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Observations from the Saints preseason game against the Texans

Once is a coincidence, twice is a pattern, and three times is a trend. Three weeks in a row the Saints starting defensive unit has gone out in the preseason, and three times now they have answered the call by surrendering a TOTAL of zero points. Regardless of the time or circumstance, that is a positive sign and deserving of praise. With that said the golden rule of the preseason still rings true: nothing you see is as good as you hope, or as bad as you fear…except for injuries.

Here are the observations from this week’s game:

  • The Saints defense appears to be for real. It’s still a question about just how good they can be, and if they can stay healthy, but its a real thing.
  • More importantly the unit clearly has an identity. The Saints defense is playing with a swagger and aggressive energy they haven’t had in years. They know who they are and what they want to do, that is a HUGE improvement on its own.
  • The defensive line likely won’t be the best pass rush in the NFL, probably not even top 15, but they are looking very formidable against the run. The Texans are a good running team and they couldn’t get anything going on the ground.
  • Tommy Lee Lewis is likely going to make the roster. He continues to struggle to get anything in returns or against the starters, but the flashes and explosiveness he demonstrates is going to get him a roster spot at this point. Lewis is a guy we’d be in love with if he were 3 inches taller, he isn’t, but no one has done anything to take his spot at this point.
  • Hau’oli Kikaha continued to impress as he showed some nice bull rushes and got fairly consistent pressure.
  • Sheldon Rankins may be turning the corner and starting to live up to the player he could be. In back to back weeks he absolutely demolished a play in the backfield. He doesn’t need to do it every play, but if he can have 2 or 3 plays a game where he wrecks shop it will make a huge difference for this defense.
  • PJ Williams continued what has quietly been a fantastic preseason. He showed solid coverage, and was excellent in run support throughout.
  • Alex Anzalone continues to flash his speed, instincts, and sure tackling. He’s going to play and play early.
  • Marcus Williams has some incredible range, and would have had his first INT as a Saint if he hadn’t tried to make a move while catching the ball.
  • Marshon Lattimore looked very strong in coverage for the most part. Gave up a slant play late in the 1st half, but overall you can really see the talent with the Saints young corner.
  • Al-Quadin Muhhamad is not getting cut. Period. He’s shown a knack for getting to the QB and he doesn’t really even know how to play football yet.
  • Tedd Ginn Jr showed exactly why the Saints signed him, and why his spot was never in jeapordy. He will have the occasional drop, but he’s electric with the ball in his hands and he scares defensive coordinators. That matters.
  • The Saints blocking was not great, especially the run blocking vs the Texans starters (minus the best player in football).
  • Garret Grayson missed 3 deep passes to Lewis. One was perfect and was ruined by Lewis, but the other two were off target. His margin for error is so low you just can’t have that.
  • If there is one player who might threaten TLL roster spot…its Trey Edmunds. He’s tough and electric and showed excellent balance to toe tap a deep sideline catch that would have been a bigger play with a better qb.
  • Will Lutz has a howitzer for a leg. He continued a very strong preseason.
  • And finally and with great emphasis: BACK TO BACK shutouts is a good sign. Its just preseason, and we won’t be the 2000 Ravens…but momentum is going in the right direction. The defense is playing hard, fast, and is executing. that’s always good to see.