Sorry for the delayed post, but I just returned from New Orleans this afternoon. It was my first time ever visiting New Orleans for starters, and it was quite the fun time (albeit ridiculously expensive). The food (so many oysters!), the culture, the bars…Just a real fun place to go and visit.
For the most part, Saints fans were enjoyeable. There was of course some heckling pre and post game, which you have to be prepared for on road trips, but in all in all, a good time.
On to the game…
- The very first thing that comes to my mind was the innacuracy and the lack of downfield looks from Jeff Garcia. The few times that we did go down field, it looked as though that was his first and only planned read. Jon Gruden said throw the ball long, and he did. We all know of course his downfield passing % is quite abysmal, and this was defintely evident on Sunday. The other glaring issue I had with Garcia was his very innacurate performance. He was 24/41 for a 58% completion percentage. If the QB we have is not capable of making the downfield passes that are needed to open up an offensive attack, he damned sure better be accurate, and 58% is not cutting it. Very dissapointing performance in this aspect.
- I thought that our running game was phenomenal. I’m not quite sure why Gruden stopped using it, because even in the stands, it was apparent that we were picking up 5 yards on just about every carry. We finished the game with 144 yards on 19 carries for a 7.57 ypc. Even if you remove Ernest Graham’s 46 yard run, we still ran for 5.15 ypc. Warrick Dunn also looked real good and fresh in his return to the Bucs. He made a cut one on play in the third quarter and a Saints fan tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if he was seeing it right when he thought it was Warrick. It was quite the cut for an old man. If you’re beating up on a teams front line like that in the running game, we need to run more than 19 times.
- On both sides of the point of attack (offensive line and defensive line) I thought we performed quite well. The aforementioned success of the running attack should make that quite evident on the offensive side of the ball. Garcia was sacked two times, but I can live with two sacks a game. The defense only provided 1 sack on Brees, but I thought we were pressuring him quite well all game. He is one of the best in the league at avoiding the sack (I believe last season, the best).
- Barrett Ruud and Tanard Jackson were all over the field. Their 16.5 combined tackles is proof.
- Our inability to stop Jeremy Shockey (we generally have trouble stopping good TE’s) killed our defense. He gives Drew Brees another potent offensive weapon.
- Joey Galloway appeared to have no lingering affects from his injury.
- I wondered this on Sunday because I did not see him on the field, but I read today that Michael Clayton did not dress. I thought his training camp may have moved him out of Jon Gruden’s doghouse, but it appears that is not the case.
- Reggie Bush killed us. With the speed of our D, we should not allow backs to have 8 catches for 112 yards.
- Gaines Adams was practically tackled to the ground, and held there on Reggie Bush’s touchdown run. A Saints fan, who wasn’t particularly friendly all game to me, even looked at me, after hearing me screaming for holding, and said something along the lines of “that was a travesty.”
- My prevailing postgame thought was that this looked like two very evenly matched divisional opponents who will be battling for a division title come end of the season.