Photograph by Jonathan Bachman
Holy Jumping Jehoshaphats the Saints have started their season off well, don't you think? Regardless of what you could say about the talent level or health of the three teams the Saints have beaten thus far, you cannot argue that they haven't put forth convincingly dominate performances in every game. The Saints have the league's best offense (no surprise here) thanks to the league's (here's the shocker) second-best rushing game. The defense is also playing even better than hoped, or at least good enough to be the NFC's best defense.
But enough big picture, let's get to that snap judgment about yesterday's game:
- The Saints' Offensive Line -- It almost doesn't even seem like it could be real. After a season in which the Saints couldn't be trusted to run the ball on short-yardage, Saints' running backs can't seem to stop running down field. Unlike last year, when it seems like they could only pass block, Jon Stinchcomb and Co. are manhandling people in the run game. Whether it be Mike Bell or Pierre Thomas, the offensive line is generating good down field blocks to let their runners (not named Bush) put their head down and go downhill. With that extra dimension on offense, one can get giddy thinking of what Drew Brees may be able to do with play-action passes, where this group also excels at pass protection.
- Pierre Thomas -- It's this writer's firm belief that the Saints' new found running game has much to do with improved play by the offensive line. That said, Thomas did some manhandling of his own on his two touchdown runs where he ran over everyone but the Bills' coach on the way to the endzone. Oh and 100+ second-half yards ain't too shabby.
- Saints Defense -- It's getting harder and harder to single out defensive players in these games. And that's probably how Gregg Williams wants it. His defense is playing consistently aggressive and smart and every week different players are contributing with big plays (see: Smith, Will - INT). But today it was just a complete domination that held the Bills to exactly 0 offensive points while denying them any sort of passing game and re-introducing Trent Edwards to Mr. Fieldturf four times.
- Sean Payton -- This was a tough game for the Saints passing game and, yet, New Orleans seemed in control the entire game. Thank Payton. His play calling was creative and organized. Even though Drew Brees couldn't really get going against the Buffalo secondary, Payton didn't panic and kept the offense balanced (38 rushing plays to 29 passes), counting on his offensive line to wear down the Bills' inferior defensive front. That, ladies and gentleman, is good coaching.
- John Carney -- Mostly because I reminded Saints fans of the Extra Point that Shall No Be Mentioned back in week 1. Carney has looked ever-so-solid and you can start believing that he'll come through in the clutch when you need him most.
- Special Teams -- They allowed that touchdown on the fake field goal (any time a punter has a passing TD, you'll get spoiled crawfish in this space. Period). But on top of that, the Saints still don't seem to have a proper kick returner to give their offense good field position (as if that's been a problem, but still, it'd be nice).
- Dick Jauron -- The Bills' head coach looked like a poor man's Agent Smith from the Matrix in those ridiculous sunglasses and he couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag (if there was such a way you could coach your way out of a paper bag, that is).
- Terrell Owens -- Until yesterday, Owens had a reception in 185-straight games. I don't think many people care too much about that broken streak.
- Buffalo Beat Reporters -- For this idiotic line of questioning with Owens after the game. Surely the man is disappointed with not getting a reception and the loss and his history of blow ups is well-documented, but they were just baiting Owens in his press conference. And not in a clever, subtle way but a smarmy, "look at me" idiotic way.
- Reggie Bush -- He's still awful in the return game (17 total return yards) but he had 83 total yards and served as a valuable decoy throughout the game. It's going to suck when defenses realize that he really isn't the only player on the Saints offense you have to be accountable for. Worse when they realize he's not even in the top five players you need to worry about on this team.
- Drew Brees -- 16-of-29 for 172 yards, no touchdowns and a lost fumble. His hair still looked good, though.
- FOX Announcers -- They said nothing that made me want to puke in my mouth and mostly stayed out of the way while the action on the field spoke for itself. Don't you wish we could live in a world where a performance like that is expected?