The New Orleans Saints were able to fend off the St. Louis Rams in last night’s affair 26-24. While the game ended in a fairly odd fashion, a win is a win. Coach Payton talked about the game at length. He was grateful that it was a win, but stated that he wasn’t happy with the penalties (there were 24 total – 10 on the Saints, 14 on the Rams). There were a lot of ‘silly mistakes’ made during the course of the game, but there were also many good things that came out of last night’s contest.
Here are my five observations from last night’s game:
5. Brandon Coleman and Stanley Jean-Baptiste struggled
Whether it was just preseason jitters or not, Brandon Coleman and Stanley Jean-Baptiste did not impress last night. Coleman, who was the clear choice of being ‘most improved’ since OTAs, was targeted twice and had two bad drops. One of those drops credited to Coleman led to an interception.
As for Jean-Baptiste, he was beat badly in coverage against Stedman Bailey. It looked as though SJB had no idea where the ball was at on the replay.
I refuse to formulate opinions on one single player after one game, especially a preseason game with a rookie. However, it was a giant elephant in the room from last night.
4. The backup quarterback job is seriously up for grabs
Luke McCown looked sharp until that he threw that interception that was read perfectly by Chris Long. However, McCown bounced back by follwing that drive up by leading the team to a field goal. He’d finish 7/10 for 49 yards. He clicked well with the first team offense.
However, Ryan Griffin answered the call and then some, finishing 16/23 for 179 yards and a touchdown. Griffin led the Saints on four scoring drives, three of which were touchdowns.
If Griffin can keep this type of consistency up (and believe me we’ll be seeing more of him over the next three games), then you will see Coach Sean Payton have a very tough decision on his hands. If you caught our Radio Show, you’d know that we favor keeping a two quarterback system this year to carry another safety/corner.
3. The kicking battle is far from settled
Shayne Graham’s missed extra point may be all that we remember from last night’s kicking battle, but Derek Dimke equally answered Graham in the field goal department by making a 37-yard field goal. Graham would have no problems on his second extra point try, and Dimke would make his only attempt.
By now, you know that I’m fairly high on Derek Dimke. I have nothing against Shayne Graham, and completely respect his veteran tenure. However, I firmly believe that the Saints need to stop putting band aids on a lingering issue that has been in existence for nearly a decade. We need consistency out of a kicker. Sadly, we won’t see much out of Graham and Dimke in the outdoor realms, as every Saints preseason game is indoors. Granted, eleven of their games are in domes this year (eight at home, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit).
This is going to be as interesting of a battle as they get as we roll through the preseason!
2. Mark Ingram looked incredible
Who cares if it’s preseason? Mark Ingram was running like he had nothing to lose. The best part? He did so without pro bowl guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs. Ingram had a great burst out of the backfield on the night, and didn’t go down after first contact. The Rams defense isn’t exactly soft, so we can’t ignore the 8-83 (10.4 yards per carry average) rushing performance from the night. Ingram had a long of 22, which turned out to be his touchdown run.
1. Brandin Cooks is the real deal
Maybe you had some subtle doubts about Brandin Cooks entering this game, but he’s everything and then some. Cooks had 5 receptions for 55 yards on the night, but it was his 25-yard touchdown catch and run from Ryan Griffin that we all remember. He was targeted eight times on the night, and fielded two punt returns. Needless to say, the team wants the ball in Cooks’ hands.
I could go on and on about how great Brandin Cooks played last night, but the bottom line is that this could be one of the best draft picks the Saints have ever had in their history.
What stood out to you last night, Who Dat Nation? What are your feelings on the win? Sound off below!