In A "Defenseless" NFL, the Saints Are Built to Survive

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There are few words to describe the events that occurred during the third week of the 2011 NFL campaign.  I’ll try to sum them up with the only word that comes to mind at the moment:  offense.  Whether you played for the Raiders, the Ravens, the Bills, or even the hometown New Orleans Saints this week, you certainly saw a boatload of points lighting up the scoreboard in your respective stadium.  And if the last three weeks have been any indication, the rest of the season should continue to look very similar.

Whenever you flip to a mass media sports network or tune into a local sports talk show, you hear everyone saying the same thing about the NFL.  It’s become clear that the league loves the appeal of a good offense, as solid defenses are hard to come by these days.  Whether it was eliminating explosive kickoff returns or fining every defender that lays a hand on the Quarterback, the culture of the NFL is changing drastically.  For the Saints, this should not be a problem.

If there’s one thing the Saints do best, it is out-scoring any opponent that challenges them to a shoot-out.  On September 25th, it was the Texans that marched into the Louisiana Superdome, and “The Big Easy” was left with a contest to remember. 

Let’s just take a quick look at the statistics. 

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QB Drew Brees went under center against a new-and-improved defense of the Houston Texans, as the additions of Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning gave new life to the worst pass defense in the NFL in 2010.  Brees had no issues with the new-look Texans, though, completing 31/44 attempts for 370 yards, three TDs and two INTs for a QB rating of 99.6.  The three-headed monster of a run game (Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Darren Sproles) was able to establish a decent ground attack, totaling 100 yards and two TDs.  And how could we forget the receiving corp?  Led by TE Jimmy Graham (4 REC for 100 yards and a TD) and WR Lance Moore (9 REC for 88 yards, a TD, and two PAT conversions), the receivers continued their string of dominating performances in the Dome, further proving that the loss of Marques Colston may go unnoticed for quite a while.

If someone took a glance at these stats, he/she might automatically assume that the Black and Gold cruised to an easy victory.  But that they did not.  Remember that phrase that everyone used earlier this decade?  You know, the one that says “Defense wins championships.”  Yes, that one.  I have a question:  what ever happened to those days? 

Regardless, the Saints’ defense, led by coordinator Gregg Williams, failed to make its presence felt throughout most of the contest, leaving the offense to have to carry the load.  The Texans’ QB, Matt Schaub, was able to coast down the field using his favorite target, WR Andre Johnson, as he (Schaub) totaled 373 yards through the air, three TDs and a 103.9 QB rating.  While watching the game, the defense left me cringing every time the ball left Schaub’s hands, as I could simply sense the presence of a wide-open Johnson waiting to receive the pass.  (When thinking back to the game, the Saints never really lined up any one defensive back against Johnson.  It seemed as though Patrick Robinson was left on one side, while the likes of Jabari Greer and Leigh Torrence were on the other.)  Regardless of where he lined up, Johnson was a “freak of nature,” and he made sure that no one Saint could stand in his path.

But this all leads to my initial point. 

Even with a shoddy defensive performance, the New Orleans Saints are built to win on the offensive side of the football.  The best part?  The Houston Texans were the best offense they will face until Week Ten, as the schedule looks as follows:  @ Jacksonville, @ Carolina, @ Tampa Bay, vs Indianapolis (without Peyton Manning, may I add), @ St. Louis, and @ Tampa Bay.  If the Saints go into a shoot-out with any one of these six squads, then Williams needs to be fired on the spot. 

So don’t worry “Who Dat Nation.”

Even with a terrible defense, the Saints can survive in a “defenseless” NFL.  Well, at least for the next six weeks.

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