Saints morning report: Prime-time players

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
8:00
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Over the past five years, the New Orleans Saints have never been more dangerous than when they’re playing at home in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in prime time. And that’s right where they’ll be when they host the Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football."

The Saints have won 10 consecutive night games inside the Superdome, including the playoffs, and 13 of their past 14 dating back to 2008. Here’s the rundown:

Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 – Saints 28, Philadelphia Eagles 13

Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012 – Saints 31, San Diego Chargers 24

(playoffs) Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 – Saints 45, Detroit Lions 28

Monday, Dec. 26, 2011 – Saints 45, Atlanta Falcons 16

Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011 – Saints 31, Detroit Lions 17

Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 – Saints 49, New York Giants 24

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011 – Saints 62, Indianapolis Colts 7

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010 – Saints 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 10

Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010 – Saints 14, Minnesota Vikings 9

(NFC championship game) Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010 – Saints 31, Minnesota Vikings 28, OT

Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009 – Dallas Cowboys 24, Saints 17

Monday, Nov. 30, 2009 – Saints 38, New England Patriots 17

Monday, Nov. 2, 2009 – Saints 35, Atlanta Falcons 27

Monday, Nov. 24, 2008 – Saints 51, Green Bay Packers 29

[+] EnlargeDrew Brees
AP Photo/Bill FeigThis season's Peyton Manning-led Denver attack finds itself in the same record-books neighborhood as Drew Brees' 2009 Saints.
ELITE COMPANY: Speaking of those prolific Saints offenses from recent years, they popped up a few times on an ESPN Stats & Information list of the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning's achievements through three weeks this season.

  • The Broncos are now tied second in NFL history for the most points scored in the first three games of a season (127). The 2009 Saints (120) rank fifth on that list.
  • Manning completed 32 of 37 passes (86.5 percent) in the Broncos’ victory Monday night over the Oakland Raiders. That’s tied for the third-best completion percentage in NFL history from a quarterback with 35 or more attempts. Saints quarterback Drew Brees ranks second and third on that list (31-of-35, 88.6 percent, against the Colts in 2011 and 32-of-37, 86.5 percent, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009).
  • Broncos receiver Wes Welker is tied with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski for the longest active streak in the NFL with touchdown catches in five consecutive games. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is one behind with four straight.
WORTH READING: ESPN’s Ryan McGee wrote about how former Saint Archie Manning was the godfather of dual-threat quarterbacks -- even though his sons don’t play that way.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King properly credited third-year Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan for being the biggest difference-maker in New Orleans’ defensive revival.

The Times-Picayune’s Larry Holder led his weekly film study with the Saints’ defensive highlights from Sunday (and there were plenty of them).

TWITTER MAIL: I’ll do a Twitter mailbag again this weekend, and I may sprinkle in a few questions from time to time in this daily morning report. Send your questions to me @MikeTriplett anytime. Here’s one from earlier this week:

@Chlyonsiv: #Saints O-line has struggled this year. Is that because of (former offensive line coach Aaron) Kromer’s move to Chicago, or reduction in talent?

@MikeTriplett: I’ll never discount the loss of a proven coach -- especially after what we saw last year in Sean Payton’s absence. But I can’t believe that the explanation is that simple. … There are a number of factors working against new line coach Bret Ingalls and the Saints’ offensive line this year. For one, they’ve made a pretty significant change to their run-blocking scheme, emphasizing more outside zone blocking. And keep in mind, the Saints’ run game got off to an equally-poor start last year before cleaning things up around midseason. The Saints’ run blocking always seems to be a work in progress.

It also hasn’t helped that the Saints played last Sunday without All-Pro guard Jahri Evans (who was also clearly hampered by his hamstring injury in Week 2). Evans’ replacement, rookie Tim Lelito, had a very rough day in his NFL debut against the Cardinals.

I expect the Saints’ pass protection to be much improved in a hurry, especially when Evans is back close to 100 percent. And I expect the run blocking to remain up-and-down all year. But New Orleans does still have enough talent to produce better than what we’ve seen so far.

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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