In addition to my Weekly MMA posts, I’m also instituting a new weekly post called Monday Morning Quarterback, where we’ll focus on one specific team and the pros/cons from their most recent game.

Since a main focus of ours is the LSU Tigers, New Orleans Hornets, and New Orleans Saints, let’s start with the now 1-2 New Orleans Saints.

Yesterday, the Saints played their 3rd straight down to the wire game TO START THE SEASON. After a opening week win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints have dropped back to back games to Washington and Denver. Let’s look at the Denver game.

PROS:

1) We have a Top 5 QB in Drew Brees. With leading receiver Marques Colston out for another 4 weeks or so, Drew Brees has been nothing short of amazing. He had over 400 yards passing and 1 touchdown yesterday in a losing effort. When Brees has time to throw, he’s a sniper, no questions about it, and behind the scenes, he’s definitely the glue that keeps this team together. As long as Brees is healthy and playing, the Saints are always in the game.

2) Great step up play from Zach Strief. Early in the 2nd quarter, starting left tackle Jammal Brown went out with a groin injury and the offensive line finished the game allowing only one sack. Zach Strief stepped in for Brown and didn’t miss a beat. Like I said before, the New Orleans Saints hangs in the balance of the line in most cases. If they open up holes for the RB’s and protect Brees, the Saints can play with anyone. And if they don’t… well let’s just hope Bush, Brees and Colston really like New Orleans as a place of living.

3) Robert Meachem has talent. From what I hear, Meachem struggles with blocking as well as learning the playbook, but from his pre-season play and the last two games, I think it’s safe to say he’s quite capable of playing on this level. If his progress continues, he’ll definitely be another target for gun-slinger Drew Brees.

4) Reggie…Reggie…Reggie… There was a ton of big talk before the season started from Reggie Bush. Talk of finally “getting it”. Talk of 4 digit yard totals. Talk of Pro Bowls. Well, while the season is still young with summer officially ending yesterday, and it’s probably too early to talk of Pro Bowls, but Bush is delivering. Thus far, through 3 weeks, this is a run down of his stats thus far.
– 3 straight games of 140+ all purpose yards.

– 3 straight games with a TD.

– 3 straight games with 60+ yards receiving as a RB

– He’s averaging 3.6 YPC, which if you multiply by 3, equals 1st down.

– 1 rushing TD, 2 receiving TD, 1 PR for a TD.

For now, the talk of Bush being a bust can subside and go back to being just nonsense. For now…

Now… for the problems…

CONS

1) DEFENSE. Let’s see. Since the season opener, they can’t get pressure on the QB. They can’t stop the run. They can’t defend the pass. Something has got to change, and if the Saints want to contend for the NFC championship, it’s got to change FAST. Where are all those crafty blitz packages from the Buccaneers game? Hell, let’s all be real. The secondary is sub-par on a GREAT day. But let’s break it down a bit more in-depth, because this is obviously the biggest problem for New Orleans.

McKenzie coming back was a huge help, but that’s like saying you have one real tire and 3 spare tires instead of 4 spare tires.

Jonathan Vilma is proving to be worth the money in the off-season, but one good middle linebacker isn’t going to help when the rest of your defense is struggling. With the cornerbacks they have, the Saints are going to have to risk putting their cornerbacks on an island in hopes that they can get some pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback

Stopping the big play is still a problem. This week makes two straight weeks where the opposing team throws a TD pass for 30+ yards. This week it was a 35 yard pass to Brandon Marshall in the 2nd quarter. Last week, it was the game winning touchdown to Santana Moss. I don’t know what the Saints safeties are thinking, but last I checked, the primary role was to make sure no one got behind you. NO ONE. With the offense being so hit or miss lately, the Saints can’t afford to give up 25-30 points per week and hope to win.

2.) Where the Hell is Deuce McAllister? Last weeks playing of McAllister was strange enough, as in he only got in on a handful of plays, but this week was much stranger. In another game where 2nd and 1 and 3rd and 1 plays were pivotal, why wasn’t the big guy in there to push the pile? If he’s hurt, he should be in sweats, that way we at least understand why he’s not playing. But to be frank, Pierre Thomas has played horrible the last 2 games, and I would rather Deuce have gotten those goal line carriers yesterday, as well as the 3rd and 1 carry late in the 4th. But if he’s not going to play, he needs to be traded, cut, or released. I know he’s a fan favorite, and one of the most successful players in Saints history, but he’s making too much money to be doing NOTHING.

3) Playcalling. I like Sean Payton. I think he’s a good coach. But sometimes, the timing of certain plays just baffles me. Such as the goal line tries that lead to the eventual safety to end the 1st half. After not getting the touchdown with Thomas on 2nd and 1 and the fumbled sneak on 3rd and 1, DO SOMETHING ELSE. Give it to Bush, throw it to Shockey, run a bootleg, I don’t care. Again, on the 3rd and 1 in the 4th quarter, Thomas failed to convert. I know everyone in the world is going to tell you that if you can’t get that 3rd and 1, you’re going to lose, and I agree, the running game needs to be fixed, but if you have Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, and Jeremy Shockey, you need to figure something out. There’s no reason you shouldn’t convert using any one of those three.

4) Running and Gunning…Well, just Gunning for now. The Saints have got to fix the running game. They’ve yet to have a 100+ rushing game from any running back and have only one game with more than 100 yards rushing total as a team (week 1 v. Tampa Bay). Now, I am a Reggie Bush fan so I may be a bit impartial, but I think the numbers speak louder than my impartiality. Bush had 73 yards on 18 carries for a TD yesterday. Pierre Thomas had 15 yards on 6 carries. Bush may not be an “every down” back, but for now, he’s got to be the guy with the ball on 3rd and short. If you’re not going to give it to Deuce at all, Bush is the next best thing because he’s a play maker.

Looking ahead to this week coming, The Saints have the San Francisco 49ers in the Superdome. I’ve not been impressed by the 49ers thus far. Like a few other teams so far this season (Broncos, Cardinals, Falcons), I think it’s been a lot of smoke and mirrors. Remember the 07-08 Lions? Yeah, expect more of that this year. The Saints beat the 49ers 31-10 a year ago in San Francisco, so they should be able to handle them again this year.

Looking at the rest of the schedule, Saints fans do not fret. While the schedule appeared rough before the season started, most of the teams on the schedule are proving to be more bark than bite.

Until Wednesday, have a nice week.

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