defense is the main culprit. Opposing quarterbacks threw 26 touchdown passes last season – only Washington (30) allowed more – and the Saints managed just 11 interceptions, tied for 28th in the league. After watching Fred Thomas get scorched repeatedly in both their playoff games, general manager Mickey Loomis and V.P. of Player Personnel Rick Mueller signed restricted free agent Jason David (Colts) to start opposite Mike McKenzie. Thomas is still on the team, but will have to compete with Jason Craft and third-round pick Usama Young (Kent State) for the nickel position.
Strong safety Roman Harper was off to a good start in his rookie campaign, until a torn ACL ended his season after just five games. Josh Bullocks started all sixteen games last year, but Kevin Kaesviharn (Bengals) could push him for the free safety job.

The makeover at linebacker also continued; not a single one of the top six LBs on the current depth chart was on the squad in 2005. Brian Simmons (Bengals) will provide competition at MLB for Mark Simoneau, who was acquired from the Eagles last year in the Donte' Stallworth trade. The outside 'backers are Scott Shanle and Scott Fujita, both of whom played for the Cowboys back when Sean Payton was their assistant head coach. Dhani Jones (late of the Eagles) and former Texan Troy Evans round out the two-deep. No all-stars in the bunch – but still an upgrade over the starters in that 2005 game, who are now either backups on other teams or out of the league completely.
(NOTE: Jones will start at SLB in place of Fujita, who apparently needs to stay away from water slides.)

The strength of the defense rests on the line, where Charles Grant and Will Smith form one of the best young DE tandems in the league. At tackle, Brian Young is still recuperating from surgery on a fractured foot, so another free-agent pickup, Kendrick Clancy, will start alongside Hollis Thomas for now.


SPECIAL TEAMS:
After eighteen seasons in the league, the last six in New Orleans, John Carney was given his pink slip to make room for Olindo Mare. Seems like a strange decision, based on their field goal percentages last season: Carney was 23-25, 1-2 from 50+, while Mare was only 26-36, 1-6 from 50+. The real difference, though, is on the kickoff – Mare's 24 touchbacks last year come close to matching the number Carney had in his last ten seasons.

Steve Weatherford did an adequate job as the punter last year, but Chris Hanson was brought in to provide competition anyway. (Note to the Saints trainers: please keep all sharp objects and fondue pots away from Hanson's locker.)

With Reggie Bush more involved in the offense, backup WR Lance Moore appears to be the punt returner, while Aaron Stecker takes over kick-return duties from Michael Lewis. Coverage teams are adequate; neither gave up a return touchdown last season.
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ROSTER FIGHTS:
Since we probably won't see either team's stars past the end of the first quarter, time to focus on the battles for the all-important #4 safety, #5 WR, etc.

John Wendling may have all the “measurables”, but the Bills coaches absolutely love Jim Leonhard. Can't see anyone passing JL on the depth chart, and where does George Wilson fit (if anywhere)?

Right guard: At the moment, for me, it's Whittle's job to lose. I haven't really liked what I've seen from Preston so far, and Butler's injury has slowed his transistion from tackle. Again, just my opinion.

CB: I still think it's Webster across from McGee, but there's definitely room for movement here. Hoping somebody will step up and make a couple of plays during the preseason, both to secure the job and to set my mind at ease.

DT: Tripplett, Williams, and McCargo. Then what? Going to have to keep at least four, whether we fans like any of the choices or not.

As someone else already posted... Happy Football Season!

Links:
Saints depth chart / Saints 2007 preseason stats / Bills depth chart / Bills 2006 team stats

Bills - Saints - Two Bills Drive Forums

Now that is a write up. great job

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"We may have lost the game, but you'll be hurting tomorrow." Doug Atkins Sometimes it's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot, than to open it and remove all doubt!!!!!
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Old 08-10-2007, 09:33 AM   #3
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Re: Pregame by Lori in Buffallo

She did an excellent job with that.

Glad to see you're using the F2FA sites Hagan... I'll be there right with ya all year long.

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