Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
What you saw Sunday will be the blueprint for how the Saints will look when they are at their best in 2011; get a lead then grind the opposing quarterback into the dirt.
The Saints defense is built to play with the lead. If a team can keep the game close or even be ahead they will probably be able to pound away at the Saints ,wear them down, and keep Gregg Williams from blitzing every player, fan, or anything not nailed down in the Superdome. The Bears did none of those things.
The Saints didn't so much play great defense against Jay Cutler as they committed legalized assault and battery. I'm not sure if I was more impressed with the Saints defensive line or the Bears offensive line. The Bears offensive line's performance was magnificent in its atrociousness. Chicago's pass protection was indescribable because there was nothing to describe.
Shutting down a mediocre Bears offense doesn't make me think the Saints defense will be elite but if Cutler had lit them up you can bet you'd be able to feel my panic through your computer. The Saints locked down Chicago's receivers and if not for a hand full of Matt Forte plays the Bears would have barely dented the scoreboard. Someone needs to tell Mike Martz America doesn't believe in torture because his play calls were clearly designed for the maximum amount of pain to be administered to Cutler.
The Bears had 31 plays in the second half and gained 99 yards. The Saints will be hard pressed to deliver an effort that strong the rest of the year. If only they could play a team every week where most fans couldn't name one of their receivers. The NFL schedule isn't so kind.
Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins were hitting Bears receivers and Jay Cutler so hard for a second I thought they were a football version of a wrestling tag team. When Roman Harper is allowed to do Roman Harper type things (blitz, crush receivers going over the middle, or anything not involving single coverage) he's incredible to watch and worth every penny of the extension the Saints gave him.
The Saints revamped defensive tackles stoned Matt Forte on the ground except for one long run but they'll need to string some games together before I'm a true believer in the run defense. Next week's game against the power running Houston Texans will be a great test.
While the defense was breaking Jay Cutler in two the offense was humming along except for the short yardage issues. Drew Brees threw for 270 yards and three scores, Darren Sproles continued to make people forget Reggie Bush, and the running game even got cranked up. If not for a late Mark Ingram fumble the Saints would have done even better than the 118 yards they piled up on the ground.
Devery Henderson is making a claim to be the Saints #1 receiver in Marques Colston's absence. If it's not Henderson then it's Jimmy Graham who caught six more balls and is living up to all the preseason hype.
For all you people screaming at your computer saying, 'Sproles is leading the Saints in catches you idiot!.' I know he is but most of his catches are like extended handoffs.
Lance Moore returned from injury, caught one pass and the Saints just kept on rolling. I think the question to ask if a team wants to beat the Saints is pretty simple; can we score 30 points? If the answer is no your Sunday is likely to end in defeat.
The next five weeks include three road games sandwiched between Houston and Indianapolis. This stretch will tell us if the Saints are the clear #2 team in the NFC behind Green Bay. The Magic Eight ball said, 'Signs point to yes' after the dismantling of Chicago.
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.