The New Orleans Saints, relaxed coming off their bye week, were able to cruise to a 35-17 victory against the overmatched Buffalo Bills. Drew Brees had himself a game throwing 5 touchdown passes and the defense was able to hold the Bills’ offense to less than 20 points, a feat that none of their opponents had been able to do this season. There were some encouraging signs coming out of the bye week, but also some problems that continue to linger.
One noticeable improvement this game was the production from the wide receivers. Lance Moore came back and looked healthy catching a touchdown pass and snagging a few balls. The real story, however, was Kenny Stills who broke out for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Though he didn’t catch many balls, he is filling big play, homerun hitting role the Saints have been longing for this season. In years past it was Devery Henderson or Robert Meachem. Brees was able to spread it around effectively without Jimmy Graham being 100%, which is encouraging because this will allow the Saints to bring Graham along slowly.
In addition, the Saints were able to get it moving on the ground a little better with Pierre Thomas averaging more than 4.5 yards per carry. The Saints seemed to have found their perfect mix on the ground with Thomas getting most of the work, while they hope Khiry Robinson can develop into a solid short yardage back.
For as good as the defense and the other parts of the offense were, there was still no improvement on the offensive line as far as pass protection. The Bills were constantly harassing Brees and sacked him 4 times with countless pressures. What was especially disconcerting about the sacks was that a good amount of them came on just regular front 4 pressure. Though the Saints are succeeding right now, the amount of hits Brees is taking is still not good. As Saints fans all saw the 2009 NFC Championship Game, constant hits leads to mistakes, which was the key to the Saints topping Brett Favre. If the offensive line can’t protect better, the Saints will have no chance against the NFC elites.
Overall, the Saints showed some bye week rust but were able to kick it off and get into rhythm. Despite the score, this wasn’t the Saints’ best game and they definitely have some areas in which they need to improve. Up next, the Saints face the New York Jets who present similar challenges with a hard nose defense and running game.