It was a good night overall for the New Orleans Saints. Five weeks into the 2012 NFL season, the Saints finally got their first win and Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas' record for consecutive games with a touchdown (48). Suspended coach Sean Payton, Joe Vitt and Mickey Loomis were given permission to attend the game.
New Orleans will be getting the next week off, giving banged-up players a chance to heal and allowing the team to fix some of the problems that got them in their 0-4 predicament.
The Saints played a good game against the San Diego Chargers, showing a bend but not break mentality. Their defense stepped up in when the team needed it most and did not cower to a double-digit deficit.
In order for the Saints to keep winning, they must first address a few problems. Yes, they've shown improvement throughout the weeks, but they need to be consistent if they want to have a shot at the playoffs.
Let's look at a few things the team needs to work on.
In the first half, the Saints defense resembled the unit it has looked like since the beginning of the season. Not good. They surrendered 17 points and 288 yards and was allowing the Chargers receivers to play catch with quarterback Philip Rivers.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo made some nice adjustments at halftime and put a lot more pressure on Rivers, getting five sacks for the night and causing some important turnovers.
In the first five weeks it's been a recurring issue for the Saints: the lack of a pass-rush, the run defense getting gashed by opposing running backs and poor play by the secondary.
The defense needs to be more consistent and play the whole 60 minutes. It's always good to have a quarterback like Drew Brees continually put up points on the board, but unless they can stop opposing quarterbacks from doing the same it's going to be a long stretch for the Saints.
The entire defensive corps need some work. They need to get back to the basics and fundamentals such as creating pressure on quarterbacks, locking down opposing running backs and decreasing their miscommunication and mental errors in the secondary.
Focus and discipline
Penalties were a problem for the Saints again. Committing 10 penalties for 99 yards, like they did against the Chargers, will usually cost a team the game, but luckily it didn't on Sunday night. The Saints need to start focusing a bit more and showing some discipline.
Case of the dropsies
The Saints have a prolific offense. That's known. But what continues to plague New Orleans receivers this season is dropping passes. This problem continued Sunday night with Marques Colston dropping two passes and Joe Morgan dropping another. That's 16 dropped passes to date.
As with defense, the run game has been a recurring problem in the first quarter of the '12 NFL season for the New Orleans Saints. It was the same story on Sunday night. Pierre Thomas, getting the bulk of the carries, ran the ball for only 30 yards, averaging 3.3 yards per carry. Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram were both ineffective in the ground game.
It is a good sign that the ground game was persistent and their backs kept fighting for tough yards, but the Saints need some more consistency and production out of their backs. They have been quiet for the most part.
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