Here are five things we learned in the preseason loss to the Steelers:
The Saints miss Hau’oli Kikaha
After the New Orleans Saints game against the Pittsburg Steelers, it’s clear to see that the team misses Hau’oli Kikaha. The front four generated little to no pressure on the quarterback throughout the entire game, especially on the edge. Kasim Edebali failed to make much of an impact with the starting defense. The lack of pressure eventually allowed big Ben to go up 14-0 in the first quarter.
It only helped when Obum Gwacham entered the field. He help set the edge on a few run plays and also forced a couple of holding calls. A promising sign, but still nothing that can assure the Saints will have good pressure from the edge next season.
With only two week until the regular season, the Saints will have to make a decision on who start and often they rotate. Hopefully Dennis Allen can get the best out of what he’s got – with Kikaha out.
Defense still work in progress
In the first two games of the regular season, the defense showed promise. After a horrible season, we all wanted to see improvement and from what we could tell, the defense was going in the right direction.
So last week they had to face on of the premier offenses the NFL has to offer. Unfortunately, the Saints couldn’t quite match Antonio Brown, Laveon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger and they quickly fell behind. Big Ben started out driving the Steelers all the way to the endzone. Then the next drive, De’Vante Harris gave up a 50+ yards touchdown to Antonio Brown. A very unfortunate moment for Harris, who actually had good coverage, but turned his head just as the ball dropped into Brown’s hand.
Then Landry Jones entered the game and he basically dominated. He finished 19 of 22 and ended with 206 yards and played one of the better games he has ever played.
The Saints will have to find out what happened and try to correct it. This doesn’t mean the defense hasn’t improved, but there is still plenty of work to do before the regular season.
Offense continues to turn the ball over
For the third straight week, the offense had a rough night. They once again turned the ball over multiple times and it once again held them from winning. When the team was about to make their fourth-quarter comeback, second-year man Garrett Grayson threw two interceptions. Both came on really bad throws and it’s something that won’t help Grayson going forward.
While the defense didn’t have their best game, the offense still continues to make it worse. Ten urnovers in three games make it almost impossible for the defense to handle and on Friday, they couldn’t.
If the Saints have any hope of improving on their 7-9 record from last year, they have to limit the turnovers and allow the defense to work. Having to defend from the 50 yard line or even closer to the endzone, will only make things tougher on a defense that needs all the help they can get.
O-Line looks lost
Much of the talk throughout the preseason has been about who was going to start on the o-line. Especially the guard spot. Tim Lelito, who started last year, has had his chances, but after the game against the Steelers, it seems highly unlikely he will get the chance again. Throughout the entire game, he and the rest of the O-line looked bad.
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Terror Armstead only played 7 snaps, but looked like he was hurt. He gave up several pressures and the Saints got a deep completion to Coby Fleener called back because of an Armstead holding call. He didn’t look healthy, and the Saints will have to make sure he is ready for the Raiders in week one.
It seems like the line has had a tough time creating any chemistry with Andrus Peut moving around the line all the time. The Saints need to find his primary position fast, so the line can come together and play like they are supposed to.
While there where many negatives, two guys stood out. Senio Kelemete and Landon Turner both had great games and made their case for playing time at the guard spot.
The O-Line needs to get better fast, so the Saints can run the ball well and make sure Drew Brees stays upright.
Time is running out
For the Saints starters this was most likely their last chance to show what they can do. With only one week left of preseason, they will not risk any injuries in the game against Baltimore. That means it will be a game for the backups.
Unfortunately, the starting lineup seems nowhere near ready for regular season action. The failed to protect the quarterback and they didn’t really have any luck getting after the opposing one either.
Something Sean Payton called out after the game. This needs to get better, but unfortunately there is almost no time left. The Saints will have to do something special to correct this issues before week 1.
If they fail to do that, we Saints fans might have a long year ahead of us.