5 Positives/5 Negatives From Saints Preseason Win Over Jaguars
What are some positives, and also a few negatives to take away from the New Orleans Saints' 24-20 preseason win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night?
Below, I list five of each:
1)---Quarterbacks: Drew Brees didn't play, giving an opportunity for Tom Savage and Taysom Hill to see extensive time. The two combined to complete 18-of-23 passes. No, they didn't throw the ball down the field much, as they totaled only 130 passing yards, for a 6.2 average, but they didn't throw any interceptions, and kept the team in the game. Hill, who also rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown, is the fan favorite, but Savage, I believe, is going to be the #2 quarterback, barring injury. He didn't do anything special, but he avoided mistakes, and still just looks more comfortable than Hill, who still looks to run too soon when pressured, as evidenced by him taking sacks on consecutive plays to end the Saints' first possession of the second half. Look, let's not overanalyze the backup quarterback position; if Brees goes down, it changes everything. But the quarterback play, in Thursday's win alone, was a positive.
2)---Devaroe Lawrence: An undrafted defensive tackle out of Auburn, Lawrence spent all of last season on injured reserve. He certainly made an impression on Thursday night, at least on me. He finished with 5 tackles, three of which were solo stops, including three sacks, one tackle for a loss, and three quarterback hits. I haven't heard his name mentioned much during camp, but I thought he was outstanding in the preseason opener.
3)---Jayrone Elliott: The former Packers linebacker had a nice game, finishing with 5 tackles, including 2.5 sacks. One more game like that, and he could force his way onto the roster.
4)---Kick Returns: Brandon Tate and Boston Scott did fairly well. The return game was far from perfect, as one long return was negated due to injury, and another 17-yard return looked bad, due to poor blocking. Still, Tate and Scott both showed flashes, with 36 and 35-yard returns, respectively, showing their ability to both make plays.
5)---Terron Armstead: He looked healthy, and that's a big deal. Look; Armstead, when healthy, is one of the top tackles in football. But he's been injury-prone, playing in only 17 of a possible 32 games over the past two seasons. It's only the preseason, and it's only one week, but Armstead looked healthy on Thursday night, even for only a short period of time, and that's certainly a positive.
1)---First-Team Defense: The Jaguars scored on their first three possessions, including a 79-yard touchdown on the opening drive and two field goals. One of the reasons I think the Saints are a legitimate Super Bowl contender is because of their defense, so I'm certainly not concerned after one preseason game. That being said, the defensive starters, as a group, didn't play particularly well.
2)---Penalties: The Saints were only penalized 6 times for 55 yards, which isn't an obscene amount, but it just seemed like more. That may be because most of the penalties were big, due to the fact that a long return was called back due to one penalty, as well as the Jaguars picking up first downs on four others. The Saints have to clean this up.
3)---Third Down Efficiency: This kind of goes back to the first-team defense not playing well in the first half, but Jacksonville went 6-of-12 on third down conversions. Granted, the Jaguars are a run-oriented team, who should be in a lot of third-and-manageable situations this season, but 50% is too much for a defense to allow. Last season, the Saints allowed a 41% 3rd down conversion rate by opponents, and that ranked 27th. Again, it's only one game in the preseason, but at least on Thursday night, they weren't very good in this area.
4)---Boston Scott: He didn't do anything wrong, because he didn't see the football much, and that's kind of my point; I wanted to see more of him. He only carried the ball one time, with no receptions. Now, he did have three returns, but I'd like to see more of him, and I think I will as the preseason continues. He's a fun guy to watch, and I want to watch him.
5)---Preseason: A win is always nice, but it's still the preseason. As nice as it is to have football back, it's still the preseason, and there's still three more of these games prior to the regular season opener. I'm ready for opening week!