Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
NEW ORLEANS - Life is all about expectations. Sometimes they exceed what you were hoping for, sometimes they are exactly what you thought they would be, or in the case of this column, they disappoint every single time. If you had the right expectations of the New Orleans Saints heading into the Texans game Sunday then you left the Superdome feeling pretty good about where the Saints are after three weeks.
Are you pulling your hair out over the 473 yards and 33 points the Saints allowed? It's going to be a very long season for you my friend, especially when the Saints face a Top 10 quarterback. I thought the Saints defense was pretty good yesterday. They held the Texans to only one touchdown in five trips inside the 20-yard line and after the Saints went up a touchdown late they closed the door on Houston.
The Saints linebackers are adequate at best with Jonathan Vilma on the field and the only time they get pressure on the quarterback is when Gregg Williams is blitzing anything not bolted down in the Superdome. Not exactly a recipe for a dominant defense.
Jonathan Casillas did have a fantastic pass breakup covering a tight end and since seeing Saints linebackers cover a tight end is like viewing Haley’s Comet you can expect to see it again in 2067. Mark your calendar.
The Texans weren't able to mash the ball down the Saints throat which Gary Kubiak gladly would have done and if the run defense can stay solid the Saints should be ok once they start playing bad quarterbacks consistently.
If Cameron Jordan doesn't emerge as a good pass rusher I believe the Saints defense you see now is what you'll get the rest of the year. Will they have weeks where they are better on third down? Sure. Will they force more turnovers? I think so. I just don't believe they'll be as good as last year or as good as everyone initially hoped heading into the season.
The defensive additions of Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin have been a big 'Meh' so far. For all of those of you screaming, "It's only been three weeks! Give it time!" I have an answer and his name is Darren Sproles. It's only been three weeks and Darren Sproles looks pretty awesome so I think we've had enough time to start evaluating off season moves.
My sense is this defense is closer to the 2008 than 2010. In the NFL in 2011 you can win a Super Bowl with this defense. Name me a defense who has faced multiple top ten offenses and looked dominant or even decent? I'll wait.
Here is what I want out of the Saints defense:
1. Win on third down, especially in the red zone
2. Allow less than 120 yards rushing Low expectations? Maybe, but it will make for less stressful Sundays. I thought about adding a #3 of creating at least one turnover but turnovers have a high degree of luck to them. Yes it takes skill for a defender to cause a fumble but recovering that fumble is almost entirely based on luck.
My expectations for the Saints offense are entirely different. This offense is a killing machine. In the fourth quarter Drew Brees looked like Charles Bronson on a subway. Nothing was saving the Texans from him.
Lance Moore reappeared and caught nine passes. A long time ago in a former life Drew Brees helped introduce the world to the force of nature known as Antonio Gates in San Diego. He's working on a sequel and his name is Jimmy Graham.
Mark Ingram even got loose for his first touchdown.
The only bad news on offense was the Saints lost two linemen in Zack Strief and Olin Kreutz. The Saints patched it together and Charles Brown held up pretty good against Mario Williams. If those too guys are out for a stretch the Saints will have issues. Patchwork offensive lines are like-two-year old children; they are fine at home but traveling with them can be a nightmare.
I started this column saying life is about expectations. We all expect to live long healthy lives but all of us sometimes will not. Watching Steve Gleason walk to midfield for the coin toss with one hand holding on to his wife and the other on Drew Brees's shoulder for support because ALS is destroying his body was as emotional a moment as I've seen in the Superdome and that includes any Saints win and Gleason's punt block to reopen the place post Katrina.
All Saints fans are thinking of you Steve.
I have a message for fate, destiny, expectations or whatever you want to call it....sometimes you just flat out stink.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.