The Arizona Cardinals took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in 11 plays for a quick 7-0 lead over the Saints. That was the end of Arizona’s productivity. Their next eight drives ended in punts and the final two ended in interceptions. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was sacked four times and was harassed and hit repeatedly.
After giving up 80 yards on that opening possession, the now-stout Saints defense gave up 167 the rest of the way. In an NFL game.
Let this sink in as you start your week. The Saints have the 6TH RANKED DEFENSE IN THE NFL. Rob Ryan’s unit is giving up 12.7 POINTS PER GAME. Last season after three games the defense was ranked something like worst in the history of football and giving up 34 points per game. Three weeks in a row, the defense has been a bigger topic of conversation than the offense.
Rob Ryan is the team MVP so far this season. Let’s hope his injury-riddled defense gets healthy and can improve even more as the season wears on.
Offensively, Drew Brees and Co. finally erupted a bit. Their 31-point output was the best of the season so far. Brees threw for 342 yards (his 8th straight 300+ game) and three touchdowns. The biggest concern looked to be the rushing attack, since Brees was the leading rusher in the fourth quarter and no one could find daylight. Charles Brown struggled at left tackle and guard Jahri Evans was out, but the offensive line has to do a better job. That’s obvious. Still, the team ended up running 24 times for 104 yards — an average of 4.3 yards per carry. More running lanes may be available more often next Monday night when the Saints take on the Dolphins and their 19th-ranked rushing defense.
- Running back Khiry Robinson was impressive in limited action. He’s hungry, too. His four carries for 38 yards could help make Mark Ingram disappear.
- Kenny Vaccaro is player. Aside from his first career interception, he was all over the field and hitting people hard. He’s a fun player to watch.
- Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette. Wow. The young defensive line is formidable.
- Jimmy Graham is a monster out there. Nine catches, 134 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals. He has 358 yards receiving in three games. If he stays healthy…
- Drew Brees can’t keep taking hits like he did Sunday. Sometimes a holding penalty is worth it to save your quarterback.