The New Orleans Saints beat the Houston Texans 34-27 in a very entertaining game, for the most part. The first half, with the starters in, was the exciting part of it until the reserves stumbled to the finish in the second half.
After having a little delay with my internet connection, here are my overall grades and instant analysis after each quarter. The offense and defense both had their ups and downs, but just be glad these kinks can be worked before they drop the pre- prefix off of preseason.
Overall: Brees looked like the efficient passer we all know and love, but he had few throws that were off-target. When Daniel you took over, he got "oohs and aahs" from the crowd with his fancy footwork, but there were obvious reasons he is not a starting quarterback in this league. And it starts with an inconsistent arm. His touchdown pass, however, had nice zip on it to get into Joe Morgan's hands.
After 1st Quarter: Brees looked really sharp in the first frame. Going 6-for-7 for 66 yards and a beautiful touchdown pass would do it for anyone. He showed his ridiculous accuracy and touch on every pass he completed. His only incompletion was directed at Devery Henderson, and that play should've been pass interference on Jonathan Joseph.
After 2nd Quarter: Brees' accuracy didn't look as sharp as in the first quarter. Some of his passes were not where they should have been. He didn't give the receivers a chance to make a play after the catch. That sharpness will come with time.
After 3rd Quarter: Okay guys, every one who says Chase Daniel is one of the "best backup quarterbacks in the NFL" should change their tune after this quarter. "Duck' Daniel really showed his true colors in this frame. His passes were awful. There is no hope behind Brees if Chase has to come in.
Overall: With a lot of roster spots all but sewn up, the offensive side of things just wanted to the leave this game with no injuries and a nice rhythm in the passing and running games. There was one intriguing subplot, though. Chris Ivory versus Travaris Cadet for the last running back spot on the team. Ivory putting it on the ground might have helped Cadet a bit, especially when Cadet took a similar, hard hit to Ivory, but with one minor change: he held onto the ball. That would be the glaring difference in my eyes despite Ivory's 7.1 average per rush.
After 1st Quarter: Where to begin? Chris Ivory still has fumbilitis. Devery can't separate, but, hey, Brees, is still back there. And his running backs are as good as ever. Pierre Thomas is still a screen machine and Mark Ingram might have the best vision and determination of any runner on the team. Looked crisp minus the fumble.
After 2nd Quarter: The offense has had some big plays in the second stanza, but that production should have meant for more than 10 points. Especially with a late Brees-to-Graham touchdown pass to save New Orleans from a three point quarter. Kind of a luke-warm performance from the offense as a whole.
After 3rd Quarter: With Chase Daniel at the helm, the offense stalled out to a three-point quarter and didn't show any consistencies from the Brees-led offense in the first half. There was nothing positive that came out of this quarter on offense.
Overall: That must have been a great speech by Spags to motivate his troops. I harp on it a lot, but the fact is, after he gave it, the Saints shut Houston down to 13 points after they opened up the scoring with a 14-point first quarter. Patrick Robinson really stood out amongst the starters with very tight coverage on Andre Johnson. Akiem Hicks impressed again. It looks like it is going to be really tough to keep this guy off the field. There aren't many zeroes on his stat line.
After 1st Quarter: The first quarter looked more like a swiss cheese factory than a Steve Spagnuolo defense. Missed tackles were everywhere, and the only players who could tackle were in the defensive backfield. They made up for their "lack of competition" with a Corey White fumble at the end.
After 2nd Quarter: It was like night and day in the second quarter despite Houston putting up 10 points in the frame. Forced fumbles were the norm in this quarter. We also saw the Saints stop a 3rd-and-short running play in a long time. Spagnuolo's "pep talk" really helped out.
After 3rd Quarter: This third quarter was extremely promising for the Saints. It might have been against second-teamers, but it was still encouraging. The Texans' offense was held to a goose egg and anytime you can do that it's good.
Overall: Roby and Cadet had nice returns. Kick coverage only broke down once on a long Holliday return. Morstead, as usual, had a great game kicking off and punting. John Kasay never saw the field, but on one extra point attempt. Garrett Hartley made both of his field-goal tries inside of 25 yards. Galette's touchdown was also a nice momentum swing for a team that was down 14-0 just nine seconds prior to that play and Brees' touchdown pass.
After 1st Quarter: This was the best unit on the field in the first quarter. Thomas Morstead kept the ball deep in the end zone, and ,when Trindon Holliday decided to take it out, it was popped out and returned for a touchdown by Junior Galette. Don't forget about Courtney Roby's nice return.
After 2nd Quarter: Holliday made up for his poor first quarter versus the Saints with a nice return in the second. His tiny frame also planted Morstead back a good five yards on that return. It was just an average quarter all around.
After 3rd Quarter: There was nothing bad or good in this quarter. Average returns, average coverage. One field goal from both teams won't help or hurt this grade either.
Overall: Kromer had an okay night in his first crack at the "interim" interim head coaching job. Pete Carmichael's play-calling was a little too cute at times, and the two field goal attempts inside of 25 yards are a sign of that. When you get it inside the 10 yard line, you can't settle for three points. Only time will tell if Spags great "kick-starter" of a speech will linger into the regular season and beyond. Hopefully, it does because the defense looked really bad before that point. (I know i sound like a broken record, but it's true.
After 1st Quarter: The special teams and offensive side of the coaching group had an okay opening quarter. Spagnuolo had to get his group together on the sideline and light a fire under him. hopefully that will kick-start it for the rest of the game.
After 2nd Quarter: This gets an "A" in my book this quarter, and the main reason is Spags. He got his defense together after a terrible first quarter and lit a fire under them. It showed. His coaching style has been a night-and-day difference from Gregg Williams.
After 3rd Quarter: The Saints had plenty of momentum coming into this quarter, and it started with Spags' reaming of the defense. Aaron Kromer has also had a solid first game as "head coach".