Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saints Fourth Week Review: I-N-T-Cept...CEPT...CEPT...CEPT!!!

The Black and Gold defense and Pierre Thomas stepped up again showing the 2009 edition of the New Orleans Saints are not solely reliant on the pass to win games. What’s more, the win came through uncharacteristic circumstances as the defense outscored the offense.
For the second straight week, the Saints defense held their opponents to less than two touchdowns, largely contained the New York Jets’ running game and punished rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez with sacks and interceptions. Sanchez completed just over 50% of his passes for 138 yards.
To their credit, the Jets’ defense did show up big, limiting the prolific Saints offense to only 10 points in their own stadium; the Jets’s widely touted offensive line, not so impressive.
In fact LSU’s o-line might have been under the green and white gear.
Sanchez was sacked four times, picked off three times (one for a touchdown, one other just shy of a touchdown) and fumbled the ball in his own end zone resulting in a Saints defensive score.

What I Liked

The Ends Earn Their Considerable Pay If the Saints go all the way this season, an important milestone would be the NFL agreeing to forestall the suspensions of defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith. The much-maligned duo has caught justified heat from the fans for their lack of production over the past two seasons. But they’re making up for it quick. Grant and Smith each had a pair of sacks and the latter forced the end zone fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Remi Ayodele for a touchdown.

Smith has already tied his sack mark from last season in game four of this season (3) while Grant has already exceeded his sack total from last season (3) with his fourth sack in 2009.

P.T. Cruises Again While the Crescent City has fallen hard for running back Mike Bell, Pierre Thomas, who was set to start before he got injured in pre-season, has reminded the public that the running game is not lacking with Bell out. In his second game, Thomas ran for 86 yards (including a touchdown) and caught for 46 yards (leading the team in both categories). Thomas did fumble though the Saints recovered it. Once again this Saints fan is happy to not see Beanie Wells or Edgerrin James in a black and gold uniform as we already have the talent at a discount.

Why Drew Brees IS a Winner Funny how this is the first time I am mentioning Drew Brees in a game review. Once again fantasy football “owners” were crying on their laptops as Brees had a statistically modest day. That said, the Saints quarterback was a big factor throwing a good block for running back Reggie Bush and scrambling for a first down. Just as significantly he jumped on Thomas’s fumble. I was remiss in neglecting to note Brees’s running last week as the quarterback shows that he is willing to do whatever it takes to get a “W”, even if it comes at the opportunity cost of not racking up juiced up passing numbers.

Sharper Gets 2nd Pick-6 I am tempted to nominate the thirty-three year old safety for the People’s Choice weekly senior nominee. Darren Sharper is proving to be the team’s second best free-agent acquisition in recent history (Brees naturally being the greatest…EVER). Sharper’s two interceptions against the Jets give him five for the season and 59 for his career. It’s nice to have a future Canton inductee on the team.

Once again, why the hell did Mickey Loomis drag his feet on signing this guy?

O-Line Allows 0 Sacks Nuff said.

What I Didn’t Like

Go(h) For It Saints were 0 for 2 on fourth down. Granted a third attempt drew the Jets offsides which gave the Saints a first down and the goal-line 4th down attempt was parlayed into a forced fumble that gave the Saints defense the touchdown the Jets defense had denied the offense. Still with me? Admittedly I am a fan of conservative football and while the 1 yard line stance and an attempt to draw the opposing defense offside is smart strategy, the time the Saints got nothing for their troubles was a bad call. Field goals can and do win games and swashbuckling playcalling can just as easily blow a lead as it can build one.

reggie, reggie, reggie The celebrithete had a few impressive runs and averaged six yards per carry. But people aren’t going to recall that from this game. A costly fumble that would set the Eagles up for their lone touchdown and continued shaky punt returning has not endeared him with the crowd. The chanting of his name has been replaced with a collective gasp of anxiety whenever the other team is about to punt.

Dirty Sanchez I find the moniker irreligious Jets’ fans use to honor their quarterback more offensive than the aforementioned less flattering sobriquet. Sanchez had a miserable day after a charmed 3-0 start. Sanchez was sacked four times, threw three interceptions and had a fumble in his own end zone, though perhaps his most egregious sin was his chop-block to former Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma while he was protecting Sharper’s 99 yard interception for a touchdown. The “dirty” chop block resulted in a penalty and hopefully slapped with a stiff fine for Sanchez.

To quote Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. from Last Crusade, THAT’S for blasphemy.

Interesting Stat 1st The Saints currently lead the league in interceptions with 10. After some free agent signings and some cuts the team’s secondary is no longer a gapping weakness to be exploited.

An Appeal for Carney

With Garrett Hartley’s four game suspension for taking stimulants ending, the Saints front office is going to have to make a roster move. Keeping two kickers on the roster is unlikely, meaning kicker John Carney has probably played his last game in a Saints uniform.

The forty-five year old Carney went to the Pro Bowl last year as a fill-in kicker with the New York Giants and has been a reliable and consistent in a position that has been infuriatingly chaotic since he was released in 2007.

While Hartley has more leg strength, making him on paper an upgrade (we’ve heard that one before), Carney has gotten the job done, being 6 for 7 on field goals and perfect in extra points. Furthermore punter Thomas Morestead has booted some of the best kick-offs in years.

While I understand Carney is approaching the end of his career and that the team needs a kicker that can make the long-distance field goals Carney can’t, I am concerned about Hartley’s judgment. Oh, I’m also superstitious about cutting Carney.

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