The New Orleans Saints clobbered the 49ers in week 1 of the 2011 Preseason. The score was a devastating 24-7, and was such a huge blow it had many fans writing off San Francisco entirely for this season. However, was this a case of San Francisco dropping the ball or is New Orleans really bulking up to greatness again?
Many San Francisco 49ers fans admit that the team looked sloppy, though it’s hard to be overly critical, considering that most teams are bound to look rusty after an extended lockdown period. The 49ers offense lacked depth, and seemed to operate without smooth communication. It may be a case of preseason jitters, or it may be indicative of a major overhaul to come.
New Orleans, on the other hand, is looking powerful, considering its 24-7 victory and a great defensive strategy (credit defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) that is on full display. New Orleans blitzed early on and shook up San Francisco, who seemed confused and unable to protect their quarterbacks.
New Orleans fans are obviously excited, as this looks like the New Orleans of 2009 again, a team that is powerful in defense and innovative in offense. Even last year the Saints were looking good on defense, so it may be too early to suggest that defense alone will win it all this season. Besides, New Orleans has much to prove when the season begins, including regular season games against Atlanta and Tampa Bay. The key will be in improving their rush defense which was lacking last year, and keeping their pass defense up to par. As for San Francisco, even offensive guard Adam Snyder sensed a problem, stating that a lack of communication was to blame for the poor performance. Nevertheless, New Orleans was part of that long offseason too, and they looked great.
Elsewhere in the NFL, we have seen plenty of impressive rookie performances, including some great showings by Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (who helped bring in a 20-10 win over the Giants) and Jake Locker, who helped win over the Vikings 14-3. There are some decisive victories being reported in August, and it may foreshadow one ultra competitive season–a season that will undoubtedly be marked by post-lockdown fever! For now, keep your eyes on New Orleans, a team that’s difficult to predict, and as we’ve seen before, very hard to beat.