That was bad. Ugly loss for New Orleans as their defense allowed rookie RGIII to shred them apart. The first round pick looked very deserving of that honor as he threw for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns without turning over the ball. Another rookie, Alfred Morris rushed for 96 yards and added two scores himself. This could have been even worse if Washington hadn’t stalled a few other promising drives and settling for 4 Billy Cundiff field goals. Washington’s onslaught was consistent all day. Each quarter they scored exactly 10 points as they constantly seemed to have control of the ball. At the end of the game Brees had about a 45 yard pass that would have brought the game to a 2 point contest, but the pass ultimately was intercepted as the clock expired.
This was bad news for the Saints, but it isn’t time to panic. The loss of Sean Payton may be greater than I, and many others initially believed. Payton, of course, is a great coach, but with Drew Brees under center I didn’t think the offense would be so affected. I was wrong. Brees did not look nearly as comfortable as he typically does. Not to say if Payton were on the sidelines much would be different, but these didn’t look like the cool, comfortable Saints I am used to watching. An offseason full of turmoil, that included the bounty case, suspensions, wire tapping claims, injuries galore, and not a potential DEA investigation has to take a toll on the players.
The Redskins were a very bad team last year, but they made some major adjustments this offseason. RGIII looked like a start today, and very well could be in line for a huge rookie season. The Saints defense simply looked overmatched. They weren’t expected to be great, but this was horrible. They can’t allow a rookie QB to own them like that. Drew Brees can’t bail them out every game, especially when he has his own struggles. Speaking of which, he completed less than half of his passes. He eclipsed 300 yards and 3 TDs, but ended several drives quickly by throwing too many incomplete passes. There was some good news though, as Lance Moore had a big game with 120 yards. He filled in for the departed Meachem admirably. Colston played hampered by injury, and also fumbled a crucial ball. Colston is very talented, but is constantly hurt, and does make mistakes from time to time, so it is good to see Moore step up today.
The running game has to improve as well. With the Saints falling back early, they basically abandoned to rushing attack and went to the air. This is becoming a clear pass first league, but the run needs to be mixed in still to keep the defense honest. As you can tell today, if a team passes so often, drives can end very quickly if they aren’t completed. They ended with just 10 rushes for 32 yards. I don’t expect this to be a typical line. First of all, Sproles did not get a single carry. That will change next week as Ingram and Thomas also should see increased workloads.
The Saints face off with Carolina next week. They struggled also with turnovers and even more abysmal rushing game. This is an important early game for the Saints for a number of reasons. Atlanta won big today, and looks like they may be in for a huge season. Also, if New Orleans falls to 0-2, distractions could start to overwhelm the players. Without Head Coach Sean Payton to ease the tension, the Saints could start to implode, despite their immense talent. I think they are likely to rebound with Carolina dealing with problems of their own, but I’ll have more on that later.