Co-Host of WWL's "SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert & Deke Bellavia," Weekdays 4-8PM
Deke: Saints can't afford another ugly start
by Deke Bellavia,posted Jan 8 2014 4:39PM
Ask any head coach or player in the NFL about going to play a game on the road, and one of the first things they will tell you is that they need to get off to a good start. If the Saints are going to go marchin' in to the NFC title game, they need to get off to a great start.
In their 34-7 loss at Seattle in December, the Saints could not have gotten off to a worse start than they did. The first three drives of the game for the Saints offense were flat out bad and things only got worse from that point. Seattle won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, so the Saints got the ball first. The first play of the game was a sign of things to come for the Black and Gold offense: Pierre Thomas took a handoff and was tackled four yards behind the line of scrimmage.
So already, the Saints were facing a 2nd and 14 at their own 16 yard line. Drew Brees then completed a short pass to Darren Spoles for seven yards to give New Orleans a manageable 3rd and 7 situation. But on third down, Brees attempted a pass to Robert Meachem that was incomplete, forcing the Saints to punt the football. Not only did the Saints not get a first down, they held the ball for only 1:29, and then punted the ball deep from their own end of the field. Seattle would respond with a long, time-consuming drive that lasted 5:44 and resulted in a field goal to give the home team a 3-0 lead.
Things continued to go wrong big-time for the Saints on their next offensive possession. New Orleans had the ball for just two plays, gaining only four yards before the game changing play took place. Facing a 3rd and 5 at their own 25 yard line, Drew was sacked for a seven yard loss, fumbled the football; Seattle’s Michael Bennett scooped it up and returned it 22 yards for a TD, and then Seattle was off to a hot 10-0 lead over New Orleans.
Not only had Seattle taken an early lead, but they had established that the Saints offense would be hard pressed to move the ball against the Seahawks defense. In fact, the Saints would score just once (7 points), be held to their lowest point total of the season, and pick up just 188 yards of total offense.
So already down 10-0, New Orleans got the football for their third offensive possession of the first quarter of the game. In their first two drives, the Saints ran five plays, and gained one yard. The third drive was also a three-and-out for the Saints. New Orleans saw RB Mark Ingram gain one yard, Brees attempted a pass to Jimmy Graham that fell incomplete, and then on 3rd and 9, Brees hit Sproles for three yards forcing a punt on fourth-and-six. So the Saints third possession saw them run three plays, gain four yards and punt.
Seattle would then get the ball back and march down the field and score to take a commanding 17-0 lead over a team that had shown no signing of any success on offense. The Saints only picked up their first 1st down of the game on their final drive of the first quarter.
But the tone had already been set, and falling behind 0-17, things were not going according to schedule for the Saints. New Orleans was on the bad side of the time of possession battle, already were -1 in the turnover department, with 22 yards of offense and just one first down.
Now, as I’ve stated before that was then and this is now, but I’m quite sure that Saints coaches and players have all discussed that the start to the game New Orleans had in December has to and must be avoided in the divisional meeting Saturday.
Peyton is known for gutsy calls and most of them worked! Yes, the no huddle should be used throughout the game not just before the clock runs out. What happened to the traditional first drive down field passes that Drew use to start out the game with? We scored in most of those attempts. Why does it look like the Saints are just warming up when the game starts? Aren't they warming up before the game? They need to hit the ground running! They have watched the tapes and know what to expect. Try the tricks early when not expected. Keep the opponent of guard and in the dark about what's about to happen. Seattle can and will be beat if we go out there and throw long on them in the first drive of each possession. The running game will keep them honest on defense. I was there 3 years ago for that playoff game and the Seattle crowds are rude and nasty in the stadium and on the streets. I know we can beat them! I hope their meter is calibrated so we can measure the silence at the end of the game in Quest Field stadium! Who Dat!