Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
Rooting for a Rob Ryan defense is going to be like being best friends with a crazy person. Rob Ryan's defense is having a friend who convinces you to sneak out of work early on a Friday and party all night. The night might end with both of you winning five grand at the blackjack table or you might wake up the next morning in a bathtub full of ice in Juarez Mexico and wondering if you still have both of your kidneys. Whatever happens it won't be boring.
Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons was mostly winning blackjack and good times.
(Note: Rob Ryan is waaaay more fun than Steve Spagnuolo. The flowing locks and yelling makes him feel like a cross between a heavy metal roadie and biker gang member. After one week it's delightful.)
The Saints held Atlanta to 3 of 11 on third down, 88 yards rushing, and 17 points. Besides Steven Jackson's 50-yard run in the third quarter the Saints were magnificent against the run. Considering the defense lost Brodrick Bunkley and Tyrunn Walker then played a huge chunk of the day without Keenan Lewis the performance was as good as the Saints defense has put on in two years.
Somebody predicted Rob Ryan would help Roman Harper look good again and he recovered a fumble and game sealing interception shows he is on his way.
During crunch time the Saints had Kenny Vaccaro, Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper and Rafael Bush on the field at the same time. It does solve the problem of not having enough linebackers. The defense Ryan ran on the Falcons last play looked like a defense created by Picasso; two down lineman behind each other and everybody else standing up. It wouldn't surprise me if by week six Rob Ryan is running defensive plays with circus animals and a flambeaux marcher.
'I call this the Bourbon Street torch zone blitz.'
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 https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.
I can't wait.
The pass rush wasn't dominant, especially since Atlanta was playing a reworked offensive line, but three sacks and Matt Ryan not being comfortable most of the second half is about 1000 percent better than anything in 2012. While we are handing out bouquets here is one for you Mickey Loomis for trading for Parys Haralson. He might end up being the second most consistent linebacker on the team by the end of 2013 and all for the low, low price of a seventh round pick.
The offense was inconsistent but Sean Payton wasn't lying when he said they would recommit to the running game. The Saints ran 29 times for 78 yards. A gold star for persistence but overall the line play was average at best and interior was terrible. They got crushed on a fourth and short and Jahri Evans had two consecutive holding penalties after a Kenny Stills 67-yard catch and run set up first and goal. Kenny Stills officially is Devery Henderson 2.0 with two catches for 86 yards. I'm excited for him to disappoint fantasy owners all year long but he will be great for Saints offense by stretching the field.
The Saints played a lot of two tight ends and tackle eligible so Sean Payton may not yet trust Charles Brown. Time will tell if the offensive line can hold up on the road against a good defense but that's a problem for another day. All of those issues just mentioned are very fixable and let's be honest; our expectations for this offense sometimes border on the ridiculous. Don't believe me? Someone said the following in my section...
'How can they not SCORE 40 EVERY WEEK? Payton's year off has ruined him.'
They were dead serious.
Insane Saints fans notwithstanding, the team is 1-0 and in first place and now that they are it's ok to admit a loss Sunday would have been devastating. Alone and in first place with a defense that's worlds better and has young players who can get better along with an offense with a seven-year track record of being awesome is not a bad way to start. Not at all.