I am finally coming down from my high after the Saints' victory in their season opener on Sunday. It was a little too close for comfort, but a big win it was.
Now it's time to concentrate on the Washington Redskins for week two. The Redskins, much like the Saints, have been hit and miss the past two years, week in and week out.
They have some great talent on both sides of the ball. Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts make for one of the best running back tandems in the NFL today. Then you have Santana Moss along with Antwaan Randle El and tight end Chris Cooley who are sure to offer a challenge to an improving but not yet established Saints defense coming off that big win against the Bucs.
This Sunday will be definitely be a bigger test, with more high profile players at all the skill positions lining up opposite the Saints this Sunday. The Saints will not only have to stop the pass, but also the run.
Tackling was an issue last week, and Tampa Bay was able to take advantage and set up good field position on some long runs by Ernest Graham. The defense cannot afford to let Portis get a jump, or he will make them pay. Portis is a much bigger threat up the middle and outside.
Jason Campbell is a big threat as well, passing the ball if you give him time, so pressure from the Saints front four will be vital. Mike McKenzie should be back on the field, and will provide good coverage, so I see the Redskins picking on rookie cornerback Tracy Porter the whole game.
Porter had a good NFL debut last week and held his own the during game against the Saints' nemesis Joey Galoway, who has been a thorn in the Saints' side for years, torching the defense each time they have played over the last three years.
I predicted before the season (and I feel the same way now) that rookie Tracy Porter is going to be a great player this year and for years to come. Top rookie defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis did not have the stats in week one, but was still very disruptive, and did exactly what the Saints drafted him for.
He collapsed the pocket on more than one occasion, and forced Tampa Bays' Garcia out of the pocket, into the waiting arms of defensive ends Charles Grant and Bobby McCray for two sacks. Jonathan Vilma came into his own after the second half last week, and showed good leadership on the field. Fujita and Shanle also played great.
It’s too early to anoint them "Dome Patrol II,” and we may never, but the linebackers are going to have a big year in my opinion. The offense just needs to find its rhythm this week. They showed signs of greatness, but also faltered at times.
Not committing penalties and sustaining long drives should be the focus giving the defense as much rest as they can get to stay fresh, or Clinton Portis will wear them down as the game goes on. Special teams play also needs to improve. Bush and Moore need more room to make plays on punt returns, giving the offense better field position to start with.
That did not happen last week against the Buccaneers. As a Saints fan, I am going to take it one week at a time, and not jump the gun just yet, and go book my trip to Tampa for the Super Bowl.
I will give credit when credit is due, but stay humble as the season goes on.