Observation deck: Saints-Patriots

August, 9, 2012
8/09/12
10:43
PM ET

Do not be discouraged that the New Orleans Saints scored only three points in the first half of Thursday night’s 7-6 preseason loss at New England.

You know the points will come in bunches when Drew Brees is getting more than a few snaps in the regular season.

What you should be encouraged about is that the New Orleans defense didn’t allow a point in the first half. That came with Tom Brady, who has been known to put up huge numbers, playing almost the entire first quarter. That’s a huge accomplishment for a New Orleans defense that still is adjusting to coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme.

New Orleans' first and second defenses regularly stopped New England’s first and second offenses. The Patriots didn’t score until the third quarter, when both teams were playing third-stringers. That’s huge improvement over what we’ve seen out of the New Orleans defense in recent years.

Let’s take a look at some other observations on the Saints:
  • Spagnuolo’s defense relies heavily on getting a strong pass rush from the front four. There were signs that was working. Defensive end Will Smith put a nice hit on Brady and the ball popped loose. Linebacker Curtis Lofton recovered the fumble.
  • Brees attempted only four passes and completed one for 4 yards. Like I said, don’t read anything into a very short and quiet night for Brees. You know he’ll show up for the regular season.
  • Rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks had a flash play in the second quarter. He swatted down a pass by Ryan Mallett, which is even more impressive when you remember Mallett is 6-foot-6.
  • Martez Wilson has done a nice job making the switch from linebacker to defensive end. But Wilson needs to clean things up on special teams. He was flagged for roughing the kicker and gave the Patriots a first down after lining up offside as New England was about to punt.
  • Cornerback Marquis Johnson has had a nice camp and his momentum is carrying over into the preseason. Jackson, thanks to some more pressure from up front, came up with a second-quarter interception.
  • We all know Garrett Hartley and John Kasay are competing for New Orleans’ kicking job. The Saints let Kasay attempt a long field goal in the first half and he showed he has some leg left by connecting on a 46-yard attempt. Kasay missed a 41-yard attempt in the fourth quarter that could have given the Saints the lead. This might end up being the toughest call of all when the Saints have to trim their roster to 53. They might be wise to shop one of their kickers for trade. Kasay and Hartley both are better than a lot of guys who currently are projected as No. 1 kickers elsewhere.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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