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SmashMouth 08-17-2013 03:29 PM

Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
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Everyone knows the rules by now, right? You're not allowed to overreact to anything that happens in the preseason.

Especially when it happens against an Oakland Raiders team that looked absolutely dreadful in the first half of the New Orleans Saints' 28-20 victory Friday night.

So the message after a dominant performance by the Saints' starting units Friday is the same as it was after their lackluster preseason debut a week earlier: Keep calm and carry on.

Still, there were some very legitimate reasons to be more optimistic about the Saints' chances the next time they arrive back in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome three weeks from now for the real deal against the Atlanta Falcons.
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First and foremost was the reminder of just how potent the Saints' offense can be when it catches fire.

Not that there was any doubt about that, but this was the first time this summer that we saw Drew Brees and the Saints' passing game truly light it up as they cruised to a 23-0 lead.

At one point, Brees completed nine straight passes - including back-to-back-to-back throws to top playmakers Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles on the Saints' second touchdown drive.
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But Brees also found some new toys to play with in young receivers Kenny Stills and Nick Toon, who continued to show that they may be ready for prime-time roles as the team's No. 3 and 4 receivers.

Toon made an outstanding 56-yard catch to set up the Saints' first touchdown -- using his deceptive speed to get open down the field, his big body to shield ex-Saint Tracy Porter and great concentration to reel in the pass.

Stills then tried to one-up Toon with his own dramatic 16-yard touchdown catch on the next drive, keeping his toes in bounds as Brees hit him on the sideline in front to Porter. Stills finished with four catches for 64 yards, showing no signs of the butterflies that plagued him a week earlier against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"It was good to see it on the field tonight from both of them," said Saints coach Sean Payton, who opted to start both young receivers and let Moore serve as the nickel receiver Friday to give them a real test -- since their development is arguably one of the most critical objectives for the Saints' offense this preseason.

"I thought they handled it pretty good tonight," Payton said.

Meanwhile, left tackle Charles Brown continued to cement his job as the Saints' starting left tackle -- the issue that we thought would be the most critical for the Saints' offense this preseason.

Brown held up extremely well throughout the first half, with the exception of one holding penalty. But even on that play, he started strong before eventually needing to get grabby while Brees held on to the ball for a long time looking for an open receiver.

Defensively, the Saints were just as dominant Friday night.

Now, this performance has to be taken with even more caution since we know the Saints' defense is still a work in progress -- and their performance came against a Raiders offensive line that looked like it was serving as the Saints' scout team in a walkthrough practice session.
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Still, it was a great confidence boost after a more mediocre start last week when the Kansas City Chiefs rolled to a 14-play touchdown drive to open the game.

The Saints shut out the Raiders for the first 29 minutes Friday -- including sacks by Ramon Humber, Cam Jordan, Akiem Hicks, Roman Harper and Will Smith and a fourth-and-1 stuff by Humber.

Humber and Jordan were particularly great throughout the first half, flashing several times. But the performance that mattered most -- at least in the minds of a skeptical Saints fan base -- was that of Smith, who proved what an asset he can still be in his 10th season, especially when he's playing up closer to the line of scrimmage.

Smith nearly had two sacks (he had the first hit on quarterback Matt Flynn before Hicks wrapped him up), and he was the one who blew up the Raiders' line on the fourth-and-1 stop.

I know I'm often accused of being a Smith apologist, but Friday was an example of why. He's not a dynamic athlete, and he's no longer in his Pro Bowl prime. But if the Saints can keep him closer to the line of scrimmage in a hybrid end/linebacker role, his power and physicality remain an asset.

Obviously Smith looks more lost when he's chasing speed backs like Jamaal Charles in the flat, like last week. But then again, he had decent coverage on speed back Darren McFadden in the flat Friday night when Flynn tried to shovel the ball to McFadden under pressure.

Using Smith the right way will be a top priority for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan this season. It will help when injured outside linebackers Junior Galette and Martez Wilson return to the lineup.

Even the Saints' special teams units were much improved in the first half on a Friday night where just about everything went right for the Saints.

It was only the preseason. And it was only the Raiders.

