The Hand Off: Worrying about the Saints' offense, defense

The Hand Off: Worrying about the Saints' offense, defense

Credit: Bill Haber / The Associated Press

Houston Texans running back Chris Henery (27) looses his helmet as New Orleans Saints defender Malcolm Jenkins (27) tries to strip the ball during NFL football training camp in Metairie, La., Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010.

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by Bradley Handwerger / Eyewitness Sports

wwltv.com

Posted on August 20, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Updated Saturday, Aug 21 at 11:07 AM

The overriding theme from this week’s queries seemed to revolve around worry.

Worry that the offense has been “sloppy.” Worry that the defense isn’t going to match the output of a season ago. Worry about where the Lombardi Trophy will be kept.

Well, here are the answers, but remember they’re just one man’s two cents.

“I've been reading all these stories about the Saints defense and how it’s supposed to be much improved, but from the showing against New England and the stories I read here on the website in practices, are they really that much better? Or can we expect the offense to carry the team again this year by attempting to average more that 30 points per game?  I know the defense had lots of turnovers last year but can we expect some lock down defense?” – Rob Brumfield, Tampa, Fla., by way of McComb, Miss.

“If I'm correct, Drew Brees set a record for completion percentage and the defense had a ridiculous amount of turnovers. That will not happen again this year. What is the team doing to compensate for the potential loss of those two things?” – Chris Johnson, Metairie, La., by way of Westwego

Rob and Chris, very good questions. And part of it I will explore in a story I’m doing for the end of next week. But for now, here’s my answer – take what you saw in the New England game lightly. The starters hadn’t played together since Feb. 7. If you remember correctly, in the first preseason game of 2009 against Cincinnati, the Saints looked slightly discombobulated. They returned for a strong showing in the second game against, you got it, Houston, winning that one 38-17.

As far as what you’re hearing out of practice, remember that these guys know each other. Gregg Williams is familiar with how Sean Payton calls the game and vice versa. It’s much easier to play against a team and guys whose tendencies you know than against someone new.

The defense was, indeed, average last year in overall stats, but they were second in the league in turnovers. Can they expect 39 again this year? A realist would say no, but then Gregg Williams isn’t going to let them get comfortable on last year’s laurels. He’s already making them do 30 up-downs for not getting a turnover. Expect more of the same should the team come away with no takeaways against Houston. The offense will continue to score points, but I also believe the defense will continue to get takeaways.

“The offense seems to be pretty sloppy.  (Devery) Henderson dropping passes. (Drew) Brees throwing behind receivers. All of this on top of a poor performance last week.  Should we be worried?” – Randy Whitney, Planet Earth

I wouldn’t be too worried. Drew Brees certainly hasn’t looked as sharp as he did last season, but then again, he set an NFL record for completion percentage. It would be hard for him to match that. We’re comparing Brees to Brees and knowing that, I would assume and you could assume that he’ll just get better and back into rhythm. He’s the last guy to worry about and he’ll get things righted on offense.

Henderson, on the other hand, is more worrisome. What made him stand out a year ago was that he wasn’t dropping passes anymore. He had gotten rid of the “dropsies.” They seem to be back and that’s not a good sign.

“How is Charles Brown looking? Is he showing the skills to start in a year or two?” -- Chuck in Algiers

Charles Brown looks like a rookie. He’s good on some plays, bad on others. But he’s showing enough upside that he is the No. 2 left tackle and worked with the No. 1’s earlier this week when coaches switched him with Jermon Bushrod, who had a false start penalty on a play during practice. He’s a big guy that no doubt could become a big contributor to the team in the next couple of years.

“Where will the Lombardi Trophy be housed permanently and when?” – Brenda Joyce Cammon, Huntsville, Ala., by way of Norco, La.

And finally, a Lombardi Trophy question. In talking with team officials, that decision has not been made yet. They’re still in discussions as to where to place it, according to Vice President of Communications Greg Bensel.
 

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