Preseason games tend to be painful to watch and this was certainly no exception. In a game completely devoid of any offensive fireworks whatsoever, the Saints leave Foxboro with a 7-6 loss at the hands of the New England Patriots. The Saints will be back in 8 days, a week from Friday, for their home opener against the Jaguars. As always you don’t want to take much away from a meaningless preseason game, except perhaps your team escaping with no major injury. As far as I could tell the Saints managed to do that, so based on that alone this game was a success. Make the jump for my bullet points on the game.
- The defense was once again very encouraging, particularly the pressure that the front four was able to generate. The sack/force fumble was made by Will Smith, but it was all Junior Galette who beat the right tackle badly and forced Brady to move in the pocket right into Smith’s waiting arms. Brady finished just 4 of 7 for 30 yards on two drives and was unable to produce points. Considering the injuries the Saints had at corner going into this game, that’s huge.
- Johnny Patrick did end up playing and was a surprise start – playing very well in coverage. In fact, the no name corner crew behind the top 3 played exceptionally well. I was particularly impressed with Marquis Johnson once again, as well as rookie Corey White. Johnson continues to have an oustanding camp and even notched an interception. I become more convinced by the second that both Johnson and White can hold their own and contribute, and I expect to see both make the 53 man roster at this point.
- John Kasay had a shot to give the Saints a 9-7 lead with just over 3 minutes left in the game, but he missed a 41 yard field goal wide right. Chase Daniel, the holder, wasn’t able to rotate the ball and get the laces out – so that miss is as much on him as Kasay. Still, that miss cost the Saints a win and probably gave Garrett Hartley a slight edge in the kicker battle.
- Sean Canfield is atrocious and the experiment needs to end immediately. I realize he’s playing with backups, but he was also going against backups. His stat line was 6 for 10 for 45 yards and 1 interception and trust me it was MUCH MUCH worse than the stats. I’m sold this guy is completely incapable of ever amounting to anything in the NFL and it’s time to cut bait.
- Speaking of quarterback play, it was equally atrocious from both teams throughout. No quarterback, Brees and Brady included, seem to throw with any kind of accuracy or get the ball out quickly. Canfield and Ryan Mallett were definitely the worst, but Chase Daniel, Brian Hoyer and Luke McCown weren’t much better.
- After a monster performance from Martez Wilson a week ago, he turned in a nightmare performance that was even worse than what Canfield produced on the field. He was eaten alive on running plays, and he made TWO unforgivable mistakes on special teams. He jumped offsides on a 4th and 1 punt, and he ran into the punter on a 4th and 2 punt. That’s right, two penalties that converted two 4th downs into 1st downs. If this guy wasn’t such a freakish athlete that alone would be enough to send him packing. He’s lucky he’s good because at least 30 guys on the current 90 man Saints roster would have been cut overnight had they made the same stupid mistakes. That’s football 101 Martez.
- The backup offensive line was woeful again for the second time in four days. I’ve noticed it’s the right side that’s struggling the most, that being right guard Fenuki Topou and right tackle and rookie Marcel Jones. Not a good showing for either. Travaris Cadet and Chris Ivory both looks pretty pedestrian in their rushing attempts as a result.
- The Saints held numerous players out of this one, including Hawthorne, Arrington, Ingram, Jimmy Graham, Patrick Robinson, Jabari Greer, rookie Tiller and some others.
- Joe Morgan, Andy Tanner and Courtney Roby got the lion share of the reps at receiver with mixed results. Roby looked like the most oustanding of the bunch as he had 5 catches for 85 yards and seemed to be the favorite target of the Saints’ three backups. I realize he’s a special teams guy only, always has been, but at some point he has to be in the mix at receiver, no? His camp has been too good to ignore the fact that he could actually make plays on offense too.
- Michael Higgins at least looks serviceable. I still think the Saints are much much thinner offensively without Jimmy Graham, but watching Higgins make a couple plays at least reassured me that he’s a capable backup now.
- Jermon Bushrod had back to back holding penalties and seemed to struggle mightily with Pats’ rookie Chandler Jones. Jones kind of reminds me a bit of Martez Wilson, actually, with his scary speed off the edge and his long and lean body type.
- Jonathan Casillas played pretty well and led the Saints with 7 tackles. Curtis Lofton was all over the field when he was in and finished with 6 tackles. I’m already sold on Lofton. The dude is REALLY good.
- Akiem Hicks looked very good with the second unit. Maybe the Saints found themselves an unpolished talent with superior skills after all? Based on what I saw he looks like a guy that’s explosive and could contribute right away. He certainly looks the part. He was active, beat his man in the trenches numerous times, and did a good job of getting his hands up and redirecting passes. In fact, he was the one that hit Brian Hoyer as he was throwing on Marquis Johnson’s interception. I feel a lot better about the Saints’ 3rd round pick after this game.
That’s about all I have to share. This one was incredibly boring and painful to watch. I hope for your sake you didn’t sit through the whole thing like I did. That said, it’s part of the process of evaluating who will belong on the 53 man roster. As always, some guys helped their case and others put the nail in their own coffin. Jaguars @ Saints is next on 8/17.