Aug 22, 201708:05 AM
Full Sport Press
'The games we play in New Orleans and beyond'
Saints unit surprises in 13-7 win over Chargers
all photos - associated press
You’re going to have to forgive your friends that keep rubbing their eyes today at work. No, they’re not dealing with the after effects of the latest solar eclipse, they are still trying to figure out if they really saw the New Orleans defense completely dismantle the Los Angeles Chargers.
Spoiler alert – they did.
I’m currently working on a theory that the Los Angeles Chargers still think Manti Te’o is on their team. How else could you explain their letting Te’o run wild in the offensive backfield all night long?
What a game for the Saints revamped linebacking corp as the starters seem to be locked in with the trio of Te’o, A.J. Klein and rookie Alex Anzalone. All three of the starters ate up the Chargers. Te’o seemed to be reliving his old Notre Dame days by stuffing the stat sheet with eight tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. It was a beautiful performance by the former Irish linebacker who was one of the rare college defensive players to become a Heisman runner-up.
Te’o seems to be in a sweet spot playing along A.J. Klein, the former Carolina Panther who has taken over the linebacking corps. Klein was just as nasty Te’o recording five tackles and a half-sack and continually disrupting any attempt at a flow from the Chargers first unit (albeit one playing without starting quarterback Philip Rivers).
Anzalone completed a solid performance by the first unit. Yes, he took a pass interference but let’s chalk that up to a rookie mistake. He only had two tackles but both were stellar, including one solo tackle for loss. And I have to talk about Craig Robertson who backed up Anzalone (but both have passed Stephone Anthony who might be down to his last two weeks as a Saint). Robertson, a six-year veteran in his second year with the Saints, just simply makes plays. Robertson finds the football and gets a hat on runners. He’s rock solid and, if Anzalone does hold on to a starting role, to have Robertson rotating in is a massive asset for the club.
Now let’s gush about the show, Alvin Kamara. The kid is one of those lucky ones that reek of big play potential. As an added bonus, Kamara played in a loaded Tennessee Volunteers’ backfield, so those legs are as fresh as could be.
Kamara has also brought that big play potential with him to New Orleans. In limited action over the past two weeks, the Norcross, Georgia native has three 20-plus-yard plays, including two receptions of 22 yards and the highlight of the night versus the Chargers — a 50-yard dash to the end zone on the Saints offense’s first play of the game.
That sound you hear is the Number 41 jerseys flying off the shelf at the Saints’ gift shop.
Your new favorite Volunteer wasn’t the only Saints running back making his mark, as the club had excellent play from undrafted free agents Darius Victor and Trey Edmunds. Victor, who is as thick of a running back as you will see in the NFL, took control in the second half going for 58 yards on 14 carries and Trey Edwards had the “big effort” play of the night taking a screen pass 22 yards, the last seven of which were after demolishing Chargers defensive back Brandon Stewart.
As we get closer to regular season action, the focus will obviously be on Kamara, Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson but it’s great to see the depth at this position.
The game seemed like it was more of a 35-7 affair. The Saints defense was flying to the ball and you have to give credit to defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. His first unit has only given up two first downs so far in the preseason and the Chargers only touchdown was on a 99-yard pick six return by Lutcher High School’s Dexter McCoil.
Preseason or not, eight sacks will always raise some eyebrows. The Charger fans will talk about how bad their offensive line played but there was a bit more to it than that. The Saints looked like a team wanting to make a statement and brought the hustle.
Te’o put on a show. Rookie defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammed had two sacks at the end of the game. Veterans Craig Robertson and Obum Gwacham recorded sacks. A.J Klein pushed Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen seven yards into the backfield allowing Alex Okafor to cut inside and put a hit on Clemons that was heard all the way up in the cheap seats.
Enjoy it, New Orleans. It was a fun game to watch and now more starters will be sprinkled into the mix this week when the Saints host the Houston Texans this Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.
Real football is almost here, friends!
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Destin Brewery’s “Bridge Rubble Double” IPA
Playlist Recommendation: Bonnie Tyler – “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Around the Way
New Orleans being the boxing town that it is, I have to talk about the upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor fight on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas.
I’m not fan of Mayweather Jr. I’m a Manny Pacquiao guy and think Mayweather intentionally avoided “Pac Man” until he started taking losses and “got old.” Yet, be that as it may, there is no way McGregor should have a chance at beating Mayweather Jr.
In my eyes, the fight plays out in one of two ways. The first being, McGregor actually tries to box Mayweather Jr. That will be a mistake, because Mayweather Jr. will just walk McGregor into the “deep end of the pool” and either knock McGregor out late or win a boring decision. But what I think will really happen is that McGregor, who has never faced someone with the hand speed of Mayweather Jr., will go for a knockout early and eventually walk into a cross that will put him on his back.
It might not be a great fight but it’s definitely going to be interesting.