Jahri Evans' Poor Play and the Saints O-Line Hurt Drew Brees in Loss to Cards

Randy SavoieAnalyst IIOctober 11, 2010

Drew Brees never looked comfortable in the pocket on an afternopon where he was intercepted three times.
Drew Brees never looked comfortable in the pocket on an afternopon where he was intercepted three times.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In Panama City Beach, Florida tonight, classic rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd sang one of the band's greatest hits, Gimme Back My Bullets.

Some in the crowd wondered if they were singing about the New Orleans Saints offense.

Drew Brees and the Saints formerly prolific offense fired more blanks than bullets on Sunday afternoon in the desert.

Brees wasn't helped by Jahri Evans and the offensive line missing blocks all day long. Evans had two false starts, one while the Saints were driving in the second half.

Oh where has the New Orleans offense gone...seems the days of scoring 30-plus may never come again. The Saints have yet to reach that plateau through five games this season.

Red Zones and Turnovers—and we aren't talking the name of Skynyrd's 2010 tour- proved to be the Saints undoing in a 30-23 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

"We failed again in the red zone to be as efficient as we like," said Saints head coach Sean Payton. "It's one part of it. It's an area we have to be better at. We ended up settling for field goals and field goal attempts and all of a sudden it becomes a close game."

Saints opponents seem to be determined not to give up the big play this year and force New Orleans to beat them with long drives.

One such long drive seem to be the turning point in a Saints' performance plagued by missed opportunities.

After Cardinals kicker Jay Feely tied the game at 13 with 9:04 to play in the third quarter, the Saints drove 61 yards in 13 plays consuming over seven minutes only to come away with no points when John Carney missed a 29-yard field goal.

The Saints were never the same.

On the next drive, Cardinals undrafted rookie QB Max Hall connected with Larry Fitzgerald for a 17-yard gain setting up another Feely field goal with 11:39 to play giving Arizona a 16-13 lead. The Cardinals never trailed again.

Arizona safety Kerry Rhodes returned a Ladell Betts fumble 29 yards for a touchdown giving the Cardinals a 23-13 edge with 10:39 remaining in the game. Then, Brees, who never looked comfortable in the pocket behind an offensive line playing badly, hung the ball up in the air on the next Saints possession and cornerback Greg Toler intercepted.

The Saints would not score again until Brees connected with Robert Meachem on a 35-yard TD strike with 1:49 left in the game.

A Saints onside kick attempt by John Carney was recovered by Larry Fitzgerald, but the Cardinals punted after failing to run out the clock.

New Orleans had one last chance with :24 seconds to go, but CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted an errant Brees throw and returned it for a touchdown. It was Brees third interception of the afternoon.

"This is the National Football League. What we did last year-putting up those points-that was unheard of," Jahri Evans told WWL Radio after the game. "This is a whole new season."

And while the Saints out-gained the Cardinals 373-194 in total yards, New Orleans offense was flat and inefficient for most of the afternoon.

Sean Payton says it's too early to panic.

"It's not a crisis. I told the team, 'we've faced challenges before and we're going to have to handle this challenge the right way."

It's God and Guns tonight for Lynyrd Skynyrd on a North Florida beach.

Meanwhile, on a Saints offense missing Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, Drew Brees is singing that ole' Skynyrd classic—Gimme Back My Bullets.