Let's just put it this way, I spent my Saturday afternoon watching an entire preseason game for the first time probably ever. So either I am regressing as a human being and a socialite, or I am really fucking excited for football to start. Given my propensity to never admit to any of my faults, I think I am going to go with the latter.
Either way, what I did watch, for a majority of the first half anyway, was a Saints team that has the makings of a much more complete team than last year. While Gronk, Edelman, and LaFell were all out for the Patriots, the Saints were basically starting their third stringers in the secondary. When you are that far down the depth chart I can consider holding Tom Brady to 3 straight 3-and-outs a success, even if it is the preseason. More importantly, they were able to penetrate the backfield and the players that were doing it can leave the Who Dat Nation nothing but encouraged. Hau'oli Kikaha showed the ability to be disruptive in the backfield while Anthony Spencer showed his sideline to sideline range. Even rookies like Tyler Davison, Davis Tull, and Bobby Richardson had flashes of promise as pocket pushers and run stoppers. It was still just the first half of the second preseason game, but you can see why the Saints feel comfortable defensively heading into the season. They performed admirably when called upon, especially when the majority of the supposed strength of this defense was watching from the sidelines.
So, no one with an ounce of intelligence really thought that the Saints offense would take a step back without Jimmy Graham, right? Now, they might have some early struggles in the red zone given Graham's knack for finding pay dirt, but Drew Brees first three drives were about as flawless as they could have been. Take away a drop by Coleman and you're looking at 3 straight touchdown drives from a starting offense that's without one of their best playmakers in CJ Spiller. The Saints may have lost a #1 target in Jimmy, but if you believe anything that your eyes see, or your ears hear then you know they gained one with Brandin Cooks sophomore development. Simply stated, the kid makes plays all over the field. Whether it's getting open, making tough catches, or creating after those catches, Cooks just has IT. You always know what Colston brings to the table, Cooks ceiling is sky-high, and while the other receivers after that are still being shuffled, one of Coleman, Snead, or Morgan should be able to impress. It sucks to not have the luxury of a 6'6 athletic freak, but Watson and Hill didn't seem to mind as they were each finding the end zone.
Didn't think I was going to skip over the oft-ignored offensive line, did you? You know, the main reason for the Saints offensive struggles last year. Well, as is always the case when taking about offensive lineman, less is more. The big boys up front didn't give me much to write about and that's about as much as you could possibly ask from them. They gave Brees a clean pocket for the entirety of his time behind center, and it's no coincidence that Drew was nearly perfect throughout that time. If they can continue the 180 they have begun with Jahri Evans returning to form, the emergence of Terron Armstead, and the additions of Max Unger, and to a smaller extent Andrus Peat, then they should prove to be the biggest factor in making this offense unstoppable again.
Yeah, it was just one preseason game. One preseason game that they didn't even manage to win. However, the players that Saints fans were looking to step up and perform did exactly that, and that's a far better sign of things to come than if they hadn't. I don't know about you, but I am just about ready to drink enough Nyquil to put me to sleep until September 13th. Buckle up Who Dat Nation, we might just be in a for a fun ride this season.