But while the Saints are keeping calm and carrying on, at least they're heading in the right direction.

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Danno 08-17-2013 03:42 PM

Re: Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
Quote:

Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism
A near perfect line.

ChrisXVI 08-17-2013 03:52 PM

Re: Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
I'm not gonna hype the first-string defense at all for being good against the Raiders who have a new QB and are scrambling now to find a new left tackle.

Danno 08-17-2013 03:54 PM

Re: Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisXVI (Post 518045)
I'm not gonna hype the first-string defense at all for being good against the Raiders who have a new QB and are scrambling now to find a new left tackle.

Sorry, but our 2012 defense would have looked bad even against the Raiders. And it wasn't just their LT that was getting abused. It was the entire O-line.

There is ample reason to be optimistic.

And BTW: we've yet to see our 1st string defense play yet. Galette, Vilma, and Wilson have yet to play. Thats almost half of our starting front 7.

ChrisXVI 08-17-2013 04:02 PM

Re: Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Danno (Post 518047)
Sorry, but our 2012 defense would have looked bad even against the Raiders. And it wasn't just their LT that was getting abused. It was the entire O-line.

There is ample reason to be optimistic.

And BTW: we've yet to see our 1st string defense play yet. Galette, Vilma, and Wilson have yet to play. Thats almost half of our starting front 7.

If their O-Line is that bad how do you know if our 2012 defense would have looked bad? That's my point, their entire O-Line was terrible so why is there ample reason to be optimistic about the defense that we fielded? I know we have many players on defense that didn't start but c'mon... You proved my point talking about how bad their O-Line is.

Danno 08-17-2013 04:08 PM

Re: Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisXVI (Post 518050)
If their O-Line is that bad how do you know if our 2012 defense would have looked bad? That's my point, their entire O-Line was terrible so why is there ample reason to be optimistic about the defense that we fielded? I know we have many players on defense that didn't start but c'mon... You proved my point talking about how bad their O-Line is.

But its 2 weeks in a row that our front 7 has looked extremely good. They look faster than last years defense. That has nothing to do with Oaklands problems.

They've given Brees and our elite offense problems all training camp. That alone should be reason enough for optimism.

|Mitch| 08-17-2013 04:15 PM

Re: Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisXVI (Post 518050)
If their O-Line is that bad how do you know if our 2012 defense would have looked bad?

We gave up 27 points to the Jags in week 2 of the preseason last year... 2012 Jags are pretty comparable to 2013 Raiders. In fact, the Raiders may have been a little better...

TheOak 08-17-2013 04:23 PM

Re: Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisXVI (Post 518045)
I'm not gonna hype the first-string defense at all for being good against the Raiders who have a new QB and are scrambling now to find a new left tackle.

New QB..... You mean like the 2012 49ers?

Edit: the 2012 Super Bowl contending 49er's?

Barry from MS 08-17-2013 04:33 PM

Re: Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
This D has looked good so far; both KC and OAK were in plenty of 3rd and longs...then they actually punted when they couldn't convert. Improvement from last year.

And I really liked both Ryan Griffin's and Robinson's outings; certainly better than Wallering Wallace's INT and strip-fumble-for-TD and Cadet's 2 fumbles. Did anyone else notice how the atmosphere of the offense was markedly different between Wallace and Griffin? Seems that Griffin certainly has a presence and his offense responds. The response for Wallace was "PFFFFTTT, let's quit".

AsylumGuido 08-17-2013 04:36 PM

Re: Don't overreact, but don't ignore real reasons for optimism in New Orleans Saints' dominant performance
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Barry from MS (Post 518068)
This D has looked good so far; both KC and OAK were in plenty of 3rd and longs...then they actually punted when they couldn't convert. Improvement from last year.

And I really liked both Ryan Griffin's and Robinson's outings; certainly better than Wallering Wallace's INT and strip-fumble-for-TD and Cadet's 2 fumbles. Did anyone else notice how the atmosphere of the offense was markedly different between Wallace and Griffin? Seems that Griffin certainly has a presence and his offense responds. The response for Wallace was "PFFFFTTT, let's quit".

Yup. Thought pretty much the same.


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