Unindicated

10 Sep

“The Redskins! The fucking Redskins!”

Hey, coach, why don’t you get things going? Opening statement is yours.

“There were no indications that this would happen. If you look at the Houston preseason game, there were no indications that this would happen.”

Way to understate the seriousness of the situation, coach. Talk about stating the obvious. I know I didn’t see any indications. Indications weren’t to be had. I wouldn’t have believed an indication if I had seen it. That bullshit I paid good money to sit through yesterday afternoon was fucking unindicatable.

So, if you will, allow me to bitch for a few moments before I try to make some positives out of this fiasco. If you don’t want negativity this morning, skip the next few paragraphs. Because I have some shit I’m angry about.

Joe Morgan doesn’t belong on an NFL roster. Sorry. Dude seems like a nice guy. He’s funny sometimes on twitter. He’s an underdog, and we love us some underdogs in New Orleans. But there’s this particular attribute we really, really enjoy seeing in our nice-guy underdog wide receivers in this beautiful NFL city: being able to catch the goddamn ball when it hits you in the hands.  That’s all I’ll say about that.

It was a hell of a thing when Steve Spagnuolo came into town and started talking about getting a pass rush with the front four. In all our glee, we forgot to question whether that could really happen. Well, it didn’t. I don’t want to see a return to the case of the crazy that we saw for the last three years out of the defensive coordinator of whom we no longer speak, but there are situations where getting to the quarterback from time to time, even if it means getting a little carried away with your blitz packages, is advantageous.

One of those situations, if you’re not aware, is the one where a rookie quarterback is starting in his first NFL game for a team that went 5-11 last year, in your house, a very hostile environment.

I’m pretty sure there were entire drives where no defensive player crossed the line of scrimmage on the side of the field to which Griffin was rolling. That’s not how you contain a rookie quarterback who can run. I’m not a coach at any level, I didn’t even go to TCU, and I’m not going to pretend I’m smarter than Steve Spagnuolo like some of you inevitably will. What I do know, however, is that someone in the Dome yesterday proved to be a hell of a lot smarter than Steve Spagnuolo, at least for one week. That shit Kromer said about the Redskins doing what was expected of them? Bullshit. Players don’t get that out of position on a regular basis if they’ve been practicing for a week for just that attack. Players miss tackles. They squat when they should run. They take bad angles. (you, Roman Harper. I’m talking about you.)

But they don’t end up on the wrong side of the field. They don’t get victimized by consecutive wide receiver screens. They don’t look absolutely baffled when Robert Griffin runs to the left when the pass rush comes from the right.  Was there some lack of execution on defense? Hell yeah. But there were some victimizations of the near sideline as well.

You know what, though? That shit happens in week one. Nobody knows who anyone is just yet. I’ll give it a couple weeks before I start screaming for the defensive coordinator of whom we no longer speak like the idiot a few rows in front of me yesterday afternoon.

Inevitable today are the cries and screams and gnashing of teeth from fans who feel screwed by the replacement officials. And you know what? They’re right. I won’t belabor the point. I just have one thing to say.

One of the great worries about the refs was their adjustment to the speed of the game, the pressure of the big stage, and et cetera. Here’s what I don’t get: they’re missing calls that look the same in the NFL as they do in college or high school. If the receiver is right in front of you, and the cornerback has tailed him down the entire field, and the ball is in the air, and the corner turns to look, and he reaches up and bats the pass down, that’s not pass interference. Not on any fucking level. I would be irate if a pee-wee referee (does pee-wee have referees?) got that wrong. It’s just wrong. It didn’t happen faster. There’s no difference between the pros and high school on that play.

And just like that, a bad call took the Saints from holding an offense to fourth down right to facing a first-and-short goal line situation. Fuck you, ref. And what does the PR guy have in response? Snark. You have to be shitting me. What an asshole.

The Saints can’t blame the officials for the loss.  I’m certainly not saying that.  But that’s the problem: nobody really can.  There’s potential for it to happen, so we might as well get it out of the way soon so the national media can really start wailing.  I really don’t give a shit about the four teams playing tonight.  I’ll be watching tonight, hoping for the best, rooting for the refs to hand a game to an undeserving victor. 

Also inevitable this morning are the weekly cries from the Who Dat faithful about Balanced Offense™.

“Angry Who Dat, say you’re not going to make fun of that this morning. What Real Fan wouldn’t look at that game and not know we need to run the ball more?”

I didn’t say I was going to make fun of it. Not yet. First, let’s let the Interim Interim answer your question.

Aaron, why didn’t we run the ball more?

Kromer: “You’re not going to run the ball when you get 12 penalties. In the first half, if you go back and look at the drives when we ran the ball once for a first down and ran it again and got a 10 yard holding penalty now you are out of running range. The only reason those plays were chosen is because of the situations we were in.”

I don’t know about you, and I’m not a big “run the ball more” guy, but that just didn’t sound right to me on the drive home. Somewhere around the Mississippi state line, I made the decision to do a little Film Study on that aspect of the game. In this case, “Film” is of course the play-by-play chart on NFL.com.

I looked only at run vs. pass during the first three quarters (here’s the summary). It wouldn’t be fair to include the fourth quarter of a game in which they trailed for the duration; and for that matter, the Saints got the ball for the first time in that quarter with less than 11 minutes remaining.

The total pass/run ratio for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters was 11:33 by my count. (Several were reversed because of penalties.  However, the plays were called, so they still count when we’re discussing play-calling.) My scientific calculator tells me that this means the Saints ran the ball 25% of the time overall. Kromer didn’t argue that point, though. He just said, basically, that the offense had no choice but to do so. Let’s look deeper!

