Monday morning a humbled Saints locker room tried explaining how the team failed to perform to expectations not 24 hours earlier against the Washington Redskins. In summary, penalties, sloppy play and good execution by Washington were your reasons for the 40-32 defeat.
“No, I didn’t see it coming and we didn’t play under the lights yet,” Offensive line coach and running game coordinator Aaron Kromer said Monday.” When we played under the lights, we realized, looking at it today, that there was some ‘I’m going to try to do more than I normally do to try to make up for something’ and that is not necessary.”
That apparently was a reason the Saints defense seemed to be unable to come up with a solution much less stop the Redskins offense. “I feel like, and if you ask the players, that we had a scheme. It was a good scheme. As we were playing the scheme, were we that half a step behind sometimes? Yes. Were they gaining some yards because of it? Yes,” Kromer explained. “We trust in Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme. The players trust in his scheme. They have practiced it and felt good about it. It is just a case of there’s some missed tackles, there are a couple missed executions that you have throughout the game and that is when they chunking the yards up against you.”
12 penalties for 107 yards also didn’t help the Saints on Sunday and a day later after viewing the tape,that stat stuck out like a sore thumb. “It was penalties and it was a case of when you get yourself behind the eight-ball like that and it all compounds. So, if it’s first and 20, it is going to end up being third and ten a lot of times,” said Kromer. “Now, it not only goes from a penalty as a negative but then the next thing happens and your third downs are negative, your percentage of third down conversion becomes much less because it is third and long. Then, you don’t stay on the field as long because you are not converting the third downs and the defense has to play longer. It’s a combination of all of those things put together that just compounds problems. If you eliminate one, the rest of them don’t show up.”
The Saints offense also played uncharacteristically poor. Brees threw the ball 52 times while the Saints ran the ball just 10 times. What was the secret to keeping the Saints offense in check? “Washington did a good job of disguising some of their traditional blitzes that we had practiced. They showed up late and we, as a group, decide who we are blocking between the quarterback and the offensive line. We weren’t always going to the guy that we had practiced to go to and, quite honestly, there were a lot of times that we have protections in where they are bringing six and we have five blockers and so we have to get the ball out,” Kromer explained. “When you throw it 52 times in a game, it is not going to be as clean as you want it to be when it turns into a one-sided game.”
It just seemed at times like the players didn’t have their heads in the game. An example was a 12 men on the field penalty that gave Washington a first down. Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff hit a field goal eventually to extend Washington’s lead to 33-17. Monday morning the culprit of the flag gave this explanation. “They brought the punt team in quickly, snapped the ball quickly. I was jogging off the field and they caught me,” said Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson.
Many on Monday tried to look at the brighter side of things, that despite playing such a sloppy game the team still had a chance at the end of the game to tie the score. “For us to play so poorly and execute so poorly, that says something about the talent and the resolve of this team," Kromer said. "There are a lot of teams that would have not finished the game the way we did. That shows you the resolve of this team.”
The Saints lost three players in the game on Sunday linebacker Scott Shanle, cornerback Johnny Patrick and wide receiver Devery Henderson. Shanle left with a leg injury in the first half and did not return to the field to even watch in the second half. Henderson was hit in the back of the head by Redskin cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s knee. Henderson appeared woozy walking off the field and he did not return to the game. Monday acting head coach Aaron Kromer did not elaborate on their injuries to Shanle and Henderson. “Hope to have them back soon,” said Kromer.
Patrick was hurt knocking away a Robert Griffin III pass heading into the endzone. The team called it a leg injury following the game and this moring Patrick answered a Twitter follower’s question on his health by saying “I’ll know in a few,” leading one to believe he was being further evaluated this morning. Kromer Monday morning said that it appeared Patrick’s injury turned out to be not as serious as they had first felt following the game.
Patrick tweeting as much himself Monday morning, “Thanks everyone for the prayers my news today was way better then news I got yesterday #GOD is good...”
The team has not given a timetable for any of the injured players return.
The team made one roster move as well on Monday signing offensive lineman Bryce Harris to replace Marcel Jones. Jones the Saints seventh round pick hurt his knee last Wednesday in practice and was placed on injury reserve back on Saturday ending his season.
Two teams won their openers in the division and two lost. Here is a quick look at how the rest of the NFC South teams did on Sunday.
KANSAS CITY 24
We start in Kansas City where the Dirty Birds, took on the Chiefs and it was the offensive explosion Falcons fans have been waiting for as Atlanta picked up a 40-24 win. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan throwing for 299 yards and three touchdowns, and Ryan even ran in for a touchdown. Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones caught six passes for 108 yards and had two of those touchdowns. Falcon running back Michael Turner 11 carries for 32 yards.
Kansas City wide and former LSU Tigers wide receiver Dwyane Bowe had three receptions for 53 yards. Atlanta’s defense sacked Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassell three times in the game to go with seven tackles for a loss and seven pass defenses as a unit. Atlanta next will host Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Monday Night Football.
TAMPA BAY 13
The Greg Schiano era is underway over in Tampa as the Buccaneers used defense to pick up a 13-7 win. Panthers QB Cam Newton did throw for 303 yards and a touchdown but tossed a pair of interceptions. Newton was also sacked three times in the game as the Bucs defense tallied up nine tackles for loss to go with eight pass defenses.
You thought the Saints had trouble rushing the ball well the Panthers ran the ball 13 times for 10 yards. Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams carried the ball six times for minus one yard rushing. Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith had a solid game with seven catches for 106 yards. Former LSU produce Brandon LaFell had three catches with one being the lone touchdown for his team. He finished the day with 65 yards receiving.
Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman went 16 of 24 for 138 yards to go with a TD no picks. Rookie running back Doug Martin had a very nice debut as he carried 24 times for 95 yards. Martin also had four catches for 23 yards. Carolina next up of course hosts your New Orleans Saints. Tampa Bay travels to New York to face Eli Manning and the Giants.
The Saints have Tuesday off before hitting the field on Wednesday to being their practice preparations for Sunday divisional battle against Carolina in Charlotte.