Be honest. You could feel it couldn’t you? Sense there was something different about today. At the very least you had to pick up on the signs if you went out and about. Drivers next to you wearing Saints jerseys, grocery stores with folks in line waiting to check out baskets filled with grilling materials and adult beverages. I passed three Daiquiri shops on my way home about an hour and half before seven o’clock, and saw longer than usual lines at the drive thru window for a Sunday evening. Yup. The signs were there that it was Saints game day.
An offseason chalk full of stories that could cripple a fan base, has instead rejuvenated this local one. Saints fans could care less that the Saints preseason opening 17-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals in the Hall of Fame game didn’t count in the win-loss column. Saints football is back and for many if not all, it couldn’t come soon enough.
Frankly it was just good to see the New Orleans Saints back on the field in their white and gold road look.
So what did we see? In short, we saw the Saints showcase what has made them a Super Bowl title contending team the past few seasons, and signs that this team could be better. Above all, despite some national pundits feeling the Saints would be a ship sailing without a captain thanks to the bounty suspensions, the team managed to get on and off the right bus, make it to the locker room, find what side of the field to stand on and play a game.
The Saints opening drive was impressive. 10 plays 77 yards 4:08 off the clock. Quarterback Drew Brees went 4 of 5 for 41 yards in his only action of the night. Brees made solid throws and called the right audibles, shocking I know. Running back Pierre Thomas continued what we’ve seen at camp, as he ran once for 12 yards, and caught two screen passes for 21 yards, accounting for 33 yards on that drive single handedly. Joe Morgan also had a nice catch and showed nice second effort to pick up the first down to continue the drive. A drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by running back Mark Ingram, who finished his night with four carries for 14 yards. More importantly not showing any ill effects of injuries that shortened his rookie season a year ago.
The defense didn’t take long to make some noise either, two plays to be exact. Safety Malcolm Jenkins had a nice pick, as he jumped an out route. DT Sedrick Ellis helped with inside pressure of Kolb. That play quenching the thirst a bit for many Saints fans that have been wanting to see pressure on the opposing team quarterback and the secondary creating a turnover. During the last six practices of training camp, the secondary has been picking off passes as the pads came on and the defensive line pressured Brees and the rest of the quarterbacks.
In the game against Arizona, the Saints defensive line definitely looked more active, creating pressure, and flying around the ball. Heck Ellis, who had ZERO tackles for a loss last season, was active while in the game, knocking out Cardinals starting quarterback Kevin Kolb.
It’s still very early in the Steve Spagnuolo era, but the new defensive coordinator’s scheme seems to be an effective one for the players on this defense. Some proof?
The night pretty much ended on an interception in the endzone by second year linebacker Lawrence Wilson with under two minutes to play preserving the Saints 17-10 lead.
GETTING NOTICED: A few players stood out against the Cardinals with some
Quarterback Chase Daniel had a nice night going 15 of 20 for 203 yards, tossing a touchdown and a pick. Daniel also scrambled five times for 17 yards. Daniel who led the team during the offseason while Brees and the team hammered out a contract, has seemed very comfortable in training camp. Daniel during camp has also looked sharp delivering tight passes and more often than not making the right read against coverage.
Second year player Martez Wilson, who is making the move from linebacker to the defensive end position, has had a solid training camp so far and Sunday didn’t disappoint. Wilson, dubbed “Sack-tez” on my radio show, pressured the quarterback several times and picked up a pair of sacks in the game.
Receivers Courtney Roby and Andy Tanner had solid outings. Roby had 54 yards on 4 catches. Andy Tanner caught a pair for 38 yards. Although he did have a fumble late in the fourth quarter after he got popped by a Cardinals defensive back shortly after catching the ball.
Running back Travaris Cadet had a nice night catching eight balls for 80 yards, and had 21 yards on a punt return, and 28 yards on a kick return.
INJURY: WR Adrian Arrington was not on the field Sunday for the Saints. Arrington who has had a very good training camp, good enough to end the first week with many media members saying the fourth receiver spot was his to lose, did not dress out due to swelling in his knee. Saints head coach Joe Vitt said following the game that Arrington went to be evaluated by Dr. James Andrews with what could be a possible meniscus injury.
UP NEXT: The Saints will head directly to the Foxboro, Massachusetts area where they will practice with the New England Patriots. The two teams will play on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.