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Quick Take: Saints Sluggish in Dome Preseason Debut Versus Jaguars

Curtis Lofton and the Saints defense was not nearly as impressive against the Jaguars as they were in their two previous preseason contests of 2012 (Photo: Parker Waters)Curtis Lofton and the Saints defense was not nearly as impressive against the Jaguars as they were in their two previous preseason contests of 2012 (Photo: Parker Waters)

NEW ORLEANS - We saw starters for a longer period of time. That was the good news. The bad news is that the starters were not as sharp as you would have liked.

This was your classic case of preseason football. One team that is desperately searching for an identity and to establish a winning attitude. Simply put, they were playing to win. The other team, the New Orleans Saints, wanted to play well but was not sharp overall. Perhaps the best example of Jacksonville playing to win was the onside kick by Josh Scobee to start the second half.

The Jacksonville Jaguars got bragging rights for one night in a 27-24 victory at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday night.

**The right side of the Saints defensive front was lacking in the first half. Jacksonville ran four plays off left tackle resulting in 25 yards for Rashad Jennings to start the game. Then, Blaine Gabbert set up the Saints with a fake off tackle left, bootleg right and completion to a wide open Colin Cloherty for 14 yards. They continued to run left with success with the starters on the field. The Jaguars rushed for 97 yards in the first half alone.

**Patrick Robinson missed a tackle in open field. In fact, the Saints tackling on the opening drive was lousy. There were missed tackles in virtually every play, including two players missing Justin Blackmon on his 16-yard touchdown reception from Gabbert. Jacksonville made it look easy to get things started with a nine-play, 80 yard drive.

**On the Saints first drive which ended with a 37-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley, Pierre Thomas turned a short screen pass into a 25-yard gain with outstanding open field running.

**Speaking of Hartley, there appears to be little doubt that he will open the season as the kicker for New Orleans.

**The Saints completely broke down on a 55-yard kickoff return by Mike Thomas. There was no contain to the right side whatsoever.

**The typically brilliant Thomas Morstead had a rare shank on a punt which traveled only 37 yards. No concern there.

**Jacksonville continued to dominate on offense in the second quarter, possessing the ball for 8:03 on a 14 play, 66-yard drive.

**Joe Morgan continues to show that his hands are not the most reliable. He dropped an easy, returnable kickoff. Speed may kill but bad hands will kill you as well. Fortunately for Morgan, he displayed his speed, getting deep, getting wide open on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Chase Daniel. Morgan may be the most interesting study and decision facing the Saints staff when it comes to the final roster.

**Coming off of back problems, Jimmy Graham looked rusty and a bit disinterested. He ran a less than stellar route on one drop and whiffed on a block of Jeremy Mincey, who hit Drew Brees and forced a fumble and turnover which Terrance Knighton recovered at the New Orleans 15-yard line, resulting in a 36-yard field goal by Louisiana Tech's Josh Scobee. No worries--Graham will be Graham when it matters.

**The replacement officials are trying hard but they are not the real deal. That is obvious. There was a poor call on an interference penalty against Will Herring. The next call was even worse against Corey White, a truly awful call. Then, they made two more pathetic interference calls on the final drive of the game. The second one on Cord Parks was simply two guys getting their feet tangled. It led to Jacksonville's winning score. Imagine these calls being made in games that count. That is your basic nightmare!

**Booth reviews in the preseason ought to be outlawed. They are akin to pulling teeth in meaningless games. Four in the first half, alone? Please!

Two more in the second half? Talk about prolonging the agony! The game lasted three-and-a-half hours. Were these officials being paid by the minute?

**Junior Galette displayed his electric speed off the ball to pressure Blaine Gabbert, resulting in a holding call.

**Chris Chamberlain left the game with a knee injury. He is in a battle to make the team at outside linebacker on the weak side. There is real concern over his injury.

**Andy Tanner's bid to make the team may be over. He suffered what appeared to be a significant ankle injury late in the second quarter. He could be a candidate for injured reserve.

**Isa Abdul-Quddus left the game injured near the end of the third quarter and did not return.

**With Tanner hurt, joining Adrian Arrington and Nick Toon as injured, who makes the team on opening day? Arrington and Toon may both end up sticking as a result of the developments. Courtney Roby figures well in the mix with his solid first two preseason games and special teams ability.

**Devery Henderson did a nice job, catching four passes for 31 yards, including an excellent catch on an eight-yard touchdown reception. He showed great concentration and did a very good job of maintaining possession of the football, resulting in the play being upheld by replay.

**Martez Wilson had a big run stop on fourth-and-one from the New Orleans 19-yard line. If the guy can prove worthy of seeing time on run situation downs, he will have a real shot at making a real impact in 2012.

**The secondary was a bright spot in the second half. Corey White made a nice diving interception of Chad Henne which was then overturned. Still, it was an excellent effort. Elbert Mack made a nice play, tipping a deep ball from Chad Henne, intended for Brian Robiskie, resulting in an interception by Isa Abdul-Quddus. Mack later broke up another pass.

**Chase Daniel distinguished himself well again. You have to like what you have seen of him in the preseason. Drew Brees was fine as well. The pair combined to complete 76 percent of their passes (26-of-34). Daniel hung tough against a blitz to connect with Travaris Cadet on the game-winning 24-yard touchdown pass.

**Cadet again showed that he is deserving of a serious look, certainly of a spot somewhere in the league, if not New Orleans. At this point, he has a real chance to stick here. The guy is a very good receiver out of the backfield. He had five more catches and ran well from scrimmage while handling kick returns in decent fashion.

**Michael Higgins showed the ability to find dead spots and catch the football. He may have the edge over veteran Daniel Graham for a third tight end spot. Higgins had five receptions.

**There were not more than 25,000 fans in their seats in the fourth quarter. Welcome to preseason football! The regular season cannot get here fast enough.

 

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