POSTED Mon. Sep 23, 2013
State of the Saints: Three & Oh Hell Yes

Since 2006, I have gotten used to the feeling of walking out of the Superdome feeling euphoric. The Saints have become a team that consistently wins at home. But last year, every home game I attended was a loss and there were pangs of remembrance of the Saints of yesteryear.

Yesterday I went to the dome and watched the Saints completely rout the Arizona Cardinals. After the total wash that was the bountygate season, we really needed this start. Things feel right again. The vibes are really great in there. It feels like the swagger is back.

The buzz in the dome before game time was all about Mark Ingram being deactivated for a “toe injury”, which in this instance is really just a euphemism for giving him the afternoon off to pack his bags in preparation for being promptly cut or traded. In his first two games of the season, Ingram notched 17 carries for 31 yards, averaging a horrific 1.8 yards per carry. Yesterday, Drew Brees rushed 6 times for 21 yards and a touchdown. I hear it’s chilly in Cleveland, Mark – you should really think about buying a coat.

The Brees-to-Graham connection was truly electric yesterday. The Cards simply had no answer for his size and skill set and he torched them to the tune of 9 for 134 and two TD’s, the second of which sealed the win. Prodigal son Robert Meachem also caught a touchdown, and will have a great night celebrating by diving into huge piles of San Diego money.

Aside from Brees getting the magic back, the big story today was Rob Ryan’s defense playing some inspired football. I think they really started heating up after the big Junior Galette sack following the Meachem TD. It was the first of four sacks and the subsequent punt would be the first of eight consecutive punts forced by the defense. The final two Cards possessions ended in interceptions by rising rookie stud Kenny Vaccaro and former Steeler Keenan Lewis. Undrafted free agent Glenn Foster also notched a big sack to force a punt after the Honey Badger picked off Brees in the endzone.

At first, this was a contentious game. Heading into halftime it looked like another inevitable nailbiter. But Drew and the defense never took the foot off the gas, and Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer didn’t do themselves any favors. The playcalling was goofy and overly conservative at the wrong times, and Palmer wasn’t executing well. It became a nice scratching post opportunity for the defense to sharpen its claws in preparation for the difficult schedule on the horizon.

There are now six 3-0 teams, likely seven after tonight’s Denver (2-0) vs. Oakland (1-1) game. Unfortunately the Saints’ next three games are against three of these 3-0s: Miami, Chicago and New England.

These opponents should be more afraid of the Saints than vice versa. We are playing as well as any team on both sides of the football right now, and momentum really counts for a lot in the NFL. And nothing says momentum like knocking people’s fingers off .

Image: a post-victory Second Line at Finn McCool’s, courtesy of that bar.

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