By Philip Cantin
Cold, Hard Football Facts Saints reporter
On Sunday afternoon inside the Superdome, it was an intriguing matchup between the Bayou Boys and the New Monsters of the Midway. One team's defense was successful in stifling their opponents, while the other team's defense was powerless to stop their foe's offensive onslaught.
And boy, it sure was surprising which defenses those turned out to be.
Here are five things we learned today in the heart of the Crescent City:
1. Drew Brees' revenge sure was sweet.
You could certainly tell by the look on his face in-between huddles that Drew Brees was a man on a mission to erase the memories of his struggles against Chicago. As evidenced by an average Offensive Passer Rating of 63.23 in four separate meetings with the Bears, Brees has looked less than average against the Bears. This afternoon, he more than made up for those performances, throwing for 270 yards, 3 TD, no interceptions (his first game against the Bears without throwing one), and a much-improved 118.1 Offensive Passer Rating. He also completed 70.3% of his passes, eerily similar to the season pass completion percentage record he broke
during the Saints' Super Bowl run. The news wasn't ALL beads and boobies, there was a drop in Passing Yards per Attempt
, which was only 6.95 this week, compared to 7.76 YPA against the Packers in Week 1.
In addition, the three-pronged attack of Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Darren Sproles helped the Saints have a great day in the rushing department, combining for 109 of New Orleans' 118 rushing yards, which may come as no surprise since the Bears surrendered over 100 yards rushing to the Falcons last week.
While Brees and the Saints offense looked like an unstoppable train, Jay Cutler and the Bears offense looked like a train wreck at times, especially during the second half. Cutler did throw for 244 yards, 1 TD, and did not get picked off either; however, he only completed a dismal 42.2% of his passes, and was pressured all afternoon (see #2). This amounted to a 67.3 Offensive Passer Rating, which in turn resulted in an unbelievable +50.8 Passer Rating Differential
for the Saints. But the statistic that was most embarassing was Cutler's 3.65 YPA
, a numerical abomination that falls at the bottom of the haystack with Seattle's, Kansas City's, and Minnesota's passing performances in Week 1.
Perhaps revenge isn't always a dish best served cold (and by cold, we're talking about that icy Chicago weather).
2. The Saints' defense showed other NFL teams why an offensive line is important.
Did anyone want to block for Jay Cutler? Anyone at all?
Apparently not, because the Bears quarterback was sacked a total of 6 times for -58 yards, and fumbled the ball once for a turnover. He was pressured all afternoon, hit numerous times, forced to throw the ball away numerous times, and overall looked visibly frustrated with his team after taking so much abuse in the backfield. And losing Gabe Carimi, Chicago's 1st round pick that was hired to bolster the offensive line, to injury didn't help their quest for a stronger offensive foundation. As you may have guessed, this O-Line performance was definitely consistent with their Offensive Hog Index
ranking of 28th after Week 1.
Perhaps the Bears should look to their Week 2 foes as an example of how to protect their quarterback; New Orleans' offensive line (ranked 4th in OHI after Week 1) allowed only one sack on Drew Brees, and was a major factor in Brees throwing accurate balls all day.
3. Other NFL teams should not, however, look to the Saints defense for tips on how to tackle properly.
As great as the Saints defense was today, when Cutler was able to complete a pass to a receiver in open space, there were missed tackles abound. Johnny Knox and rookie WR Dane Sanzenbacher seemed to move around would-be tacklers with ease, taking advantage of Saints secondary players that overpursued. And despite Jay Cutler's 3.65 YPA, the 19 passes that he did complete for 244 yards amounted to a 12.84 average, much of it being yards after the catch.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately if the defense is to return to its opportunistic ways.
4. Jimmy Graham shows the NFL he's Drew Brees' new favorite target.
By now, many NFL fans (especially those whose teams reside in the brutally competitive AFC East) know of the names Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, two tight ends that are a valuable part of New England's explosive offense. Bill Belichick knows that these tight ends create matchup nightmares that are more frightening than going to a tailgate party four hours away and realizing you plumb forgot the BBQ grill at home. Well, Saints coach Sean Payton made it no secret that he models his team after the Patriots
, and getting an athletic tight end to provide mismatches is certainly a part of the Patriot Way.
Last year, Jimmy Graham, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound former college basketball player, hauled in 31 receptions for 356 yards, and scored 5 TDs as a reliable endzone target for Drew Brees.
Today, he once again showed how valuable of a receiving option he is, catching six passes for 79 yards (one of them was a leaping catch for 31 yards), and doing his part to move the chains. Only Devery Henderson had more receiving yards (103), and most of those came from a 79-yard bomb from Drew Brees.
We should be hearing much more about this rising star in the weeks to come.
5. Jay Cutler is currently taking applications for offensive linemen.
After the game, a frustrated Jay Cutler decided to post flyers in the streets of the Windy City, asking for anyone who has two arms and two legs to consider applying for a spot as one of his blockers. According to the flyers, "no experience is necessary," and the ideal applicant would need to be able to hold his (or her) ground "for at least two seconds."