Keys to Game – New Orleans Saints versus Atlanta Falcons
This Saturday morning, I am up at 3:30 AM with a goal to get to the Guadalajara airport and jump the early flight to Dallas. I was; ready, set… I now sit in my seat of AA 1026 on the runway, holding for mechanical problems … waiting for go.
This Sunday; tomorrow (finally)….. starts the NFL regular season and we can only hope that our beloved New Orleans Saints are as ready for this season as we are.
This off-season once again was filled with decisions, maneuvers, investments, and evaluations. Some veterans released, one traded, and the most surprising free agent sign of the year. Rookies were drafted, our favorite tight end signed a record-breaking contract, and just prior to the first game, our undrafted Pro-Bowl caliber defensive captain signs a new contract extension. Team survived camp split between West Virginia and Metairie in relative good shape. A younger, more athletic roster appears ……READY.
The week has been full of pundits predicting, debating, ranking, and rating. Most see our team as a contender, a likelihood that we could be watching the team play late into January. News items, press conferences have been in the range of normalcy. No real bulletin-board material through social media or press conferences. Statements of team humility, compliments of the outstanding quality of the opponent, and a blog full of the obvious and tired sports clichés. The opponent is on the clock, they have agreed to meet us on their home field. Coaches have attempted to plan for the first real outing of the year – vanilla basic scripts through pre-season all designed to bring surprises in the first minutes of the contest…….SET
As the AirMexico mechanic cobbled together the repair, my plane is ready to scream to 33,000 feet and back to the land where you can watch a NFL football game on real television. Our team is making final prep, boarding the charter and headed to the contest. It is time to GEAUX!
Did I need to remind you that we are playing the Falcons?
Keys to the Game
The discussions this week have been loaded with new schemes, new players, health of the roster, the Julio and Roddy factor, the late hit hype. All of that is true, I want to look at the keys in a different light.
The Introductions – Not that we are worried about falling down as we take the field (at least not other than our starting left tackle), but I expect the Georgia Dome will be very loud and jacked up. The majority will be Falcon fans that despise our team, our coach, and us fans. They will be looking to redeem the lop-sided results of this rivalry since 2006, they will seek revenge for the opening game last year – the game that turned them from a path to the Super Bowl to a 4 win season. They will try to regain their “toughness” from the alleged late hit on their MattyIce. What we know is a large contingent of WhoDats will be in attendance. We know that the Falcon faithful are generally only faithful until they fall behind. So if our team can withstand the early hype (that parade is going to be exciting), our fans can stomach the “birdy arrogance” – we know the stands will thin quickly and it can be an extra “home” game for the WhoDats by half-time.
The First Series – Both teams will be trying to set the tempo, establish control. Both coaches know how important this game is – I expect to see something different, something not on tape, maybe not cute, but daring. The Falcons will try to steal control and momentum.
Special Teams – The Falcons have attempted to upgrade with an aging Hester. The Saints will have a new returner and old kicker and the same old concern (who’s name will not be mentioned). The Saints have attempted to get younger and more aggressive on Special Teams, with late roster decisions being made based on the potential to impact the Special Teams. We know Morstead can flip the field with the best of them, BUTT what we need to know we can avoid a mistake on returns and avoid giving up a cheap special team score. A “gleason” would be nice
Prediction – If all goes as planned (depending on two more airplanes to be on time). I plan on meeting my son at Hartfield and being in the Georgia Dome for the opener. I have decided to avoid wearing my Black and Gold – I will show up wearing my “No White Flags” shirt, the one with the image of Steve Gleason blocking “that punt”. I expect it to be a nice reminder of a previous game and a calling card for this one. I don’t think this one will be close – Saints 41 – 13.