Saturday, 18 August 2012 12:28

New Orleans Saints, Brees, get slapped by Jags, next Houston Texans

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texansA rough off-season could have gotten a lot worse if the Saints had lost Drew Brees in falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars  27-24 on Thursday night in a preseason game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Brees took a big hit after tight end Jimmy Graham missed a block on Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey, who got a direct shot on Brees, hitting him on his throwing hand and shoulder, forcing a fumble. Mincey said the Saints' offense gave him direct a shot for the play.


But Brees bounced back and marched the Saints down the field with six straight completions on a dive that ended with a touchdown pass to Devery Henderson.

Because of too many missed tackles and collapsing pass coverage, the Jaguars actually looked like the Saints when considering what transpired in the first half.  When quarterback Blaine Gabbert went up against an NFL powerhouse in the Saints and put together TD drives of 80 and 66 yards against the Saints' starting defense and rolled up 209 yards of total  offense while jumping to a 17-3 lead.

Gabbert was the lowest rated starting quarterback in the league last season and critics said he played "scared." Against the Saints he was 13-of-18 for 112 yards and two touchdowns. His passer rating was 135.4


"I'm looking forward to getting to practice this week and getting our guys back to work," said interim Saints coach Joe Vitt. "We have a lot of coaching to do. We have a lot of things to clean up and we will get it done this week.

"We've got to protect Drew Brees better."


Jags first-round draft choice, Justin Blackman,  12-day holdout, making his NFL debut, caught four passes for 48 yards and a 16-yard TD catch after he bounced off Marquis Johnson.

The Saints run defense was terrible, allowing four Jags running backs to average more than five yards per carry. The Jags' Maurice Jones-Drew, the leading rusher in the league last season, is still holding out. To date, he is the only player that makes the Jaguars nationally relevant. The Jags' backups were good enough to win against the Saints.

The game-winning Jaguars score was aided by two pass interference calls against the Saints with second and third-stringers in the game. The first one on a fourth-down incomplete pass that would have sealed the outcome for the Saints. That gave the Jags a reprieve and they threw an 11-yard TD pass on fourth down with 13 seconds remaining.

The Saints defense will have to improve for them to be a Super Bowl contender this season. They are still learning the Steve Spagnuolo  conventional defense and need to improve on run-stopping and not giving up too much space to receivers.

Travis Cadet and Chris Ivory are competing for the fourth running back job with the Saints and both looked good against the Jags. Ivory led the Saints on the ground with 43 yards on 10 carries. Cabet added 28 yards on three carries while leading the team in receiving with five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. He also returned three kickoffs for a 28.3-yard average.

Saints tight end Michael Higgins caught five passes for 42 yards and Henderson hauled in four passes for 3 yards and an eight-yard TD. Joe Morgan made the biggest play of the night, catching a 53-yard pass from Chase Daniel.

Daniel had another good night, completing 16-of-21 passes for 195 yards and two TDs for a 134.5 passer rating. Brees was 10-of-13 for 133 yards, a TD throw, and a 134.0 passer rating.

The Saints wrapped up training camp this week and will begin preparation for a nationally televised game against the Houston Texans on Saturday in the Mercedes-Bench Superdome

SAINTS NOTEBOOK: The Saints had two injuries Friday that may be serious. Backup linebacker Chris Chamberlain had to be helped from the field in the second quarter after he went down with a knee injury. He did not return. Wide receiver Andy Tanner was carted off to the locker room after suffering an ankle injury...Suspended coach Sean Payton will be featured in ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Sunday at 8 a.m....




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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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