Plenty can be said of the New Orleans Saints offense and what it is capable of doing. With a healthy Drew Brees, a competent offensive line and capable receivers, Sean Payton’s Saints are no doubt an offensive powerhouse easily capable of putting up 28 or more points on the scoreboard on any given night. Brees’ two consecutive seasons throwing for 5,000 or more passing yards in a season and the plethora of receivers he has used is a testament to that statement.
That being said, I was content with the offense in last night’s 28-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders. The first unit offense looked solid, putting up 23 points in the first half off of three Garret Hartley field goals, a touchdown run by Mark Ingram and a Brees touchdown. The second and third units obviously need some work, but hey, that’s why they’re second and third units. The real bright spot of the game was the Saints’ defensive unit as a whole.
New Orleans had seven total sacks, five of which came in the first half against Matt Flynn. Ramon Humber started the sack attack on Oakland’s first play of their third drive, followed two plays later by a Cameron Jordan sack. Humber, filling in for an injured Jonathan Vilma finished with nine tackles, one sack and a tackle for a loss. The Saints also recorded a safety and interception in the second half.
What was great to see was that new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was able to create pressure on the quarterback with multiple looks. We saw the Saints defense get to the quarterback with four and five-man rushes. Defensive ends, linebackers and safeties all had sacks and tackles for a loss.
Aside from all the sacks New Orleans was able to get from its defense, I really enjoyed seeing Ryan’s new defensive scheme move closer and closer to fruition. Part of resurrecting the Saints’ defense necessarily required some of that swagger and attitude to come back. Ryan’s fiery attitude and love for the game seems to be resonating with the players.
Payton alluded to this when he spoke after the game. “We did some good things,” he said. “There were a lot of things you can build on. I thought we were emotionally and physically ready to play. That’s pleasing.”
New Orleans next plays the Houston Texans in a nationally televised game next Sunday in Houston. I am anxious to see how the Saints defend against a potent playoff-caliber offense that features Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. Next week’s preseason matchup should be a good way to gauge how the Saints’ defense really stacks up. Don’t miss it!