In their third preseason game against the Houston Texans, the New Orleans Saints‘ defense did some bending initially, but ultimately did not break in a 31-21 victory in Houston. Even though a quick look at the stat sheet for the game seems to favor the Texans in yardage and time of possession, New Orleans was able to regroup and come away with the win.
There were a couple of drives in the first half that had me worried initially. On their first drive it looked as if the Texans would have no problem moving the ball, with Matt Schaub completing passes to Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson. This drive ultimately led to a punt, but the second drive is when I started to grow concerned.
Houston running back Ben Tate was able to carve out a 39-yard run on his third rushing attempt of the day, and I began to worry. I was worried that while the Saints’ defense looked sharp against the Oakland Raiders last week, maybe they just weren’t ready for teams that were more stable and had it together. The Texans played without their No. 1 running back Arian Foster as well.
The Texans’ third drive saw completions to Johnson and Daniels for 18 and 21 yards, respectively. I began to worry that New Orleans was vulnerable to highly potent running and passing attacks that could eat up yardage how and whenever they wanted. This drive only resulted in a field goal, but with the Texans up 10-0 at this point my concern continued to grow.
Ultimately the Saints got themselves back into the game with touchdown passes from Drew Brees and Luke McCown before the end of the first half, but New Orleans’ enigmatic defense still has me concerned. The Saints gave up a total of 496 yards—355 yards passing and 141 yards rushing.
The defense may be a work in progress under new coordinator Rob Ryan, but this will surely be talked about in defensive coach meetings in the upcoming week of practice. New Orleans must figure out a way to stop giving up large chunks of yardage in both the passing and running game in order return to playoff contention. A top 10 defense won’t be necessary, but at the very least an average one is a must.