Week 1 in the NFL is less than a week away! So I guess it’s time to preview the first game of the season for the Saints. The season will start on the road, with the team traveling to Landover, Maryland to take on the Redskins.
The Redskins, of course, had a rough season last year with the QB position switching frequently between two unappealing choices in Rex Grossman and John Beck. They traded a ton of draft picks for the right to draft Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and he is the new focal point to this offense. Washington continued to spend by bringing in Pierre Garcon to be RGIII’s top target, and Josh Morgan to add depth to the WR position. Santana Moss is still around and second year wideout Leonard Hankerson figures to factor into the equation as well. Very quickly this became a serious passing attack to worry about.
Still, even with all of his accolades, Griffin is just a rookie. While the rookie QB has seemed to adjust quicker to the NFL in recent years (see Flacco, Ryan, Newton…), struggles are expected. Especially considering this will be his first start ever. New Orleans struggled in pass protection last year, but I don’t expect Griffin to be a major threat right out of the gate. A respectable game is likely expected, but I just don’t see a big show from the rookie signal caller.
The running game isn’t quite clear, which is typical in a Mike Shannahan run team. The listed starter on the depth chart is Evan Royster. The former Nittany Lion played sparingly his rookie season, but was effective in limited action. Of course, anything can change before Sunday. Roy Helu likely will see some touches, depending on the health of his Achilles. Alfred Morris may even get some carries as well.
The Saints should come into this game relatively healthy. They will be without Will Smith and Vilma on suspension, but that was to be expected. Darren Sproles is currently listed as Questionable, but is practicing and is likely to play. Ingram could see an increased workload if Sproles is limited at all. Adrian Arrington is also listed as Questionable, but also is practicing. The Saints remain deep at WR, but Arrington should be a go.
The defense has been depleted at LB, but Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne both seem like good bets to play. That will be huge considering the lack of depth the defense has. Considering the struggles New Orleans had on defense last year, they need all the help they can get.
The Saints will come into this game favored, but they certainly can’t assume this is an easy win. Washington was very bad last year, and are now starting a rookie at QB, but all of a sudden have some firepower. New Orleans had one of the craziest offseasons ever that resulted in major suspensions. Payton won’t be on the sidelines, and either with Vitt. The talent certainly sides with the Saints, but there really is no telling how the players react to all of this turmoil. Still, with Drew Brees back at the quarterback position, the Saints will be hard to beat.