This week the Saints played the Minnesota Vikings in what was supposed to be a high-scoring season opener and NFC Championship game. The game actually turned into an extreme defensive battle and the total scoring didn't even hit 25. If you haven't heard, which would be surprising, the New Orleans Saints came out on top 14-9. Yeah that's it. I am sure Payton and Company are happy to start off the season 1-0 against a serious team. So let's break this down shall we?
Offense ~ B-: The Saints offense didn't play horrible but the expectations where so high that it made it look pretty bad. Of course Drew threw with sweet precision, no surprise there (75% completed, 0 interceptions). The difference is in the yards and touchdowns category. Drew Brees threw 1 touchdown pass and 237 yards in this truly over-hyped game. Thomas was the primary back with 19 carries for 71 yards (3.7/carry). It really was shocking to see the Saints open up the season in the Dome and only score 14 points. There was never a really good rhythm for the Saints and I'm sure they are glad to have had a solid defense back them up.
Defense ~ A+: I don't care what you say, for years it has been the same story. "Hey Drew defense is slacking, ya I know sorry, just go put 50 in the scoreboard." Am I right? So to see a defense come out and stop a top 10 offense to only 9 points, kudos. Serious kudos. The obvious disappointment was the run defense but the Saints stopped the A.P. to only 87 yards on 19 carries. I swear I haven't seen Peterson average only 5 yards/carry in a while especially since he's fresh. Plus the linebacker corp is still getting use to not having Casillas on the weak side. Great game defense! Love to see the defense go out and do some real work. Someone won't have as many up-downs.
Special Teams ~ B: Special teams was kind of weird. On one end the field goal unit just needs some serious tweaking, on the other end you have block PAT's and sweet kickoffs. So, the only real problem with special teams is the field goal unit. Missing a 47 yarder can slide but Hartley missed an easy 35 yard kick and that's just something you can't do. Field goals are what close games out and when you lose by 2 or 3 you start looking at how many kicks you missed and how the game easily could have gone your way. Incredible extra point block!
Coaching ~ B: Sean Payton did an okay job. The play calling didn't seem very balanced at many parts of the game. I can count numerous times where I was thinking 'Throw a run in there, keep that defense honest' or 'Why have we run the ball 5 straight times?' For the most part, though, Payton played a great strategic hand especially against a great Vikings defense. Williams, we watched the defense. Give the man credit, he played Favre, Peterson, whoever like a fiddle.
The New Orleans Saints played a pretty good first game. They got some yards, made a few big plays, and most importantly won the defensive battle. It'll be interesting to see if the Saints open the offense more on Monday night, but for now it has to feel good to win game one. It's a great feeling seeing that 1-0. Let's keep it that way! Stay tuned, the next report card will be out Tuesday after the Monday Night showdown versus the 49ers in San Francisco.