Congrats to WhoDat Nation, the preseason is now officially over. What? You think there is another game? Don’t be ridiculous; there are only three preseason games, and then an open tryout for the last five spots on the roster. I am saying that somewhat in jest, because the final preseason game is still very important to the coaches and there are still guys trying to earn a chance to live their dreams… so I do feel a little bad mocking it. However, from the perspective of fans we have now learned everything important that we can from the preseason. We have seen the Saints install a small part of their total offense and defense, we have seen flashes from of our younger guys for the potential they may someday live up to, and also we have seen why some guys are purely developmental at this point (SJP ring a bell?).
Since as far as I am concerned the preseason is over and I won’t be doing a write up after next week’s game (I’ll be scouting the Falcons instead) I am going to give my impressions from the third game, my roster predictions, as well as my final impressions of the Saints team heading into the regular season. So here goes:
-The first thing I wanted to see was how Drew looked, and if there were any signs of rust from missing the first two games. He went 9-15 for 128 yards and 2 TD’s in just under a quarter… and there was. Drew Brees did that to a team that won a playoff game last year without all of his weapons there while running just the base offense. Even scarier than the offense though was the defense; Luck played for nearly 3 quarters and barely broke 100 yards… and about 20 of it came on one throw on a busted assignment between Lofton and Vaccaro that resulted in a TD.
-Speaking of the defense two things really stood out to me: first that whether it is Robinson or Bailey I am totally comfortable with our second corners, and second that Byrd was worth every penny.
-The first half saw most of the play from the starters and the only two negatives was a pair of penalties on Akiem Hicks and Lofton’s coverage (which we already knew was right around Roman Harper levels at its best so…).
-Andrew will be quite happy to know that his prediction seems to have come to pass: Goody looked phenomenal and a great fit for the offense. Lelito has a big future on this team, but he can now spend a year behind a great center and really learn the craft. The nice part is that should (God forbid) Goody get hurt we can be confident that there is a competent backup behind him who is rapidly improving.
-The pass rush was consistent and constantly getting pressure on Andrew Luck…his toughness and physicality is actually great practice for the bigger QB’s we will face this season so I see it as a plus.
-Junior Gallete scared us all into a collective state of inhalation when he left the field of play, but thank God he returned after a little time to destroy Luck on a sack. Junior isn’t necessarily the guy who if we lose him our defense goes to 2012 levels… but he is a vital part of it and he makes a huge difference.
-Luke McCown played fairly well, but honestly after rewatching the game the difference between him and Ryan Griffin was the pass protection. Griffin has a stronger arm, is younger, and usually shows about the same poise. I think the Saints will go with the guy who has more upside and doesn’t have a significant drop-off. I don’t really fault him for the INT because it was a terrible situation and his other option was to get sacked and take a safety. He put the ball up and gave Meachem a chance, but he simply couldn’t get position and bring it down. Not a nail in the coffin by any means.
-To me Dimke has clearly won the kicking battle because it is even between him and Graham accuracy wise… but he has unquestionably the stronger leg.
-It was good to see some of the younger guys on the team continue to show great effort and improvement. In particular I saw several plays from Ronald Powell, Kyle Knox, and Coleman actually appeared once or twice late in the game.
I’m not going to do another 53 man prediction as Andrew has that covered and frankly he is better at it. I will say that I will be shocked if Kyle Knox and Pierre Warren don’t make the roster. I think Goody is the starter with Lelito and possibly Kelemente behind him.
At receiver I know Cooks, Stills (possible IR but I pray not) Colston, and Morgan are on the team. I think Toon makes it because of upside and how he has looked on film (different from box-score) and the fact that he has still looked better than Meachem. The other factor to consider between Meachem and Toon is that you can let Meach go and know that nobody will pick him up. If Toon doesn’t work out half way through the season Meachem will still be there… I don’t think the same can be said of Toon.
The same logic applies to the kicker battle as I mentioned above. I think they go with Dimke because if he goes Scooter on us Sean can go get Graham, but Dimke has looked very good and has the much stronger leg so I think his upside gives him a major advantage.
Where it gets tough is the D-line. As much as it hurts me to sever ties with a fellow Beaver… I don’t think Victor Butler makes the team unless he somehow plays in the fourth game and gets like 4 sacks. Barring that happening the depth at end will be Glenn Foster, Tyrunn Walker, and John Jenkins. There is a lot of depth on the roster right now and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if a few of the guys who get cut get poached by other teams.
I think Powell makes the roster and gets Butler’s spot and that Khairi Fortt ends up on IR. That pretty much concludes my roster predictions.
I am going to save my full impressions on the Saints for later this week as well as my predictions for the team going forward. Stay tuned and I hope you guys are as excited about this upcoming season as I am. WHODAT!!!