New Season - Same Saints
Saturday, August 13, 2005
The best thing that can be said about
this one is there were no major injuries
So how did they look, those 2005 Saints?
Well, a little more than halfway through the first quarter, you could have sworn you saw all this before.
Some time last September.
Just as Aaron Brooks hands the football to Deuce McAllister on third-and-short, Deuce is upended behind the line, the ball comes loose, and the Seattle Seahawks recover on the Saints' 19.
Two plays later, wideout Bob Engram runs a drag pattern, Matt Hasselbeck gets him the ball, and Engram outruns linebacker Courtney Watson down the sideline for the final 11 yards on a 13-yard touchdown completion.
Saints' ball. Brooks completes his first pass of the preseason, an 11-yard bullet to tight end Zach Hilton. Deuce gets some daylight. He slashes for 12, for 8, for 5.
A couple of botched plays.
But in steps John Carney to ease some of pain with a 50-yard field goal.
Don't go away.
Saints' ball again.
This time, on third-and-five, Brooks is hooking up with DontÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â© Stallworth, down the sideline, for 26 yards, to Seattle's 37.
Hold on. Rookie tackle Jammal Brown is flagged for lining up too deep. Illegal formation. Drive over.
This one is so one-sided, you begin looking for any sliver of sunshine.
There comes linebacker Colby Bockwoldt on a blitz up the middle and down goes Hasselbeck for minus yardage.
And there goes cornerback Mike McKenzie, into pass coverage, to tip away a sure-fire Hasselbeck completion with a pair of quick hands.
Well, so much for slivers of sunshine.
The second quarter would belong to a guy you may have never heard of, backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, a third-year pro out of Iowa State.
As it turned out, on the evening of a dreadful 34-15 defeat, somewhat brightened by some final-minutes fireworks produced by rookie QB Adrian McPherson, Jim Haslett's defense did what it could to make Wallace look like the second coming of Michael Vick.
After Aaron Stecker missed a blitzing Seahawk who knocked the ball loose from QB Todd Bouman, Seattle was in business at the Saints' 35. And it wasn't long before you had Wallace running away from a bunch of black shirts, all the way into the end zone from 24 yards.
After that, it wasn't long before Wallace had the second unit on the march again, this time for 73 yards, a drive that ended when he hit, of all people, ex-Saint Jerome Pathon, who beat Jason Craft for a 28-yard TD.
What can you say about a first half that ended 24-3, with the visiting team owning a 229-86 edge in total yardage?
A first half that ended with Wallace outpassing Brooks 101 yards to 14?
If you were a Saints diehard, and looking for an overall positive, all anyone could say was this: There were no major injuries.
And leave it at that.
If Haslett's preseason schedule tells you anything, it should be a meaningful measuring stick, at least in one way. The Seahawks, who made the playoffs last year with a 9-7 record, were an underachieving ballclub, much like the Saints. This year some are picking them to win their division.
Next week the Saints will be facing the defending world champion Patriots, at least in the first quarter.
The following week the same thing will apply, at least one quarter against the Baltimore Ravens' frontliners, a club picked by some to win the AFC North.
By this time, before a final go-round against Oakland, Haslett should have some idea if, as he has been saying, less will mean more, that a simplified offense and defense will produce more consistency, week in and week out.
After one tuneup, let's say this: Less meant very little.
. . . . . . .
Peter Finney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 826-3802.
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