T-Bob: Plenty of standout performances in Saints scrimmage
Yesterday I predicted that today would be a good day and what a day it was! I’m not sure if I am some sort of sports-seer, but today’s "Black & Gold Scrimmage" was everything I predicted and then some.
I didn’t expect a few of the occurrences that took place on this gray Saturday morning in the mountains. The first pleasant surprise of the day was the amount of fan interest. When I tell you there was nary a seat left in all the bleachers at the Greenbrier, I am not exaggerating. The place was PACKED to the point where there were fans actually sitting on the hill beside the bleachers just to get a far view of the action. The Who Dat Nation truly is national, as people came from all over - not just New Orleans - to watch their beloved Saints. Once again, the wisdom of choosing the Greenbrier as a camp site was apparent, as it afforded fans who may not live in Louisiana anymore the perfect opportunity to hop in the car and come watch the team practice.
The second unexpected surprise of the scrimmage was that there would be no Drew Brees. Instead, Ryan Griffin and Luke McCown would rotate with the ones and twos in competition for the back up quarterback job. This makes sense, as to this point neither had exactly stood out, even though I would have given the early edge to Griffin. If fans were afraid, however, that the back up quarterbacks would mean less scoring and less action, their fears were unfounded as both players drove the offense down the field to score each of the first three drives.
My opinion on the race between the two backups remains the same, as I think that Griffin continues to slightly outshine McCown and is getting the ball out of his hands quicker and more consistently.
The third and most surprising part of the scrimmage was Travaris Cadet. So far this camp, Cadet has been good for a couple nice runs each practice, but today it seemed as if he did it in every facet of the game. Whether he was taking a hand-off, catching a pass, or returning a kick, it did not matter; Cadet displayed great lateral quickness and agility along with EXCELLENT field vision, which helped as he cut back a simple zone run for a 25 yard touchdown. I believe that Cadet had the best day by far out of the entire running back group.
The fourth biggest surprise of the day was, unsurprisingly, Brandin Cooks showing just how special his skill set truly is. This man is an absolute beast. The mixture of quickness and hands that he sports make him a threat from any where on the field and in any phase of the game. No matter how he gets the ball in his hands, it seems as if A) he never drops it and B) the first man never makes the tackle. He made impressive catch after impressive catch, and all of them came on different routes proving that he is not just a straight line burner, he is also versatile. He took a simple out route to the house after putting on one of the most ankle shattering jukes I have seen. Could not be more excited to see Cooks play this regular season.
Jimmy Graham had himself a day, as did Marques Colston. I know we have talked about how the passing game has the potential to be even MORE dominant this season but today was the first day where it really came into focus. This offense will be hard to stop. With Graham, Cooks, and Colston, the entire field is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Who do you guard? I do not envy the defensive coordinators whose jobs will be on the line as they try to figure out the best way to stop this offense.
Any time you see an offense play as well as the Saints offense did today, it is safe to assume that the offensive line excelled and that was definitely the case. I think in total the defense had three or four sacks, but the big men up front looked solid in both the run and pass phases of the game.
That is all for today brothers and sisters! Now Steve Geller, Kristian Garic, and myself will be heading to the local Irish pub for some drinks as I contemplate what size Brandin Cooks jersey I will need.
PS The reason I didn’t talk about the defense was two-fold. First, I have a bit of an offensive bias as I can see the game better from the offensive perspective, and secondly, the defense didn’t look too good. I am not worried as it is still early and there were still some bright spots on that field. Junior Galette continued his improvement as he had one (arguably two) sacks on the day. and former CFL-er Marcus Ball built upon his already impressive camp resume by grabbing the only turnover of the day when he intercepted a Luke McCown pass and nearly took it all the way back for six.
PPS Possibly the best moment of the day was when Jimmy Graham scored his TD and dunked on the goal post knowing the refs would throw the flag which prompted a round of good-hearted boos from the fans. The refs had some fun with it however and it made for one of the more memorable parts of the scrimmage.