Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
Forecast: Why overreacting to Saints preseason games is fun
Preseason football is a lot like one of those weird paintings at a museum that sometimes when you look at it you aren't quite sure what it is. Is it a boat? Is it a cat on a cloud?
The fun part is you can make it be WHATEVER YOU DESIRE!
Same thing with the New Orleans Saints 26-24 win over St. Louis.
If you want to obsess over something and declare it predicts the entire 2014 season, one preseason game is all you need.
You could focus on how the running game looked fantastic and Mark Ingram was running over people so well he thought he was back at Alabama playing Kentucky. The Saints averaged 5.1 yards per rush so clearly Sean Payton can abandon the fad known as the forward pass and get back to real man football and run for 5,000 yards. No need to worry about Drew Brees' oblique muscle injury because he won't need to throw a pass until October.
Khiry Robinson looked like a combination of Adrian Peterson, Walter Payton, and Jim Brown. If he doesn't run for 1700 yards and 26 touchdowns then Sean Payton isn't using him right.
Brandin Cooks is the second coming of Jerry Rice.... except 20 percent better and may in fact be a wizard. No one can predict how good his stats will be in 2014 because how do you predict magic?
If we can't dream big in August when can we dream big?
Of course, if you want to focus on negative aspects from the Rams game you could do that too.
The Saints starting defense allowed Shaun Hill to occasionally look like Tom Brady and on the touchdown the Rams Cory Harkey scored he was so wide open it's possible the Saints starting defenders were so far away they weren't even in the greater St. Louis area. Talking about Rob Ryan on Twitter is not as fun when running backs I've never heard of are strolling untouched to the end zone.
How wide open was he? Roman Harper thought the coverage was horrendous.
Want to panic about the placekicking situation? Shane Graham missed 33-yard extra point gives you plenty of reason to do so. Although media reports said holder Ryan Griffin messed up the hold Dan Marino 'Ace Ventura Pet Detective' style so you also have reason to ignore it if you prefer. It's always about the laces, Ryan!
See how fun this is?
So heading into the second week of not-quite-real football what should we be worried about? At this point the kicking situation and injuries are the two concerns I really care about.
Drew Brees' injury is only a concern in the sense he's in his mid thirties and sometimes seemingly minor injuries linger all year. No need to worry unless we don't see him next week or we do see him and he looks not right.
The most interesting injury in my mind right now is Champ Bailey. If the Saints aren't able to see him in practice or in a game do they keep him on 53-man roster to start the year? Is the potential of Bailey better than Trevin Wade or a corner released by another team at final cut down? What to do with Bailey becomes even more difficult if Patrick Robinson continues to be injured.
The Saints took a low risk gamble on Bailey, so it's not a crisis if he doesn't make the team. Every big move Mickey Loomis does can't work out. If you told me I had to choose one big off-season move the Saints did that would be a failure the Champ Bailey signing would be my selection.
But If Stanley Jean Baptiste is forced to play a lot early in the year because of injuries we should pray for a fantastic pass rush and great safety play or else the Saints defense will look like a pine tree after a forest fire.
As for the kicking situation I'm one more missed short field goal by Shayne Graham from brining the DOOM Twitter is always accusing me of.
Graham's appeal as a kicker is he's really good from 40 yards and in. Shayne Graham without the ability to make every field goal inside 40 yards is like Cafe Du Monde without beignets. What's the point? Garrett Hartley was perfectly capable of shanking the random 30-yard kick and at least Hartley usually came through in the clutch and would bang in the random 50-yarder as well.
According to Football Outsiders, no team had worse field goal kicking than the Saints in 2013 and overall they ranked the Saints special teams 24th. That's with a great punter and kickoff specialist in Thomas Morstead. How bad would they be without him?
A team might not need great special teams to win a Super Bowl, but you better be at least average. If you don't believe eventually the Saints will need the kicker to make a pressure field goal I'd ask you to watch the entire 2009 Saints playoffs run for the 5000th time to see how Garrett Hartley made four huge field goals and Morstead executed the most famous onsides kick in Super Bowl history. Right now are you confident the 2014 Saints special teams could do that? I'm not.
The kicking situation is getting worse and less settled. This needs to change and soon.
The good news is we are a week closer to real football.
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