So far, the 2013 NFL preseason has been generous to the New Orleans Saints. Last week, the Saints went up against the Oakland Raiders, a team that is obviously in rebuilding mode and needs a lot of work everywhere. The week before that New Orleans played against the Kansas City Chiefs and newly installed head coach Andy Reid. It’s not that Kansas City doesn’t have talent, they most certainly do. The Chiefs too, though, are in a rebuilding mode of sorts with Reid, new quarterback Alex Smith and the rest of the team trying to get past a terrible, tragic 2012 season.
New Orleans gets its hardest test of the preseason this Sunday when they play against the Houston Texans. We have been over this before. We all know that preseason games don’t really count for much in the grand scheme of things, but this will still be an important game for the Saints and a good way to to see how they are coming along defensively.
The Texans are a stable franchise with solid talent on both sides of the ball. Matt Schaub is a competent quarterback and has plenty of weapons around him. Although running back Arian Foster is not supposed to play, wide receiver Andre Johnson will likely see plenty of snaps as well as some targets. Let’s not forget their head coach is Gary Kubiak, a smart and talented coach who has served under two previous Super Bowl winning coaches — George Seifert and Mike Shanahan.
This preseason matchup will be the best test for Rob Ryan‘s new defense yet. Last year, the defense had the worst season of any NFL defense ever, while the Texans’ offense finished the season ranked eighth in rushing and eleventh in passing on their way to compiling 416 total points.
This is a team that knows how to move the ball and has the ability and talent to score on every drive.
Ryan and the Saints’ defense have an important test ahead. If the defense does well, contains the Texans and allows minimal scoring, I think some doubts can be put to rest about the upcoming season. Should they totally flop and allow an all-out shootout to happen, there will be more questions and more doubt.
Hopefully New Orleans can continue to build off of what they did last week against the Raiders. If any team can correct a historically bad defensive unit, it’s a team lead by Sean Payton.
So take comfort in that, Saints fans. Payton’s back.