First and ten:

In the first three quarters, on first and ten, the Saints ran the ball 8 times, and passed 10. Besides highlighting the fact that the Saints only had a total of 18 first and ten opportunities, including those that came after kickoffs, that shows that Kromer is being genuine to an extent. Drew also went to the air on both first and twenty situations, but we’ll give him a pass on that. (See what I did there?) I’m giving plenty of Benefits of the Doubts this morning.

When we leave first down behind, things change.

Second down:

On second down during the first three quarters, the Saints’ offense called for 13 pass plays and 2 handoffs. Kromer seems to be saying that the reason for this ridiculous discrepancy was that second down tended to be a long-yardage situation. Indeed, the two rushes came on second and 5 and 6 yards to go, respectively. And five of the passes were on second and ten or twenty to go. Fair enough.

Yet, on second and five, the saints split the play calls 50/50. One pass, one rush. On second and four or less, of which there were three such downs, the Saints threw three times. The total pass/run ratio on second downs of 5 yards or less was 4:1.

Third down:

Third down was even more fun. In three quarters of play, the Saints ran the ball once on third down. That was the third-and-one where Ingram went for two yards and a first down in the third quarter. They passed on third and 4, 7, and 3 yards to go (along with a pile of the long-yardage situations to which Kromer was referring).

Was the imbalance inexcusable? I’m not going that far. I really don’t give a shit how much they throw the ball. If you can pick up 3 1/3 yards on every attempt, throw the ball on every down and cut every back but Darren Sproles, and I’ll be a happy guy (so will you, asshole). But don’t tell me it’s because the situation reasonably dictated that imbalance. Tell me it’s because you have Drew Brees, and why wouldn’t you throw the ball, and who needs a running game if you can bitchslap those corners on every play? That I would be okay with. Just don’t bullshit me, bro. This fan base is smarter than that (I hope).

Keep in mind: it didn’t help that Drew Brees picked week one for the first installment in the biannual tradition I like to call “Hands-Down Hall of Famer Stinks Up The Joint Like He’s Billy Joe Fucking Tolliver.” We should probably be used to this by now. Brees gives us 14 Hall of Fame performances every damn year. The small price we pay for that privilege is the other 2. But good grief, are those other two always ugly. Can you do the next one on the road at least? Thanks, Drew.

Here’s one thing I’m already sick of:

“Angry Who Dat, did you realize that last year we lost the opening game by 8 points too? On the last play of the game! And we went on to go 13-3. Things are looking up!”

Right, asshole. Losing the first game, on the road, against the defending champs, by 8 points on the final play (from the opponent’s goal line) of a well-contested game is exactly the same thing as losing by 8 points after a Hail Mary attempt against a 5-11 team with a rookie quarterback, in your own stadium, in a game where the outcome never really seemed in doubt.

I promised positivity at some point, didn’t I?  Shit.  The blocked punt was pretty cool, so there’s that.

Seriously, though, now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest (I know, it was a lot), it’s week one, people. Climb back in that window and have some coffee. Things are going to be okay. For all we know, we just lost to a Super Bowl contender (No, I don’t believe that, but what do I know right now? That’s my point). In the end, if you’re going to really draw some serious conclusions from yesterday’s game, you also need to draw some serious conclusions from the following facts:

1. The Jets scored 41 points.
2. Tony Romo made the Giants’ defense look inferior.
3. Matt Ryan accounted for four touchdowns, and no interceptions.
4. The Rams were leading the Lions with 11 seconds left to play.

I would love to hear those conclusions. I have a feeling we’ll hear plenty from Falcons fans this week. Yet, none of them mean shit.  None of them.  Because it’s week one, and there are fifteen games left to play.

Let’s wait and see. Settle down. Run a little on second and short.  And bring on the Panthers.  They lost yesterday to a team that went 4-12 last year.  Ha!  What losers.

4 Responses to “Unindicated”

  1. SportsCajun September 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    Yesterday sucked and I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. That being said, before yesterday’s game, if you had told me the following things would happen:

    -At least half a dozen key drops
    -Over 100 yards in penalties
    -Three turnovers
    -Lost the Time of Possession Battle 39-21

    And the Saints would still be in a position to tie the game on the final play? I’d have said you were b@tshit crazy, but I’d have taken it. And Antonio Pierce made a great point on ESPN Radio yesterday. He said when Spags installed his D in New York it took them a solid three weeks into the season before they figured it out. They got caught out of position and missed their assignments because it’s a complex scheme. If you look back at that 2007-08 season, the stats bear this out. They lost 45-35 at DAL in Week 1, 35-13 vs. GB in Week 2, then rattled off six straight wins in which they didn’t allow over 25 points in a game. Yeah, it sucks today, but give it time.

  2. BlackenedGold78 September 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Amen you said it brother.
    It goes to show how different Kromer is then Payton or Vitt.
    Payton or Vitt would have been in “Thin Fried Catfish” (Z. Streif) face the first time he jumped offsides. But Kromer stood there like a deer in headlights, emotionless!! Not to be a David downer but I don’t believe in Spagnoula’s system, at least not yet.
    I think they should have offered Gruden a job this season in Payton’s spot for one season! Defensive coordinator should have been Jack Del Rio!

  3. sbc85 September 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Good post, but I would disagree that the Packers loss last year was a well-contested game. I felt like we got our asses handed to us that whole entire game, too, and in both cases, it was a miracle to even be within 8 points at the end. But like you said, losing on the road to the SB Champs is quite different from losing at home to the rookie. Not taking solace in that at all.

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