Aug 8, 2008

Saints Win Preseason Opener, Meachem Shines

The Saints defeated the Cardinals 24-10 in the opening preseason game for both teams. While the score looks like the Saints dominated, it was more like the Saints 2nd/3rd stringers dominated the Cardinals bench.

The biggest bright spot was second year WR Robert Meachem, who had 4 catches for 129 yards and a TD. Meachem also had a great catch in the first half from a Mark Brunell throw that looked to be going over his head. If this kid keeps this up, he'll have the #3 WR spot secured in no time.

Both team's starting units were solid and veteran QB Kurt Warner, while suited up, didn't get into the game so the Saints 2nd string was really going against a 3rd string QB in Brian St. Pierre. Arizona was leading 10-7 at halftime, but that score was deceiving as well with the Saints forgoing a game tying field goal attempt on a 4th and one from the one-yard line ... instead Pierre Thomas was stuffed and the Saints came away with no points.

All-in-all it was what you'd expect from the first preseason game. Starters played a series or two and the backups got lots of action. There was no real game planning and no elaborate blitz packages and the offensive playbook was pretty vanilla.

Here are the Pros and Cons from what I saw in the game:

Meachem and the other Wide Receivers - the WR corps as a whole showed good hands and consitently go open against the Cardinals. David Patton caught a few passes on the first series, including a TD. Rookie Adrian Arrington also had two grabs before leaving with turf toe.

Return game - Skyler Green and Peirre Thomas had a good night returning punts and kickoffs. Green never broke a big one, but he gained postive yards on all his returns. Thomas had a big return and showed why he'll get lots of chances in the regular season.

Drew Brees and QB play - Drew Brees played one series and was 6/7 with a TD. Brunell also showed why the Saints needed an upgrade at backup QB.

No major injuries - The Saints came out of the game with no major injuries. Arrington's turf toe and Bobby McCray's bruised calf were the only noted injuries.

Saints pass defense - The Saints pass defense didn't look great, especially when Matt Leinart was in the game. There was a missed coverage on a 3rd and long, which the Cardinals converted, and then a rub route by the Cardinals allowed for another big gain. The pass rush looked better, so hopefully, when Mike McKenzie and Tracy Porter come back the secondary will be improved.

Taylor Mehlhaff's kickoffs - Martin Gramatica looked better on kickoffs than rookie Taylor Mehlhaff. Maybe the Saints told him to kick a few short to help the coverage teams, but Gramatica's kickoffs went to the goal line every time. Mehlhaff did make the Saints only FG attempt, but the announcers noted that he was the most inconsitent kicker in warm ups.

Run Blocking - The running game never got established and a few nice runs by Reggie Bush were called back for holds. Pass blocking was solid, but the holes never were opened for the RBs, especially near the goal line.

Sedrick Ellis wasn't a force - All camp we've heard about Ellis eating up the offensive linemen, but he didn't really show much in his limited playing time. Other d-linemen like Orien Harris, James Reed and Antwan Lake made their presence known with sacks, tackles and pressure up the middle. It is only the first preseason game and I'm being nitpicky, but when your the #7 pick in the draft, I'd like to see you do something in your first game.

ESPN MNF Announcers - They are perhaps worse than last year, and that's saying a lot. Mike Tirico calls a football game like he's calling golf. No emotion or elaboration. Tony Kornheiser is more annoying than ever. The only one that keeps it to football is Ron Jaworski.

Next preseason game: Aug. 16 vs. Houston

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