The New Orleans Saints' preseason opener didn't end as they would have hoped. The Jacksonville Jaguars wound up pulling out a 27-24 victory with a late touchdown pass by Jordan Palmer in possibly the longest game ever (but I'll get to that later).
Overall, it was a sloppy game for the defense. Areas that were thought to be shored up in the offseason looked awful.
Despite the team's subpar performance, there were a few "winners" coming out of this game to go along with the numerous "losers."
Let's take a look at these choices.
Drew Brees got the offense back on track and back in the end zone after last week's goose egg for the first team.
Brees went 10-of-13 for 133 yards and a touchdown pass to Devery Henderson on his last drive of the night.
He was a little off on a couple early throws, but finished the night off well, especially when he started finding "old faithfuls" Henderson and Marques Colston.
The offense wasn't in regular-season form, but it is headed in the right direction. Next week is usually the week that first-teamers usually play a lot and then are sat out in the last preseason game. So we'll see how this week helped Brees in getting better.
Through the first few games, the run defense has looked like it had made a change for the better under Steve Spagnuolo's new scheme. This game, however, conjured up memories of terrible run defenses of years past (last year, for example).
The run defense also wasn't helped by the countless missed tackles that were going around the team like a bad virus.
The only shining moment in this department was a 4th-and-1 stop before the first half ended, but that was with the second-team defensive line in, most notably Martez Wilson and Akiem Hicks.
With the heartbreaking injury to rising wideout Andy Tanner and a down game for Courtney Roby, Devery Henderson and Joe Morgan had very solid performances to keep their spots on the depth chart secure.
Henderson had four catches for 31 yards and a touchdown that all seemed to come on one drive that helped the Saints' first-team offense save face.
Morgan displayed why the coaching staff raves about him despite his lack of consistency. His deep-play speed is the best on the team and it showed on his 53-yard bomb from Chase Daniel.
Those performances will help these guys stay on the safe side of the upcoming cuts.
Jeremy Mincey was a one-man wrecking crew against the Saints. It won't show it in the stat sheets, but he was a terror all night.
It didn't matter who was in front of him because he lived in New Orleans' backfield all game.
Zach Strief tried and failed. Rookie Marcel Jones gave it a shot, and that was a no-go. They even put Jimmy Graham on him one-on-one early in the game, and that proved to have scary results.
Mincey passed Graham up and planted Brees into the ground and, for a second, it looked like Brees' shoulder might be hurt. Good thing it wasn't, but if Jeremy Mincey can do what he did, then this team needs some help at the tackle position. (Don't forget Chandler Jones last week.)
Travaris Cadet continued his successful ways and had a great first game playing in front of the home crowd.
Cadet racked up yards on the ground, in the air and in the return game.
For the game, he had a total of 176 yards on 12 touches. That blew Chris Ivory—his competition for a roster spot—out of the water, and the Tiffin product had a decent game himself.
Cadet looks like he has all but assured himself a spot on the roster and sealed Ivory's fate on the cutting/trade block.
The officiating in this game might have featured some of the worst decision-making I have seen since Ricky Williams thought wearing a helmet to interviews was a good idea.
There were so many Jaguars drives that were extended by calls that had no business being made. Pass interferences were numerous against the Saints, and the majority of them helped Jacksonville get deep into New Orleans' territory.
Oh, yeah, not to mention the fact that this game was extended 30 minutes because of numerous replays and discussions that we could have gone without.
The NFL and Roger Goodell need to get this referee situation settled, because it's affecting the product on the field.