The New Orleans Saints suit up for their third preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts this Friday. For many, the third preseason game is often viewed as the ‘dress rehearsal’, where many of the starters will play at least through the first two quarters. This is a game that typically shows us and closely resembles what you can expect on Sundays for your respectful team. As for the Saints? Historically, the team’s track record exhibits great success when it comes to the ‘big show’.
Here are the team’s results in the third preseason game in the Sean Payton Era:
2013 – at Houston Texans (W 31-23)
2012 – vs. Houston Texans (W 34-27)*^
2011 – at Oakland Raiders (W 40-20)
2010 – vs. San Diego Chargers (W 36-21)
2009 - at Oakland Raiders (W 45-7)
2008 – at Cincinnati Bengals (W 13-0)
2007 – at Kansas City Chiefs (W 30-7)*
2006 – vs. Indianapolis Colts (L 27-14)
*Saints played in Hall of Fame game
^Team was without Sean Payton
In a perfect world, the first team offense looks to achieve a couple of scoring drives, hit on red zone execution, establish chemistry between the quarterback and receivers, and have some holes opened by the offensive line for the running backs. The first team defense looks to force some three and outs, get pressure on the quarterback, and even get sacks and cause turnovers. Your starting 22 players should have a good feeling about what they have heading into the season opener, and be mentally excited from their efforts and results.
For the Saints, there’s a host of players set to return: Drew Brees, Jahri Evans, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, and Jairus Byrd to name a few. Offensive guard Ben Grubbs did leave Monday’s practice with a leg injury, and we’re not sure as to whether he will be playing or the extent of his injury. So to speak, the team is getting their players back ‘just in the nick of time’. For those who have kept up with the Saints this offseason, we already knew that there was no rush for players to jump back into action, and that we wanted them to be 100%.
So, if this game goes completely and terribly wrong, does that necessarily mean anything? No. Case and point, see the 2013 Washington Redskins preseason. The Skins went 4-0, but started the regular season losing four of their first five games. The third game is honestly a crapshoot.
However, we should focus on the questions that do matter. Is it even realistic to completely expect the Saints to overcome the 32 penalties in the first two preseason games? Yes, because that’s what a disciplined team does with the right leadership. Will the team be cautious with the players that have been banged up? Absolutely, because we need them in Week One. Is it safe to expect the Saints to execute on Saturday? You better believe it, and the track history shows that the team will deliver.