- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The bottom line is the Saints are 3-1 and in first place in the NFC South. They could have sole possession of first place if Tampa Bay loses Monday night. That’s all you really can ask for in the first quarter of the season. This wasn’t a particularly impressive or dominating performance by the Saints. The Jaguars, who are by no means a good team and were starting rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, were very much in the game in the first half. But the Saints did what they had to do and got a road win as they began a stretch of three straight games on the road.
What I liked: The running game. On a day when Drew Brees wasn’t putting up huge numbers, the Saints ran the ball very well. The three-headed backfield of Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas was effective. All three runners made plays at different times.
The Sproles factor: Four games into the season, I think we can officially say Sproles is a huge upgrade over Reggie Bush. The guy makes plays every game. Bush only made them here and there and often was injured.
What I didn’t like: The Saints, who usually have no problem lighting up the scoreboard, weren’t able to punch the ball into the end zone as much as they should have. They had to settle for field goals too often. You can do that against the Jaguars. But there could be problems if that happens against a good team.
Rising stars: The draft class of 2010 really is starting to show through. Tight end Jimmy Graham had another big game. How long until he’s in a Pro Bowl? My guess is February. Cornerback Patrick Robinson had a nice interception. Tracy Porter has been out with an injury and may not have a starting job when he comes back.
What’s next: The Saints travel to Carolina next Sunday to play the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.