The New Orleans Saints have started the 2013 NFL season with a 1-0 start after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 23-17. There was obvious rust on some of the players, but it was the first game of the season and one that looked like it could get ugly fast for the boys from the bayou. They were able to rebound, but some things still need improvement.
Yes, it was the season opener and there will be things that are fixed and improved upon as the season goes on, but the Saints already need to figure out what those things are.
Against the Falcons, the Saints never really left any points on the field nor did they have any truly costly mistakes. Still, there are a few areas in which the team can improve and do better in so that their six=point victory may end up a 14-point victory next time.
~ Not getting out to a quick start
New Orleans was able to force a three-and-out on Atlanta's first possession and take over after just 90 seconds. Sadly, the Saints could do nothing on offense and quickly gave the ball back. Suddenly, the Falcons were up 7-0. The Saints got the ball back and did nothing and then suddenly, Atlanta was up 10-0.
Playing from behind severely alters the game plan of the Saints and takes away a huge part of their offensive attack. Without being able to use the running game as effectively, playing behind forces more pressure on Drew Brees and the passing game.
~ An ineffective running game
Yes, playing from behind was a big reason that the Saints' rushing attack only racked up 78 yards, but there is more to it. Mark Ingram couldn't find a hole to save his life while Pierre Thomas luckily found one here and there.
The Saints' offensive line has got to find a way to spread things out and open up running lanes for the backs. Even the diminutive and speedy Darren Sproles couldn't get going unless he was out in space.
~ The two-minute defense
Near the end of the game, the Atlanta Falcons had just over three minutes and 80 yards to go for a game-winning score. Matt Ryan started the drive five-for-five for 73 yards before throwing his first incomplete pass. By this point, the Falcons were already inside the New Orleans' 10-yard line.
While the Saints did have a great stand deep in their own territory, the Falcons drove on them far too easily and in such a short amount of time. They've got to tighten that up some or it may not end in such a great fashion next time.
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