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Monday, September 16, 2013

Stop! Who Dat Time!

The Daily Hat Trick covers all manner of sports but is Louisiana based. with a 2-0 start, with both wins against NFC South opponents, this is as good a time as any to serve up some home cookin' to the Who Dat Nation. So good, but Saints fans shouldn't rest too easily yet.


The good is plentiful and obvious. The Saints are 2-0. Teams that start the season 2-0 have, more times than not, gone to the playoffs in the last quarter-century. Both wins were over division rivals, with one coming on the road. There are only three 2-0 teams in the NFC. The Saints could not have asked for a better start to their 2013 season, especially considering their disastrous 0-4 start last season.

The defense looks good. In fact, they look like the '85 Bears after having the worst total defense in the 94 season history of the National Football League. After holding the defending NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons to 17 points, including a goal line stand in the final seconds to seal a victory, the Saints' encore was a smothering performance that limited the Buccaneers to seven offensive points and only 113 passing yards.

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham: during the offseason I would have a free lunch if I had a quarter for every time I read or heard he is, "considered by some to be, arguably, the best tight end in the league". That argument is winning, especially in light of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's injury problems, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's legal problems, and Father Time gaining some ground on Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers and Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys. Graham has 224 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in the first two weeks of the season.

Finally, there's Drew Brees. He has been far from perfect this season (which will be discussed shortly), but he's been pretty damn good. Brees is in position to record a third consecutive 5,000 yard passing season. He led the Saints from a 10-0 deficit to take the lead against the Falcons in Week 1 and led the Saints down the field in the final minute, with no timeouts remaining at the beginning of the drive, to set up a game winning field goal against the Bucs. The Saints have a chance to win any game with Brees under center.

Jimmy Graham is on a tear out of the gate in 2013. 2

Drew Brees needs to take better care of the football. Saints fans hate hearing me say this and I probably sound like a broken record (for those of you old enough to have used a record player): among elite quarterbacks (i.e. Brees, Rodgers, the Manning brothers, and Brady), Brees is often the worst at taking care of the ball. To an extent, he is victimized by his own ability.

Brees is the most accurate passer I have ever seen. That isn't hyperbole. I think he is the most accurate passer in NFL history. Because he is so accurate, he is willing to take bigger risks by trying to put the ball into smaller holes and he usually succeeds. However, trying to thread the needle often raises the risk of picks. Brees threw two touchdown passes on Sunday, one was to Buccaneers linebacker Mason Foster to give the Bucs a lead in the second half. At the moment, Brees' touchdown to interception ratio is 3 to 3 and that has to improve if he plans to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.

There's a chance of seeing a touchdown every time Brees throws the ball.

The Saints have failed to crack 80 team rushing yards for the second consecutive week. As passing heavy as today's NFL is, that is still not good enough for a serious championship contender. Other than Pierre Thomas, no Saints running back is averaging 4.0 yards per carry or more. That isn't good enough and it needs to be turned around.

While the next NFL game I coach will be my first, I don't see how running backs can rush the ball effectively if they cannot build a rhythm over the course of a game. The Saints' Running Back by Committee scheme has resulted in back-to-back weeks in which no player has eclipsed 10 rushing attempts in a game. Sean Payton has won a Super Bowl and I never will, but the fact of the matter is that the running game is inept and no one player has gotten enough carries to get on a roll.

Saints running game: ugly. the weather yesterday: ugly. This dedicated entertainer: not ugly! The game must go on, rain or no rain. 4

All of that said, 2-0 is 2-0. A win is a win and wins in the division carry the most weight come playoff time. I have not observed anything that the Saints cannot correct and get turned around. The Who Dat Nation has a lot of cause for guarded optimism about where this season is going.

A win is a win! 3
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