The Good, – No Excuses. Mike Smith and his flock from interviews I’ve seen and articles I’ve read have made no excuses after the loss to the Saints last Sunday. Season opening games are tough, for preseason is more evaluation, development and keeping vets healthy. Winning on the road in the NFL is tough and winning against division rivals is always a tough game. This is how it always has been and probably will always be against these two South division teams. Smitty and staff took the one game at a time approach last season and learn from that game. No reason to steer in any other direction.
The Bad, – Offensive Line, no surprise. What knowledgeable fan thought that 15 years of experience gone in losing Clabo and McClure, a new center under Matt Ryan, a rookie right tackle and a right guard coming back from a season ending injury would not have some growing pains? Four preseason games of shuffling and experimenting could not mesh a cohesive unit needed to protect and open holes successfully enough to do the play book justice. Lets see how they look in week four against the Pats.
The Ugly, – The Heat on Ice. Warp back to early in the second quarter, with the score tied at Ten. Atlanta moves the ball to the Fifty yard line and a first down. Down one, pass short middle, 3 yards. Down two, pass short middle, 3 yards. Down 3, pass short middle, Incomplete. Punt. Mike Malarkey was not calling those plays, those are not plays for a high octane offense coming into opponent territory for a go ahead strike. Those are the result of pressure from a mediocre defense. The staff will no doubt address this priority every day this week.
The Good, – Rookie Baptism. The pressure at cornerback with Samual out, going against one of the best coach / quarterback combinations in all the league, on the road and opening day could never have been simulated in preseason. Trufant and Alford can feel confident that scenario may be the toughest they go
up against the rest of the season until the playoffs. A learning lesson to grow on. They looked good.
The Bad, – A loss. Not pulling out a win on those last two passes from the three yard line is a know all to well Superdome type curse. Bad is the agony of defeat. But I ask you, given that situation again with Jackson and Gonzo, would you not like our chances again and again ?
The Ugly, – Julio’s fumble. It is part of the game. It happens and it is ugly whenever it is not our team recovering that stupid ball.
The Good, – Saints credit. Here the fair side of me will give credit to New Orleans for, to no surprise, fighting hard, but mostly to Drew Brees, who on that 25 yard scoring pass to Colston that tied the game on an absolutely, check the replay, perfect pass. It would have been nice to limit them to a field goal but that projectile was one that I believe only six quarterbacks in the league could make look so smooth. That is all the credit I shall write on the Saints for the next few years.
The Bad, – The Rushing game. Part of the offensive line problem that can be corrected I’m hoping, but 14 attempts for 88 yards is bad, especially when fifty of that was on one gorgeous play. Why not a college pitch out to the elusive Jaquizz for a change of pace try ?
The Ugly, – Third Quarter. The Falcons had just regained the lead at 17- 13. New Orleans has a first down on the Atlanta 36. The Saints get a ten yard holding penalty making it 1st and twenty near midfield. Brees connects for a 8 yard pass and now it is 2nd down and 12. The Falcons call Timeout – Brilliant ! Get all on the same page, let them catch a breath and strategize a two down stop where even a long field goal doesn’t relinquish the lead. Brees comes out and hit’s a 19 yard pass and three plays later the Saints take the lead. I don’t care who, what, where it went wrong but hope no timeout produces that again.
The Good, – The Linebackers. Some would disagree, but I think the linebackers did a good job. The Saints were held to less rushing yards than Atlanta. Both Dent and Spoon were tackling machines and each had tackles for a loss. The tight end combo of Graham and Watson are as good as Atlanta will play this season and they were kept in check on 76 yards total and one touchdown. Last season in the Superdome Graham alone finishing with 146 yards and two scores.
The Bad, – NFC Division loss. It is bad to lose, but how bad this loss is will not be determined until much later in the year when tie breakers and conference / division losses determine more than they do now.
The Ugly, – Outlook for the Rams. St. Louis comes to town to an angry nest, the Falcons home opener and seeing Stephen Jackson in the opposing backfield. The dome is a hostile opponent venue, and I’m expecting a solid win. If I’m wrong, and the Birds get upset and a loss, then things will be real Ugly.
The Good, – End on a good note. A season opening loss in an away game, is a bump in the long and winding road. Smith and company have done an excellent job in games after a loss. Take a look at the entire South division schedule and tell me that it is not that far fetched that next week at this time we see the four south division teams locked tied at 1 – 1.