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Saints' defense fits the bill

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Posted by John DeShazier August 10, 2007 10:44PM First, the obvious: The Buffalo Bills are not to be confused with the last Sunday's Saints opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, even though the former was a pleasant surprise last season while the ...

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Old 08-10-2007, 11:08 PM   #1
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Cool Saints' defense fits the bill

Posted by John DeShazier
August 10, 2007 10:44PM


First, the obvious:

The Buffalo Bills are not to be confused with the last Sunday's Saints opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, even though the former was a pleasant surprise last season while the latter skidded and crashed one season after winning the Super Bowl. The Steelers still have a champion's mentality, while title rings worn by any Bills players were earned elsewhere.
And no one is expecting Buffalo to mount much of a threat to the established powers in the AFC.

Second, the disclaimer:

Friday's scrape between the Saints and Bills at the Superdome was (sigh) another installment of exhibition season, the seemingly more unnecessary evil that precedes the actual stuff that counts. You can't really take much of anything too seriously when the primary objective of teams is to not show too much in terms of a game plan and to exit the scrimmage in no worse shape, physically, than when they entered.

Third, the reality:

Real or contrived, we'll take the improvement shown by the Saints' first-team defense against the Bills. After a performance against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game that generated an odor in Canton, Ohio, that could be smelled in New Orleans, it simply was nice to see the defense get after someone -- other than its teammates -- and have success.

The Saints yielded a modest 104 yards in the first half against the Bills, just 36 rushing on 11 attempts. The biggest gains they allowed were for 17 and 15 yards and, yes, that qualified as a step forward five days after the Steelers appeared to be playing at one speed and the Saints looked to be chugging along at a clip that was 10 mph to 20 mph slower.

"Defensively, I thought we played with better effort, better energy," Coach Sean Payton said. "We kept the ball in front of us."

Again, it's important to reserve some enthusiasm over Friday's first half.
The Bills, in their exhibition debut, were as ragged as most teams generally are this time of year, when starters play a series or a quarter and spend the rest of the night wearing baseball caps and giggling, the scrimmage serving as a pleasant alternative to practice in the searing heat.

And the Saints left the tricks in the bag, which is where they belong right now. Knocking around former Tulane quarterback J.P. Losman, the Bills' starter, Aug. 10 isn't nearly as significant as it will be to get to Peyton Manning on Sept. 6.

"We're still kind of in training-camp mode," Payton said. "We're still trying to refine things."

But as meaningless as the score is -- by the way, the final was Bills 13, Saints 10 -- effort is something that does matter. After laying an egg against Pittsburgh and remaining stationary long enough actually to hatch it, the defense gave a better representation of itself, within the confines of the little it was asked to do.

No, the expectation isn't that the Saints' defense will rival the Ravens'. Shutouts and defensive intimidation don't come to mind when "New Orleans" rolls off the tongue. But if the Saints' offense is anywhere near as prolific as it was last season, the defense won't have to pitch shutouts and hope for the best. If it does enough to prevent shootouts, that'll be plenty.

Exhibition game or not, it didn't show itself as having such a capability Sunday against Pittsburgh. That made Friday's dance with Buffalo a lot more encouraging, even though the Bills aren't in the same class, or even the same school, as Pittsburgh.

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